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What do lawyers do?

Irish lawyers do many things. Some of them work for rentiers. Some of them work for big business. Some of them work for farmers. Some of them work exclusively in criminal prosecutions, for the State and State bodies. Some of them work exclusively in criminal prosecutions, for the defence. Some of them are unemployed.

Some of them work in politics as politicians. In his book, “The Burden of Responsibility” Tony Judt examines one of those, Leon Blum. Leon Blum was a lawyer, albeit French. Judt contrasts him with the other lawyer-politicians.

He says:

“At a time when most French politicians were either mediocre provincial worthies or else phrase-making businessmen and lawyers cynically unconcerned with ideas or ethics, Blum stood alone.”

A lawyer could be like Blum, or be “…unconcerned with ideas or ethics”.

No fair person could think that the lawyers at Public Citizen lack ideas or morals. They have campaigned for a long time against the use of arbitration to ensnare ordinary people. They say;

“People who have been harmed by fraud, predatory lending, discrimination, negligence, defective products or scams should not be forced into arbitration: they should have a choice.”

(Most people would think that “reckless lending” and “predatory lending” are, invariably the same thing. If so, predatory lending is lawful in Ireland. See ICS Building Society v Grant [2010] IEHC.)

Ireland recently expanded the possible use of arbitration here. Of immediate interest are Sections 21 and 31 of the Arbitration Act 2010.

Section 21 effectively disables any attempt to disentitle consumers to an order for costs in an arbitration where the consumer is successful in the arbitration.

Section 31 effectively disables any attempt to force consumers into arbitration where the dispute is for a claim exceeding €5,000.

The implications are clear; if you are a consumer and you bought a product or a service [and your claim exceeds €5,000 in value] you can and will be bound by any arbitration agreement in the “standard” agreement you made and you will be liable for the costs of the arbitration if you are unsuccessful.

Yes, you will need a lawyer or even lawyers, if you find yourself in this kind of trouble. Lawyers, regardless of what they are doing, are doing it to earn their living, among other things. Get ready to pay for the service and remember why you needed the service in the first place.

One Comment

  1. Thank you for alerting me to the Charleton judgment ICS v Grant. It is one of his better ones.

    Predatory behaviour, in banking and otherwise, is almost by definition a very different thing to reckless behaviour.

    The latter bespeaks a lack of the appropriate care and attention to the activity. The former is about improper motives and malicious behaviour.

    Predation also implies a gain for the predator. Reckless lending results in losses for all involved in the limit case, of which ICS v Grant is a good example, but unfortunately not a rare one nowadays.