Press release: Justice system suffering from austerity and Covid-19 double whammy

The Society of Labour Lawyers today publishes ‘Covid-19 and The Justice System’, a report detailing the impact of Covid-19 across the various parts of our justice system, from the criminal courts and police stations, to family courts, employment tribunals, housing, and legal aid. The publication aims to share the experiences of lawyers working on the “frontline” during the pandemic of the challenges, successes and areas for reflection.

The report’s conclusion is clear; our justice system was already under great strain before the pandemic and was not providing justice for many. The situation has been made worse as a result of Covid-19. It is clear that as we emerge from the pandemic we need to build up a justice system that delivers justice for all.

Hannah Gomersall, barrister at Coram Chambers and co-chair of the Society of Labour Lawyers Family Law Group, says:

“The justice system is suffering from a double whammy of the impact of austerity and Covid-19. The justice system was struggling to cope before this pandemic following huge cuts, now it is overwhelmed. From the increased criminal case backlog to hearings removing newborn babies by telephone, this report sets out the deep concerns our specialist practitioner members have about how the pandemic has impacted the justice system. Crucially, the report also considers what the various solutions to the crisis of justice might be.”

Stephen Cooke, barrister at 3 Temple Gardens and chair of the Society of Labour Lawyers Criminal Law Group, says:

“The backlog in criminal cases arose before Covid-19, caused by Government underfunding. It has been exacerbated by Covid-19 and this delay to justice causes suffering for all parties, for victims and witnesses, as well as those accused of offences. The Government should provide the funding and additional court time needed to clear the backlog, rather than discussing attacking the fundamental right to trial by jury.”

About the Society of Labour Lawyers

The Society of Labour Lawyers (SLL) is made up of Labour Party lawyers, law students, academics, magistrates and judges who support the Labour Party. SLL is affiliated to the Labour Party and works to support Labour through the use of its members’ legal skills. More information about SLL is available at www.societyoflabourlawyers.org.uk

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Notes

  1. The report is available to download here.

  2. Press enquiries regarding the report should be directed to Joe Vinson at administrator@societyoflabourlawyers.org.uk or on +44 (0)7907 883626.

  3. Stephen Cooke is a barrister at 3 Temple Gardens and chair of the SLL Criminal Law Group. He comments in his capacity as chair of the SLL Criminal Law Group and does not speak on behalf of his chambers. Stephen Cooke is available for interview regarding the criminal law aspects of the report.

  4. Hannah Gomersall is a barrister at Coram Chambers and co-chair of the SLL Family Law Group. She comments in her capacity as co-chair of the SLL Family Law Group and does not speak on behalf of her chambers.

©2020 by Society of Labour Lawyers.