Speech by Sir Ernest Ryder: The Modernisation of Access to Justice in Times of Austerity

5th Annual Ryder Lecture at the University of Bolton

Introduction

  1. I was honoured to give the inaugural lecture in this series some four years ago before I had the pleasure of being installed as your Chancellor. This is my third year as Chancellor in what has been for me a remarkable journey: discovering just how vibrant, diverse and optimistic our student population is and how important the University is and you are to the economic and social future of our region, the Northern Powerhouse. I was, and remain, very privileged to lend my name to the series.
  2. On the occasion of my first lecture, back in the autumn of 2012, when the country was basking in its Olympic glories, I spoke about the importance of respect for the autonomy of our citizens and the opportunities then before us to modernise our family justice system. Since then, reports and speeches (in particular about public – including legal – policy) have become ever more sombre in focus. The word ‘austerity’ seems to creep into the titles and text of most major addresses we now hear. Following Sartre, I’ll follow the crowd in order to be different.
  3. I take this approach for a very important reason. It’s one that I expect the Lord Chancellor and his colleagues in Cabinet would recognise and I would like to explore the point with you. It is in many ways a simple reason. The point about ‘austerity’ is this. What is right, is right; what is fair, is fair; and what is just, is just. Justice has no second class: even in an age of austerity.
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