David Ford launches access to justice consultation
Today, Minister for Justice David Ford MLA launched a review into access to justice in Northern Ireland.
The review will be carried out by Mr Jim Daniell, who is standing down from the position of Chairman of the Legal Services Commission to carry out this task. Mr Daniell previously chaired the Review of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland which flowed from the Good Friday Agreement.
David Ford said: 'I particularly want the review to consider new ideas; new ways of doing things, thinking that is radical and innovative. I want to look at how we help people solve problems and disputes without necessarily bringing those disputes into the courts, and how we can support people through the justice process. While we must ensure that access to legal representation will always be available to those who need it, I believe that we should try to find ways of avoiding the costly, adversarial and often stressful experience of a court hearing, in favour of alternative methods of resolving disputes.'
Although the Minister has set the terms of reference, the review will be independent. A preliminary report is due to be published by the end of February 2011, with a final report by the end of May 2011.