This is how laws are made these days it seems.
The proper way is for the Government to issue a consultation document to all relevant parties (i.e. to organisations on both sides of the argument) and then invite responses. When those responses are submitted, the Government department should read them all and come to a balanced opinion. They should also look at data, again obtained from both sides so that a proper view of issues can be considered. Only then should laws be proposed and drafted.
Now I have already commented upon the ridiculously short time between the closure of the consultation period for the civil procedural changes (28th February 2011), the issue of the impact assessment by the Ministry of Justice (10th March 2011) and the announcement of full implementation by Ken Clarke in Parliament (29th March 2011) which indicates to me that the Government failed to read all if any of the hundreds of submissions to the consultations. What was the point of the consultation if the Ministry had already decided on what they were going to do?
Now it has been revealed that it seems that the top brass in the Ministry of Justice have also been getting very chummy with the top bods at the ABI. No doubt you know this but just to spell it out, the ABI represent the defendant insurance industry.
Following a Freedom of Information request, it has been discovered that the ABI have been in regular email contact and had secret meetings with Robert Wright, the head of civil litigation funding and costs at the Ministry of Justice to iron out the rules (see - http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Guardian/documents/2012/01/17/robertwright.pdf). The ABI was also sending Robert Wright advance press releases and their own industry ‘data’.
When challenged the ABI say that they said nothing which they have not said in public. So that’s alright then.
I would now like to write a paragraph about Robert Wright’s emails to APIL and the nice lunches they had when all of the issues were discussed sensibly or perhaps about Robert’s telephone calls to the Law Society to discuss drafting of the rules. Problem is, there weren’t any. No emails, no calls, no lunches. Just the official 15 minutes face to face time given to the key organisations to make their case.
So this is why this is wrong. The claimant side have to go through the official channels and get a very short time to put their points across but the ABI get as much time as they like. Not fair I hear you cry? Well yes but this is a democracy don’t you know.
I feel a judicial review is approaching.