Michael Gove is gone. Sacked for supporting the wrong side in the leadership race, the legal profession has been waiting on baited breath to see who the new Lord Chancellor would be. The answer to that question is the former Environment Secretary, Liz Truss, who becomes the first ever female to take over the role.
She enters the hot seat at a crucial time for the legal sector, with the future of the small claims limit and the right for genuine victims to claim the compensation they deserve, facing massive uncertainty following the now incumbent Chancellor, George Osborne’s Autumn Statement.
Who is Liz Truss
Mrs Truss is currently the MP for South West Norfolk and has been in parliament since 2010. Prior to her taking this role she has had spells as a minister of education and childcare, as well as her post as the environment secretary, which she took up a year ago.
Like the past two Lord Chancellor’s, she comes into the job without any previous legal background and was Michael Gove’s junior in his ill fated reign at the Department of Education, where she was frustrated by his inability to act on her suggestions.
However, she is not a complete stranger to the legal profession, as she served on the Commons Justice Select Committee for a period under the coalition government.
As the environment secretary, Mrs Truss has certainly not been one too hold back on her views. She is most notable for her passion for food and at the Conservatory party conference in 2014, she became a viral star for an awkward speech she delivered on tea, pork and cheese, where she labelled the fact that we import two thirds of our cheese from china, as a disgrace (watch below).
She followed this up with another memorably awkward speech a year later where she called for children to know the ‘proper names’ for animals, prompting much humour among listeners on twitter and elevating her into the public eye once more.
What are her views on Legal Reforms?
Whilst the legal profession will be hoping that she displays the same sort of passion and outrage towards the current proposals to increase the small claims limit, this all could be in vain, as in the past, Ms Truss has consistently voted in favour of restrictions and cuts to legal aid.
Below is a tweet from the Deputy News Editor for the Law Society Gazette, John Hyde, listing Mrs Truss’ actions in favour of legal reform and it does not make for comfortable reading. In October 2011 she voted against making legal aid available in clinical negligence cases. She followed this up by supporting a number of legal aid reforms that would see those who need it go without, most notable in April 2012, when she voted against making legal aid available to children in a wider range of cases.
— John Hyde (@JohnHyde1982) July 14, 2016
As for Michael Gove, he joins a whole host of big names under the Cameron administration on the political scrapheap. Worryingly, one name who isn’t joining him is possibly one of the worst Lord Chancellor’s to take on the role, Chris Grayling, who has somehow been appointed the new transport secretary.
1. Flikr ,Gareth Milner, https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrgarethm/15390407915