Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Absence of lawyers made courts 'run faster' as work to rule strikes back

As popular as it is to knock lawyers at every turn, the fact is that a person's rights might not be fully addressed if they do not have adequate & competent legal representation.

However, the recent 'work to rule' by solicitors over the legal aid issue saw some courts run faster with their absence ...

The Sunday Mail reports :

Lawyers' protest backfires as court runs quicker without them

May 18 2008 Exclusive by Campbell Thomas

A WORK-TO-RULE protest by lawyers flopped when their court ran quicker without them.

Briefs refused to take custody cases at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court in a bid to cause chaos on one of the busiest days of the year.

They are fighting to keep their £60-an-hour fees paid by the public in Legal Aid cases.

But two solicitors obliged to work whisked through more than 40 cases in two hours less than normal.

One lawyer who defied the protest during the local bank holiday weekend accused his colleagues of greed.

Neil McPherson said: "When I look at my colleagues and their top-of-the-range cars, the houses they live in, the holidays and meals they talk about and all the rest of it, then they refuse to do their professional duty, the only common denominator is greed.

"We have been given a position in society and I feel very privileged to be a lawyer. It's an appointment that is well reimbursed financially. But I also have a duty to my clients to do my best for them.

"When workers go on strike they give up their pay on a point of principle but all these lawyers did was disrupt the court system and make sure they didn't lose a penny. It's abominable.

"The biggest irony is that the court ran quicker and more smoothly without them. The 40 plus custodies were processed by 4.15pm with only two duty solicitors.

"With that number of custodies the court would normally still be running after 6pm."

Christine Cockburn, sheriff clerk at Kilmarnock, added: "There was no disruption and we were able to process the cases very quickly."

The Law Society of Scotland had advised its members not to take action.

But its spokesman Oliver Adair admitted they were not employed by the Crown and therefore free to do whatever they saw fit.

He said: "We appreciate there are legitimate concerns about the package.

"However the progress we have made is quite extensive and we think there is more prospect of resolution by remaining inclusive rather than seeking confrontation.

"There have been a number of concessions and we are encouraging non-confrontation because the Scottish Government is still listening.

"We are pleased that one of our members has followed Law Society of Scotland advice in this regard."

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