This is my final report as Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales. It is nearly 25 years since I was first appointed a Justice of the High Court. I have witnessed remarkable changes to our constitutional arrangements and the operation of the administration of justice.
The greatest change, of course, was the constitutional revolution brought about by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, followed by the changes in 2007 which extended what was once the small Lord Chancellor’s Department into the massive Ministry of Justice. The responsibilities of the Lord Chief Justice as Head of the Judiciary, the arrangements for the financial support for the administration of justice, the system for judicial appointments and the relationship between the Judiciary and the Legislature and the Executive, on their own, have combined and are combining to affect changes to our constitutional arrangements. The consequences have yet fully to emerge. What cannot be allowed to emerge is any diminution in the independence of the judiciary.
Economic realities have led to budget cuts which have had direct effects on the administration of justice. In many different ways the administration of justice has been or is under review and reform as part of the drive for further public sector efficiency. Contrary to general belief judges have not recently arrived at an understanding of the need for greater efficiency. Active, hands on case management, saving both Court time and tax payers’ money, and reducing the stresses and strains of litigation, has come to be regarded as an essential part of the duty of every judge. The Courts have made and are continuing to take the initiative in the drive for greater efficiency, with a clear understanding of the obligation to ensure that justice continues to be done and is seen to be done. Quite separately, the courts have continued to make their contribution to the wealth of the nation, a contribution which, however it is addressed, it is perhaps worth noting far exceeds the budget available to Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service.
The scale of change therefore is unprecedented. The responsibility of many judges is no longer confined to presiding over trials and hearings, and reaching conclusions on the issues before them, but in addition to their commitment sitting in court they are directly involved, and lead on what are sometimes described as “administrative” duties.
This level of commitment comes without any additional remuneration, and indeed the expansion of the responsibilities now placed on the judiciary, allied to less attractive terms and conditions and pension arrangements, as the Senior Salaries Review Body made clear, has resulted in reduced morale. I fully appreciate that in the current financial situation, their recommendation cannot be addressed, but the terms in which the Senior Salaries Review Body has spoken on are clear and unequivocal. It would be unwise for it to be ignored.
Without loyal help and support from many different people, both within and outside the judiciary, I should not have been able to fulfil my responsibilities as Lord Chief Justice. My gratitude is profound, and the memories of many kindnesses will continue to be warm long after my retirement.
Read the full report at http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Reports/lcj_report_2013.pdf
We thank JAC for the pointer.
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