They are:

  • Good governance and the rule of law
  • Respect for human rights and civil liberties, and
  • Access to justice

The initiative was launched in Parliament at a cross-party event supported by the Conservative Shadow Justice Minister, Henry Bellingham MP, Lord Brennan QC, the Labour Chairman of the All Party Group for Legal and Constitutional Affairs, and Lord Thomas of Gresford QC, the Liberal Democrat Frontbench Justice Spokesperson.

The Manifesto is being published when the justice system is under intense pressure from the squeeze on government spending, public
concern over crime and problems in access to civil and family justice. With a General Election only months away, the coalition has set out its concerns about the future of the justice system, and calls for a range of measures designed to strengthen justice and the rule of law, including:

  • more courage in the debate over the need to reduce reliance on custodial sentences
  • less legislation and more practical action to tackle crime
  • improved access to justice, especially in family and social welfare law
  • increased effort to convey the importance of respect for fundamental human rights

The coalition is made up of AdviceUK, the Bar Council, the Institute of Legal Executives, JUSTICE, the Law Centres Federation, the Legal Action Group, the Legal Aid Practitioners’ Group and Liberty.

Commenting on the publication of the Manifesto for Justice, Roger Smith, Director of JUSTICE, said:

“A robust justice system is an essential part of a good society. While we have much to be thankful for in this country – jury trial, the presumption of innocence and an independent judiciary - we must not be complacent. The Manifesto puts in writing what many feel needs to be preserved and enhanced within our judicial and legal system. It also makes practical proposals for reform, which we commend to those of all parties.”

Carol Storer, Director of the Legal Aid Practitioners’ Group, said:

“The LAPG is delighted to be part of the Manifesto for Justice. The justice system is a vital part of today’s society, and we should not forget that it is designed to protect the weak and vulnerable when they need it most. Continued and ill-thought-through cuts to the legal aid budget will affect those least able to cope, and will only exacerbate the difficulty of obtaining face to face advice in those parts of the country which already have limited provision. Every member of society has the right to timely legal advice and representation, and we call on politicians of all backgrounds to support the aims and concerns set out in the Manifesto.”

Nicholas Green QC, Chairman for 2010, said:

“The Manifesto is testament to the depth of feeling and commitment displayed by consumers, campaigners and all those working within the legal system. Publicly funded lawyers work incredibly long hours, often for modest remuneration, doing all they can to represent their clients, often in the face of huge systemic difficulties. The Manifesto for Justice considers the problems which the justice system must address if it is properly to meet the needs of society and protect the most vulnerable; a document which combines the experience and insight of eight such organisations deserves attention from politicians on all sides.”