This is the first talk that I have given since the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) received Royal Assent and since Sir Rupert Jackson temporarily stopped work. It is therefore fitting that I should start by paying tribute to Sir Rupert’s extraordinary achievement since January 2009. The challenge which he faced from a standing start in 2009 would have defeated any normal human being. Within a year, he produced a formidably detailed, coherent, well-expressed, and evidenced-based interim report and final report. To anyone else, that would have been more than enough, but, over the next two years, he almost single-handedly argued his case with all the many opponents to his reforms, lectured to any group who invited him, and negotiated with the Government and professional groups. And, contrary to almost all predictions, his proposals have now become law.
Even Sir Rupert’s most determined opponents have nothing but admiration for his achievements, his remarkable ability to marshal facts and arguments and his equally remarkable ability to argue his corner. It is a cruel irony that he should have been hit by serious illness just at the time that his proposals reached their culmination, but I am very pleased to tell you that he is well on track to be back, fighting fit, in a few months. Unsurprising for someone who is not just a judge, but a force of nature.