The law is not an exact science

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We have all had surefire winners fail due to the smallest issue, but equally, we have all won cases that we had no right to.

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In this time of balmy weather, I thought I’d take a meander down the legal road, sunscreen slapped on, and a hat covering my bald patch.

Just a few thoughts on things that us legal advisors take as a given, but lay people, such as our members, don’t always know or consider as relevant.

The overriding mantra of almost any case is: “Don’t let the court decide.”

For many, this will make you step back and ask: “Why? I demand my day in court!” The answer is because during negotiations, we are all playing the percentages. What is the most likely outcome if we go to court? We then consider offers based on that likely outcome.

If a case is going to go either one way or another, you will get 100% or 0% at a hearing depending on which version of events given in evidence the judge prefers; so settling at 50% can be a quick and just solution that allows everyone to move on.

Similarly, if you are very likely to lose, then a cheeky offer that gets accepted is a win.

We have all had surefire winners fail due to the smallest issue, but equally, we have all won cases that we had no right to.

But when we step back from the percentages and step forward into the courtroom, we are at the mercy of the judge, and we have one attempt to put forward a case convincing them that we are right.

And, there are various factors that can make this a walk on the wild side…

Judges tend to be solicitors or barristers who work as judges for part of the time, only when they make it to the top echelons of their profession do they become full time judges. The judges, in their private practice, maybe family lawyers or employment lawyers, and not completely au fait with the nuts and bolts, pun intended, of the case before them. I am not saying that they know nothing, as they know the law and will have some experience, but nuances can get missed and a decision reached that nobody expected.

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Equally, the decision may be based upon subconscious biases. If the judge argued with their partner that morning, they may be in a bad mood and less willing to listen to your reasoned argument. Similarly, your case against a young lad with a modified Audi may swing your way because the judge was cut up on the way into work by a different young lad in another modified Audi.

Ultimately, the judge has to decide based on the evidence before them. Sometimes there is good, sound evidence that allows the judge to follow a path to the obvious result, but other times, it may  simply be the judge feels one witness is more believable than another or perhaps there is something they can’t necessarily put their finger on, but the evidence just feels right to them.

So, by all means, have your day in court. But bear in mind, you won’t always get the decision you expected or hoped for and that the percentages should never be discounted.

Darren FletcherLegal AdvisorRead More by this author

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