In his Commentaries on the Laws of England, William Blackstone said that there is a right ‘of applying to the courts of justice for redress of injuries’. This is necessary to ensure that individuals’ rights do not become a ‘dead letter’. Blackstone did not say that the right carried with it an entitlement that the courts would consider the parties’ claims at a hearing: that went without saying. On 1 June, people with claims alleged to be worth up to £10,000 were stripped of that right. Their entitlement to a public hearing depends on ‘judicial discretion’: if a judge decides the dispute is ‘suitable for determination without a hearing’, the parties won’t get one – even if they both want to be heard. The new procedure applies in six courts nationwide as part of a ‘pilot period’ that lasts until 2024.