There is much play
in the speeches about the pivotal importance of the rule of law. A key part of the rule of law is that the citizen is able to access justice in order to enforce rights and legal aid is crucial to this. A review, and improvement of, legal aid provision is essential.
Legal representation at inquests is of great importance to families in those situations where a public body (e.g. the Police or the NHS) may be implicated in the death. Public bodies are always represented by lawyers but families are not unless they are able to qualify for exceptional funding. The Chief Coroner has called for legal aid to be provided to such families - The Guardian 25th July.
And just in case anyone thinks that the criminal justice system is all things perfect - please read and reflect on this excellent post by Barrister blogger.
Elizabeth Truss also spoke of contract law and why the English legal system is seen as a preference to those entering into contracts. There can be no doubt that the legal world has been of huge benefit to the UK economy. The question is whether this will continue. For instance, would there be a willingness to have disputes litigated in London if the dispute involved EU law and the UK was no longer a member? (There has even been some talk of dropping EU law as a subject in law degrees - a mistake in my view). Also, other legal systems (notably Germany and France) have to be seen as major competitors in this market - see this article by Jonathan Goldsmith Undermining the UK legal system?
The swearing in ceremony ended with the Attorney-General asking that the proceedings be recorded in the books of the Queen's Remembrancer. The office of QR is the oldest judicial office and it dates from the reign of Henry II (1154). Today, the QR is the senior Master of the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court. The Masters play a major part in the procedural aspects of litigation. The post is held by Barbara Fontaine who, incidentally, is the first female holder.