Government lawyer bashing shows no sign of letting up

Over the 25 years of my legal career I’ve  watched and adapted as various Governments and non practising lawyers have interfered with the law in an attempt to improve the system.

All have in my view failed as a result of refusing to listen to the legal profession – those at the coalface who deal with the many variety of problems and reasons why it is necessary, in many cases as a last resort, to instruct a lawyer.

My field of expertise has always been acute trauma accident cases and fatalities with a niche for assisting the armed forces and their families.

I’ve  witnessed the fight that families have in a David and Goliath situation against the might of the MoD. The MoD don’t want their dirty linen washed in public and every time I witness families and victims shifting from total trust in the MoD to disbelief and anger.

Successive Government’s sought to take away legal aid for these personal fights.  It was the government not lawyers who brought in Conditional Fee Agreements and After the Event insurance – so called “no win no fee” arrangements. Lawyers didn’t want his but the government didn’t listen.  And yet it is lawyers who are now  blamed for the so called “compensation culture”.

Next came legitimising paying for cases – the worst decision a government ever made and one I voted against at the time.  Suddenly cases were bought and standards dropped as repeat business for a job well done was not expected, the next case was simply bought in.

The Government fed up with the adverts on TV marketing for accident work – a monster of their own creation – then decided to ban payment for claims or referral fees. Yet still the renamed Claim Farmers, now Claims Management Companies, continue to thrive.

Other Government initiatives have also done more harm than good, with Alternative Business Structures and public listings resulting in a number of high profile failures and the hike in court fees denying access to justice for the seriously injured.

Isn’t it about time someone asked what is it the Government is trying to achieve? Do they just not like lawyers so want to stamp us out? We have been around for longer than Parliament and the need for legal advice and assistance is growing not diminishing. Most of us went into law to help those who needed legal assistance and advice.  Yes there have been some horror stories as with MPs, banks and in every walk of life.  But let’s remember the fabulous work the vast majority of lawyers do.

Hilary Meredith