The office of Lord Chancellor is one that has frequently been questioned. However,the extent and diversity of the questioning seldom attained the proportions reached in the final years of the twentieth century, when they drew attention to the deficiencies of the position of Lord Chancellor, the inherent tensions within that position and the incongruity of such a role in a modern democracy. This book examines these questions. It analyses the development and current position of the Lord Chancellor as head of the judiciary, member of the Cabinet, judge and Speaker in the House of Lords and considers his role in relation to judicial appointments. It also looks at the LCD, the development of which acts as an indicator of the changes in the office of Lord Chancellor. It concludes by making proposals for reform, the most far-reaching of which is the abolition of the office.
Diana Woodhouse is a Professor of Law at Oxford Brookes University.
Introduction: an historical office; the office of Lord Chancellor in the twenty-first century; a difficult position to defend. The Lord Chancellor in the constitution: introduction; constitutional justification for judicial independence; the Lord Chancellor - defender of judicial independence; safeguards for judicial independence; conclusion. The Lord Chancellor's Department: introduction; development of the LCD; the change to a management culture; the Court Service; the position of the permanent secretary in the LCD; conclusion. The Lord Chancellor's executive role: introduction; executive responsibilities; the influence of the Lord Chancellor; Lord Irvine - at the centre of government; policies; conclusion. The Lord Chancellor as judge: introduction; the Lord Chancellor as Speaker; the history of the judicial role; the influence of twentieth century Lord Chancellors; the judicial records of Lord Chancellors; the frequency with which Lord Chancellors sit as judges; the selection of judicial panels - the diminishing role for the Lord Chancellor; limitations upon the Lord Chancellor's role; the effect of the Human Rights Act 1998; conclusion. Judicial appointments: introduction, Lord Chancellors and judicial patronage, the judicial appointments system - considerations/ criteria, towards a more open system; a judicial commission; conclusion. The accountability of the Lord Chancellor: introduction; accountability in the House of Commons; appearances before select committees; the Court Service Agency; an uncertain division of responsibilities; accountability to the courts; accountability to the public; the Parliamentary Ombudsman (PCA); conclusion. The reform of the office of Lord Chancellor: introduction; the Lord Chancellor's judicial role; judicial appointments; the Lord Chancellor's constitutional role; the Lord Chancellor's executive role; conclusion.