Politics of the Judiciary - A Poor Judgment on Mediation


The Law is a vital, living institution that is essential to regulate citizens' disputes.

The law is a self-serving club, reactionary and sometimes disingenuous.


A Judge writes…

It is with a weary pen that I scribe a response to Michael Cook's note1 of last week. It was, it appeared to me, a limp swipe at all that has happened over the last decade to make the dispute world more acceptable. Perhaps he was writing to a brief: it was for,I believe, the Law Society Conference.

Mediation is bad and the judges are waking up to it

- seemed to be the message.

It is a calamity that we no longer have 120,000 cases jamming the doors in the Strand.

In an attempt to exercise my Mediator instinct, I looked for common ground with the former judge. Well, I can agree with him that only some cases are suitable for mediation - and that compulsory mediation, if not a contradiction, is at least a severe distortion.

I want to separate the rights of judges and ex-judges from their needs to understand the roots of our idealogical differences - but I founder, and resuming my litigator mantle, I take issue with and rebut each and every other paragraph of the aforesaid Article.

I want to understand any submerged agenda. But, I struggle to find a point beyond a lame appeal for more "jobs for the boys". It is interesting that this article appears in the same week as the government report on the need for more diversity among the judging class.

The Golden Age of the Courts

I cannot believe anyone still hankers for the " good ol' days " of litigation.

Did he mean the early '80s when I worked for a firm that nearly brought the High Court to a standstill with legitimate industrial deafness claims that the insurance industry had hitherto effectively stymied using "the system"? As I remember, there was soon clamouring for a statutory scheme to free up the judges' beloved corridors of power.

Or perhaps he meant the eight-year-old libel actions I inherited when first representing media defendants in the mid-80s. Examples tumble from the memory.

Perhaps the appeal of litigation hosted by judges in Victorian palaces is more dans le vent, fuelled by raised claim-awareness. And reflected in Victoria Sponge being banned from village halls and school children being confined to sedentary recreation (beware the Conker!) for teacher's fear of m' learned friends. In short, does anyone, except the self-interested lawyer stand against Woolf and consequent reforms?

A Third...

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