eing innovative and responsive are hugely important areas of focus for Hodge Jones & Allen. On a month by month basis, we review, discuss and improve all internal procedures and processes to ensure our client’s interests always come first. We engage, discuss and respond to our clients, supporting experts and other organisations to ensure we achieve continuous improvement in all areas of our firm.
We responded quickly to the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic to ensure our clients and staff stayed safe. Our IT infrastructure enhanced to allow all our staff to work at home, in court or on the move. Our aim – to provide expert legal advice to individuals and families as quickly and efficiently as possible.
We continue to campaign and challenge to support our clients – challenging Government, institutions and individuals on behalf of those we represent. Recent campaigns have included a call for a Statutory Public Inquiry into Essex Mental Health Services and a call for a new compensation scheme for victims exposed to asbestos but not directly working with it (secondary victims).
We are not afraid to stimulate debate by asking important, searching questions that may help to improve access to justice. Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors remains actively committed to continuous improvement and the delivery of first class legal services to all those we represent.
Read more about HJA Innovations in Law below:
HJA Innovations in Law
The HJA Innovation in Law initiative, established in November 2014, was established to stimulate debate with surveys, reports and events.
Led by Patrick Allen, Senior Partner – Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors believes innovation is needed within legal practices and the judicial process. We dedicate time and energy to working with others to actively engage and improve outcomes for clients. Ensuring access to justice for all is what we’re about.
We always put our clients’ interests first and fight for what is right. Constantly inspired and motivated by comments and feedback from both our clients and the wider public.
Our surveys help us to keep ‘in touch’ and take action to improve our own internal processes and, more widely, to campaign and speak out against reforms which may jeopardise our civil justice system.
We passionately believe that everyone who is subject to the law should have access to the law.
Patrick’s intention is and remains to run a law practice that serves every corner of society. Over 40 years on and the firm has successfully supported thousands of individuals who have found themselves in difficulties and in need of a legal system to help them fight back against injustice.
“We will keep on raising public and political awareness of the current parlous state of justice in this country and seek to influence future policy. Without it, it is not too high-flown to say the very fabric of society is at risk.” Patrick Allen
Innovation Report 2014
Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors supports innovation within legal practices and within the judicial process.
The first major ‘Innovation in Law’ report published in 2014 explored the current state of the justice system from interviews held with leading, experienced legal professionals in England & Wales. It revealed a decline in access to justice and falling public trust.
Major new legal study reveals decline in access to justice and falling public trust
83% of lawyers believe that the justice system is not accessible to all, with 61% fearing there is little trust in the fairness of the judicial process
A major report into the current state of the justice system in England and Wales has shown that senior lawyers are deeply concerned about access to justice and public trust in the legal system, with innovation desperately needed to improve the status quo.
Hodge Jones & Allen(HJA) appointed Ipsos MORI to interview over 500 of the most senior and experienced legal professionals in the country, exploring the impact of major changes to the profession in recent years, including the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) and the Jackson reforms of the civil justice system.
The Innovation in Law Report found that:
- 83% of respondents believe that the justice system is not accessible to all members of the public
- 81% said the situation is worse than five years ago
- 87% stated that wealth is a more important factor in access to justice than in the past
- 79% felt that changes to court fees were making it harder for people to bring cases to court.
The report also found mixed views on the Jackson Reforms:
- 47% felt that the Jackson Reforms in particular benefited big business and government rather than ordinary people
- 46% felt that recent reforms were likely to contribute to a substantial increase in the use of private arbitrators rather than courts.
The decline in access to justice has had a major impact on public perceptions of the legal system with 61% of legal professionals agreeing that there is little trust in the fairness of the judicial process and 88% agreeing that the court process is intimidating to the general public.
One partner interviewed on the current state of access to justice reflected: “I see the rule of law slowly becoming eroded as access to courts and tribunals, assisted by competent representation, becomes affordable only to the very poor or the very rich.” Another stated that “The issue of access to justice in light of continued legal aid cuts is a huge problem.”
The report is one of the most comprehensive examinations of the legal profession in many years and seeks to generate discussion around how, given the Government’s cost cutting objectives, the profession can innovate to improve access to justice and the court process, including options for privatising aspects of the system.
HJA aims to stimulate debate with the report, and has started by outlining 19 suggested innovations in response to the Ipsos MORI research, including telephone and online access to a government funded Legal Help Centre, penalties for parties that refuse to engage in settlement discussions in civil cases, an independent audit of the cost of the justice system, an assessment of the value of contracting out aspects of court proceedings to the private sector and removing VAT from legal fees when individuals are privately funding their cases.
Patrick Allen, senior partner at Hodge Jones & Allen says: “This report raises major concerns from across the legal profession over inequality in access to justice and the introduction of a slower and more expensive processing of cases through the court. As a strategy, it is arguably failing its financial objective and more importantly fails the first test of any healthy legal system; the provision of justice to all.
“The research indicates that many legal professionals believe the public are starting to lose trust in the fairness of the justice system and do not have the knowledge they need to represent themselves. Whilst most respondents agree on the need for increased access to legal aid to remedy this, the profession needs to move on and to look at more innovative ways that equality of justice can be delivered.”
Seventy-eight per cent of legal professionals surveyed wanted to see increased access to legal aid but in addition respondents believe that part of the answer lies in education and modernisation of the courts system through the use of technology:
- 71% of professionals questioned believe that an understanding of the law and legal process should be taught in schools
- 50% believe the efficiency of the claims process is worse than five years ago
- 57% support the idea of virtual courts in some cases
- 57% support compulsory electronic communication of all court documentation.
Some believe that an inevitable privatisation of aspects of the justice system will deliver faster and cheaper outcomes with 46% of legal professionals agreeing that we are likely to see a substantial increase in the use of private arbitrators instead of going through the court system. Of those with knowledge of the Jackson reforms, 66% would now be willing to recommend to clients that they seek settlement through binding arbitration rather than go through the courts.
Patrick Allen continues: “Although the court system is changing and modernising, the research indicates to me that many lawyers think the pace of change is too slow, particularly with regards to investment in IT. In an environment where legal professionals are being asked to deliver more for less they are being hampered by the courts. It is not surprising therefore that many see private arbitrators and incentives to make out of court settlements as part of the answer.
“Change is needed, whether it is better use of technology through virtual courts or electronic documentation, the contracting out of some aspects of court proceedings to the private sector or the introduction of more fixed penalties for minor criminal cases. There is little incentive for courts to innovate and drive down costs now that fees are met by litigants in the civil courts, so pressure for change will need to come from the profession itself.”
Innovations Event 2014
Hodge Jones and Allen Solicitors hosted the launch of their Innovation Report at Kings Place, Headquarters of the Guardian and Observer, and a concert and arts venue close to King’s Cross on Friday, 21 November 2014
The event was attended by 180 guests from across the legal profession.
The innovation report was the culmination of ground breaking research carried out by MORI on behalf Hodge Jones & Allen to find out the views of the legal profession on all the current challenges facing the profession including life after the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2013, Lord Jackson’s reforms, maintaining access to justice, Information Technology and the courts, training and the law as a career.
The research was introduced to the reception by a prestigious panel of speakers chaired by Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow.
On the panel was Sir Keir Starmer QC (Labour MP for Holborn and St Pancras) and former DPP, Fiona Bawdon legal journalist, Andrew Ritchie QC, Head of 9 Gough Square Chambers and creator of the PI private arbitration scheme and Lady Justice Gloster, Court of Appeal judge.
There was an extremely lively discussion with Questions and Answers which centred on the outcomes of the research and the recommendations laid out within the report. Download a copy here.
Innovation to improve outcomes for clients, improve efficiency in the legal process is at the centre of Hodge Jones & Allen daily work, Innovations include:
- The development of an APP to provide clients with useful information, advice and contact numbers, if they are arrested.
- Modelling of personal injury cases to identify factors that lead to successful client and commercial outcomes
- Offering on-line fixed price advice to litigants in person on how to conduct their case
Hodge Jones & Allen is campaigning to raise awareness of the barriers to justice and issues surrounding public interaction with the legal system in the UK.
Our latest report highlights the severity of the challenges the justice system is facing in 2015. We are listening to the public and working for issues to be acknowledged; promoting innovation and change.
We have listened to the views of the public and want to act immediately. In response to our latest report we have launched a petition asking the government to reconsider the legal aid budget, and we will be setting up a ‘future justice through education’ scheme.
Populus conducted the research for Hodge Jones & Allen. From the analysis of those surveyed (over 2,000 people) the key findings which came to the fore included issues and concerns with trust, money, education, race and technology.
The full results from our consumer survey are available to read within our 2015 report.
The report includes easy to follow infographics to highlight the main findings in each of the four areas:
- Access to Justice
- Trust, Transparency and Representation
- Education – Understanding and Aspiration
- Technology and Innovation
We asked people across the whole of the UK for their views on the justice system. As part of our report we analysed the full regional breakdown to identify difference between the regions.
Clear divides (for example between North and South) were not evident emerged but, we did gain some interesting results.