Court fees put justice beyond reach of majority, says Lord Chief Justice

The government has made much of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, while cutting, reforming and marketising justice services – at the expense of access to justice for all.

In a highly critical speech, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, has raised concerns about the government’s mandatory criminal courts charge, which requires those convicted to pay up to £1,200, stating:

“….the scale of court fees, together with the cost of legal assistance, is putting access to justice out of the reach of most, imperilling a core principle of Magna Carta”.

More than 50 magistrates in England and Wales have resigned in protest at the charge. Many doubt the debt will be collected as many defendants are too poor to pay.

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Justice is under attack

The government is fragmenting the justice system, privatising policing, probation and prison services, closing courts, slashing the legal aid budget and making drastic cuts to funding. This will undermine the system, reduce access to justice and put public safety at risk.

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