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Reimagining the Law 3 June 2020

1. The spirit of the law

How do we restore the centrality of law to people's lives? Can we do this in a way that more appreciate that it is the spirit of the law which matters rather the letter of the law which some, particularly the elite, use to further their own interests or purposes
Lord Thomas, Baron Thomas of Cwmgiedd KT PC

2. Access to justice

The use of virtual platforms for participating in and observing court proceedings should be expanded to enable much wider public access, reduce unnecessary waiting times and costs for users and increase public knowledge and understanding of the work of justice systems.
Christine O'Neill

3. Greening financial contracts

Financial documentation for infrastructure projects includes environmental covenants, but the problem is effective monitoring. The advancing technologies of satellite imaging and AI can remedy this by providing reliable data - "spatial finance" clauses should be included in contracts, supporting the all-important global effort towards sustainability.
Sir William Blair

Environmental lawyers struggle to obtain and analyse big data to detect policy failures, monitor compliance and prosecute offenders. Better data are needed, as well as machine learning algorithms to spot patterns of forensic interest and provide alerts. Environmental scientists, data scientists and lawyers could work together to achieve this.
Howard Covington

4. Reimagining planning laws

Making them more equitable, democratic, and yes, protecting peoples' environment? For example: applicants for planning permission can appeal, objectors never can (and they can't afford judicial review). Successful objectors cannot recover any of their costs, often substantial, of legal and expert assistance. A previous flawed planning decision should never be a precedent.
Barbara Dohmann QC

5. What's up with men?

Why is it that of the 80,000 people in our prisons today, 77,000 are men? Across the planet, it's men who commit crime. Is it biology? Society? The flipside of whatever puts men in positions of power? A hitch with the patriarchy? As the mother of a young son, I'm concerned. Help!
Andrea Coomber

6. Top to bottom

Rule of law is an essentially bottom up concept involving certainty, fairness and equality. Rule by law is, by contrast, top down. For a democracy to thrive, it must get them in the right order. Rule by law can follow rule of law: the converse is not a realistic prospect.
Guy Beringer, Spyros Maniatis, Keith Ruddock

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