Oh do fuck off you ghastly little shits

Hang the bastards and hang them high.

Currently, section 16 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 gives courts the power to award costs that are \”reasonably sufficient to compensate the defendant for any expenses which he has properly incurred in the proceedings\”.

The last government wanted to introduce a scheme that limited these costs to legal aid rates, which would mean those who hired their own lawyers would be able to reclaim only around a quarter of their estimated costs.

And the current government wants to do this again.

Fuckers.

Get accused, don\’t have a decent lawyer, go to jail.

Get accused, have a decent lawyer and prove your innocence, go bankrupt.

This makes being accused the punishment. Whereas the whole point of the justice system is to sort the guilty accused from the innocent accused and punish only those proven to be guilty. And the reason we set it up this way is to protect the innocent from false accusations by the State.

This is the point of juries, of defence lawyers, of double jeopardy, of Habeas Corpus.

They\’ve already got rid of, or at least tried to get rid of, three of the four (juries in complex fraud trials, double jeopardy, Habeas Corpus for those accused of terrorist crimes) and now they want to take down the last, defence lawyers.

The move is part of wide-ranging initiatives to curb the Ministry of Justice\’s budget…………..Ministers expect to save £40m under the proposals.

You miserable, ghastly, little cocks. There is no better use of the taxpayers\’ money than defending the freedom and liberties of the taxpayers. That\’s the first, foremost and primary duty of government itself.

Look though at what the money is actually spent upon:

The Ministry of Justice has been accused of wasting a \”colossal\” amount of taxpayers\’ money after spending more than £130 million refurbishing an old office block for its new headquarters.

Opposition politicians and union leaders have expressed astonishment at the cost of the project to create a new home for Justice Secretary Jack Straw and his staff.

The remodelling of the concrete tower block, next to St James\’ Park in London, cost £915 a square foot to complete – around 18 times more than a standard refurbishment would cost in the private sector.

In addition to the refurbishment costs, £2,745,000 was lavished on new furniture and fittings for the offices and £290,000 was spent on artwork.

I used to work just down the road from that and from memory Boris has kindly provided a plenitude of lamp posts in the area. And rope is cheap.

Innocents will be bankrupted so that Jack Straw could sit in a comfy chair and look at pretty pictures.

Who would begrudge me the return of capital punishment?

17 thoughts on “Oh do fuck off you ghastly little shits”

  1. I wouldn’t, but could there be another solution? Pass a law that forces the decent lawyers to work at legal aid rates? I’m not generally in favour of government strongly regulating employment, but I’m willing to make exceptions to this general principle.

  2. “I wouldn’t, but could there be another solution? Pass a law that forces the decent lawyers to work at legal aid rates?”

    Identifying the inevitable economic consequence of this particular bit of lunacy is left as an exercise for the reader.

  3. No more decent lawyers? Are they only motivated by the money? Don’t they want to be good lawyers? Aren’t they inspired by the cause of fighting for justice for others, etc?

    What will the smart kids who want to be lawyers do instead? Engineering? Start businesses? Some might consider that to be a good outcome.

    PS: If the lawyers provided by the court to the poor aren’t decent lawyers, we have bigger problems in our criminal justice system.

  4. Dear Ed, if you haven’t worked out yet that anything the State provides for free will be at best below average, and quite often useless (and even occasionally malignly useless) then you have a lot of life to experience.

  5. “Are they only motivated by the money? ”

    Probably not only but it is likely to be a very high contribution – I (not a lawyer) do boring work a lot of the time but it helps me pay the rent…

    “What will the smart kids who want to be lawyers do instead? Engineering? Start businesses? Some might consider that to be a good outcome.”

    Maybe we should separate out between criminal defense lawyers and other lawyers as a first step? I can certainly agree with you that there appears to be too many other lawyers, but …

    1) the share of lawyers working as criminal defense lawyers would decrease if their pay is restricted
    2) seems to me that the best way of reducing the number of lawyers would be to cut some laws

  6. Tim: damn fucking right throughout. Although worth noting the actual reason for this insane plan is that Cameron has simultaneously vetoed Clarke’s plans to save money on expensively-making-bad-people-worse, whilst refusing to reverse the cuts in the MoJ’s budget that were based on Clarke’s plans.

    Ed: as noted above, eejit.

  7. Pass a law that forces the decent lawyers to work at legal aid rates?

    One potential consequence might be that more of the decent lawyers (i.e. the 1% exception) might end up at the CPS.

    Not a consequence I like to think about.

  8. I vaguely recall our host praising the idea of the Australian health care system, where the government agrees with the healthcare providers that a hip replacement should cost A$x, cataract removal A$y, etc.That is then what the government will pay, and if you want to add your own money on top to get a better service, that is your choice. School vouchers would be another similar scheme.

    Why not the same for legal proceedings? One might define this to be an amount which is “reasonably sufficient to compensate the defendant for any expenses which he has properly incurred in the proceedings”. I simultaneously object to
    1. the idea of giving a blank cheque to lawyers.
    2. the casual acceptance that the “legal-aid lawyer” will be crap and thus you’ll be convicted even if you are actually innocent (but that’s OK, because this will only happen to the poor, not to us?).

    Emil: Cut the number of laws? Absolutely.

    Jim: OK, so the poor person gets the crap court appointed lawyer, at no charge. The richer person hires a better lawyer, but if not convicted, gets that free as well, paid for by the taxpayer.

    John Galt: Why would that be bad? Isn’t it a good idea to have decent lawyers on both sides?

    John B: Eejit? Probably.

  9. Ed,

    this voucher system is certainly a better idea than price fixing.

    “2. the casual acceptance that the “legal-aid lawyer” will be crap and thus you’ll be convicted even if you are actually innocent (but that’s OK, because this will only happen to the poor, not to us?).”

    It’s not ok, but locking up rich people as well doesn’t help the poor one bit either

  10. “I wouldn’t, but could there be another solution? Pass a law that forces the decent lawyers to work at legal aid rates?”

    Force CPS (and the entire Civil Service) to work at those rates.

  11. So Much For Subtlety

    The French system, too, fixes a price for a medical service and pays that. If you want to get a better doctor, you have to pay the difference between what the government offers and what he demands.

    I don’t see that as unreasonable. Nor do I see it is unreasonable when applied to lawyers. The State may have an interest in making sure some minimum level of legal representation is met, but it surely does not have an interest in paying whatever lawyers demand.

    I think TW is wrong here.

  12. Its one thing to suggest fixed prices for health procedures, and quite another to do so for legal representation.

    The most important one being that the State can decide it wishes to charge you with all sorts of trumped up allegations, safe in the knowledge it you will be bankrupted even if you can manage to prove your innocence. Thus the State gains a massive power to silence people it finds awkward. The process becomes the punishment, guilty or not.

    The State tends to have less power to require you to need health treatment, and were it to be caught trying to do so, even our toothless courts might be prepared to do something about it.

  13. So Much For Subtlety

    Jim – “The most important one being that the State can decide it wishes to charge you with all sorts of trumped up allegations, safe in the knowledge it you will be bankrupted even if you can manage to prove your innocence.”

    Sorry but why do you think this? You think that I would not be able to find a lawyer who would work for their fee or less? Why is it if I had cancer I could find a doctor who would work for what the French government thought fair, but if I was sued by the State I couldn’t find a lawyer who did so?

    “Thus the State gains a massive power to silence people it finds awkward. The process becomes the punishment, guilty or not.”

    Actually what they do is simply remove your right to a lawyer. As we have seen in Canada.

  14. @SMFS: because if you are facing some government inspired campaign against you, using the courts as a proxy for they want to achieve (and given the amount of laws passed in the last few years there is always something they could charge you with if they really wanted to), who do you want on your side? An average lawyer, hamstrung by financial constraints on who he can use to dig out the evidence to prove your innocence, or your own lawyer who can use all the expert witnesses/analysis available? If the lawyer you can use is State appointed, the conflict of interest gets even worse.

    The State does not have such constraints to work to when it wants to prosecute someone. They can spend as much of the taxpayers money as they like on it. All I’m saying is that you should be able to do the same to defend yourself, and if you are proved innocent the State should have to pick up the tab for being wrong, not just say ‘Here’s 50% of your costs, oh, you’re now bankrupt, how very unfortunate.’

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