Is the law too complex?
Some of it perhaps nonsense, for example, four thousand three hundred new crimes were created by the last government including a new offence of swimming on the wreck of the titanic! There were complaints of micro management in statute and an expressed preference for adopting broad principles. It was suggested that the law draftsmen and government aren’t asking the right people about what they would like in ‘the law’.
It was said that the courts are over managed. Life is subtle and complicated. Lawyers are employed to persuade a Judge that something can be done that hasn’t been done before. The lawyers are doing their job and their clients go to people skilled in dialectic argument and this builds complexity into the system. Periodic reform is required to cleanse the system. The volume of legislation means it’s not sufficiently scrutinised and therefore complexity is not the fault of lawyers.
Mr Anderson suggested that the draftsmen are lawyers (ex lawyer likes a ‘dig’ at the lawyers). It was agreed that pre drafting scrutiny and thought are important and it’s easy to blame draftsmen but we should remember tight time constraints imposed by the politicians. Insufficient time means legislation that attracts criticism. The lack of legislative stability means more lawyers and more complexity. Complexity creates cost to the public purse. The attempts to shorten and simplify the litigation process had also failed largely (apparently) because of the love affair with the copier machine and email which generate more paper (all put into trial bundles and lengthening trials).
More time is required throughout the case to read and analyse. Having established that it’s all too complex those on the show suggested that the Law Commission sort it out but Anderson compared the task to the Labours of Hercules. Codification is the ideal but it’s not going to happen. Government priorities are not necessarily the priorities of clarifying the law. An interesting debate but it seems to be a lot of talking but not a lot of action to address the recognised complexity that is causing problems and cost for people and businesses.