LegalEagleStar

… a kind of Legal Column

Posts Tagged ‘Solicitors

The IMF, The Legal Profession and Austerity for The Citizen

with one comment


International Monetary Fund's Managing Directo...

Image via Wikipedia

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

Waiting for a Phone Call, Listening to Enda, my Grandson Toes and a Red HairDryer

with one comment


Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Image by Tom Szustek via Flickr

Today has been a frustrating day. Started off fairly well, as well as could be expected. Yet another sleepless night worrying about the kids, the dog, my mother and a couple of clients who I feel really sorry for. Then the phone call I’m awaiting, well hoping for really.

The day started with me listening to Newstalk Morning News. Maybe it was just the sound of Enda Kenny’s voice declaring that he hadn’t lied to the electorate when he said he was going to protect and maintain the services of a Hospital prior to the General Election. He hasn’t, and has now ‘seen the light’ and realised he can’t fulfil his election promises. Nothing new there you might say. Well, what was the purpose of the original statement? If it was to ensure that he and his Party got elected then things would make sense. Because now, we’re told that Hospitals are unsafe and we need to go to the Major Hospitals for care. The problem is compounded as we’re now told by the Doctors that the major hospitals are unsafe. I’m sure, like me, you are fed up with Spin and the absolute nonsense we’re expected to believe. On the facts today it seems that all the Medical Negligence cases we have Must Succeed as quite clearly today… all hospitals are unsafe, according to Enda Kenny, our Fine Gael Taoiseach. If only life was as straight forward as that. Listen, Enda lied to get elected. That’s the story. No more, no less.

So, angry and frustrated I head into the shower. Lovely moments alone, with the sound of the water caressing you for those few minutes. Maybe after Enda’s Government start rationing water, charging us enormous amounts to actually use the water.. I’ll have to take a quick shower. To think that we’re a small island surrounded by water ! The loss of my only morning pleasure will be a sad day. Maybe I could give the dogs half a bowl of water instead of two. That would conserve some water… or maybe that would be cruel. Will the Minister make a Doggies allowance for us? Will he hell.

It’s now mid morning. All my calls, bar one, have rung out. I’ve left message after message but so far, nobody has phoned me back. No, after checking, it is indeed A.M. not P.M. and it is a weekday, not the weekend or indeed a Public Holiday. What to do. Sure maybe I’ll write this weeks Blog. Yes I’ll do that.. Wait, a phone call for me. Great, ‘Hello Tom Baldwin, who am I speaking to?’ Oh no, ‘I don’t want to talk to you ! No, my computer is fine. No, no …’ While I try to be civil to this foreign gentleman, I end up telling him to ‘Feck Off’ and slam the phone down. Maybe that will have the effect of me being deleted from their database. Wait, was that the guy or was that in fact my Bank? Now, I’m not sure. After some moments I decide that it could have been the Bank. Well, if so, I gave them the right answer.

Nearing lunchtime, I’m home and sitting down working on research for my Blog. Then, at the door I hear a shriek.., ‘Aarsse’. I know that sound. It’s Toes, my grandson, coming to visit me. So, off to play then. After lunch it’s clear said Grandson is getting narky. I ask him if he wants to go to bed? Shake of the head indicates No. I’m not convinced. Are you sure I ask him. Same response. After some time playing with the Dogs and the Parrots I ask again, as I’m unconvinced that he is sufficiently alert to last the afternoon. So, upstairs to bed, turn on Daughter No.2’s Red Hairdryer and put Toes to bed. As I lay on the single bed beside him I start to feel guilty as I wave to him. Hold on, he’s dropping off. Yes, result ! Problem is that I’m doing the same. OK, back to the computer. I wonder will any of those gentlemen and ladies of my esteemed profession actually return any of my calls ??  Well, I suppose, I can only live in hope…..

LegalEagleStar  Tuesday , 12th. July , 2011.

%d bloggers like this: