MAKING SAVINGS BY WEAKENING THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
Category : Kişisel Bloglar
MAKING SAVINGS BY WEAKENING THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
Any articles or books regardless of their authors’ are such inconsequential as opposed to the magnificence and significance of life itself. Nevertheless we still do compose scripts. If none of us do write, no one will do so for us. We write to emphasize what we behold and what we do contemplate in regards to each and every substance and incident around. Differentiating between interpreting the world and commentating is worthwhile as to only competent individuals raise their voice to interpret what exactly happens or happened in details whereas many people do comment from their own point of view. So I must admit that I am amongst the latter.
The recent changes in English law shows us by all means that British Coalition Government takes the advantages of their power in making laws against the social, legal and political developments. Their main argument is to get out of the recession as quickly as possible through introducing some legal (but not always lawful) restrictions supposedly “developments” to the public as well as minimizing the budget. Since this is not my area, I rather leave it to economists to discuss.
We will look at two vital proposals in this essay that Lib-Cons introduced . Accordingly, what walks of life will be severely affected and to what extent this will be a budget saving as the Parliament held.
-Plans to restrict “no win no fee” agreements
-Plans to close 157 courts, Magistrates Courts[i] in majority.
Let’s start from the first plan. Lawyers in the UK do not ask money from their clients in traffic accident cases unless they win the case. But now this is thought to be restricted. The proposal was introduced by Lord Justice Jackson. Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and the Personal Injuries Bar Association (PIBA) strictly oppose the plans on the ground that this will prevent many claimants who involved with complex and serious injuries to bring their cases to counselors. They stress out that it will not only hit the weakest link but also it could be contrary to Article 6 and Article 14 of the European Conventions on Human Rights simply because disabled individuals also who can not afford could be denied access to justice. In the same context the Vice Chairman of PIBA also argues that the claimant will no longer able to access to justice when NHS has been at fault and those who are able to bring the case to courts will be in advantage of getting paid the reasonable compensations and some costs no longer will be paid by the loser of the case.
Despite the critics from lawyers concerning the proposal, the Justice Secretary justifies the reforms on the Conditional Fee Agreements (CFA) so that the reform will help the country towards cost savings.
A Times reader alleges that the proposal was in fact introduced by the Tory government as hidden taxation on guilty parties’ to fund litigation for those who can not afford to pay privately. Prior to the proposal, the tax burden fell in to government therefore all taxpayers had to fund the Legal Aid. This is a quite interesting argument from public which stands against the illustration of the Vice Chairman of the PIBA.
I agree with the PIBA and APIL on this question. No win no fee agreement was one of the excellent domestic agreements of the UK’s Democratic System which was perfectly complied with the Article 6 of the European Conventions on Human Rights. It was an agreement for the winner party and burden on paying the costs by the loser party. If you encounter a road accident and have no cash to sue your alleged party then you as a citizen will no longer be under the protection of laws .To implement the CFA will not only hit the weakest in the society but it will widen the cliff between rich and poor. It is perhaps not wrong to say that there will be emerging another era of aristocracy in the UK which is not surprising for the Tory voters at the end of the day.[ii]
History repeats dramatically .When Margaret Thatcher came to power the country’s inflation was %27 and this rate was successfully decreased by the end of 1983 to %4 through adopting the economic liberalization of Thatcher. Despite the male dominated world she managed to rule the country for 11 years. Do we have any similar hopes for David Cameron as well? It is very unlikely because today’s Conservative led by David Cameron has not yet pursued as successful government policy as his predecessor. He rather hardens the laws and tries to appear as a cute guy to the upper class while contradicting himself concerning the various types of benefits (incapacity benefits etc.). You can rise up in a hereditary peer family. There is nothing wrong with these values but when it comes to ruling a country you need to be more universal and address to every walk of life in making laws. Conversely it would be no more possible to remain the country’s reputation at the very top of the list of the most liberal countries across the world. Let us say that we appreciate every proposal of the government for the sake of recovering the downturn. People of the country would ask in this stage; why do you then attempt to reform the ECtHR in Strasbourg when you take over the Council of Europe in coming November. Any relevance to economy? We will discuss further this issue in the next essay.
If we come back to the first proposal, the NHS point raised by the PIBA deserves significantly to be taken into account. Simply because CFA will make the NHS’s faults more invisible when considered the injured patients who face with the unaffordable Court costs.
What about the second proposal on the list above? The Justice Secretary has presented the plans to close at the least of 157 Magistrates and County Courts[iii] as a rationalization of the courts which are under used and lack facilities. The Ministry’s justification on the proposal is that the access to justice is not about access to buildings. Some people would have to make more journeys but the travel costs and timing of defendants as well as witnesses do not concern the Courts.
The researches however revealed by the Magistrates tell the opposite. The highest levels of use and with the best facilities are target to the courts closure. Senior Judges like John Thornill argues that Justice Ministry in their decisions do not take the objectives and evidences in to account. Although they acknowledge that some courts are subject to the lack of financial sustainability, Government takes the decisions at the expense of financial concerns without considering the community’s need to access to justice and probability at increasing crime rates. He adds that while he is in favor of rationalizing the court estates, justice must be seen where offences are committed. “If a case takes place 45 miles away, is this local justice?”
After various consultations with the legal associations and senior judges the Justice Ministry announced in December 2010 that only 15 courts are saved from the original closure plan of 157 courts, including 103 Magistrates. So the consultations and evidences presented did not make a big impact for the Government to divert from their plans.
The Times Legal Editor Frances Gibb expresses that there are a number of reasons for the closure proposals. Justice Ministry wishes to confine the minor civil disputes to be resolved though mediation and more effectively use of private legal insurance. He says that the cyber justice system will take over the facilities delivered by the County and Magistrates Courts. It sounds funny for parties to use internet legal services rather than applying to the court. They think perhaps to decrease the tenses over cutting the legal aid by replacing a new cyber system so that the poor party is not exposed to the court proceedings.
They argue that %80 of the theft trials are for the items less than £200 and they are not necessarily to judge in the County Courts. What a flattering and precarious statement is this! I am sure many future offenders are clapping your words as they are only in trivial numbers. If you do not allow so called minor criminal and civil offences to be proceeded in the County Courts then you have to bear the consequences which would likely turn in to major events in the future. Criminals under 18 or even over 18 will automatically contemplate for what they do is not a major offense so they will continue to harm the society. I am not arguing however that they are not going to be charged or whatsoever. But they will not know what a court atmosphere is like. Indeed they would be in great convenience in committing an offence. I think we all have to renew what we know about the objectives of a justice system despite the statistical fact that no jurisdiction in the world has ever achieved to prevent crimes in societies.
What we said right at the beginning is that all the factors which were revealed by Kenneth Clarke to justify the closure are nothing more than excuses but saving the budget as clearly seen in the statement of Justice Secretary “The proposed closure could save £15.3 million a year while one off maintenance backlog bill is 21.5 million.”
There are surely more effective and steady ways of saving the budget such as removing or reducing the incapacity benefits. It was in fact proposed by David Cameron even before the elections took place however it was withdrawn recently after the strong oppositions. I agreed what David Cameron discussed in one of his speeches regarding the benefits. The argument was “Benefit system creates a benefit society”
Yet Kenneth Clarke says that “Middle Class does not understand the impacts of cuts” Yes I do not understand and appreciate the cuts on justice system and public funding. It is perhaps beyond my visions. I kindly remind Mr Clarke that as long as we middle class work, our taxes shall continue to go for those who are entitled to benefit system. What about in vice versa situation? In a situation where no citizen works particularly who voted for the Tory but instead turning the Trafalgar Square in to Egyptians’ Tahrir Square? Are you ready to pay the benefits from the state’s treasure?
Although I share the concerns of the prospective undergraduate students who actively protested the tuition fee rises across the country, they should bear in mind that they are not the only parties who were affected by the government’s new introductions. It seems quite clear however that the raised undergraduate students’ fees will play a giant role in recovering the economy.
So the proposals are less predictable as to the state is not for people in the new era but people for the state. May God help all of us.
Sources: thetimes.co.uk/law, guardian.co.uk
[i] Magistrates Courts are the lower courts in the English Court Hierarchy which mostly deal with criminal cases and a very small number of civil disputes.
[ii] . Conservative was first established under the name of Tory Party in 1678. Therefore they are sometimes referred to as Tory or Tories.
[iii]County Courts deal with civil proceedings.