In recent years British society has become increasingly litigious. Both the government and the public increasingly turn to the law to resolve problems.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has beaten even his predecessor’s record, introducing 2,823 new laws during his first year in office.
This is the highest record for law-making by anyone at Number 10, and 40% higher than the annual average created by Margaret Thatcher. Meanwhile, disputes between neighbours, and often trivial harassment cases, are increasingly likely to come to court.
This legalistic approach to social and political problems is causing disquiet, however. Critics question whether fines or imprisonment are always the answer to interpersonal problems.
Questions are being raised about the impact new laws are having on British justice, and the individuals’ relationship to the state and to each other. The use of the law for political ends is also said to be corrupting the criminal justice system, with the abolition of double jeopardy (so that the accused can now be tried twice), proposals to increase the detention without trial of terrorist suspects to 42 days and the rise of race and religious hate laws.
A drive to increase the conviction rate in cases such as rape, the increased prominence of the victim in harassment law and the trial process are also attracting criticism as well as support.
Are we overburdening the law with social and political problems, and undermining it in the process?- Institute of Ideas
John Cooper was born in Wolverhampton in the West Midlands . He attended Regis Comprehensive School and achieved a Law Degree from Newcastle University in 1980.
He was the Butterworths Law Prizeman. Called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1983 and the Australian Bar in 1989, he spent a period of time with one of the worlds leading Law Firms, Clifford Chance in London. He is now recognized as being one of the leading barristers in London.
His writing work spans television, theatre, academic, journalism and leading text books, with a Broadcasting career including a six part Channel 4 series â€œTeens on Trialâ€. He was described by The Times as â€œa rising star of the Criminal Barâ€
He practices at 25 Bedford Row in London and is represented for his literary work by ICM books. He also lectures widely on sport.
John is pleased to announce that he has just been Instructed to represent some of the Families in the NIMROD aircraft litigation, in their European challenge to the Government, relating to violations of Article 2 Right to Life issues.
John has just been nominated to receive the Bar Council Pro Bono Award of the Year, 2008, for his work seeking justice for those who have lost their lives serving in the Armed Forces.
John Cooper has just been instructed to advise the Greek Sprinter, Katerina Thanou in her case involving the International Olympic Committee. She is challenging her exclusion from the BEIJING Games.
John Fitzpatrick joined the Kent Law School in the University of Kent in 1991 having worked for many years in community law centers in Brixton and Hammersmith as a client, volunteer, management committee member and, mostly, a solicitor.
He is also the Director, since 1992, of the Kent Law Clinic, which teaches Kent Law School students through the provision of a free legal service to those who need it. He lectures mainly on legal process and human rights law. In November 2007 the Law Clinic won the Times Higher Education Award for outstanding contribution to the local community ™, and in 2008 Kent University received a Queen's Anniversary Prize in recognition of the outstanding achievement and excellence of the Law Clinic. The Chair, since 2006, of the Law Centres Federation, which represents about 60 law community centres nationwide.
Tessa Mayes is an award-winning investigative journalist and author, her research specialties being in civil liberties, media, public policy, justice and privacy. She contributes regularly to The Spectator magazine and is a commentator for spiked, Novo magazine (Germany) and end-of-journalism.org.
Her reporting credits include: The Sunday Times, Cosmopolitan magazine, BBC Panorama, ITV The Cook Report, Carlton TV's The Investigators, Channel 4 investigative series, Sky News investigations department, and Die Welt newspaper. She also appears on CNN to comment on politics and the media.
In addition to these appearances, she has also organized and given talks on media and privacy issues at the Adam Smith Institute, City University's Department of Journalism, and the London School of Economics.