Wednesday, 22 March 2023

What is the purpose of having laws?

Is it:
A.) To give politicians a job?
B.) To give citizens a chance to break them?
C.) To create a chaotic and confused society?
D.) To bog down the legal system?
E.) To protect individual rights, health and safety?

Needless to say, if we didn’t have laws and didn’t need them, politicians would not be in business. For their job is to create new or change existing laws and regulations.

It is also true that many citizens living under those same laws and regulations look for loopholes or bend the rules to get around having to abide by them. These citizens include the same politicians who created the laws. I’m sure many of us have broken a traffic law at least once in our lives, but have been lucky not to have been caught. That’s minor, but there are others out there who have broken other more serious rules, or laws, and just have not been caught yet.

But with so many rules, regulations and laws, people can become confused, especially if those same rules are constantly being changed. Sometimes new rules come out that seem to conflict or even contradict another rule.

And that’s when the legal system can get bogged down. Two parties go to court, with their legal counsels arguing their sides using so many different laws. Oh yes, solicitors love it because it keeps them busy. What would the world be like without lawyers?

Well, they would argue that they are there to help protect individual’s rights, health and safety, using the laws that have been put in place by our esteemed politicians. If so, why is it that sometimes, the justice system purposely looks the other way when someone has committed a breach of the law? Whose decision is it ultimately to decide “not to prosecute because it was not in anyone’s best interest”?

In particular, three cases presented in recent months reported that the Crown Prosecution Service or the police chose not to prosecute. Firstly, Daniel James parents, who played a role in assisting him to get to Switzerland, where he received an assisted suicide. His parents had not been prosecuted even though they had broken the law. But Debbie Purdy did not want to take the chance that her husband might be prosecuted, so she went to court to get the law clarified. Though she did not win her case, there was no clear and definite answer that Ms. Purdy’s husband would be charged because Mr. James’ parents had not been. That was the motivation behind Patricia Hewitt’s call to change the laws to reflect what the courts were currently doing. Would prosecution deter people from assisting in suicide attempts?

The second case is regarding Alfie Patten, the adolescent father (supposed, since the DNA results were never publicised). He engaged in sex at the age of 12 with his girlfriend, who was 14 at the time. The law states that it is illegal to have sex with minors under the age of 13. But the police felt it was not in anyone’s best interest to pursue a prosecution. Now, the family have engaged the services of Max Clifford, Jade Goody’s spokesman, and there are rumours that they can make 500,000 pounds for their story. Would prosecution deter young people from having sex, or at least glamourising and profiting from it?

The last case is of Devender Ghai, who went ahead and performed the Hindu ritual of cremating a friend on an open pyre, after he was told that it would be illegal to do so. But because the Crown Prosecution Service chose not to prosecute, he is bringing his case again to court. Any lessons learned?

When laws are broken and perpetrators are not prosecuted, what message is being sent out? There must be political motivations behind the decision not to prosecute. Yet, how can anyone feel that the laws are there to protect their rights, health and safety, when those who break the laws are not punished?

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