Sunday, 30 June 2013

The Matter Before You

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the matter before you is of national and constitutional importance, and goes to the very heart of the equal availability to justice for all. 

The case for the prosecution has been hastily prepared and presented to you by a TV producer without any experience or qualifications in law and with a record of dubious expense claims, before absenting himself from the court for most of the argument. 

Junior counsel, another with a woeful absence of qualifications and who has allegiances that swing from one part of the political spectrum to another with almost monotonous regularity, has enthusiastically but rather ineptly taken the baton to carry it forward.  His bumbling attempts to argue the case exposed a lamentable ignorance of the facts and his inadequacies often led him to resort to scurrilous and at times libellous denigration of a respected profession in desperate attempts to support his position.

Their pupil, who has at least some qualifications in the legal profession but has an undeclared interest, has presented some supporting arguments with half-hearted enthusiasm and has often appeared uncomfortable with the case.

Much of the evidence presented has been discredited for lack of providence or accuracy.  Arguments that have attempted to demonstrate a financial imperative have not been supported by a) a well presented business case for change, nor b) accurately demonstrated a significant deficiency in existing arrangements.  Little evidence appears to be available to show that the proposed new arrangements would be able to provide consistent quality of service or indeed would be able to provide a service at all in some remote areas.

Leading Counsel has demonstrated a total unwillingness to meet with recognised experts in the field to discuss alternative solutions to a perceived need to save money.  A similar disinclination has been demonstrated to examine inefficiencies in existing arrangements that might achieve the savings as have been reported to be required.  The irrational preference shown for handing services over to huge corporate organisations with no experience in the field, must lead one to suspect an ulterior motive.

Support for the prosecution case has only so far been voiced by three people outside prosecution team, two tabloid journalists one a failed barrister and another who has an established reputation for writing right-wing gibberish; the third a Member of Parliament who has made vociferous but misleading arguments in the house.

The case for the defence has been eloquently presented by acknowledged experts from all branches of the law (including the Bar Council, the Criminal Bar Association, the Law Society, and the judiciary.  Even the government’s own Attorney General and the Treasury Council) have spoken against the proposals)  These objections have been made in a passionate yet measured manner without resort to personal abuse (although it must be said the subject has provoked many questions regarding the parentage and sanity of leading counsel by some supporters of the defence).  The proposals have been roundly condemned as unjust and dangerous.

Convincing arguments contradicting the evidence given by the prosecution have been made, and incontrovertible rebuttal evidence placed before the court.

Existing practitioners have expressed a willingness to discuss alternatives but understandably refused to engage in negotiations that would ultimately lead to the destruction of their profession (one might say that turkeys don’t vote for Christmas).

A back-bench debate in the house almost with one voice expressed dismay at the proposals with members from all parties speaking strongly against them.

Interested parties from peripheral professions have widely condemned the proposals and a petition demanding a debate in the House about it has attracted over 100,000 signatures.

Media interest has focussed on the more sensational aspects of the case and most of the general public have exhibited a typical disinterest born out the mistaken belief that it won’t ever affect them.

So members of the jury consider your verdict how shall you decide?  That’s a really tough one.

No comments: