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Brandon Lewis is new British justice minister
Pic: RollingNews.ie

07 Sep 2022 / global news Print

Brandon Lewis is new British justice minister

The Law Society of England and Wales has called on Britain’s new justice minister to address what it describes as the “crisis” in the country’s justice system.

The organisation was reacting to the news that former Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis (pictured) had been appointed Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.

New British Prime Minister Liz Truss has chosen Lewis to replace Dominic Raab, who had backed her rival Rishi Sunak in the Conservative Party’s leadership election. Truss has also appointed Michael Ellis as attorney general.


“Justice and fair play are hallmarks of Britain and traditionally a source of pride for the country. But today they are less recognisable features of our national landscape,” Law Society vice president Lubna Shuja stated.

She said that backlogs in the courts meant that people were “waiting years” for their day in court, adding that the new minister had a chance to re-energise the system.

“A vibrant legal-aid system is the only way to ensure everyone is treated equally before the law. But after decades of underfunding and cuts people cannot get the legal aid they need to resolve life-changing legal problems,” Shuja commented.

Call to change means test

She urged Lewis to begin by making sure that anyone who could not afford legal help was eligible for state-funded expert advice, adding that the cost-of-living crisis made changing the means test more urgent than ever.

“Civil and criminal legal-aid solicitors are being forced to close their doors because government rates have been stagnant for more than two decades,” Shuja said.

“The minister should set rates of pay at the level needed to make the system viable, so these vital public servants can continue to serve the country properly renumerated for their expertise and hard work.”

The president of the solicitors’ body also signalled that the society would be urging the new minister to rethink what she called the “damaging” Bill of Rights.

According to a BBC report, however, the new administration may have already decided to shelve the controversial bill.

The broadcaster quoted a source as saying that the new government was "reviewing the most effective means to deliver objectives through our legislative agenda".

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland