Friday, 1 June 2012

Law has become a tool for the rich

The Law pages in The Times 31st May stated - "Law has become a tool for rich."   The article by Jonathan Ames stated the views of Lord Phillips of Sudbury who has been a qualified solicitor for 48 years.

Regulatory change is blasting through the legal profession and Alternative Business Structures (ABS) are being created as a result of the Legal Services Act 2007.  ABS allows private equity and other investors into law firms.  Their only interest will be making money.  "The profession has sold its soul," said Lord Phillips.  "You can be absolutely certain that if leading corporations get involved in ABS they will not do the work that is complex, difficult and under-rewarded; they will cherry pick."

The diminishing number of high street solicitors firms trying to service the whole population - and in particular the less well-off - will be knocked out of the market.  Then, the ABS outfits
will up their prices.  "It is an approach totally devoid of any sense of social contract."   "It is the marketisation of our lives that I'd hoped would never infect my own beloved profession in the way it has."

Lord Phillips also attacks the amount of legislation.  "The ruling classes are addicted to legislating."  "There is more and more law that constrains our lives," he says, pointing out that Parliament produces 13000 to 15000 pages of statutes annually.  In 2011, there were 14 laws introduced each day.  "We legislate more than any other major democratic country," Phillips says.  All this does is lead to more bureaucracy, centralisation and demoralisation.

Phillips made the further point that the way we are moving will result in the rich and powerful being even more advantaged than they already are in terms of legal services.  There is not even a remote equality of arms.  The law has become another tool for the rich and mighty that others can't access.

Legal Cheek's post is well worth reading - "Impersonal and bureaucratic legal profession is in crisis."

Lord Phillips makes seriously important points. It is hard to disagree given the serious erosion of access to justice which is taking place.

1 comment:

  1. I received a comment from Mr Patrick Cullinane who sought to draw attention to what he describes as "widespread corruption" in the UK. I have chosen not to publish the full comment since this is a general blog about legal matters and so does not become involved in particular cases and does not offer legal advice. However, in fairness to Mr Cullinane, the following media reports give some details of his situation and his battle to achieve redress:

    Guardian 2003

    Guardian 2010

    The media reports apart, I know nothing of the detail of Mr Cullinane's case but it is perhaps one example of the immense problems which lack of access to justice is capable of bringing about. Effective and reasonably priced methods of making redress available are essential in democratic society if the law is not to be merely the plaything of the rich.