Broken Law – comments on The Secret Barrister

Although the recently published exposé The Secret Barrister (anonymous, Pan Macmillan 2019) is about the criminal, not civil, justice system, it highlights rather terrifyingly the lottery that any legal route to dispute resolution can turn out to be, with missed messages, court appearances re-scheduled a dozen times, life-ruining postponements, lost files, inadequate court time…  all of which supports the case for going to mediation unless you absolutely have to resort to litigation.  Here is an excerpt:

“Between 2010 and 2016, the politically unimportant Ministry of Justice was required to implement budget cuts of over one third, the hardest-cut department second only to the Department of Work and Pensions.  As it slashed court staff and closed magistrates’ courts with gay abandon – reducing the number of magistrates’ courts from 330 to around 150 – the only clear route through has been to stack cases even higher, and sell ‘em even cheaper.  Court listing officers cram trials into the list with apparent disregard for the immutability of time and space, and with what can be most charitably characterized as dazzling optimism as the speed of the magistrates… The most straightforward [decision] which a judge would make on the spot….is subject to the same protracted choreography;  the mags listen politely to the counsel of their legal advisor, rise, shuffle out to their retiring room, enjoy a cuppa, summon the legal advisor to remind them of what they’ve already heard, discuss their decision, summon the legal advisor to remind them how to fill in the relevant form and shuffle back into court any time between ten minutes and two hours later to hand down their decree.”