The Green Papers and Legal Services

AuthorRoger Smith
Publication Date01 Jul 1989
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2230.1989.tb02613.x
REPORTS
THE GREEN PAPERS AND LEGAL SERVICES
THE
Lord Chancellor’s three Green Papers on the legal profession
and legal services‘ have provoked considerable debate. That debate,
however, has been dominated by discussion of the institutional inter-
ests of solicitors and, particularly, barristers. From this camp have
come the comparisons with Hitler (Lord Ackner), the description of
the proposals as “the most sinister” ever to emanate from Govern-
ment (Lord Lane) and robust
ad
horninern
attacks on their perpetra-
tor (Lord Hailsham). Access to the media by the two main
institutional interests groups has served to skew public debate of the
Government’s proposals toward consideration of their effect on the
legal profession rather than their clients. This approach has been
encouraged by the Green Papers themselves. Lord Mackay
,
the Lord
Chancellor, has claimed that they are based on a methodology of
going back to “first principles.” The Legal Profession Green Paper
opens with an assertion that the Government’s “overall objective” is
“to see that the public has the best possible access to legal services.”
This is then defined in terms of “a market providing legal services
[which] operates freely and efficiently.so as to give clients the widest
possible choice
of
cost effective services” and a guarantee of their
standards
so
that “the public can be certain that those services are
being supplied by people who have the necessary expertise to provide
a service in the area in question.”2
This
is
in complete contrast with an approach which would begin by
identifying the needs of lawyers’ clients. Consequently, the Green
Papers require much decoding and judgment of.likely consequences
in
order to analyse their effect on the various client groups, or on the
public service role performed by lawyers (unacknowledged by the
Green Papers) in relation to legal aid and both the prosecution and
defence of criminal cases.
The concern of this article is not
so
much to give a full summary of
the Green Papers or even an overall analysis but to concentrate on
their potential effect on clients and, in particular, clients who are, or
should be, entitled to legal aid or other subsidised legal services.
THE
GREEN PAPERS
FROM
CLIENTS’ PERSPECTIVES
The Green Papers talk loosely of “the client,” “the public” and “the
consumer” as if these terms signified a common concept. In fact, law-
yers’ clients are diverse-from multi-national companies seeking
*
Lord
Chancellor’s Department,
The
Work
and Organbarion
of
the Legal Pro-
fession,
Cm. 570 (1989) (“The Legal Profession Paper”);
Contingency Fees,
Cm.
571
(1989) (“The Contingency Fees Paper”);
Conveyancing by Authorbed Practitioners,
Cm. 572 (1989) (“The Conveyancing Paper”).
527
*
Cm.
570,
para.
1.1.

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