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Speech by Sir Ernest Ryder, Senior President of Tribunals: The Duty of Leadership in Judicial Office



  1. The great US scholar Professor Lon Fuller once described law as a shared enterprise. It was, and is, one where individual conduct is made subject to the ‘governance of law’. In a recent, and excellent book, Professor Gillian Hadfield, has examined that idea in the context of the IT and digital revolution and the effect it is having, could, and ought to have, on our justice systems. That she has, has a particular resonance with me.
  2. As Senior President of Tribunals, I have since my appointment (as well as in previous roles) been closely involved with reforming our justice systems. While I was a High Court judge in the Family Division, I played a key role in the implementation of family justice reforms. Since my appointment as Senior President, with the Lord Chief Justice, I have led judicial engagement in the Courts and Tribunals Modernisation Programme (the reform programme). Both sets of reforms, and particularly the latter, centre on the effective application of improved process and digital technology to our courts and tribunals.
  3. The reform programme is a shared endeavour. It, like HMCTS itself, is a partnership between the judiciary and the Government. It is one that is underpinned by statutory reform; as such it is also a partnership with Parliament. All three branches of State are thus working together to improve our justice system. As with any shared endeavour, for it to succeed there must be effective leadership. If considered unreflectively, the question who should lead the reform programme would suggest one answer: the Government. In this case that would mean the Lord Chancellor and the Ministry of Justice. They would be responsible, as they are generally, for justice policy and for preparing and introducing necessary legislation to Parliament. It might appear that the judiciary would have no leadership role to play.

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