Friday, 27 February 2015

Not the Global Law Summit: Rally Report

On Monday 23/02/15, I and some intrepid colleagues from Wainwright & Cummins attended the Not the Global Law Summit rally outside of Parliament (and just down the street from the Global Law Summit) at lunchtime. We and several hundred others braved extremely chilly temperatures and brisk winds to listen to the speakers and soak up the atmosphere.

As this year is the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, the rally had an entertainingly mediaeval feel, with a band of mediaeval musicians, a jester, and of course the now-famous papier mache Chris Grayling, dressed up as King John.

The speakers took on the topic of access to justice and the cuts to legal aid from a variety of different perspectives. We heard about the impact on the probation service, both sides of the legal profession – barristers and solicitors – and perhaps most heart-rendingly, we heard from victims of miscarriages of justice and from the families of those who died in state custody. From these speakers the message was particularly clear: without legal aid and effective access to justice, deaths in state custody and miscarriages of justice will only increase.

The final speaker was the brilliant actress Maxine Peake, star of the television series ‘Silk’, in which she plays criminal barrister Martha Costello QC. Ms Peake movingly and powerfully read extracts from the Magna Carta emphasising the importance of access to justice for a fair society: ‘To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice’.

For many of us working in the legal profession, and particularly for those of us who work in legal aid, it can feel as though those words are being forgotten and ignored, in the current political climate which prioritises profit over people and chooses cuts over fairness and justice.

The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the firm or its partners.


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