“The existence of an appeal system is no safeguard of justice in the absence of adequate advocacy.”Donald Boyd
It is commonly assumed that the right of appeal corrects injustice in a system. This is not true. It is adequate advocacy that begins the process of justice.
If one does not have access to adequate advocacy in any given system, then injustice will continue unidentified and unchecked in that system.
The legal profession has an adage – “The man who represents himself has a fool for a client and an ass for a lawyer.” This is tantamount to saying that everyone needs adequate advocacy. This is tantamount to saying that we need a National Justice Service free at the point of entry.
“Get a lawyer” is a cop-out. Only the very rich and the very poor can afford to have a lawyer, because the poor receive Legal Aid from the public purse. Not only does this give the rich and the poor an advantage over middle-income earners, but it is contrary to natural justice. If there is not equal access to legal process there is injustice. Those who feel the obligation to advise you to ‘get a lawyer’, should also feel the obligation to advise you where such a service is available and how it meets your needs.
Each organisation should provide adequate advocacy. Usually an organisation pays for legal defence against outside attack, but it is just as common for an organisation to use that same legal set-up to crush an appeal from within its own ranks. An appeal system on its own is no safeguard for justice being done. One needs adequate advocacy.
Representing oneself is not advisable. Operating pro se (Latin: ‘for oneself’) 1. is not objective enough; 2. lacks the capacity to consult with others during a process and requires the ability to think on one’s feet; and 3. suffers from lack of familiarity with the legal framework and prior case law, which applies also to lawyers themselves, who usually specialise in only one or two areas of law.
Why would one want to represent oneself? 1. fundamentally, because one knows one’s own case better than any lawyer can. 2. changing lawyers when they are unavailable can be time-consuming and costly. 3. an ill-prepared advocate, one lawyer standing in at the last minute for another lawyer, can too easily make mistakes. 4. there may not be an available lawyer with the training to deal with a disabled, deaf or blind client or the multitude of other factors that can arise. 5. finance is the primary reason why one might not engage a lawyer. 6. many situations expect personal representation, such as an initial disagreement in one’s employment, a visit from law enforcement personnel, letters from government officials, meetings with social services, etc.
At the very least, in this litigious age, we need to teach the basics of legal defence in primary and secondary schools. Literacy, composition and numeracy (the three R’s – reading, writing and arithmetic) are little help when faced with dismissal by a cantakerous boss abusing an employee who does not know how to defend themselves. In a former age, young men learned pugilistic and fighting skills, but in our age one needs a law degree to defend oneself. Even a high IQ is not sufficient.
Trade unions and Big Brother
It was the inability of the common man to stand against bullying employers that led to the development of trade unions and employment law. Now that the Big Brother state is controlling life at the domestic level, individuals need equivalent safeguards at the personal level. Inadequacy requires advocacy.
Just as one should not need to learn fisticuffs and self-defence in a civilised society, neither should one need to be a lawyer to defend oneself. There should be ready access to available advocacy in any given environment that threatens one’s civil and religious rights.
“Jesus said: Also, woe unto you lawyers! for you load men with difficult loads, and you yourselves do not touch the loads with one of your fingers … Woe unto you, lawyers! for you have taken away the key of knowledge.”Jesus Christ: Luke 11:46,52
“If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”The apostle John: 1Jn 2:1
5 Sep 2020: Julian Assange is a case in point. He has lawyers and an appeal process, but no “friends at court”. He continues to suffer injustice at the hands of the British state. His persecutors need to be reminded that they will yet appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ 2Cor 5:10 – and who will be their advocate there?
18 Mar 2021: Jess Philips MP on BBC Question Time said that the Labour Party is now looking at advocacy for rape victims. This will be an improvement over the current system that may rely upon an unsympathetic policeman or an incompetent prosecuting service taking on one’s case. However, the need goes much further than this, and we need a National Justice Service and legal reform.
1 Apr 2021: the appeal system interferes with local government. Local authorities cannot afford to use tax-payers’ money to defend appeals, especially planning appeals, by large corporations or developers.
Local authorities have proven to be ineffective in resisting large developers because of their need to justify expenditure against appeals by large developers. The Scottish Christian Party will revise planning legislation to restrict decision-making to the local authority who must establish local and community support before approval, on the principle of subsidiarity.