Rising court costs were ‘imperilling’ Magna Carta

justice2Excessive court fees and the rising cost of legal advice were  ‘putting access to justice out of the reach of most’ and ‘imperilling a core principle of Magna Carta’, said the Lord Chief Justice. Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd was speaking to the Legal Research Foundation in Auckland New Zealand last month. The text of his speech made public yesterday.

Whilst the judiciary has ‘taken the view in modern times that modest fees in civil, family and tribunal cases are permissible and in accordance with the provisions of Magna Carta’, he said it has ‘left the balance as a matter for Parliament to determine’. The lord chief justice went on to say:

‘Nonetheless the scale of court fees together with the cost of legal assistance is putting access to justice out of the reach of most, imperilling a core principle of Magna Carta.’

Lord Thomas concluded by saying that the cost of accessing the justice system was ‘often prohibitive, be that as a result of reduced spending on legal aid or the rising costs of privately funded legal representation’. ‘Many court buildings and many of the processes are outmoded, such that there is an impediment to the timely determination of legal rights and liabilities,’ he said. ‘All the while, it must be understood that private justice is not an alternative to a public courts and tribunals system.’




About Jon Robins

Jon is a journalist and has written about the law and justice for the national papers and specialist press for more than 15 years. Jon is a visiting journalism lecturer at Winchester University, a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln and patron of Hackney Community Law Centre. He has won the Bar Council’s legal reporter of the year award twice (2015 and 2005). Jon is editor and co-founder of LegalVoice

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