Justice Week 2020: The Importance Of Justice And The Rule Of Law25th Feb 2020
Justice Week (February 24-28 2020) this year is focussed on improving young people’s understanding of the law, the importance of access to justice and how solicitors have a positive impact on society.
With this in mind we asked Lydia Barnett, Laura Hall and Matthew Lewis to think about the impact of their work and the importance of justice and the rule of law to young people.
I am a solicitor specialising in clinical/medical negligence. In my field we assist claimants in pursuing an action for damages against their treating clinician in circumstances whereby there has been a breach of their professional duty of care, causing additional injury and loss.
Often claimants are left with debilitating and life-changing injuries and/or are unable to work or look after themselves properly, requiring extensive care and assistance. Clinical negligence claims are complex and costly; they usually involve in-depth investigations with the assistance of various medical experts.
We usually act for claimants on a No Win, No Fee basis which allows them access to proper and specialised legal representation in order to investigate their claim and – if it is determined by way of expert medical evidence that there was negligent wrongdoing – to recover sufficient damages to give them the best long-term medical outcome and outlook for their future.
Without such funding and legal representation it would be almost impossible for claimants to fully and properly access justice in order to fight their case and protect not only their long term interests but usually the family around them. It is extremely important that the public has access to justice in legal claims in order to protect their human right to competent medical treatment and recourse to compensation if this does not occur. Otherwise many patients would suffer financially, physically and mentally though no fault of their own and practical lessons to improve future medical care would not be learnt.
The rule of law is at the heart of all cultures. UK residents benefit from a trialled, tested and reformed justice system. Although there is arguably always room for improvement, and the system may not always appear fair, the rule of law is a fundamental building block and central focus. Not all countries benefit from a working rule of law and it may be something we take for granted. Futures can be shaped by the rule of law.
The rule of law is a fundamental part of the UK's constitution – the law should apply equally to all.
Young people can help to protect the rule of law by exercising their right to vote; particularly when there are important legal policies that may come into place depending on the outcome of that vote. It is useful to educate oneself as much as possible on the law; keep a firm eye on new and current affairs in relation to legal matters and remain up-to-date on current policy.
Young people may decide to become involved in action groups to protect the rule of law in the event that the law is considered not to be applied fairly and equally in a particular circumstance.
I deal with disputes in relation to the ownership of flats, such as who should pay for the communal services required to maintain, repair and insure the wider building and grounds in developments. Often this requires me to argue how words can be interpreted in leases and the law, and to find solutions for clients in difficult (often fractious) circumstances.
Aside from advising clients, in the wider residential property management sector I assist the Federation of Private Residents Associations (FPRA) as an Honorary Consultant and manage the Leasehold Management Professionals (LMP) group. These both require me to give back, helping associations of owners with technical queries and raising the standards of block management, through regional training events, sharing knowledge and hopefully in turn enabling flat owners to enjoy well managed developments for a fair cost.