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.