A member of the Cabinet (including the Prime Minister and 21 cabinet ministers, the most senior of the government ministers); Responsible for the efficient functioning and independence of the courts. Also the Secretary of State for Justice. (Wikipedia)
…the reforms “were intended to make the Lord Chancellor both a Cabinet Minister responsible for [the] courts and the departmental responsibilities that the Lord Chancellor had, but also to retain and entrench his or her role as being a defender of the rule of law and the justice system.” (Rt Hon. the Lord Falconer of Thoroton QC, who as Lord Chancellor steered the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 through Parliament, House of Lords, Select Committee on the Constitution
6th Report of Session 2014–15)
…“the role of Lord Chancellor is of central importance to the maintenance of judicial independence and the rule of law”. The Lord Chancellor’s duties and responsibilities with respect to the rule of law and judicial independence are set out in sections 1 and 3 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, and combined in the oath of office…. The oath is unique to the Lord Chancellor and is made in addition to the privy councillor’s oath of allegiance taken by other Cabinet Ministers. (House of Lords, Select Committee on the Constitution
6th Report of Session 2014–15)
….”a ‘link’ or ‘buffer’ between the judiciary and the executive“…(Professor Andrew Le Sueur, Professor of Constitutional Justice at the University of Essex)
…“conduit” for the concerns of the judiciary and has regular meetings with the
senior judiciary”…”regular meetings with the Lord Chief Justice, regular meetings with other members of the senior judiciary“…”On occasion I have sought their advice. Clearly with the Lord Chief Justice I have a number of areas of common responsibility“…(Chris Grayling, MP, former Lord Chancellor, The Select Committee on the Constitution, 15 Oct 2014)
The Lord Chancellor, formally the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, is a senior functionary in the government of the United Kingdom. They are appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Lord Chancellor is the second highest ranking of the Great Officers of State, ranking after only the Lord High Steward. Prior to the Union there were separate Lord Chancellors for England and Wales, for Scotland, and for Ireland. The Lord Chancellor is a member of the Cabinet and, by law, is responsible for the efficient functioning and independence of the courts. In 2007 there were a number of changes to the legal system and to the office of the Lord Chancellor. Formerly, the Lord Chancellor was also the presiding officer of the House of Lords, the head of the judiciary in England and Wales, and the presiding judge of the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice, but the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 transferred these roles to the Lord Speaker, the Lord Chief Justice, and the Chancellor of the High Court respectively. The current Lord Chancellor is David Lidington, who is also Secretary of State for Justice. (Wikipedia)
The office of Lord Chancellor has existed for over 900 years and evolved substantially throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, but the most radical modern reforms came in 2003–05. Nearly 10 years on from those reforms, controversies surrounding Government policy on judicial review, legal aid and the European Court of Human Rights have focused attention on the role of the post-reform Lord Chancellor, and the combination in 2007 of the office with that of the Secretary of State for Justice with its added responsibilities for politically contentious areas of public policy….Although the posts of Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice have been combined, they each have distinct areas of responsibility.
The functions and duties of the post-reform Lord Chancellor are:
(a) Respecting the rule of law and defending judicial independence in accordance with the oath of office...
(b) Oversight of the judiciary: although no longer the head of the judiciary, the Lord Chancellor remains the minister responsible for pay and conditions for judges. He or she has a role in judicial appointments and disciplinary proceedings, including having a veto over senior appointments and acting as co-signatory (with the Lord Chief Justice) of disciplinary decisions. Mr Grayling told us that “it is a stewardship role to make sure that the ship is sailing smoothly rather than a management role.”
(c) Responsibility for the courts and tribunal service: the Lord Chancellor has a duty under the Courts Act 2003 to ensure an efficient and effective courts system.
(d) Responsibility for the provision of legal aid and for the regulation of the legal profession through appointments and resourcing for the Legal Services Board.
(e) Responsibility for the process of civil, family and administrative law.
(f) Other miscellaneous functions: these include the core historic role of the Lord Chancellor as Keeper of the Great Seal of the Realm, and the ceremonial roles of presenting The Queen with Her speech at the state opening of Parliament and taking part in the formal opening of the legal year. There are also other roles and responsibilities remaining from the old office, including over official records, a position as a Church Commissioner, and other ecclesiastical functions…
(The functions and duties of the post-reform) Secretary of State for Justice: the office holder has responsibility for prisons and the probation service, criminal law, sentencing policy, human rights, data protection and freedom of information.
Lord Chancellor has a special responsibility to uphold the rule of law and to protect constitutional principles
…The constitutional position of modern Lord Chancellors, how they perform their functions, and whether any changes were needed to enable the officeholder to fulfil their duties. (House of Lords, inquiry 2014) Lord Chancellor’s duty to the rule of law requires him or her to seek to uphold judicial independence and the rule of law across Government. It recommends that the Lord Chancellor’s oath of office be amended to reflect this duty both to respect and uphold the rule of law. …the Government to agree formally that the rule of law goes beyond judicial independence and compliance with domestic and international law and that it includes the tenet that Government should seek to govern in accordance with constitutional principles. (House of Lords Constitution Committee, Report, 11 December 2014)
Lord Chancellor retains a special veto power over certain appointments recently restricted to appointments at High Court level and above, under the Crime and Courts Act 2013. ( House of Lords, Select Committee on the Constitution 6th Report of Session 2014–15)
With the post-reform Lord Chancellors playing a more limited and reactive guardianship role, the Law Officers have become ever more important in this respect. Although the Law Officers are not, as Mr Grieve (Dominic Grieve, MP, former Attorney General) told us, in a position to oversee the rule of law more generally across government, they do have a significant role supporting the Lord Chancellor in his duty to do so. This includes alerting the Lord Chancellor to potential rule of law issues, and working with him or her in Cabinet in uphold the rule of law, including defending judicial independence. As Lord Falconer told us: “the Attorney and the Lord Chancellor acting together are quite a powerful force in government.” The duty of Lord Chancellors to ensure that the rule of law is
respected across Government has not changed as a result of the Constitutional Reform Act. Carrying out this duty has, however, become more difficult for post-reform Lord Chancellors and more directly dependent on the personal authority and attitude of the individual holding the office…. the senior judiciary have a more direct role in ensuring that the Government is aware of concerns about the rule of law through discussions with the Lord Chancellor. The Lord Chancellor has monthly meetings with the Lord Chief Justice, as well as less frequent but regular meetings with the President of the Supreme Court. The Lord Chief Justice also has biannual meetings with the Prime Minister. (House of Lords, Select Committee on the Constitution 6th Report of Session 2014–15)
“The Lord Chancellor is no longer the sole defender of the rule of law. He is buttressed by all these other bodies, who can provide advice and support, and scrutiny. The institutional landscape may seem more complex and more fragmented; but reliance on multiple guardians rather than a single guardian is also more robust.” (Professor Robert Hazell, House of Lords, Select Committee on the Constitution 6th Report of Session 2014–15)
Criteria for appointment of the Lord Chancellor
Constitutional Reform Act 2005, section 2: ‘Lord Chancellor to be qualified
1. “A person may not be recommended for appointment as Lord Chancellor unless he appears to the Prime Minister to be qualified by experience.
2. The Prime Minister may take into account any of these—
(a) experience as a Minister of the Crown;
(b) experience as a member of either House of Parliament;
(c) experience as a qualifying practitioner;
(d) experience as a teacher of law in a university;
(e) other experience that the Prime Minister considers relevant.
3. In this section “qualifying practitioner” means any of these—
(a) a person who has a Senior Courts qualification, within the meaning of section 71 of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 (c. 41);
(b) an advocate in Scotland or a solicitor entitled to appear in the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary;
(c) a member of the Bar of Northern Ireland or a solicitor of the Court of Judicature of Northern Ireland.”
Lord Falconer explained that these criteria were added because “Parliament envisaged the role of the Lord Chancellor as being a departmental Minister but with these special added responsibilities and, therefore, these special qualities”. He set out what he thought those qualities were: “First of all, it involves understanding what the rule of law means in a way broader than simply what everybody understands the rule of law means, which means complying with the law. Secondly, it means having personal qualities that mean that you will actually stand up for the rule of law. Thirdly, it means understanding that there will be occasions where your obligation requires you to do something other than simply comply with the collective responsibility”. (House of Lords, Select Committee on the Constitution 6th Report of Session 2014–15)
Lord Chancellor: a lawyer or constitutional expert in the post?
“…we consider there to be clear and significant benefits in the office holder being a lawyer (or legal academic)…(The legal system) is best defended by someone with a developed knowledge of that system. Although we acknowledge that such knowledge is not the sole preserve of lawyers, it is much more likely to be found in lawyers than elsewhere.” (Bindmans LLP, House of Lords, Select Committee on the Constitution 6th Report of Session 2014–15)
…”there are advantages of having a Lord Chancellor who is a lawyer … but it is not essential”. (Dominic Grieve, MP, Former Attorney General, House of Lords, Select Committee on the Constitution 6th Report of Session 2014–15)
…”I can say with confidence … that you do not have to be a lawyer to understand the importance of the rule of law, of the independence of the judiciary, or of constitutional matters, or to have a strong motivation to seek to protect them.” (Sir Hayden Phillips, the first Permanent Secretary of the Lord Chancellor’s Department not to be a lawyer, House of Lords, Select Committee on the Constitution 6th Report of Session 2014–15)
The UK Justice System has been decaying rapidly since 2010 with the transition from the Labour Party to the Conservative-Liberal Party, and then for consecutive terms to the Conservative Party alone. There is clear and unquestionable evidence that Lord Chancellors from Kenneth Clarke to Elizabeth Truss have been failing their duties as Lord Chancellors. Click on the links below for each Lord Chancellor to find out how they failed Parliament, Government and us – the People.
Source of list below: Wikipedia