Bernard has sent me a furious email. His dander’s up over a recent report in the Daily Telegraph (‘the paper God would read if He didn’t already know everything’).
It seems the men in wigs are kicking up over plans to slash the legal aid bill by a whopping £350m. (Enough to pay for 12,000 extra teachers, 20,000 replacement hips or another six MPs.)
Lord Neuberger, Britain’s so-called ‘top judge’, says if the scam isn’t launched into space on the next rocket out, we’ll all have to ‘represent ourselves’. (Largely because we can’t afford the criminally high fees he and his pals charge to write us a letter. We should all have ‘access to free legal advice,’ he says, but not at the lawyer’s expense.)
Even worse, he claims, if the tap’s turned off, m’learned friends will be out on the street and forced to take on proper jobs, such as cleaning the nation’s drains or serving behind a counter.
Democracy, he says, ‘will be undermined’ owing to the fact that ‘people will feel the Government’s not giving them access to justice’. The fact that it’s the lawyer’s fee that generally denies the common man his access in the first place is neither here nor there. Lawyers, he insists, are a cut above the rest and must be paid accordingly. Anything under £1000 an hour is a breach of their human rights, and can’t be condoned in a civilised society.
Bernard’s not convinced. Lord Neuberger, he says (who probably wouldn’t know a good deed if it jumped up and bit him on the bottom), can’t have it both ways. Are the lawyers in favour of justice, or are they not? If they are, let them provide it, at reasonable rates.
Bernard’s none too keen on the lawyers, of course, as anyone who’s read his seminal work X Marks The Spot will testify. Last year alone, he claims (p 101), ‘every lawyer in the land earned over £40 billion just for turning up in court and saying, “I’d like to apply for more legal aid, m’lud”. To which the standard reply was, “Granted. How much can you carry home?”’
I’m none too convinced of his ‘facts’, but his heart’s in the right place. When all’s said and done, it’s hard not to concur with the view that Lord N and his pals should be rounded up, taken down to the woods and staked out overnight for the wolves. (Though how fair this is on the wolves is another matter.)
I’m not saying that, of course. It would be asking for trouble. Especially if his Lordship does a Google search and hunts me down just to show me who’s boss.
And even more so if there’s no legal aid for me to call on.
I’m not stupid…
Bernard has sent me a couple of pictures. I’m not sure they’re legal. Well, they are – but you know what I mean…
Thought for the Day
‘What do you have if you bury a lawyer up to his neck in sand? Answer: not enough sand!’
Cedric the Short, King of the Bulgars (547-548 AD)