The current attempt being made by the UK government to limit access to justice for blameless victims of negligence or wronged victims of defamation, by changing the playing field in relation to legal fees, should be appreciated as a serious assault on the rights of the unsuspecting British public.
Whilst the government is getting a well deserved thrashing in relation to the proposed assault on the NHS, and the Welfare Reforms, there is much less noise and also much less support in the media in relation to the Legal Aid Bill currently making its way through Parliament. Bearing in mind that the Bill involves the issue of legal fees it is unsurprising that the majority of people at best don’t know and/or don’t care about this issue, as not only is it a dry and seemingly removed subject from our everyday lives, but also as the image of lawyers is historically so negative in the media.
I would hazard a guess that the large majority of the British public who have come into contact with lawyers at some point or another would no doubt admit that their solicitor was perfectly agreeable and even did a good job. However, there is still an underlying urban myth promoted by the media that lawyers are somehow slightly tawdry and only out for their own interests. I am sure that there are such lawyers out there, but the same could be said of any group of people in any walk of life.
The problem with the media and other large corporations, such as insurance companies, is that they just do not like lawyers, as lawyers are more often as not representing “the little guy” and presenting something of a thorn in their side. David Cameron himself recently commented (off the record) “I hate lawyers” and is no doubt pushing against an open door in relation to seeking to reform No-Win No Fee Agreements as far as most people are concerned, especially given the relentless bad press.
The media silence in relation to the proposed changes to No Win No Fee Agreements, involving legal fees for defamation; poor journalism in relation to the promotion of the myth of “rampant compensation culture”, together with a good bout of “lawyer bashing”, especially of personal injury lawyers, seems at best self-serving and at worst slightly sinister, masking the reality of the government, seemingly in the pocket of large-scale corporations, including the insurance companies, laying siege to the British public’s right to access to justice.