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Magna Carta is the ‘title deeds’ to freedom

The rule of law is the foundation stone on which a just society can flourish

23 February 2015

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Those who obstruct justice and the rule of law must be fought the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales has proclaimed at the opening of the Global Law Summit (GLS) in London.

Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd made the remarks in relation to the country's economic prosperity: "We will need to examine how we best ensure that all, whether they be individuals, corporations or governments, carry out all their activities in accordance with established law."

He added that, when considering accountability, thought must be given to find the most effective process to ensure that government action is scrutinised in a cost efficient and speedy manner.

Lord Thomas also said that in certain parts of world, the idea that "all should have fair and effective access to justice" remains an aspirational idea, yet it is a principle enshrined in Magna Carta.

The Lord Chief Justice continued: "We will therefore examine how access to justice is best achieved - the way government can best provide for a court system that is open, transparent and effective in vindicating and, as importantly, enforcing rights and responsibilities, how a state guarantees a judiciary that will act independently of governmental or commercial pressure, how citizens can be provided with better access to courts through the proper use of modern technology, and the way in which a vibrant, diverse and independent legal profession can best make a cost effective contribution to the delivery of justice."

He conceded, though, that this would not be an easy task. "Some are very uncomfortable not merely to governments but to others such as corporations with immense economic power," he commented. "But the task requires a commitment from us all, governments, legislatures, lawyers, judges, businesses and citizens. There can also be no doubt that some will try to obstruct this commitment to the rule of law. To others it will merely be inconvenient. As to obstruction, our duty is clear; the obstruction must be fought against and removed; obstructions to justice are a denial of justice as Magna Carta teaches."

Concluding his speech, the Lord Chief Justice said that the price of maintaining the rule of law and access to justice remains a heavy one yet it was one all should gladly be prepared to pay.

"It is the foundation stone on which a just society has grown and flourished," he said. "It is the basis on which we have built a sound framework for economic growth and the benefits that brings to all in society. And we should all know that economies - just as individuals - grow best when all in society are committed to the rule of law. We must maintain that commitment. It is part of the 'title deeds of freedom', of which Magna Carta was the first of many."

John van der Luit-Drummond is legal reporter for Solicitors Journal