Monday, 14 November 2011

Is this justice, Mr Feetham?

I have commented in the past of what I call the “injustice” system in Gibraltar regarding the difficulties and obstructive tactics a citizen can face when getting embroiled in our legal process against a government body.

We are constantly told how wonderful everything is and I wonder if Mr D Feetham during his time as Minister for Justice, or Injustice as I see it, can honestly feel satisfaction with the way things really have been during his term of office.

Firstly in Gibraltar we seem to have a bad habit of not answering or acknowledging correspondence but from what I see I am in good company judging by the many citizens, opposition members, citizens’ groups etc... who have encountered the same difficulties, a wall of silence.

In our legal system there is a huge gap between those who can and those who cannot afford justice which in effect excludes the majority from getting justice. For example to qualify for legal aid the income taken into account is so risible that only a handful would qualify. Then there is the Small Claims Court that handles claims under £10,000. Therefore if your claim exceeds that amount you will end up in the Supreme Court for a relatively small claim, and you will be hard pressed to find a lawyer who would consider it worthwhile to spend much time over a case where the legal fees will exceed the claim, but there are exceptions.

So if you decide to take legal action, from experience it seems to me that all a defendant needs to do is ignore you and the court.

That a defendant is allowed to take years to produce witness statements is perplexing and that a defendant ignores court orders is also perplexing and that so much leeway is given for this situation to continue. No wonder some cases take forever to finalize and during all this time the legal fees increase whilst a defendant does not react to correspondence or court orders. A ploy for anyone to abandon a claim because the system allows it.

Is there anywhere a citizen can address a complaint about this chain of events? No!

The legal system in Gibraltar seems to be designed to frustrate and deter so that you abandon a claim, rather than enable you to seek justice, with outdated laws and no safety nets or independent bodies for citizens to fall back on.

No one can expect for there to be an ombudsman or body to defend the interests of each and every eventuality a citizen might encounter, but what is annoying is to hear is that we are like the UK and how proud we should be of this and that when it is just not true.

Therefore I am glad to hear that the GSLP/Libs is going to reinstate the ombudsman for the health services - a step in the right direction and no doubt avoid small claims of the nature I am referring to from having to end up in a Supreme Court.

Mr Feetham, that the party you belong to should call itself Gibraltar Social DEMOCRATS???

I beg to differ.

Citizens are being blocked and frustrated at every corner.

Isabella Caruana

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