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In the spotlight – New MoJ Ministers

Photo of Mark Fox, Parliamentary and Policy Officer

Mark Fox, the new Parliamentary and Policy Officer at LeO, puts the new Ministry of Justice appointments under the spotlight.

LeO News readers will be aware that there have been some changes since the election.

For the legal profession, the appointments of the new Secretary of State for Justice and Courts and Justice Minister will be important as they will, in large part, determine the future shape of the justice system. Here is a brief outline of the new occupants in these posts.

David Lidington CBE – Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice 

AS MP for Aylesbury since 1992, he has had a solid but low profile rise up the political ladder up to his appointment last year as Leader of the Commons.

Over time, he has expressed interest within Parliament on a wide of range legal issues. Some of these include:

  • Voting to restrict legal aid
  • Voting in favour of limits to fees paid to lawyers in no-win no-fee cases
  • Voted to allow more in camera court hearings on issues of national security.  

As the longest serving Europe Minister in the Foreign Office, he has had considerable exposure to single market measures so is aware of the impact Brexit may have on the UK’s legal sector. One of Mr Lidington’s most important responsibilities was to promote the protection of rights and uphold the rule of law in countries across Europe.

The work of his department is likely to be taken up in large part by Brexit and also potential legislation on security issues.

In an introduction to MoJ staff, Mr Lidington outlined his intentions saying: “I see our staff as the professional custodians of this justice system and I hope, as we work together, that you will provide me frank and objective advice that will strengthen it further.

“As part of this, it is vital that we continue to support the good work being done to calm the situation in our prisons. It is this calm that will allow us the space to make the far-reaching and effective reforms that my predecessor, Elizabeth Truss, began. I, like her, am passionate about digital justice.

“We must continue to embrace the opportunities that this provides. In Aylesbury, my local court, I’ve seen its transformative power. I look forward to seeing it in action in more courts, as we build a system that is truly just, proportionate and accessible, while also providing swifter justice.

“Finally, I want to underline how Parliament must be central to everything we do. However well we deliver digital justice, or reform in our prisons, it is in Parliament – through MPs and via them their constituents – where we will truly build our reputation as a department. I urge you to consider this as you support me and my ministerial team.”

Dominic Raab – Courts and Justice Minister

Dominic Raab is well known in political and policy making circles for his legal work, outlined below. His recent appointment is a step up from his last role in the MoJ as Parliamentary Under-Secretary.

Previous posts:

  • Justice Minister Jun 2016 -
  • Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice) May 2015 - Jul 2016
  • Human Rights Minister, Ministry of Justice 2010 - 2015
  • Joint Committee on Human Rights 2010 – 2013

Background
An international lawyer by training (he read Law at Oxford and International Law at Cambridge), his first job was at law firm Linklaters and he later worked at Liberty. He also worked as head of a legal team at The Hague trying war criminals.

Summary

The two new appointments bring considerable political experience to the Ministry of Justice. The new Secretary of State will be dealing with Brexit issues in the short term at least, whilst the Courts and Justice Minister’s familiarity with the MoJ should mean he fits seamlessly into the new role.
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