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Santa’s Grotto

The title to this post is tongue-in-cheek. It is the appellation attached to one High Court judge, deemed too generous to personal injury plaintiffs, by a politically well-connected barrister.

It is worth bearing in mind that the plaintiffs will have successfully overcome many difficulties. They will have established that their defendant breached any number of duties owed to them. (See HERE for the Health & Safety Authority’s Guidance on Manual Handling of Loads. Breach of the Regulations referred to in the Guidance is a breach of a statutory duty; negligence aside, to breach the Regulations is sufficient to trigger a liability. Claims arising from back and similar injuries are some of the most intractable faced by lawyers and judges).

The legal industry in Ireland is small. It is a certainty that “Santa’s Grotto” heard of his new nickname and was intended to hear of it. It was, objectively, calculated to curb his “excesses” in the award of damages to personal injury plaintiffs.

It is an issue of interest to know which of these persons, the judge or the barrister, was right about the value of personal injury claims, but it is much more timely to ask; with a barrister like that strutting his stuff, how can any reasonable person think that Ireland has or had an “Independent Legal Profession”?

Sure, he was independent of the judge, but whose spokesperson was he?

In the provision of services to public authorities there is an exception to the obligation to place the business out to tender; the exception is legal services. This is why Government and State agencies can, without a blush, allocate substantial earning opportunities to the big Dublin firms of solicitors (some more than others) even where the work is not very esoteric or specialised. It is ridiculous to suggest that these firms are “independent”.

Consequently, the legal profession is not independent. Asserting it is does not make it so.