Friday, November 02, 2012

The Royal Courts of Justice

There’s been regretfully a protracted period of silence on this blog, owing to our busy schedule breaking the silence elsewhere and dealing with a whole set of related matters – matters that have eventually taken us all the way up to the Royal Courts of Justice. 

That was for us a first time experience and we were filled with trepidation at the chance of visiting that magnificent bastion of righteousness in the Strand. The edifice housing the Royal Courts of Justice is impressive; designed by George Edmund Street in the Victorian Gothic Revival style, the appearance of the construction, both external and internal, is illustrative of the idea of what society ought to be – morally correct, spiritually elevated and pure. 

And to make sure that society is so, nowadays, visitors are X-rayed and frisked at the entrance, lest some deadly weapons are fired in court. The inner corridors (and there are over 3 miles of them, we are told) were pretty vacant, except for a few black flocks of bewigged barristers, dashing along – vulturine and predacious – and descending upon various courtrooms in their paths. They were followed by judges, more measured in pace, making their way towards the same venues, with the confidence and composure of those habituated to veracity. 

At the oral hearing held by the Court of Appeal, we were honoured by the presence of a lord justice of appeal and allowed to present our argument at length. The facts were plain and our dispute pointed at the distorted logic of earlier court decisions. Our case being so politically sensitive and embarrassing, the lower courts must have thought that it could only be tackled by abandoning standard logic. And abandon it they did. 

The appeal judge, however, did not seem to be listening; we got the impression that he had other preoccupations, which our oral submission hindered to some extent. Not that it was any point in listening anyway, as the Court of Appeal seemed to have made their minds beforehand as to the outcome – or to have had their minds made for them. (Nothing of what we submitted seemed to be acknowledged.) So, in order to save everybody time and spasms of mind, the court quickly decided that the appeal should not be allowed. 
We were told that the decision was for our own good. This may be true, but, as we know very well from history, this assurance is often used by the State to justify the perpetration of many crimes. 

The idea of justice – as Epicurus said, is that it prevents men from harming and from being harmed. And that is, I have to admit, the very idea that the British justice system applies when it prevents us from harming the interests of our opponents – high-rank politicians and officials - and when it prevents them from the unpleasant task of accounting for their actions.

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