• Robert Spicer

Synopsis of Robert Spicer’s Latest Book

Chapter 1 looks at money. It puts forward the argument that money is the key which unlocks the meaning of English law. It discusses the relationship between poverty and the enforcement of legal rights. No win no fee arrangements and legal aid are critically analysed. The Chapter also considers lawyers’ earnings, law as business and the scandal of miners’ compensation. It also examines the cost of becoming a lawyer and discusses the dubious history of Claims Direct. The Chapter concludes with a critical analysis of the increasing role of charity in the English legal system.

Chapter 2 concerns Class. It defines and discusses the concept of class justice. The Chapter discusses the Crimewatch television programme as an exemplar of the spectacle of class justice and goes on to provide examples of this in practice. These examples include alcohol prohibition in the United States and the English system of Crown immunity. The current role of the English judiciary is considered. The Chapter also looks at examples of revolutionary legal systems including the Paris Commune and Cuba.

Chapter 3 deals with Dissent. It sets out rarely-published views of law. These include statements on the legal system from voices including the Levellers, William Godwin, American radical lawyers, Jessica Mitford, Nelson Mandela, Albie Sachs, E.P. Thompson, Tolstoy, Kropotkin, Emma Goldman and the French Illegalists. The importance of the McLibel cases is also considered. Material from the Haldane Society and the Up Against the Law collective is also included.

Chapter 4 looks at Rights. It deals with the relationship between individual and collective human rights, examines the torture “debate” and sets out material dealing with human rights in Cuba and in the post-apartheid Constitution of South Africa.

Chapter 5 deals with war, specifically the Iraq War. It argues that the legality of the Iraq War is the most important issue which currently faces English lawyers. It examines the legal issues arising from the War and considers English case law connected with the War. The Chapter analyses the effect of the Iraq War on the relationship between law and morality. It discusses the Nuremburg principles and examines the death penalty as illustrated by the “squalid lynching” of Saddam Hussein. It concludes with a critical comparative analysis of health and safety in a war context.

Chapter 6 – Mystery – attempts to unravel the mysteries of English law. It sets out a list of words and phrases in common use by lawyers which form a sort of secret code. The Chapter considers the reasons for obscure legal language, discusses legal Latin and sets out examples of clarity in the law. Examples of extreme mystery are also considered. Aspects of employment law are analysed in detail as illustrations of unnecessary mystification. Recent examples of judicial comments on demystification are set out.

Chapter 7 – Practice – discusses current legal practice. It considers the advocacy monopoly and suggests methods of alternative practice. The Chapter examines the apparent contradictions between the public perception of lawyers and the image which the profession aims to project. The Queens Counsel system is analysed. Barristers’ public access rules are examined. The Chapter continues with a consideration of the nature of advocacy, the position of unrepresented litigants and the process by which lawyers qualify.

The book concludes with a list of further reading, a Glossary of technical words and phrases, a list of cases, and a list of abbreviations.

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