Access to justice and the rule of law play a prominent part in the election manifestos of the three main political parties.
The Conservative Manifesto was launched on Thursday 18 May. The main points of interest for the legal sector are as follows:
- Set up an independent public advocate, who will act for bereaved families after a public disaster.
- Continue to modernise courts, improving court buildings and facilities and making it easier for people to resolve disputes and secure justice.
- Crack down on 'exaggerated and fraudulent' whiplash claims and consider a ban on companies' cold calling people encouraging them to make false personal injury claims.
- Introduce a Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill and create a domestic violence and abuse commissioner.
- Ensure publicly-funded advocates have specialist training in handling victims before taking on serious sexual offences cases.
- Ensure that child victims and victims of sexual violence are able to be cross-examined before their trial without the distress of having to appear in court.
- Restrict legal aid for 'law firms that issue vexatious legal claims against the armed forces' and strengthen legal services regulation.
- Introduce better compensation for injured armed forces personnel and the families of those killed in combat.
Labour’s manifesto was launched on Tuesday 16 May. The main points of interest for the legal sector are as follows:
- Abolish Employment Tribunal fees.
- Introduce a ratio between actual costs of running the courts and the fees charged.
- Introduction of no-fault divorce procedure.
- Continue to extend the use of technology in our court service where it enhances access to justice, timely dispute resolution and efficient administration.
- Retain the Human Rights Act.
- Resist any Conservative proposals to abolish the right to seek legal redress against the Ministry of Defence (MoD) where compensation claims cannot be otherwise settled.
- Immediate reintroduction of legal aid for private family law matters in the courts.
- Consider the recommendations of the Access to Justice Commission led by Lord Bach.
- Extend legal aid for the preparation of judicial review.
The Liberal Democrats launched their manifesto on Wednesday 17 May. The main points of interest for the legal sector are as follows:
- Conduct an urgent and comprehensive review of the effects of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act on access to justice.
- Review the investigation, prosecution, procedures and rules of evidence in cases of sexual and domestic violence.
- Reverse the massive increases in court and tribunal fees.
- Continue to modernise and simplify court procedures.
- Oppose any attempt to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and abolish or water down the Human Rights Act.
- Extend requirements on companies to strengthen responsibility for supply chains, focus on good practice in tackling modern slavery, and implement the Ewins report recommendations on domestic workers.
With thanks to the Law Society for providing the information for this blog.