The Concept Of Laws & Civilization

Without laws, civilization cannot exist.  Humans need laws and rulers to prevent the breakdown of civil actions.  Societies that live in some form of civility have always had governments and rulers in different forms.  Kings, Queens, Bishops, Priests, Dictators and even Pharaohs.

In most cases, these leaders or rulers can be seen as human beings just like the citizens they are overseeing.  In rare cases, such as the Ancient Egyptians, their Pharaohs were seen as gods and yet managed to exist for well over 4,000 years.

In most societies and nations, the structure rests on rule of law vs rule of individuals.  Laws are the guideposts by which Presidents and Prime Ministers are allowed to support and rule their nations.  The English historian and churchman, Thomas Fuller, articulated his philosophy in respect to the rule of law as: “Be you ever so high, the law is above you”.

Law is considered predominant because the written word is incorporated into law books and agreed upon by the ruling party of the nation.  Laws are created to bring an equality to the citizens.  This is true among nations that believe whether king or queen, prime minister or president, all people are equal in some form.  Unfortunately dictatorships usually create laws in order  to rule people but not their leaders.

Civilized people believe that laws are created in order to benefit the whole, while criminals choose to go against the written law in order to benefit their own desires.

If misused, laws can actually turn on a society, as a whole, imprisoning the very people they were meant to protect.  In some orders, laws can be so suffocating that even happiness and joy are either restricted or totally prevented.  Quite simply, if a citizen chooses to break the law, they will be punished for their actions.  The long arm of the law will remove these people from society for a given period of time.  Throughout history, people have suffered at the discretion of rulers simply for having an opposing belief or opinion on a given subject.

The greatest example:  Jesus was not crucified for claiming he was the son of God.  The High Priests of Rome did not truly believe in a singular God, only in themselves.  Instead, they felt he was a direct threat to their control over the citizens within the region.

How well laws are enforced and by whom, can dictate whether these laws are beneficial or destructive.  In reality, laws are not objects, remote of any human qualities or purposes.  Laws are, after all, written by people.  Staying within the boundaries, usually lies within a person’s understanding of these given laws.  Breaking this down, most people abide by the laws believing they are in place to protect most people and are considered friends to the majority.  Citizens within well developed nations find their laws a needed and a useful part of society; they believe without them there would be total chaos.

In general, people believe that if you abide by laws, your life and society will prosper and be a much happier environment.  Others regard laws as their enemy because they prevent these people from their own aspirations and beliefs.  Here is an excellent example of contradiction of law:

Known for his 1516 book “Utopia”, Thomas More was a very important counselor to King Henry VIII of England.  More refused to accept the king as head of the Church of England.  He was tried for treason and beheaded in 1535.  The irony, 400 years later, in 1935, he was canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church.

In some countries, if you are poor, you are not considered the luxury of protection under the law. This is very common in dictatorships, socialism or fascism; due to their low position within society, citizens  are often breaking laws in order to survive.  Many will ignore the “so called” laws by doing as they will, such as stealing, in order to make a living.  At some point they will be arrested and imprisoned as criminals.

In most cases, laws are established as a guide for people to live by helping people understand the difference between right and wrong.  Those who follow the laws will usually be seen as good citizens while those who disagree will be perceived as the enemy.

Although there are probably thousands of laws, on many varying issues, there are common threads and philosophies.  Yes, laws do lean toward the philosophy of the people living within a particular country.  If you study the laws within a given country, you will discover the beliefs and philosophies of its citizens.  If a particular country uses capital punishment for murder, the citizens probably believe in this punishment vs those within a nation that do not believe it’s right.

Another philosophy of law lies in who or what control the laws.  Kings, politicians and the wealthy have an enormous control over the laws.  The biggest difference between a king and his subject is winner – loser, rich or poor.  Many who wield power are given the ability to use these laws for their own personal advantage.  Laws are not above the flaws of human beings; they can either become corrupt or stay above the fray in order to protect all. Understanding written laws will give you the insight into those who created them.  Throughout history there have been rulers who a tyrannical with their citizens, yet are loving caring fathers to their children.  Some would refer to this split in personality as an oxymoron.

If you possess the knowledge and understanding of the laws within your society, you will know how to use them to your advantage.  This could create a huge difference from becoming a master of given laws vs becoming a slave to the same laws.

Role of the Litigation Solicitor

The role of a litigation solicitor can be wide and varied; whilst one day they could be dealing with a probate dispute, the next they could be fighting for the protection of a contract.

However, there are two different types of litigation solicitor; Criminal Litigation and Civil Litigation. ‘Criminal’ relates to matter such as applications for bail whereas ‘Civil’ regards any dispute within a business.

Criminal Litigation – The main difference between the laws of criminal and civil can be found when it comes to ‘burden of proof’. This means, what has to be proven in order for one party or another to be found guilty; in criminal law this is ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ but in civil law it is ‘balance of probabilities’. This ultimately means that criminal cases are somewhat harder to prove as the defendant has to be found guilt beyond reasonable doubt. If this does not happen, the conviction will fail.

Many criminal litigation solicitors often have to make a decision as to what direction they want to go and there are advantages to both; a ‘specialist’ deals with one particular area whereas a ‘general practitioner’ offers services on a much broader spectrum including theft, fraud, etc. On the whole, solicitors generally choose to focus their attentions in more than one area and few actually spread their time between criminal and civil law.

Civil Litigation – This type of solicitor deals with civil matters such as the falling out of two business partners; someone in an organisation may feel as though they are owed a certain amount of compensate and it would be the solicitor’s job to prove them right or wrong. Civil litigation can split off into a number of different sub-sections which is why many choose to hone their talents further and become experts in one particular area such as business partnerships or commercial litigation. There are still some who choose to cover a wider spectrum but these are generally smaller firms with little reputation who need a bigger client base.

Civil litigation doesn’t only deal with problems within the business though, it covers many areas such as employment issues, insurance, commercial, disputes over properties, professional negligence, and more, which is why there is a good opportunity for solicitors to become specially trained in one particular area.

Ultimately, the role of a solicitor is to represent its clients to the best of their ability by keeping their best interests in mind throughout the process. If someone has requested a solicitor, it means that they need help in a legal matter which sees them place a certain level of trust in them to help win the case. This has to be done to a high standard regardless of what area the solicitor specialises in.

Hadaway & Hadaway are Solicitors in the North East of the UK.

Things to consider regarding employment Tribunals for employers.

Q: What is stressful, time consuming and expensive?
A: An Employment Tribunal hearing.
You may be wondering about my out of the blue answer, and justly so. I am convinced that an Employment Tribunal Hearing can be one of the more stressful situations you can come across, and this isn’t some passing observation. I was actually a witness in such a hearing, and I got to know the ins and outs of the whole process. You are probably not familiar with an Employment Tribunal Hearing (Although anyone can see them), and that’s why I am here to break down the process for you.

Background
My involvement with the case didn’t start with me being a witness. In fact I was the lead investigating officer on a case of gross misconduct against one of my client’s employees. In fact, I was knee deep in related documents and was interviewing witnesses at that time to actually check whether there was a case to be made. I found the evidence quite compelling (Though not decisive), and informed my client, and they had a disciplinary hearing which resulted in the employee being summarily dismissed. The decision continued to be upheld in an appeal, which resulted in the employee contacting the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service  for early conciliation.

The employee’s demands were not agreed upon by my client’s company, and all negotiations fell apart, leading to an Unfair Dismissal case that had its first hearing in early 2015. Due to me being an investigating officer in the case, I was asked to appear as a witness.

Document Mountain
In the months before the hearing, the company’s lawyers dropped off a surprise: Two huge bundles of documents that I had to familiarize myself with, since they were to be presented to the judge. I had my work cut out for me. In addition to working through this pile of documents, I had to work on my witness statement, which had to favor the company while being the truth (I actually had to swear a legal oath involving the lines ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’, so you can imagine how serious the whole thing was.)

Indeed, these two tasks alone took two whole days, and we hadn’t even entered the meat of the proceedings: The Court.

In Court
On the day of the hearing, I set out early in order to reach the Court in time. Tribunal Hearings, contrary to what the name might suggest, actually involve a proper court with a qualified Judge and due process being followed. Very rarely are three-person panels appointed, and for cases like ours, a lone judge presides over us.

What surprised me was that the building where it was all supposed to go down was nothing remarkable. I was running around in circles looking for it, and then I realized I had been driving around the building itself. Outside, there was a small queue of people and some even had small suitcases. The whole thing could pass off as a scene at some holiday destination if it were not for their formal suits. We were allowed through at 9AM, instructed to wear identification badges at all times.

I waited along with the company’s other witnesses and the lawyers, in order to revise what he had to do. Witnesses of the Defendant and the Claimant would come first and second respectively, with all witnesses requiring to sign the witness statement on the witness table in front of the judge. Then, the witnesses had to truthfully answer questions posed by the Claimant’s attorneys.

My biggest mistake was assuming that my job would be done before the end of the day, and that’ll be that. It went on a lot longer and was a lot tougher than I ever imagined.

The Grilling
We all watched occasional Courtroom Dramas on Television, and going by them, we would expect lawyers to be  eyeballing and intimidating you every step of the way. While the actual behavior wasn’t like that, the intimidation was there, whether intended or not. It was induced by the calm yet endless stream of questions from the Claimant that was downright unnerving and exhausting. It wouldn’t end there. If we hadn’t done a fine job up on the stand, the defendant’s lawyers would come in to ask questions to save the day.

The process was so time-consuming that it took a whole day to get to the first witness, which was a stark difference from the minutes  I gave to each witness

The next day came with my turn on the witness stand. The Claimant’s representatives’ sole purpose was to make the other side look bad. Any evidence be brought up had to be undermined from their perspective, and so the job called for over-analyzing every single detail, and using it against us. I was asked to support my claims, justify them and made me question myself. It was that relentless. A single word could bring the whole thing crashing down. Leading questions, the things I witness, the words I used, nothing was left our.

The questions were so detailed that I didn’t know answers to some of them, and I felt as if I was lying to myself. That’s what a day in court does to you. It makes you doubt yourselves.

By the evening, I was an absolute mess, and I didn’t think before answering questions. I may well have jeopardized the case, and it does goes to show that being in Court isn’t as easy as it is touted to be. I was later free to go, but felt a bit sorry for the other witnesses who had to wait days just to get grilled like that.

Who wins?
It doesn’t tale a genius to figure out who would win the case before the judgment is actually announced. However, while it legally would be a win, financially, it won’t be that big of a win with the legal fees alone eclipsing the win. Lot of time too would have been wasted for what amounts to essentially nothing.

Last resort option
Before the hearing, I had gone to a related seminar, where an employment solicitor gave me some very important advice: A Tribunal Hearing should be a last option, and mutual settlements are the best way to settle any disputes. Of course, you can take the chances and take your employee up in Court, and you may very well win. But you are sacrificing significant time and money towards a small win, and in the long run, a settlement is the much better way to go. You need to choose what is best for your business, and if you have to sacrifice a bit for your previous employees in order to move forward, so be it.

Contact Hadaway & Hadaway for advice and help regarding employment law:
http://www.hadaway.co.uk/employment