Court privatisation under the microscope
The MoJ denied the plans - originally reported by The Times newspaper on Tuesday - which suggested the court system would be liberated from Treasury control to make it a commercial enterprise, possibly saving £1 billion a year in running costs, reports The Lawyer.
Baker & McKenzie litigation partner Jeremy Winter told the magazine that although no one would object to improving the efficiency of the court system, any privatisation ‘would immediately result in significantly higher court fees charged to litigants’.
Mr Winter added: ‘This would reduce access to justice for the ordinary litigant, and is also likely to discourage foreign litigants from using the UK courts. Since the UK legal profession makes such a valuable and important contribution to UK exports, that is something that the Chancellor ought to be concerned to protect.’
Other legal professionals also highlighted the risks that privatisation would cause to the creditability of the British legal system, while Francesca Kaye - President of the London Solicitors Litigation Association – said that ‘moving ‘problems’ to the private sector does not deliver automatic solutions’.
A spokesperson for the MoJ said: ‘We are not considering proposals for the wholesale privatisation of the courts service and there is no question of courts being handed over to private companies.’