Local Justice – Securing the Future

07 February 2019

On 31 January Birketts hosted a dinner at Providence House in Ipswich to celebrate and discuss the longevity of justice in Suffolk. 

The dinner brought together an impressive list of individuals from education, the justice system and local community groups, including representatives from Suffolk County Council, local law firms as well as the Mayor of Ipswich and the Right Reverend Martin Seeley Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.

The group had been assembled to discuss the threat to legal services in Suffolk due to a lack of work experience opportunities (as identified by The Bridge Group Report 2016) and the lack of careers education for students from poorer socio-economic background (OFSTED 2013).

His Honour Judge Martyn Levett led the dinner discussion, the focus of which was to find a blueprint which provides school leavers, under-graduates and post-graduates access to a constellation of employment prospects across the spectrum of legal services in Suffolk. The belief is if successful, the scope can be widened to assist those who feel they missed out on educational opportunities but want to return into gainful employment. 

HHJ Martyn Levett outlined the many and widespread opportunities to work within the justice system and highlighted the need for those working within the sector to have a social obligation to engage with the community they serve. 

He went on to highlight, there is a growing threat that hinterland areas are becoming mere dormitory areas, communities are more isolated and a consequence is that local talents are gravitating to Metropolitan Cities in London, Cambridge, Norwich and Chelmsford. 

His Honour Judge Martyn Levett said: “Law is now such an important and diverse qualification that we are in danger of losing talented young persons to jobs outside the county. The pendulum is swinging wider and wider in areas of business which require lawyers in their employment. 

If we were able to retain a rich talent in the area, we would be able to make our county prosper and flourish. If we can enhance the opportunities for job-seekers it gives confidence to the business community, which leads to more investment, more employment prospects and provides positive economic growth and healthy social development for those in more disadvantaged circumstances.”

The transformation of the Court system has been implemented to provide a new operating model with a sustainable and affordable infrastructure that delivers better services at lower cost and safeguards the rule of law by improving access to justice. 

His Honour Judge concluded that as part of the overall considerations, the system must: 

  • ensure justice is accessible to those who need it
  • design systems around the people who use them
  • create a system that is financially viable using a more cost effective infrastructure (better and effective use of IT, buildings and new working practices)
  • eliminate the most common causes of delay
  • retain the UK’s international standing as a world class provider of legal services and the judiciary as world leaders in the delivery of justice, and
  • maintain the constitutional independence of the judiciary.

Consideration is now being given to the creation of a working party to take this initiative forward to ensure the longevity of justice in Suffolk.