Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.
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Friday, 31 March 2017
IS TIME MONEY?
At Highbury Corner it seems that lawyers are venting their splenetic energies at this ridiculous notion. The proponents have offered an alternative arrangement of continuing the current practice of a 10.00am start but running courts until 8.30pm; an alternative road to revolution by many of the legal fraternity. Everyone involved with the magistrates` courts system knows that it is almost a certainty that active sittings rarely begin on time. Many defendants don`t know or care which day of the week they are due to appear never mind the time of day. To imagine that the miscreants of North London will arrive at a court at 8.00am is to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of the court`s car park. And what of the court staff including those sometimes considered by HMCTS as unpaid employees; the Justices of the Peace without whom the system would collapse? Paid employees including District Judges might be offered some sort of inducement financial or time off in lieu to upend their whole work/home balance but J.P.s? There would be resignations en masse. But they are so afraid of retribution that not one dares to voice a public objection. Perhaps in its unsaid quest to professionalise the magistrates` courts system the MOJ would welcome a further erosion of J.P.s` involvement at the court level to one of a neutered group dealing with TV license evasion or similar minor transgressions.
This proposal is just one more step in wrapping funding cuts around a seemingly plausible route to efficiency. The civil court has in the guise of "meeting its costs" put itself beyond the reach of many who cannot afford the required fees to obtain justice. Civil, family and criminal courts are not experiencing all the savings expected by the wholesale restriction of legal aid because litigants in person and defendants require much more time to present their cases and we all know as those Whitehall weasels think they know; time is money.