October 11, 2013

How likely is it that reforms inspired by the Jackson Review will achieve their stated aims? That is the question various people are currently asking. And a jolly interesting question it is too.

There’s no doubt Jackson and the ensuing LESBO legislation will achieve something – possibly quite a lot of things. But will any of them be “good” things, and, if so, for whom?

One of the people currently doing some asking is Mr Justice Ramsey, the crazily named guy charged with putting Jackson into Action. Apparently, there may be a bit of tweaking to be done.

Specific concerns have been raised over unintended consequences such as non-affluent people being denied justice and most small law firms going to the wall. But, frankly, anything could happen – and most commentators agree that it’s still a bit early to tell.

One theory raised this week in specialist journal Legal Fuchsias is that the whole thing will backfire horribly on insurers, creating half a dozen law-monkey-employing mega PI law firms who will industrialize the process and farm the hell out it it.

That, presumably is one of the scenarios Ramsey and his colleagues will be considering as they seek to evaluate exactly where the Jackson Reforms are actually headed.

Doubtless pleased to hear of anything that might possibly forestal the wholesale annihilation of its extinction-listed membership, the Motor Accident Solicitors Society (mASS) have welcomed Ramsey’s intervention – although Bud Craigsworth, its chairperson, reckons it might have been a good idea to get a “bed in first”.

Among the things Ramsey and his two sidekicks, Justice Stalwart and Judge Lethal, will be looking at are a) whether the current bill of costs is compatible with Preparation H, b) how people are supposed to be able to fund litigation, and c) “maintaining access to justice at a proportionate cost”.

The obvious question here is: proportionate to what – and, to a lesser extent, proportionate in what way, i.e. inversely, obversely, conversely (TM), perversly, etc. etc.

If the intended sense is that people should still have some chance of accessing justice at a cost that may conceivably be within their means, some commentators suggest Ramsey’s triumviral troikoid trio have plenty of work to do. David Blot of law firm Blot & Co notes that “as a practicing solicitor I mainly see clients getting less damages and law firms struggling to survive.”

One solution might be to offer low-cost access to justice in bite sized chunks, so that even poor people could afford a bit of justice – perhaps not very much – more of a flavour or a taster, as it were – something like a sympathetic letter from a court official noting their distress and wishing them all the best.

In the final analysis, however, such solutions may prove impractical, and we may simply have to recognise that access to justice is a privilege and not a right – something that has to be earned – with either a debt of iron or a debt of blood – or some such mumbo jumbo.

And_Justice_For_All_Wallpaper_by_anjiruONE


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