This is a question I am often asked. Not just by clients. In fact, mostly I get this question at parties and barbeques. It seems that the general perspective is that the law is unfair in the treatment of its citizens and it is getting worse year by year.
However, the truth is that there has been little change to the way the law has been administered over the last 100 years. Our system of law is largely based on precedent cases, the theory being that everyone should be dealt with fairly and evenly.
So, what has caused the perception that things are getting worse and that the law is inadequate in dealing out justice? It is possible that our expectations as a community are changing. We are certainly more informed these days. Most of us struggle to escape the 24 hour media cycle and we constantly look to the internet to answer our questions. While this increase in knowledge has its advantages there are also some drawbacks. For instance, the media is very skilful in drawing at the heart strings of the community and if it means bending the truth a little to get a good story out there that seems to be the acceptable standard.
We have also seen how the use of social media has been very effective in bringing down someone who has said something regrettable. Take for instance the Alan Jones case when he said something inappropriate about the Prime Ministers father.
It follows then, that because we are now more ‘informed’ we also have a much better understanding of our rights. But I wonder if this better understanding of our rights simply provides a greater opportunity to lay blame elsewhere. It seems that our grandparents were much more accepting of the vicissitudes of life. Accidents and tragedies happen that may result in injury or even death, or some other loss. But it does not necessarily mean that it is someone else’s fault.
Community groups and organisations such as schools and sporting clubs have to grapple with the threat of being sued because one of their members might get injured or suffer some loss. I heard of a recent case where a school in Sydney banned the children from doing handstands and cartwheels in the playground for fear that one of the children may be injured. In another absurd case in Melbourne, the children were banned from running around because the playground was too crowded.
In this day and age when we are told that our children are too obese, one can only imagine the potential minefield our schools will need to navigate if they start discouraging our children to run around or get exercise. Couldn’t they be sued for stopping the children from exercise who in turn become obese and suffer health issues?
So, is it really the case that the law has become more of an ass or is it that the community is more demanding that some action be taken to correct our rights that have been infringed?