Courts and Tribunals (Judiciary and Functions of Staff) Bill [Lords]

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:11 pm on 27th November 2018.

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Photo of Yasmin Qureshi Yasmin Qureshi Shadow Minister (Justice) 2:11 pm, 27th November 2018

I accept that the senior judiciary, some of whom are in the House of Lords, have said that the Bill is a good thing. However, practising lawyers, barristers, solicitors, the Bar Council and the Law Society have said that it is not right, and that the amendments that we will propose should be considered.

There is disagreement in the judicial community about the Bill. [Interruption.] I will just wait until the Lord Chancellor has dealt with his question. The Lord Chancellor and the practitioners here must be aware that, when judges are involved in delegated functions or non-court sitting judgments, they are making judgments on difficult issues and complex matters of law—for example, a case management hearing, or even something such as asking for an adjournment. We do not know, but, at the moment, the Bill suggests that such work could be done by delegated staff.

When someone asks for an adjournment, all kinds of complications could be involved; there could be issues relating to failure of disclosure and so on. According to the Bill as it stands, many issues would be given to a delegated person. That is one reason why we are asking for clarification about who those people will be, what powers they will be given, and, more specifically, what training they will be given. Although some senior members of the judiciary in the other place have said that the Bill is a positive development, the practitioners on the ground, at the moment, do not agree.