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Access to justice ‘should be every lord chancellor’s mission’, says Chalk

By Monidiopa Fouzder >>

(21 June 2023)

Access to justice should be the mission of any lord chancellor, its present incumbent has declared at the official launch of a new cross-party parliamentary group.

The all-party parliamentary groups on legal aid, pro bono and public legal education have reconstituted themselves to become the all-party parliamentary group on access to justice.

The reconstituted group, chaired by Labour MP Karen Buck and Conservative MP Laura Farris, was officially launched at an event in the House of Lords last night.

Lord chancellor Alex Chalk KC, a former vice-chair of the legal aid group and former chair of the pro bono group, described himself to guests as a ‘legal aid barrister who is spending a little time in politics’.

Chalk recalled seeking out, when he was a backbencher, the legal aid APPG because he felt legal aid was an ‘essential lubricant for a free, fair, safe and prosperous society’.

The justice secretary hoped the new group would feel some progress on legal aid has been made. He pointed to the government’s response to the means test review, which the government predicts will help over six million people access legal aid and provides important protections for domestic abuse victims. ‘A shared home will no longer be considered when assessing financial eligibility for legal aid. Something I’m very pleased with – the innocence tax has gone. That’s an important step.’

Chalk praised practitioners in the room ‘who work so hard in respect of legal aid and access to justice… We do these things, we care about these things, because we know access to justice should be the mission of any lord chancellor.

‘I can say this to you, I can say this from the bottom of my heart – I will certainly be this lord chancellor who does his level best.’

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)