Law is the province of the courts as it is of government. Without good government we would have neither courts nor effective commerce. Without courts we would have neither good government nor effective commerce. Without effective commerce we would lack means to provide either good government or accessible courts. Through a combination of the three we develop good law, know our bargains will be honoured, and, if they are not, can use the courts.
As members of this Worshipful Company you are as concerned with questions of commerce as you are with questions of law. We share a common view on the need to ensure that our courts are accessible, that they have proper facilities, those fit for the 21st Century, and judges who can fairly and impartially decide cases. Let me say something first about the facilities.
The development and opening in 2011 of the Rolls Building, as a new home for the Commercial Court, the TCC, the Patents Court, the Companies Court and the other specialist courts of the Chancery Division was an important starting point. These courts play an essential role in maintaining London as the worldwide centre for legal business. They not only add to the prosperity of the nation. They – and those who use them – promote our social values, our commitment to the rule of law, both at home and abroad.
But this was just a starting point. I am particularly pleased to be able to thank publicly the Lord Chancellor, Chris Grayling, for persuading the government and Her Majesty’s Treasury to provide HMCTS with the very significant investment announced on Friday 28 March. That investment will at last produce long overdue improvements in court infrastructure, and particularly IT. It will help reinforce a world class court and tribunal system throughout England and Wales.
The reform programme will be carried out by HMCTS, established by a previous Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer. It has a unique constitutional role. It is a partnership between the government and the judiciary; between two branches of the State. In this it exemplifies that good government and the courts are but two parts of a wider whole; one which serves society.