On 15 March 2018, at the premises of Keele University, Sir Ernest Ryder, Senior President of Tribunals delivered a speech on the topic “Assisting Access to Justice”. It reminded that access to justice has been described as the most fundamental of rights, without which any other rights – whether they are rights to property, rights under contract, public law rights or human rights – are chimerical.
He observed that access to justice is ‘not just a right in itself. It is [the] key enabler for making other fundamental rights a reality.’ It is incumbent on all of us – whether judges, lawyers, law teachers, law students, just as it is of wider society – to do all we can to ensure that access to justice is such a reality. We are all called on to assist access to justice.
In looking at it, Sir Ernest Ryder mainly focused on a number of related ideas:
- a principled basis for access to justice;
- the judiciary’s responsibility for securing effective access in order to promote the effective administration of justice and the rule of law; and
- civic responsibility for securing effective access.