Speech by Lord Chief Justice: Reshaping Justice

|Speeches|Lord Thomas

It is a pleasure and a privilege to have been asked to give this short address tonight. It is an important time for both Justice the organisation and for our justice system. With that in mind I want to focus on what I have described in the title as “Reshaping Justice”.

I have two purposes. The first is to make clear that our system of justice does need reshaping to deal with the fundamental change that is occurring in the role of the State. It is retrenching. The budget for justice is being reduced substantially. We must ensure that our system remains able to maintain the rule of law by administering justice effectively, speedily and impartially in this new age. The second is warmly to welcome the re-shaping of Justice and to say how very encouraged I am that Justice in its re-shaped form can and must play a vital role in reshaping our system of justice

Before I do so however I want us all to take a moment to step back in time to 4 December 1945 and to what one of the founders of Justice said at Nuremberg. After a short introduction and a reference to the allied victory, he said:

There are those who would perhaps say that these wretched men should have been dealt with summarily without trial by “executive action”; that their power for evil broken, they should have been swept aside into oblivion without this elaborate and careful investigation into the part which they played in bringing this war about: Vae Victis ! Let them pay the penalty of defeat. But that was not the view of the British Government. Not so would the rule of law be raised and strengthened on the international as well as upon the municipal plane; not so would future generations realize that right is not always on the side of the big battalions; not so would the world be made aware that the waging of aggressive war is not only a dangerous venture but a criminal one.

Sir Hartley Shawcross delivered that as part of his opening speech as the Chief Prosecutor for Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the Nuremburg Trials.”

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