Pre-election promises

Barristers gleaned a hint of what the future may hold, with the emergence of a rash of political manifestos launched in April.

The three main parties outlined their promises for legal reform ahead of the general election, as politicians jockeyed for position at the post.
Labour has pledged to “find greater savings” in the legal aid budget and the court system by “increasing the use of successful ‘virtual courts’ which move from arrest, to trial to sentencing in hours rather than weeks or months”. High-earning offenders sent to prison will be required to repay part of their upkeep costs. Asset confiscation will become a “standard principle”, with communities given a say in how seized assets are used.


Victims of crime will be offered a dedicated support worker during the trial, as part of plans to “put the victim first” under a new National Victims Service.

Labour will retain the tripartite system of financial regulation and has strengthened the powers of the Financial Services Authority.
The Conservatives say they would hold a “fundamental review” of legal aid, if elected, and would consider alternative ways to fund legal aid. They would take steps to ensure victims of crime are kept better informed about ongoing criminal proceedings, and would give householders greater legal protection if they act reasonably to stop a crime or defend themselves against intruders.
The Human Rights Act 1998 would be scrapped and replaced with a UK Bill of Rights. The right to request flexible working would be extended to every parent with a child under the age of 18.

The Conservatives would abolish the Financial Services Authority and strengthen the regulatory powers of the Bank of England.
The Liberal Democrats would allow intercept evidence in court and reduce the maximum period of pre-charge detention for terrorist suspects to 14 days. They would introduce a presumption against short-term sentences of less than six months, and increase the use of community sentences.

They would invest in restorative justice programmes, defend trial by jury and set up Neighbourhood Justice Panels to give communities a say in how anti-social behaviour perpetrators are punished.

They would introduce a written constitution and a Freedom Bill to “protect and restore” freedoms, regulate CCTV, stop councils spying on people and protect free speech

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