Monday, May 23, 2011

While we're all outraged at rich people using the law for their own ends......

.....can I suggest that, amidst all the furore over superinjunctions, which has set Twitter alight all weekend, which led to the Sunday Herald identifying the footballer in question yesterday, and which allowed Lib Dem MP John Hemming to propel himself into the limelight yet again by naming Ryan Giggs as the person who sought that particular injunction in the House of Commons, we take time to consider those who desperately need & can't get, access to the law.

At least Hemming's action means that the farcical situation in which nobody could name Giggs is now at an end, because papers are now free to report what was said in Parliament.

The law on these issues is clearly absurd and needs looking at. My default position is that I don't like rich, powerful men using the law to claim their right to privacy while removing it from less powerful, less rich women. There may be mitigating circumstances in some cases, but I always start from that viewpoint. And it would be the same if it was a rich woman etc, but it most often isn't. Let's be clear, I really am not keen on the sort of kiss and tell salaciousness that we find in the Sunday newspapers. I don't really want to know, quite frankly. I generally think that those who kiss and tell are as much manipulated by the newspapers they turn to as by the person they had the relationship with. Nobody comes out of these things well.

The thing about the superinjunction issue in general, is that those who seek them are generally trying to cover up bad behaviour on their part. Perhaps it might have been better if they'd thought of the effect on their family before they behaved in that manner.

Every day, though, rich people and organisations exploit the law, treating customers and vulnerable people badly in the knowledge that they won't be able to afford legal redress. There are lots of wonderful landlords out there, but also those who don't keep their properties in anything like habitable condition.  Vulnerable people are the victims of wrong decisions made by Government agencies. If they are lucky, they will have a driven MP who will not leave a stone unturned in challenging it on their behalf, or some other advocate to help them out, but recourse to the law is not easy if you don't have the money to pay expensive legal fees. And don't even get me started on the complexities of mobile phone contracts and payment protection insurance.

The Government is restricting even further what can be covered under Legal Aid. This is not a good thing. My friend Juliette Frangos explained why in a guest post earlier this year.

Imagine a situation where a woman flees a violent partner. She has children. She has to leave with the clothes she's standing up in and a few bits for the kids that she can put into a small bag.  She leaves everything she has worked for. Now, there is such a thing as an order to get the violent man out of the house so her children's lives aren't disrupted too much. Trouble is, it would cost around half her annual income to do that. This woman is not rich. She has an ordinary job which pays enough to support her and her kids but not much more. There is literally no help with legal fees for her to reclaim her property and her things. That can't be right.  The violent ex partner can pretty much do what he likes. He's under no obligation to sort things out quickly or to let her have any of her or the kids' stuff. There are men in this world who are so twisted that they view their child's toys as their own property and won't hand them over.

These are some of the realities of life for those of us who are not lucky enough to have grossly inflated incomes. There are some truly fortunate individuals, who have all the luck in the world but who seek to trample all over the rights of others because they can. If you have been annoyed at the way these people are using the law to suit themselves, spare a thought for those people who face really difficult circumstances, not of their own making, every day and who can't get access to the law. Maybe we need to put time and effort into working out how they can get justice.


cynicalHighlander said...

"Every day, though, rich people and organisations exploit the law, treating customers and vulnerable people badly in the knowledge that they won't be able to afford legal redress"

Glad to see the LibDems with the right priorities!

Jennie Rigg said...

Don't forget those of us being shafted by our (ex) employers...


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