The administration of justice in England has a long history. Nearly 800 years ago, on 15th June 1215, King John and 25 barons of the realm signed the Magna Carta Libertatum or The Great Charter of the Liberties of England (otherwise simply known as Magna Carta) in a field on an island in the Thames at Runnymede with 12 bishops and 20 abbots as witnesses.

If you’ve ever read it, you’ll know that Magna Carta is a curious hybrid of a document whose content ranges from the seemingly mundane, such as the removal of fish weirs on the rivers Thames and Medway, to such major legal concepts as trial by a jury of one’s peers and various rules for the administration of justice, which have been implemented by many other jurisdictions around the world, particularly those based on common law.

Parts of Magna Carta are still in force today: you can see which (with relevant amendments) by reading the text in the UK Statute Database.

image of 1 of 4 surviving original copies of Magna Carta, now in the British Library

One of 4 surviving original copies of Magna Carta, now in the British Library

What has Magna Carta to do with the Ministry of Justice and Capita? The answer is the disastrous contract for interpreting in courts and tribunals which the Ministry of Justice – in its limited wisdom – handed over to Capita Translating & Interpreting/ALS (posts passim).

An English translation (the original text was drafted in Latin. Ed.) of Clause 40 of the original 1215 text reads:

To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice.

If court proceedings cannot take place due to unqualified interpreters being sent to court by Capita T&I, or interpreters not showing up for court assignments, that sounds very much like justice being delayed and could even be bordering on refusal. By their cavalier attitude to the administration of justice, the Ministry of Justice (perhaps it should be renamed the Ministry of Injustice. Ed.) and Capita T&I are showing their contempt for eight centuries of English law.