LegalEagleStar

… a kind of Legal Column

Posts Tagged ‘Redress Board

The IMF, The Legal Profession and Austerity for The Citizen

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International Monetary Fund's Managing Directo...

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Friday  was the Last  Day of  Term.  Us lawyers breath a collective sigh of relief at this stage, as the months of June and July are usually hectic. Trying to settle cases before the Long Vacation is tough, exhausting work. The Courts now are officially closed until October. While litigation lawyers usually take their vacations in August and September, it is also a very busy period in the office while you try to play catch-up with work and prepare your cases which should be coming on for hearing next term.

After the invariable merriment following last Friday, my mind switched to thinking about, not only next term, but indeed the future of our profession in general. While there has been much talk about the demands of the IMF as regards bringing in their dictatorial sweeping changes to the profession, there’s also been a lot of time spent in the promotion of many ‘Law without a Lawyer’ schemes. Take the much heralded Mediation for example. The Mediator gets an upfront payment and the process is not binding. Well, our clients don’t pay up-front, as most could not afford to do so on the average industrial wage. It is difficult enough to survive with a family in this day and age never mind putting us in funds in advance for our work. Don’t lawyers already mediate? Don’t we settle cases whenever possible? Of course, the Elite have no such problems. But they do live on a different planet from the rest of us mere mortals and have their own unique set of lawyers to act for them.

The Legal Profession not only needs reform but it needs investment in its pursuit of Justice for All. I have no time for the ‘Law without a Lawyer’ Brigade both from within our profession and outside of it. We must as lawyers, use our expertise for the betterment of the Citizen and not allow our clients be charged for a service which is second-rate and run by Insurance Companies, Developers, Bankers etc. who have their own vested interests to protect. In the United States it is common place for property buyers to deal with their Realtors directly and let them handle all conveyancing matters regardless of whether any conflict of interest occurs. They then satisfy themselves with the purchase of  Title Insurance – from their friendly Insurance Company –  which they will rely on should disputes arise at a later stage. This is not the way forward if the purpose is to keep the best interests of the client foremost. It will enrich those who act for the Developers and their Insurance cousins. In England you have licensed conveyancers. They are no substitute for a properly qualified and experienced lawyer. You must insist on a professionally qualified lawyer to act for you, you alone, and have no conflict of interests. Your lawyers must read the title and take all steps necessary to ensure that the title properly vests in you and you alone.  Remember it’s not just the bricks and mortar that you are buying. It is in essence the title to the property that you are spending your hard-earned cash on.

We see the Courts being circumvented in regard to the victims of Institutional abuse. Redress Boards being introduced to look after the victims. It is unfair to the victims that they cannot have their cases processed through our Courts to provide them with the necessary compensation that is rightly theirs. Beware of Government interference in the rights of the Citizen. It is my view, that the interests of the Citizen are being compromised, not those of the offenders. In personal injury cases, Juries were abolished following successful lobbying by the Insurance Industry. So, the Citizen was removed from the process as the Insurance Industry asserted that they could not be trusted to sit on Juries. Sure what would they know about injuries and compensation ! It should be noted that awards increased thereafter. Not satisfied with this outcome our Government, again at the behest of the Insurance Industry, abolished the right of the Citizen to bring his/her case before the Court without first having to submit same to PIAB, or should I say, The Injuries Board. Look at what a simple Google search brings up regarding their sterling service…..

”You can avoid solicitor fees by applying directly to the Injuries Board. Our dedicated team are available 8am-8pm Monday to Friday to help you.

…Well, how professional is that ? Are they qualified lawyers with years of experience running cases day in, day out, before the Courts ? No, and going by their propaganda it’s quite clear they want to avoid solicitors i.e. the experts, at all costs. So do you want their ‘dedicated team’ or do you want an expert to look after your case? You MUST bring your application before them and unless you do so you will be denied your constitutional right to bring your case before our Courts of Justice. Nice one Ms Harney. You cynically undermined the rights of the Citizen, which I’m told you’re very proud of. Isn’t it really nothing more than a cynical attempt by ex-Minister Mary Harney to undermine solicitors and their clients. It was not the interests of the Citizen that was foremost in Minister Mary Haney’s mind, but to create a ‘Lawyer Free Zone’ which would see her Insurance Company friends decide on what the Citizen was awarded. The continuous compliance with the wishes of the Insurance Industry, at the expense of the Citizen, is nothing short of a disgrace. It is no wonder that now, the same Citizen has been forced by ‘Our’ Government into embracing austerity in order to bail out the Developers and the Banks who enjoyed such a close and cosy relationship with our Government Ministers.

Be under no illusion. Reform of the Legal Profession as proposed by the IMF (Bankers) will be used to further expose the Irish Citizens to more ‘Law without a Lawyer’ schemes. It is the legal profession who stand up for the rights of the Citizen not any Bank, Insurance or other such vested interest Groups. It is the right of every Citizen to have access to our Courts to pursue their rights. Are we to deny you, the Citizen such rights? Are the Courts the sole preserve of the Rich and the Elite in our Society? We need investment in our Courts and the way we do business. The Courts are there to protect us from those who hurt, abuse, neglect and victimize us. Those who try to deny the Citizen the protection of the Courts are being nothing short of immoral.

It will be interesting to see how Minister Shatter, himself a solicitor, with his own high-end Firm, and with an acknowledged dislike of the Bar ( The Barristers ) handles the IMF Brief on reform of the Legal Profession. I’d say some interesting times lie ahead.

LegalEagleStar , Wednesday , 3rd. August , 2011

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