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Mitchell penalties: hypocrisy in the extreme

Tough financial penalties are appropriate but try getting compensation when the courts screw up, says Kerry Underwood

14 January 2014

The Court of Appeal decision in Mitchell v News Group Newspapers Limited [2013] EWCA Civ 1526 has been widely, strongly and rightly criticized for being unjust and alien to the entire concept of British justice. Frankly if the interests of the efficiency of the state are to be put above doing justice in an individual case then we are on the road to Nuremberg.

Court orders and timetables should be obeyed and it is in all of our interests that the system works efficiently and speedily. In most cases lawyers, experts, ATE insurers and everyone else do not get paid until the end of the case. Only defendants benefit from cases being delayed.

Most delays are caused by a court system that is falling apart. I do not blame the courts. They are understaffed, under-resourced and the court staff work under pressure in difficult circumstances. Also, lawyers are not the easiest of people to deal with.

The Court of Appeal, much better resourced and ...

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