October 09, 2006

Law and Democracy

Lord Phillips is resigning or attempting to resign his life peerage. This title might not create the kind of attention that every ambitious blogger wishes his items would- the resignation of one of the more obscure LibDem peers is not quite front page of the Sun material- but why he is resigning should make us pause for thought. His resignation is caused by the fact that what he does all day is not front page of the Sun news.

He decided to resign because as he said thousands of pieces of leglislation are passed each year most of which the general public neither understands nor knows about- all this leglislation is passed on behalf of the public, our laws are created so that the public are ordered in the best way possible but also in order to reflect the public's view of morality and politics within the government- and yet we need particular people, called Lawyers who spend a lifetime of training to understand them. This blog isn't calling for the abolition of the law, nor is it calling for the abolition of lawyers- it is merely noting that a democratic system of law is one that at present is only understood by an elite group of people, who receive special training in order to understand it.

John Lilburne in the 17th Century campaigned famously that the law of England be reduced into a single book which all could read- maybe its time that some of Lilburne's ideas and particularly his thinking about the complexity of the law is adopted to deal with the way that law itself is dealt with- otherwise one wonders whether the decline in the legitimacy of politicians might not be due to the fact that nobody within the general public (save for an elite) actually understands the system under which we are ruled.


Anonymous said...

The problem is that issues get reduced to the meaning of words, often an overly precise meaning, and the objective that the law might be trying to achieve is lost. Is an overly litigious society a less tolerant one? -is it one that is losing its sense of reality?

Gracchi said...

Yes I agree the problem is the overprecision of the language and to be frank the over specificity of the language- we seem to have evolved a sort of law English to describe matters arising in the law in. I'm not sure about an overly litigous society and tolerance- to be honest I haven't thought much about that. But as for society losing its sense of reality, I think its more that society loses its sense of what its own people think and do and its own people lose touch with what society expects of them.