Bucks Free Press Article

David thought you might be interested in seeing an article he recently wrote for the Bucks Free Press.

"This week, as part of my duties as Lord Chancellor, I took part in a ceremony to mark the beginning of the new legal year. The senior judges, in their scarlet or black and gold robes, joined me in Westminster Abbey, after which we all processed to Westminster Hall, the most ancient part of the Houses of Parliament.

The ritual affirmed the authority and the formality of our legal system but was also an opportunity to reflect on the central importance of the rule of law in our constitutional system.

That principle, together with the independence of the judiciary, forms the very bedrock of a free and democratic society.

It safeguards us against tyranny and dictatorship. It allows us to live in a society where no individual and no government is above the law, a society where everyone can expect equality before the law and the right to a fair trial.

Here, governments of all political colours expect to have their decisions challenged and sometimes overturned in court.  But that respect for the rule of law is not universal.

As a Foreign Office Minister, I talked to colleagues from Eastern and Central Europe who remembered living under communist rule, when the judges and the courts were just a tool of the ruling regime.

I also spent many hours discussing with British business leaders their plans for foreign investment. They explained that a country with an entrenched commitment to the rule of law and judicial independence had a head start over the competition to attract jobs and inward investment. By contrast, businesses were nervous about committing money to a country where a dispute over their tax bill or their license to operate would be decided by a legal system that was in the pocket of ministers or oligarchs.

It is striking that in today’s global economy, English law remains the first choice when companies decide how to settle commercial disputes. Companies from around the world go to the London courts to obtain justice because they know that our judiciary is both expert and relentlessly impartial, doing justice according to the evidence without fear or favour.

I'm not starry eyed. There are many things about our legal system that could be improved. But let us also value those principles of the rule of law and judicial independence which underpin both our prosperity and our freedom."