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28th Feb 2023

Ministers, MPs & judiciary show support at Justice Lab launch event

Ministers, MPs and peers joined members of the judiciary and legal groups in the House of Commons at a meeting to showcase Justice Lab and its work to promote the use of data and evidence in the justice system.

The event, hosted by Chair of the Justice Select Committee, Sir Bob Neill MP, included speeches from Sir Bob himself, Legal Education Foundation board member, Hetan Shah, and former Appeal judge and Senior President of the Tribunals, Sir Ernest Ryder.

Justice Lab Director, Dr Natalie Byrom, also addressed the meeting which was attended by around 80 people, including the Minister of State for Victims and Sentencing, Ed Argar MP,  the Solicitor General, Michael Tomlinson MP, the President of the Law Society, Lubna Shuja, Afzal Khan MP, shadow minister for Legal Aid and the Master of the Rolls, Sir Geoffrey Vos.

In his speech welcoming the Justice Lab initiative Sir Ernest said:

We must end justice reform as an exercise in the ad hoc for good. Questions should be capable of being asked and examined, and addressed properly, so we can promote and commission better research in the future. The Justice Lab deserves all of our support.

In his opening remarks, Sir Bob said:

The establishment of Justice Lab is a really valuable step forward because we make policy around critical areas, not deliberately, [on the basis] of the dearth of hard, raw evidence. Would I have done that as a barrister? Would I have done that sitting as a recorder? Would Sir Ernest have done that sitting as a judge? No we wouldn’t. So why should we do that when deciding public policy?

In his comments, Mr Shah congratulated the initiative on its past work and said:

There’s been a lot achieved. Today is a celebration of where we have already got to but also the next phase of the initiative – the public phase of our new brand and the opportunity to showcase our work.

Following the event, Dr Byrom said:

We were delighted to be able to showcase our work to so many people across political, judicial and wider legal communities, and to thank all those who have played such a major part in getting Justice Lab to this point.

It was heartening to hear the strong support for what we are doing to promote data and evidence in the justice system, and by sharing our future plans we hope to build new collaborations to add to the value of our work over the coming months.

In a blog published this week, Dr Byrom reflects on the launch of Justice Lab and sets out the initiative’s future plans.