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Michael Gove’s Speech on the State of British Justice

Updated: Feb 17

Does the legal system need review and reform? Nobody is better placed to answer that than the man who has been given the post of Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove. Find out what his views on the future of the British legal system are in our article.

Michael Gove, the new Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, has used his first official speech to describe the justice system in England and Wales as “creaking and outdated”. He says that it is failing the poorest in society, whilst the rich can use their wealth to access the finest legal provision – the “gold standard of British justice” as he described it.

In his speech, Mr Gove called for an overhaul of the system, including steps that would get rid of what he called “waste and inefficiency”. He said that the justice system had badly let down victims and witnesses of crime, as well as neglected children.

He set out his case for the reform of the criminal courts by saying that far too many cases are delayed or derailed by missing paperwork, the late arrival of prisoners and video links that failed to operate correctly.

“It is the poorest in our society who are disproportionately the victims of crime, and who find themselves at the mercy of this creaking and dysfunctional system,” Mr Gove said.

He called for a more efficient system for bringing prosecutions and for information to be exchanged by email or conference calls instead of through a series of hearings.

Mr Gove also recommended greater use of timetables for evidence and lawyers’ speeches as well as new technology such as video conferencing in courts and images from police uniform cameras. He urged that such innovations should be brought in with all speed.

It will be interesting to gauge the legal profession’s reaction to Mr Gove’s comments; he is well-known for his battles with the teaching profession during his tenure as Education Secretary in the previous Coalition Government.

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