Martin Partington: Spotlight on the Justice System

Keeping the English Legal System under review

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Misperceptions of ‘deregulation’

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Another excellent thought piece from Stephen Mayson, highlighting the challenge of ensuring that professional regulators can drive effective change and innovation in the delivery of legal services.


Last month, Boston Consulting Group published a report that claimed to assess the effects of deregulating legal services in England & Wales, as driven by the Legal Services Act 2007. The analysis and conclusions are, to put it at its best, disappointing. I am grateful to have been spared the need to offer a detailed review, thanks to this informed critique of the report by Alison Hook.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that the report’s authors based some of their work on my independent review (Legal Services Reform: Regulation Beyond the Echo Chambers, published last year). However, having done so, their report could encourage others to take my principal conclusion – that further reform is needed – and, contrary to my intention, use it to amplify the echo within the chambers of my title.

These, therefore, are my summary observations:

First, I have…

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Written by lwtmp

April 13, 2021 at 2:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Legal services regulation: turning point, or point of no return?

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This is a really challenging analysis of how the legal profession should engage much more effectively with regulatory reform. Prof Mayson fears that if they do not, they have much to lose.


Earlier this month, I was invited to give the Wickwire Memorial Lecture at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University in Canada. Frederick B. (Ted) Wickwire QC, a graduate of the School, was the President of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society. He died in office at the age of 52 in 1991.

Ted Wickwire was noted for his commitment to public service and to uncompromising professionalism. Each year, a lecture is held in his memory, focusing on an aspect of professional ethics.

It was a great honour to deliver this year’s Lecture, albeit with the constraints of virtual presence. The full text of the Lecture is available for download here.

The Lecture presented an opportunity for me to reflect on some of the underlying themes of my independent review of legal services regulation in England & Wales. In particular, I explored the emerging and increasingly uncomfortable tension between…

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Written by lwtmp

March 30, 2021 at 11:25 am

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The ethics of pro bono

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Very interesting reflections on ethics and pro bono law work by the leading commentator on the regulation of the legal professions


A second nation-wide lockdown is now less than 48 hours away.Many of our fellow citizens will as a consequence face unexpected and unwelcome legal issues, and I suspect many of their needs will be met through pro bono provision.

I was therefore honoured and delighted to offer some opening thoughts this morning to a very important and timely seminar hosted by LawWorks and the University of Bristol as part of Pro Bono Week.I was invited to share my reflections on the two-year Independent Review of Legal Services Regulation that I concluded in June and the associated landscape of legal professional ethics. Here are those reflections (also available as a PDF).

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Written by lwtmp

November 3, 2020 at 1:37 pm

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A guide to reading the Official Statistics on judicial review in the Administrative Court

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Interesting report of interest to all those interested in administrative justice


A guide to reading the Official Statistics on judicial review in the Administrative Court


By Lewis Graham, Lee Marsons, Maurice Sunkin and Joe Tomlinson

UKAJI is delighted to publish this guide written by Lewis Graham (University of Cambridge), Lee Marsons (University of Essex), Maurice Sunkin (University of Essex), and Joe Tomlinson (University of York) on how to read the official statistics from the Ministry of Justice on judicial review in the Administrative Court.

Specifically, this guide aims to help people understand what the official statistics tell us and do not tell us about the use of judicial review in the Administrative Court. The note draws on the civil justice statistics published annually by the Ministry of Justice. This note seeks to explain the available statistics in an impartial way with a view to making them easier to read and understand.

In light of the current Independent Review of Administrative Law…

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Written by lwtmp

October 16, 2020 at 8:29 am

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Covid-19 and the English Legal System (3): the experience of Judicial Review

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As one of a series of items on the impact of the pandemic on the English Legal System, I am reblogging this interesting study of  how Judicial Review cases are being dealt with online


Judicial review during the Covid-19 pandemic (Part I)

By Joe Tomlinson (University of York), Jack Maxwell (Public Law Project), Jo Hynes (University of Exeter), and Emma Marshall (University of Exeter).


This piece originally appeared on the Admin Law Blog on 26 May 2020 and can be found here. It is reposted with permission and thanks.

The COVID-19 pandemic raises at least two important questions for judicial review in England and Wales. The first is about process: how is judicial review operating in a time of social distancing, when most court processes have quickly shifted to a remote format? A second, related question is about litigation patterns: how are people using judicial review to challenge the Government’s response to COVID-19 itself?

In this two-part post, we offer some tentative answers to these questions. This first part examines how the Administrative Court’s amended judicial review procedure has been working in practice…

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Written by lwtmp

May 29, 2020 at 9:31 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Covid 19 and the English Legal system (1)

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Media attention has inevitably and properly been focused on the impact of Covid 19 on our health and care systems and how they are coping with the virus. Away from the headlines (most of the time at any rate), the Legal System has also been subject to the disruptive consequences of the pandemic. No part of the legal system has been untouched. Just take a look at today’s Ministry of Justice website. The impact is obvious. Prisons, courts, tribunals, legal advice services – all are mentioned in separate news items listed on the website.

The professional press has also been describing how law firms, barristers chambers, and other legal advisers are all offering their services online, through emails, video conferencing, the phone. Homeworking has become the norm, rather than large numbers of people commuting to work in large office blocks.

I am sure that there are many who want the virus to be controlled so that ‘normal’ – i.e. pre-Covid 19 life – can be resumed. My question is: Should ‘normal’ (legal) life be resumed? Should we not see the arrival of Covid 19 as a tremendous opportunity to change the ways in which legal services are delivered? Might this not lead to significant improvements in the ways in which legal services of all kinds are delivered to the public?

I guess that many in the professions have from time to time asked themselves how they might change the ways in which they work. There have been numerous discussions and conferences about how IT or AI or other innovations will transform legal practice. But the dreams of the visionaries, such as Richard Susskind, often seem to get lost in practice. People are just too busy to make radical changes to their working routines.

Covid 19 has altered all that. It has forced many to practice from home; it has forced many court processes to be delivered online. It has enabled those who work in any different corners of the legal system to discover that much  if not all of their work can be done away from historic office/chambers settings. Of course, even before the arrival of Covid 19, experiments in new ways of working were taking place. But Covid 19 has created a momentum for change that I hope will ensure that the ‘old normal’ will not be resumed but will be replaced by a much more responsive and flexible ‘new normal’.


See also Richard Susskind, Online Courts and the Future of Justice. Details at



Written by lwtmp

May 15, 2020 at 3:28 pm

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Back on line!

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Dear Readers and Followers, You will be aware that I have taken a rather extended period of furlough (as it is now called!). But I am writing to say that I am now back and will be resuming my regular blog items on the English Legal System.

For an announcement relating to the next edition of my book Introduction to the English Legal System please click on the link on the sidebar to this page, just below my author pic.

Comments always welcome


Written by lwtmp

May 14, 2020 at 12:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The Administrative Justice Council’s first Annual Report

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Interesting report on the first year’s work of the Administrative Justice Council
It is taking forward many of the issues identified by its predecessor bodies, but the work on the interfaces between tribunals and ombudsmen is new.


The Administrative Justice Council’s first Annual Report


On 6th November, the Administrative Justice Council published its first annual report for 2018-19.

The Administrative Justice Council (AJC) was set up in March 2018 and is the successor body to the Administrative Justice Forum. It provides oversight and advice on administrative justice across the UK.  Chaired by the Rt Hon Sir Ernest Ryder, Senior President of Tribunals, the Council seeks to make the administrative justice system more efficient, fair and accessible.

The scale of administrative justice is vast, often called the ‘cinderella’ of the justice system.   It covers all government decisions, including complaints and appeals on immigration and asylum, social security, housing, education, health care, planning, and tax.

Over the year, the AJC has identified four key areas of focus: improving first instance government decision-making; the impact of the courts and tribunals modernisation programme; ombudsman reform and improving the relationship between…

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Written by lwtmp

November 8, 2019 at 11:53 am

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Reforming referendums: how can their use and conduct be improved?

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This report, published in July 2018, provides a valuable analysis of the use of referendums, suggesting ways in which their use could be better structured

The Constitution Unit Blog

jess.sargeant.resizedalan_renwick_webThis week’s turbulent political events represent the fallout from a referendum where the consequences of a ‘change vote’ were unclear. This is just one of many concerns raised about recent UK referendums. To reflect on such problems and consider possible solutions, the Constitution Unit established the Independent Commission on Referendums. Here Jess Sargeant and Alan Renwick summarise the Commission’s conclusions and recommendations.

The Independent Commission on Referendums has published its final report today. This sets out almost 70 conclusions and recommendations, all agreed unanimously by the 12 distinguished Commissioners, who span the major divides in recent referendums. The report is the product of eight months of discussion and deliberation amongst the Commissioners, backed by comprehensive Constitution Unit research into referendums in the UK and other democracies. The Commission has also consulted widely with experts and the public, including seminars in each of the four constituent countries of the…

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Written by lwtmp

November 30, 2018 at 11:08 am

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Post-implementation review of LASPO Part 2: the Jackson Reforms

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I have noted elsewhere the fact that the Government has started a post-implementation review of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO). (See this blog, March 2018 and September 2018).

The principal focus is on changes to the legal aid scheme – Part 1 of the Act.

Part 2 of the Act introduced changes to the costs rules relating to civil litigation proposed in the review led by Lord Justice Jackson.

Progress with this review has been slower than with the legal aid review. But in June 2018, the Government published a short statement on how it thought the changes were going, and set out a number of questions on which it sought evidence from practitioners and other civil justice stakeholders.

The focus of the inquiry is on the five principal reforms contained in the Act. They are

  • (i) non-recoverability of Conditional Fee Agreement success fees;
  • (ii) non-recoverability of After the Event insurance premiums,
  • (iii) the introduction of Damages-Based Agreements,
  • (iv) section 55 changes to Part 36 offers to settle proceedings,
  • (v) banning referral fees in personal injury cases.

The preliminary view of officials is that while their introduction was very contoversial, they are working pretty well in practice.

In June 2018, the Government has published an initial assessment together with a list of questions to which it hopes practitioners will respond during the summer of 2018. A further report will be published in due course.

The document is available at





Written by lwtmp

September 15, 2018 at 3:29 pm