Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Gratifying

Continuing my reading of this month's Family Law, I came across a most gratifying quote from Lord Justice Thorpe. In an article about statutory arbitration in ancillary relief (i.e. enabling the decision of the arbitrator to be binding), he discusses the efforts of lawyers in the development of alternatives to litigation, referring to the Resolution code of practice, mediation and collaborative law. He comments upon how few specialist practitioners nowadays have a "lust for fighting" cases, and concludes:

"There can be no doubt that the cases that fight bitterly are driven by one or both of the parties rather than by the lawyers who represent them."

I've been saying this for years, although I wouldn't put it quite so clearly - there are still a few dinosaur family lawyers out there who conduct their cases with unnecessary aggression, to the cost of their clients (his earlier comment acknowledges this). Still, it is extremely satisfying that one of the most senior family judges recognises that the blame for acrimonious and expensive family litigation usually lies squarely with the parties, rather than their lawyers. All we have to do now is make the public realise that this is the case.

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