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Mr Bates v Wicked Lawyers

Updated: Feb 24

The Post Office could not have perpetrated this cruelty without the aid of immoral lawyers. My potted version is this.

In the 1990's the Post Office in Britain introduced a flawed accounting system called Horizon. The system created false debits against the people who owned and ran post office shops; they were known as subpostmasters. The Post Office sued subpostmasters for the fictitious shortfalls and prosecuted them for fraud and theft, and secured judgments and convictions. Many subpostmasters were bankrupted, some were jailed. Four committed suicide.

Mr Bates was sued and lost his business. He didn't let it go, he organised the subpostmasters into a pressure group and they pressured the Post Office and the Government (it's only shareholder), and attracted publicity. The Post Office promised mediation and treated it with contempt. Mr Bates and fellow subpostmasters sued in the civil courts claiming damages including for breach of the relational duties owed by the Post Office. Lord Fraser dealt with the case in two parts. First he decided there was a relational duty and the PO breached it. He found Horizon was full of bugs. He was nearly at the end of the second phase, in effect assessing damages, when out of the blue the PO asked him to remove himself from the case. The PO claimed he was biased. The judge refused. The PO appealed and the appeal court rejected the appeal scathingly, accusing the PO and its lawyers in effect of dirty tricks.

Mr Bates and his fellow plaintiffs won a solid victory and were awarded about seventy million pounds although they received about twenty million after costs.

The bastardry of the lawyers and the PO is continuing. A judicial enquiry is underway and the PO has hindered it by withholding documents.

The legal inquiry will pay particular attention to this matter. Back in 2012 a lawyer advised the PO there were defects in horizon sufficient to give the subpostmasters a defence. The PO proceeded anyway and suppressed the advice until 2020.

The TV series was shown in January in Britain and has produced a shitstorm. The government has pledged to put things right.

I was a solicitor in a big law firm but as a barrister I was more often opposed to a big firm. The viciousness and immorality of some big law firms is down to these things: firstly many of its lawyers are from privileged backgrounds; they are righteous and consider themselves born to rule. Secondly the money at stake is huge and the firms get it from big companies and concerns who expect their lawyers to win at all costs, literally and figuratively. If the lawyers don't play hardball they lose the client and a lot of money.

The malaise infects the Bar. The barrister Lord Grabison who argued the recusal application for the Post Office was criticised by the appeal court for bringing a baseless case and trying to intimidate the trial judge.

All this is so twentieth century: lawyers manipulating the system to deny someone justice or obstruct the legal process. This TV show and the judicial review will be either the beginning of the end or the last nail in the coffin.



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Mar 13
Rated 4 out of 5 stars.



Feb 28
Rated 4 out of 5 stars.

Good summary

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