Monday, 14 February 2011

Saving law from the lawyers

The Bar Council - that trade union for the bewigged closed shop that is appearance in the higher courts - is in a bit of a funk over changes to the funding and structure of legal aid. You see, our expensive elite of clever lawyers think that the result of the changes will be that folk decide to represent themselves:

We fear these attempted cuts, being so crude and brutal, will cost more than they save. They will trigger a surge in DIY litigants which risks gridlock in the courts, as they struggle to get justice.

Note here the real problem - rights to represent people in a court of law - rather than the fake problem identified by the Bar Council. What barristers cannot countenance is that ordinary lawyers - or for that matter well-informed laymen with the ability to marshall an argument - might muscle in on their cosy little protection racket. After all DIY is the only alternative to using a barrister! So the barristers join all the other special interests and wave shrouds:

“Barristers who practise in crime and family work are in the front line. They want to deliver the best service to their clients. But in these and other practice areas, the threats posed by the Government’s proposals are real and potentially brutal. In family cases, men or women suffering from serious psychological abuse may go unrepresented in private law proceedings. Parents, without representation, could face the removal of their children into care if the court finds reasonable grounds for believing that the children are suffering significant harm. Consumers suffering at the hands of negligent corporate entities may have to fund their own claims. The list is extensive.”

You see, dear reader, that barristers feel only they have that special magic that is needed to appear before a judge - not surprising given that the judge will also be a barrister and therefore inclined to prefer the cosy, lucrative ramp that is our legal system. Sadly, we are not making the right changes - sweeping through law's Augean stables to find a system where DIY representation (or even getting help from some other person, maybe a trade union official, a human resources specialist, a social worker or a planner) is not only possible but encouraged.

But the barristers are just protecting their interests, I guess.


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