Having thought about my earlier post regarding court attendance, I now remember an interesting exchange with a senior judge at a conference once, which might explain why Legal Services is looking in the wrong place for savings in the UK court system. The exchange went something like this:
Judge: There is a real need to make savings at court for money spent on experts. That is why the hourly rates are capped. Experts spend far too much time wasting the court’s time and money by stringing out the amount of time they are at court.
Scientist: I don’t think that’s a very fair comment. An easy way to save money would be to make sure experts don’t attend court unless they have to. I regularly attend court only to be told that my report was agreed the week before. The court gets a full day’s bill because I’ve travelled across the country to get there just because no-one bothered to tell me I wasn’t needed.
Judge: I don’t believe that ever happens. When was the last time that happened?
Judge: I don’t believe that would happen. If that sort of thing happens then you should go into to court to advise the judge or Magistrates of what has happened so that they can make sure it doesn’t happen again. I don’t believe that ever happens [bluster bluster bluster – end of conversation].
Who has ever been to court and then been allowed to go into the court to tell the judge or Magistrates that they were called there unnecessarily?! It’s just not going to happen. This to me is a prime example of the judges believing that they know what goes on behind the scenes when in fact they know only what Counsel chooses to tell them.