I am instinctively distrustful of insurance companies, despite the fact that a good portion of my monthly income goes into their coffers to keep my car on the road, the roof over my head and, in theory at least, provide me with an income if the worst happens and I can’t work. Hopefully, I will never have to call on my policies, although that only seems to reinforce the feeling that my hard-earned cash is just lining someone else’s pocket.
Being in government isn’t just about what you do, it’s how and when you do it. You would think that a general rule of thumb might be for ministers to indulge in a lot of flag waving over things they propose to do and to try and sneak out bad news when something more interesting is going on. But sometimes ministers attempt to slip their own proposals under the radar because they know they are contentious. One such proposal, quietly pushed out last year, is indeed highly contentious: secret courts.
It’s rather a British thing to support the underdog. I’m pretty sure most of us feel a natural affinity for David and get a warm glow when he manages to land one on Goliath. It’s nice to know that when the little guy takes on an injustice done to him he can be sure of a fair hearing thanks to Lady Justice and the principles of magna carta. At least that’s what it used to be like.
So this will (probably) be my last blog post of 2011, just over a year since I wrote my first one on the Legal Futures website (which you should read if you don’t, the website that is, not my post). I was inspired to write because I was fed up with just sighing loudly and shaking my head at the absurd reporting of a survey suggesting most, if not all, high street law firms would come out of the ABS mangle alive. One year on, sadly, not much has changed with the way many lawyers think about the changes taking place in the legal market. Lots else has though.
You know when something is seriously wrong with the world when you are on the same side of an argument as Lord Tebbit. Not exactly known for his compassion, he famously urged the unemployed to get on their bikes and look for work, he’s not a politician you would think of as a supporter of any sort of state funding for, well anything. However, this week he has rather surprised everyone and come out fighting to preserve legal aid for children in medical negligence cases.
This week will be crucial in the fight to save legal aid as the bill slashing its budget and restricting its scope enters its final stage in the House of Commons. Any objective, rational assessment of the provisions in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill (LASPO) would surely come to the conclusion that this was a disaster on its way to happening. Unfortunately, being objective and rational isn’t a requirement for being in government.
In my last post I wrote about how administrative justice was the Cinderella of the justice system. I now think there is probably another candidate. If administrative justice is grown-up Cinderella waiting for the prince, then public legal education is baby Cinderella, who doesn’t even dare dream about him. As with any aspect of the law that isn’t about criminals or lawyers it doesn’t get much attention and even less money. But lack of column inches and scarcity of funds don’t mean something isn’t important.