How Not To Bring The Litigant Voice Into the Legal System

Richard Moorhead of University College London has a brilliant blog post here, on a recent attempt by the Solicitors Regulatory Association to impact the process of reforming (or not) the exam process for qualifying as a solicitor. (By the way, those of you who have forgotten what London is, it is the capital city of the now largely forgotten country, the United Kingdom, that voted to leave Europe.)

The SRA’s new consultation on the solicitors qualifying examination (SQE) is now out. I will read it with interest. I note with a little frisson of amused dismay that the SRA is praying in aid of its proposals polling from the general public. It appears, the general public were asked all of three questions:

  • As part of the process of qualifying as a solicitor, solicitor should have some training in the workplace. (87)
  • Everyone should pass the same final exam to become a solicitor, regardless of the type of training they do. (79)
  • I would have more confidence in solicitors if they all passed the same final exam. (76)

To spell it out they have commissioned polling with leading questions, and which the public can be expected to have very limited insight into or informed view on. It’s not that the public’s voice is unimportant, it is just that if we asked a random group of strangers these questions we would almost always expect them to answer in the affirmative.

I have put the actual reported percentages after each offered statement.

Cute, and surely an inspiration to us in our equivalent research brining the litigant voice into the discussion.  How abut the following questions?

  • I would be more comfortable being represented by someone with full legal training rather than someone who has had only limited training.
  • Only lawyers should be allowed to give out information about the law because otherwise people will get wrong information and get badly hurt.
  • It is important that lawyers are not allowed to leave from representing someone in the middle of the case.
  • Court staff must not act like lawyers
  • If a judge asks a question that changes the result of the case, the judge is not being neutral.

Now, I am not sure how some of these might come out, but you see the picture.




About richardzorza

I am deeply involved in access to justice and the patient voice movement.
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