The myriad legal protections that have evolved over the centuries to prevent the innocent from being convicted and the wrongdoer prevailing in civil disputes are weakened if a person is not legally represented. Without representation the judge is forced to intervene in an inquisitorial fashion. This undermines his impartiality and leads to bias. To deny a litigant legal representation is an act of oppression that effectively denies the right to be heard.

Some suggest that banning lawyers in small claims jurisdictions or disciplinary tribunals will ‘save costs.’ However:

  1. if ‘save costs’ is intended to refer to the litigant, how a person spends his money in a free country is entirely his decision.
  2. if ‘save costs’ is intended to refer to the justice system, then by that rationale the Chinese method of simply having the local commissar shoot the defendant and charge his family for the bullet would be even more pragmatic.

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