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Speech by Sir Ernest Ryder, Senior President of Tribunals: Assisting Access to Justice

1. It is a real pleasure to be here today to talk about access to justice. It has been described as the most fundamental of rights that we have. Without it our other rights – whether they are rights to property, rights under contract, public law rights or human rights – are chimerical. Access to justice is ‘not just a right in itself. It is [the] key enabler for making other fundamental rights a reality.’ It is incumbent on all of us – whether judges, lawyers, law teachers, law students, just as it is of wider society – to do all we can to ensure that access to justice is such a reality. We are all called on to assist access to justice. And that is my theme today. In looking at it I want to focus on a number of necessarily related ideas:

  • a principled basis for access to justice;
  • the judiciary’s responsibility for securing effective access in order to promote the effective administration of justice and the rule of law; and
  • civic responsibility for securing effective access.

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