Who is there that has not paid unjust demands rather than withstand the threat of an action? This man can point to property that has been alienated from his family from lack of funds or courage to fight for it. That man can name several relations ruined by a lawsuit.

—Herbert Spencer. Over-legislation, 1853.

For there to be the rule of law, the law must be applied by the courts. This requires that the courts should deal with all disputes efficiently and quickly. Litigation should be a viable option for parties in dispute and not be prohibitively expensive. Court rules should be regularly overhauled to ensure pre-trial procedure does not take longer than is necessary for the just determination of the dispute.

Much of the red tape that dampens commerce, as well as the huge government agencies devoted to the enforcement of that red tape, is directly attributable to the failure of the civil courts to provide a viable remedy for wrongs committed by people in business. This means consumers and small businesses are effectively unable to defend themselves against big business so the government has had to undertake to do it for them by extra-judicial means. As Herbert Spencer observed:

If the State would fulfil its true function, by giving … an easy remedy for breach of contract … it would do more than … the most cunningly-devised regulations … So is it in other cases; the evils which men perpetually call on the State to cure by superintendence, themselves arise from non-performance of its original duty. (Over-legislation, 1853.)

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove