Westminster Update: Judicial Review and Courts Bill – key amendments passed by Lords

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We are fighting for the future of the criminal justice system after it emerged that lawyers will receive a fee increase 40% below what Sir Christopher Bellamy recommended as the minimum to keep the system functioning.

Submit your views directly to the government consultation and read our analysis of the proposals.

What do you want to know

1. Judicial review and Courts Bill: Lords pass key amendments backed by Law Society

The House of Lords defeated the Government and passed three key Law Society-approved amendments to the Judicial Review and Courts Bill at report stage on Thursday, March 31.

We campaigned for amendments to remove the presumption in favor of using only prospective and stayed rescission orders, to remove the power to make prospective-only rescission orders, and to protect the ability to bring Cart judicial reviews to protect the discretion of judges and maintain the effectiveness of judicial review.

Amendments making these changes were tabled by Lord Anderson of Ipswich (Crossbench), Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames (Liberal Democrat) and Lord Etherton (Crossbench) respectively. The government opposed all three amendments, but on division they all passed the House.

We were quoted directly three times during the debate at report stage, both by Lord Etherton and Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Shadow Justice cabinet spokesperson), who quoted our position on setting aside the orders , on maintaining Cartand our concerns about online sentencing options.

The bill will now pass third reading in the House of Lords (April 6), before returning to the House of Commons where MPs will consider amendments from peers.

Read our briefing on the bill

2. Recommendation of the Barreau endorsed by the parliamentary committee

Our recommendation to create a public register of algorithms used in the criminal justice system was endorsed by the House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee in its New Technologies and Law Enforcement Report, published Wednesday March 30.

We were quoted four times in the report, which reflected key points from the written evidence we provided to the Committee’s inquiry, including the importance of accountability, transparency and combating bias in systems algorithmic.

The report has been submitted to the government for an official response, which is expected by May 30.

Read our 2019 report on Algorithms in the Criminal Justice System

3. Hong Kong: Parliament debates the withdrawal of British judges

The Foreign Secretary issued a statement on Wednesday, March 30, supporting the removal of sitting UK judges from the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal. Although it is not within the government’s powers to remove judges because of judicial independence, it will put pressure on all remaining UK judges to resign from their Hong Kong posts.

Lord Reed and Lord Hodge, Britain’s two most senior judges in the Hong Kong court, resigned on Wednesday as non-permanent judges on the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal.

On the same day, a debate in Westminster Hall took place on the issue, with all members present congratulating the government on its statement and the two judges on their resignations.

Members called on the government to impose new sanctions on Chinese officials, both in relation to the Hong Kong regime and their human rights abuses against ethnic minority groups such as the Uyghurs.

We were mentioned specifically in the debate by Ian Duncan-Smith, who called on the Law Society to react to the situation unfolding in Hong Kong, in particular with regard to the judges who continue to sit on the Court of Appeal final.

4. A parliamentary committee investigates SLAPPs

Strategic Public Involvement Prosecutions (SLAPPs) were the subject of a testimony session hosted by the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee on Wednesday 30 March.

A number of different proposals for dealing with SLAPPs were raised during the session, with witnesses disagreeing on whether a single anti-SLAPP law or a series of procedural reforms to existing laws would be the most effective way to deal with this type of dispute.

The session also covered the role of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, with several witnesses welcoming the regulator’s updated guidance on conduct in litigation released in early March that dealt with SLAPPs.

The committee chair said the evidence he received would be used to inform his submission to the government’s consultation on SLAPPs. We will also submit a submission to the consultation, and we are consulting widely with members to inform our response.

Future

We will work closely with MPs and peers to influence a number of bills and inquiries.

If you have come this far…

Read our President, I. Stephanie Boyce’s speech at Gray’s Inn, outlining her perspective on what the rule of law means.