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UK Lord Chancellor seeks reconciliation with judges over new justice ministry

[JURIST] UK Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer [official profile], the first Secretary of State of the new Ministry of Justice (MOJ) [official website], sought to resolve differences between the judiciary and the government over the recent split [JURIST report] of the MOJ from the Home Office [official website] Wednesday, speaking twice with the United Kingdom's most senior judge, Lord Nicholas Phillips of Worth Matravers. Phillips, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, told a British parliamentary committee [prepared statement; JURIST report] Tuesday that top judges were very concerned with the establishment of the MOJ and "felt sidelined [because key] decisions were taken without [the judges'] participation."

Falconer, who has been under intense pressure from parliament to make amends with the judiciary, is expected to agree to the demands of the judges to conduct a "fundamental review" of the MOJ's functions and the constitutional problems it poses, as well as ensure the independence of the judiciary by protecting the court's budget from executive control. Phillips has characterized the split of the Ministry of Justice from the Home Office as a political device. Last week, a crisis meeting of top British judges called for constitutional protections for the judiciary [JURIST report] in the face of the new ministry. The Times has more.

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