Speech by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales: Magistrates Association AGM

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Looking forward – another century of excellence

Thank you for inviting me to your annual general meeting. Today ought to have formed part of wider celebrations to mark the first century of the Magistrates Association. An online gathering is a poor substitute for the magnificent events that were planned. I hope that the time will come when a belated celebration in the normal way will be possible.

Today’s meeting is very close to the 100th anniversary of the first meeting of the Magistrates Association in Methodist Central Hall on October 28 1920, following an earlier gathering in the Guildhall hosted by the Lord Mayor which resolved to establish it. The Magistrates Association remains true to its original purpose of ensuring that Justices of the Peace are properly trained and to represent their interests. It is the independent voice of Magistrates. Happy birthday.

Today is also the last meeting at which John Bache will be your chairman. A magistrate since 1989, he has taken a leading role within the Association since 2006, first as Bench Representative to the Executive Committee to the Cheshire Branch, then variously as a member and chair of its Youth Courts Committee, to most recently being its national deputy chair and then from 2017 its Chairman. His contributions both to the Association and the Magistracy in general cannot be underestimated. He will be a very hard act to follow. It has been a pleasure to work with him and listen to his wise counsel. May I thank him, on behalf of us all, for his dedication to the administration of justice and his work in support of Magistrates.

Anniversaries, and particularly centenaries, are a good time to reflect on what has been achieved, and to think of what is to be achieved. Let me start by considering what has been achieved.