Hard Times

What we mustn’t do is just leave untouched a system that has grown astonishingly, making the poor extremely litigious’, said Kenneth Clarke, while Lord Chancellor and Minister of Justice in 2012. And there you have it. No trouble is too great to satisfy the legal needs of the spivs and oligarchs of the world, and we can build the spanking new Rolls Building for them to thrash out their disputes (the very name reeks of walnut dashboards and old money), but god forbid ‘the poor’ should have the impertinence to go to law over things that matter to them – like getting a decent roof over their heads, or their benefits paid properly, or not being exploited and unfairly sacked by their employers.  Better to deny them state support than indulge their uncontrolled appetite for litigation. Who knew that it was so pernicious a vice among ‘the poor’, like gin or bare-knuckle fighting? What ever will they want next?

‘Now, you know,’ said Mr Bounderby, taking some sherry, ‘we have never had any difficulty with you, and you have never been one of the unreasonable ones. You don’t expect to be set up in a coach and six, and to be fed on turtle soup and venison, with a gold spoon, as a good many of ’em do!’ Mr Bounderby always represented this to be the sole, immediate, and direct object of any Hand who was not entirely satisfied; ‘and therefore I know already that you have not come here to make a complaint. Now, you know, I am certain of that, before-hand.’  (Dickens, Hard Times, ch.11)

Enough said.

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About Francis FitzGibbon QC

I am a QC and member of Doughty Street Chambers, London (www.doughtystreet.co.uk) & an associate member of Trinity Chambers, Newcastle (www.trinitychambers.co.uk). Chair of the Criminal Bar Association of England & Wales. I practise criminal law. Please do not look for legal advice in this blog as you won't find any. The views expressed here are entirely personal.
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