Our justice system is the envy of the world. We have an outstanding independent judiciary that is widely admired as an international leader. Our lawyers have a global – and deserved – reputation for excellence. And we have a legal services industry that contributes billions of pounds every year to the UK economy.
We are right to be proud of our Common Law system, which has led the world for the past 1000 years and influenced so many jurisdictions. The right to trial by jury – “the lamp that shows that freedom lives,” as Lord Devlin described it – has been one of our great achievements. Across the world, the fairness of our criminal trial and the history associated with iconic courts such as the Old Bailey are celebrated.
But we should not just celebrate our history and tradition. Today our commercial courts are recognised as pre-eminent. International litigators come here because they know they will be treated fairly, and overseas they prefer our law to be the governing law for commercial contracts. That confidence translated into a £25.7 billion contribution to the UK economy by legal services in 2015
But there are real challenges still to address. Looking ahead, we need to make sure that our justice system continues to lead the world – that its impressive reputation is strengthened and that legal professionals and ordinary people are equipped to seize every new opportunity. To do this, our system needs radical change, to have modern IT and processes and to be located in buildings which are fit for purpose.
Transforming Our Courts and Tribunals System
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