A tribute to our founding Patron Sir Henry Brooke

It is with deep sadness and a personal sense of loss that we record the death of one of our founding patrons, the Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Brooke, on 30 January 2018.

Sir Henry was a passionate and tireless champion of the importance of improving public understanding of the law as both a vital aspect of access to justice and as a cornerstone of the democratic rule of law.

His vision was neither narrow nor inattentive to the everyday injustices that people suffer. In his view, public legal education is not only important to a healthy justice system, it is also intrinsic to a more socially just society.  Sir Henry recognised “the importance of helping people to make sense of the law if we are to reduce the poor outcomes suffered by so many because they lack legal capability. Investment in public legal education means investment in the health and wellbeing of society as a whole, and not simply in the wellbeing of the justice system.”

Sir Henry was also visionary in pursuing the benefits of law and technology while guarding the interests of those who might be left behind. He understood the value of and synergies between public legal education and technology, and what they could bring to widening access to justice at a time of reduced funding and growing need.

His engagement with public legal education has been longstanding, first as a member of the Public Legal Education Task Force, chaired by Professor Dame Hazel Genn, and subsequently as the chair of the Public Legal Education Network steering Group when it was established in 2008. It was under his wise guidance and unshakeable belief that “every good idea has it’s time” that Law for Life was established.

The Law for Life team past and present will always be grateful for the way in which he championed the charity and the cause of public legal education, most recently through the astounding work that he did for the Bach Commission. His support was many fold: intellectual, personal and financial. His personal generosity kept the charity afloat in difficult times and his energy, kindness and belief in the importance of our work, have kept us going.

And we know that his loss is felt the same way in the many other charities that he supported, and our thoughts are also with his family at this difficult time.

Sir Henry was unique in the way he combined a deeply ingrained and traditional belief in the rule of law and the importance of access to justice with an enthusiastic embrace of the tools of the modern age. His blogs and tweets inspired a new generation as well as his long time admirers. He will be greatly missed.