Consumer Protection, Access to Justice and Regulation

A short piece to highlight some of the complexities of the issues of process reform and that good old chestnut of access to justice. A consumer clearly feels that he did not get the service as a litigant in person (LiP) that he was expecting from his McKenzie friend, Mr Bright (http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/jailed-mckenzie-friend-facing-12000-claim/5058397.article)

The courts (and other tribunals) are seeing more unrepresented parties and the concern, quite widely raised, would be of rather more Mr Brights appearing if the small claims limit was increased – perhaps backed by CMCs. The professional response was tempered by the fact that when this story originally appeared in Law Society Gazette the following article was about a solicitor who had made off with quite a lot more of his client’s money. However, the solicitor’s client got her money back from the Compensation Fund whereas the prospect of Mr Bright’s client getting anything back, one has to assume, is pretty remote.

Should the Government (and regulators) be looking to add to consumer protection by requiring some level of legal competence and insurance (or other) cover for negligence / fraud? Or is the solution that suggested by Briggs LJ: a simplified and different court process with case officers and judges offering an inquisitorial service? Costs would be fixed and predictable and access to justice provided.  And why would that not apply to small value injury claims too – presently outside of the remit of Lord Justice Briggs’ Review?

Anyway – we all have an extra hour this weekend to think about it…


Terry Renouf, partner, BLM

Written by Terry Renouf, consultant, BLM

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