Former secretary of state for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis is set to succeed Dominic Raab as the UK’s new justice secretary.
The 51-year-old MP for Great Yarmouth is set to face immediate pressure from striking barristers following calls from the chair of the Criminal Bar Association for “substantial positive movement” from the government.
The appointment comes as the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) grapples with the ongoing barristers’ strikes, controversy around its plans to overturn the Human Rights Act, and worsening court backlogs that have seen wait times for court hearings hit record highs.
Prior to winning his seat in 2001, the 51-year-old Conservative was called to the Bar by Inner Temple after completing a degree in economics at the University of Buckingham and an LLM in commercial law at King’s College London.
Commenting on Lewis’ appointment, Criminal Bar Association (CBA) chair Kirsty Brimelow QC called on the new justice secretary to “open negotiations” with barristers, following criticism of Raab’s failure to meet with the barristers’ trade body.
Law Society vice president Lubna Shuja said the new justice secretary “has an opportunity to re-energise the system” as she said the UK’s cost-of-living crisis strengthens the need for legal aid.
She called on the government to “rethink” its plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a new Bill of Rights.
The Liz Truss loyalist previously faced criticism over his defence of the government’s actions, following claims the Internal Markets Bill would “break international law in a very specific and limited way”.
Lewis has previously faced criticism over claims his plans to block veterans of the Troubles from being prosecuted would undermine the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
This follows reports the UK government under Liz Truss is scrapping plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a Bill of Rights.