Who is the Lord Chancellor?
The appointment of David Liddington as the new Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice was recently announced. Liddington becomes the fourth non-lawyer to become Lord Chancellor in recent years after Chris Grayling, Michael Gove, and Elizabeth Truss.
So who is David Liddington? He was elected as Conservative MP for Aylesbury in 1992 and has held the seat ever since. Over the course of his political career he has held a number of other positions including Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (November 2003 – July 2007), Minister of State for Europe (May 2010 – July 2014), Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council (July 2016-June 2017).
In a statement on Sunday Liddington stated “Democracy and freedom are built on the rule of law, and are protected by a strong and independent judiciary….I look forward to taking my Oath as Lord Chancellor, and to working with the Lord Chief Justice and his fellow judges in the months ahead, to ensure that justice is fairly administered and robustly defended.”
The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister. Historically the Lord Chancellor was the head of the judiciary, the Speaker of the House of Lords, and a member of the Cabinet as head of the Lord Chancellor’s Department (now the Department for Constitutional Affairs). This placed the Lord Chancellor in the unique station of holding positions in the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary branches of government so the role was reformed by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. Since then the Lord Chancellor is Head of the Ministry of Justice but no longer head of the Judiciary or Speaker of the House of Lords.
The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State is responsible for improving the criminal justice system as well as maintaining the functioning and independence of the courts. To this end he is responsible for judicial appointments and matters relating to the judiciary, although appointments are made on the advice of the Judicial Appointments Committee. Some of his other responsibilities include legal aid, the law commission, prison and court reforms, and regulation of the legal profession.
While one of the Lord Chancellor’s duties is regulation of the legal profession, recent Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling rejected a 2013 recommendation by the Legal Services Board to regulate the Will Writing profession by making it a regulated activity. Since then, the SWW has been working on Chris Grayling’s calls for stronger self-regulation. Calls that have been duly recognised and supported by SWW members.
The problems that the SWW face are that we can only regulate those that elect to come under our banner and whilst these individuals are keen to ensure that their standards are equal to that of other regulated legal service providers, we can only support and directly influence our members.
Any firm or individual wanting to discuss how the SWW can support them should contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Together we can all make a difference to how Will Writing is perceived by the public and together we can drive the profession forward.