The Bach Commission on access to justice: EDF response and interim report

The Fabian Society is providing the secretariat to Lord Willy Bach’s Commission on Access to Justice, which will explore establishing access to justice as a fundamental public entitlement.

The commission, which met for the first time on Tuesday 19th January, will hear from a range of legal experts and provide evidence-based proposals for how to restore access to legal information, advice and representation. Its starting point will be that access to justice is an essential public service, equal to healthcare or education.

The Commission welcomed submissions of written evidence for consideration by the Commission. The deadline for submissions passed in May 2016.

The Equality and Diversity Forum made a submission in May 2016.

In November 2016 the Commission published an interim report, ‘The crisis in the justice system in England & Wales‘. The report presents the Commission’s conclusions on the current state of access to justice and indicates initial thoughts on policy recommendations for the future.

The report identifies six key features of the justice system which they argue undermine its ability to provide justice for all:

  1. Fewer people can access financial support for a legal case
  2. Exceptional case funding has failed to deliver for those in need
  3. Public legal education and legal advice are inadequate and disjointed
  4. High court and tribunal fees are preventing people pursuing legal claims
  5. Bureaucracy in the Legal Aid Agency is costly and time-consuming
  6. Out of date technologies keep the justice system wedded to the past