The Law Society of England and Wales responded to the Queen’s Speech which took place on Tuesday, announcing a range of new bills and reforms.
Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce has commented on the announcements made in the speech, as well as any issues that may arise as a result of the speech’s omissions.
Bill of Rights
“The Human Rights Act confirms and protects the rights and freedoms of people in the UK and provides robust protection in British courts.
Dismantling it will have far-reaching consequences, conferring greater unfettered power not just on the government of today, but also on future ruling parties, whatever their ideology.
If the new Bill of Rights becomes law, it would make it harder for all of us to protect or enforce our rights.
The proposed changes make the state less accountable. This undermines a crucial element of the rule of law, preventing people from challenging illegitimate uses of power.
Weakening rights for some would weaken rights for everyone and undermine the UK’s international reputation for justice and fairness.”
Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill
“Levelling up cannot be achieved without a healthy legal system.
Few things are more empowering than the ability to uphold and protect your rights. The government must invest in the justice system so that people can get the advice they need when facing life-changing legal problems.”
Brexit Freedoms Bill
“Any reforms as part of the Brexit Freedoms Bill must be balanced and subject to appropriate scrutiny.”
Public Order Bill
“If the government is serious about tackling crime, it must implement the recommended 15% increase in criminal legal aid fees to ensure the survival of a functioning criminal justice system.
Without that bare minimum, court backlogs will inevitably endure, solicitors will continue to leave the profession in droves, and we will no longer have a criminal justice system worthy of the name.”
Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill
“The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill will help the government uncover potential criminal activity in the UK.
The Law Society is happy to offer our expertise on these matters, to make sure the act meets the bill’s ambitions.”
Draft Mental Health Act Reform Bill
“Solicitors have an important role supporting people subject to mental health legislation to understand their rights and access justice.
It is extremely important all people deprived of their liberty under the Mental Health Act can challenge the lawfulness of a decision to detain them.
New legislation must give patients more opportunities to access justice and challenge decisions made on their behalf.”
“It is disappointing to see that a long-awaited employment bill has once again been dropped.
Employment law needs to keep pace with changes in the workplace – which have been accelerated by the pandemic – including the growth in flexible working.”