Opening of the legal year
Speech by The Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice on the opening of the legal year.
Ancient and modern
My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen, and distinguished guests.
I’m delighted to welcome you to Westminster Hall.
As you know, this is my first Lord Chancellor’s Breakfast.
I’ve only changed tradition in one respect.
I am the first Lord Chancellor to have a train-bearer today.
That’s because I am – as far as I know – the first Lord Chancellor to wear high heels.
But otherwise we continue as before.
This magnificent occasion dates back to the middle ages, when this great hall was home to some of the earliest courts in the land: the Common Pleas, the King’s Bench and the Chancery.
This very room is arguably the birthplace of English justice.
Because it was here that our system was developed over seven centuries.
And it was from here that English Common Law was exported around the world.
Our extraordinary history can be seen in the names of our modern courts.
Today the Chancery Division is housed not under a medieval hammer-beam roof – but under the gleaming glass and steel of our state-of-the-art Rolls Building.
Our Common Law
We can see the results of our history abroad, too.
Our common law system – founded on that precious asset, the rule of law – has been emulated for centuries by countless jurisdictions.
An immensely civilising influence on the world, it has spread liberty, order and prosperity to billions.
We know – and the world knows – that our law, and our justice system, are among the best.
Our judges, many of whom are here today, are rightly celebrated for being independent, impartial and utterly incorruptible.
And I am delighted to be working with a great generation of reforming senior judges, including the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, with whom I recently published a joint plan for modernising the courts and tribunals.
Our lawyers, also represented by many among you, have a global reputation for excellence that is second to none.
It is for those reasons that business leaders, from London to Asia, prefer our law to be the governing law for their commercial contracts.
And it is why our capital is renowned as the leading global centre for international legal services and dispute resolution.
I am delighted, as ever, to welcome our guests from overseas today – ministers, ambassadors, judges and lawyers.
Thank you for being here.
As a trading nation – as Global Britain – we will continue to work closely with you, our partners.
Because we will always be an outward-facing nation, open to the world.
And, as we continue to build on our unique and precious legal tradition, I am determined – as Lord Chancellor – to respect the rule of law here and abroad, to defend the independence of the judiciary, and to ensure the provision of resources for the support of the courts.
Those crucial elements – and the commitment of so many here today – will ensure that our justice system continues to lead the world.