ADVOCATES' IMMUNITY FROM NEGLIGENCE ACTION

Pages193-199
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/eb024767
Publication Date01 Feb 1992
AuthorKEITH RICHARDS
SubjectAccounting & finance
ADVOCATES' IMMUNITY FROM NEGLIGENCE ACTION
Received: 16th November, 1992.
KEITH RICHARDS
KEITH RICHARDS
IS
A BARRISTER AND SENIOR LAWYER AT THE
CONSUMERS' ASSOCIATION. HE HAS WORKED
IN
THE LEGAL DEPARTMENT FOR OVER SIX
YEARS.
THE ASSOCIATION IS AN INDEPENDENT
TESTING ORGANISATION PUBLISHING SEVERAL
MAGAZINES, INCLUDING WHICH?, AS WELL AS A
WIDE RANGE OF BOOKS AND SELF-HELP
ACTION PACKS. IT IS THE FOREMOST
CAMPAIGNING BODY REPRESENTING THE
INTERESTS OF CONSUMERS IN THE UK. THE
LEGAL DEPARTMENT PROVIDES
COMPREHENSIVE IN-HOUSE LEGAL ADVICE TO
THE ASSOCIATION ON ISSUES RANGING FROM
CONTRACT NEGOTIATION TO LIBEL. THE
DEPARTMENT OFFERS CONSUMER LEGAL
ADVICE TO MEMBERS OF THE WHICH?
PERSONAL SERVICE, A SUBSCRIPTION BASED
ADVICE SERVICE. WORK IN THE DEPARTMENT
COMBINES LEGAL CAMPAIGNING, JOURNALISM
AND RADIO AND TELEVISION BROADCASTING
ON
CONSUMER LAW ISSUES.
ABSTRACT
After considering the circumstances in
which
advocates'
immunity from liability
in
negligence
exist,
the
paper
looks
at the
reasons
for the continued
existence
of
the
rule and, in particular, the ground of
'public
policy'.
It
notes
that
the Courts
and
Legal Services
Act 1991
preserves the
com-
mon law rule and
sets
out
the reasons
why
the rule is
inappropriate
and
contrary
to
principles
of
justice.
There is no question that the law is
often complex, the language mostly
foreign to the layman, and, when it
comes to court, the rules and proce-
dures baffling, the atmosphere and
culture alien. At almost every step of
the legal process these elements con-
spire to distance the law from the
individual for whose benefit it exists.
The adversarial system of justice
that exists in the UK means that any
deficiencies in the presentation of a
case by an advocate are likely to
have a serious effect on the out-
come. The complex system of rules
and procedures that exist in court
are arrayed against consumers who
have no alternative but to rely on
lawyers to present their cases profes-
sionally and competently.
But if through the courtroom
bungling of the advocate the client
loses the case, or suffers loss, that
client has no right of action against
193

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