Anyone who has had the pleasure of reading Lord Hutchinson’s case histories in paperback will realise just what the law has lost over the past 40 years.
Quite apart from his virtues as an outstanding advocate of his day, the comments at the end of the book from Lord Hutchinson himself – written at the venerable age of 100 – constitute a withering assessment of the mess that succeeding administrations have made of the legal system.
When someone of his eminence and experience chooses to vent his spleen in this way, we should sit up and take notice.
We have all been too complacent, watching the demolition job proceeding at a frightening pace – and this complacency goes to the top. Even former lord chancellors did not seem to recognise what was being destroyed by removal of the historic office, only for it to be replaced with something so banal.
As I have pointed out in numerous letters to the Gazette, much of the destruction of perfectly efficient legal systems has been carried out in the name of economy – purely and simply to save money. But in the name of reform, there must surely be more to it than that. The law is a delicate, intricate entity upon which all our lives depend and it must be approached with care, sensitivity and circumspection.
Now that the vast majority of our courts are to go (in spite of the excellent case for retention made by the Law Society) the public will be made to suffer and pay for years to come. Their needs and interests as court users seem to have been largely forgotten and ignored.
Frankly, only someone who has been a lawyer can really understand the law. It’s in your bones; it’s in your blood.
One can therefore only conclude that the unfortunate developments of the past few years result from a fundamental lack of understanding of, and respect for, the law – its meaning, its significance, its importance, its traditions and in particular its personnel.
John Greenwood, Chippenham, Wilts