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Social Market Foundation research reveals the risks of a 'crumbling' legal system

Posted on 3 November 2021

Research from the Social Market Foundation published in November 2021 shows that a crumbling legal system poses a series of risks for Britain's economic growth and international influence.

The report, "Law and the open economy: Securing the future of English law and civil justice system for 21st Century prosperity" outlines the growing evidence that English law is, in some areas, in desperate need of modernisation, alongside the civil justice system that underpins it.

Mishcon de Reya sponsored the Social Market Foundation's research.

The report lays out the evidence for the need for modernisation to enhance UK's prosperity and global competitiveness, and presents the following recommendations that will aid this project:

  • Recognise more clearly the importance of English law and the civil justice system as an indispensable element of the “social infrastructure” and make the quality of English law and the functioning of the civil justice system a higher priority among policymakers, with a new long-term strategic approach towards policy in these two (closely connected) areas.
  • Reduce the time and other cost problems that plague the civil justice system so that access to justice can be increased, in particular for businesses, and outcomes more easily and cheaply achieved.
  • Modernise English law so that it is “fit” for the 21st century economy and therefore can, most effectively, support higher domestic growth as well as remain the best and most widely used law for governing international trade and financial flows.
  • Protect English law from being undermined through its use by other jurisdictions, who are offering English law-based adjudicative services but do not have an interest in sustaining the integrity of English law over the long-term.
  • Ensure legal services are a key topic in future trade discussions and that trade arrangements with developing countries in particular, are facilitated by efforts to help bolster the rule of law in those countries.
  • Strengthen existing, and build new international institutions and networks that will enhance the reputation of, increase familiarity with and grow the levels of support for common law systems in general and English law in particular, around the world.
  • Continue to try and accede to the Lugano Convention as well as pushing for swift implementation (by signatories) of the 2005 Hague Convention on Choice of Courts and widespread adoption of the 2019 Hague Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments.

Commenting on the report, Managing Partner James Libson said:

“We are proud to have supported this research, which is a timely reminder of the direct and indirect importance of English law not only to our continued economic prosperity, but also to our sense of place and influence in the world.

“For too long, we have taken the economic and social benefits of our system of law for granted, ignoring growing problems and allowing other legal centres to steal a march. 

“If we are to continue experiencing the considerable benefits that English law has historically brought to the UK, it is vital that government, legislators, business and the legal profession act now.”

Access the report here

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