Personal Views

The legal system is an ass

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: (Published 30 March 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:855
  1. None Given

    Dogberry, the bungling constable in Much Ado About Nothing, said “the law is an ass.” If Dogberry were alive today he would probably change his mind. He would have to conclude that the law itself is OK. It is the administration of the legal process and the courts that he would have to compare with a noisy, stubborn, domestic, idiotic animal.

    Over the past five years, since being appointed a consultant, I have had a steady increase in medicolegal work, both as a factual witness to injury resulting from everyday assault and accidents, and as an expert witness for personal injury and medical negligence. My personal experience of, and relationship with, solicitors is good. My experience of court bureaucracy is, unfortunately, less positive.

    Three years ago, acting as a medical expert for the defence in a case of medical negligence, dates for the case to appear in court were agreed by all sides six months in advance of the actual date. It was a …

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