Columnist: John Halewood-Dodd

John Halewood Dodd
John Halewood Dodd

Am I the only one who is frustrated by the amount of bureaucracy that we now have to endure on a daily basis?

I think not from recent discussions I have had as it seems that to do even the most simple task requires rafts of paperwork before it can be done “properly”. Ironic when we are well and truly in the computer age.

As solicitors we seem to have more than our fair share of documents to complete in relation to every single case.

As soon as we receive instructions at the police station we are duty bound to complete an extensive form outlining information on the client which, in the vast majority of cases, is unlikely to be of relevance to the advice we give or the way in which the case progresses.

If the client has been charged with an offence we then set about completing an application for a Representation Order, or Legal Aid in old money.

Not surprisingly this is an extensive form requiring the applicant’s status in respect of employment, residency, family, assets, ethnicity and whether they class themselves as disabled.

If the applicant is unemployed and in receipt of a “passporting benefit” then they only have to complete an 11-page form, but if they have the misfortune of being in work they have to complete an additional 10-page form.

This is before we even get to court where further substantial inroads are made into the rainforests by more forms.

The client has to complete a form in case a court fine is later imposed.

If the client pleads not guilty then a Case Management Form has to be completed, then at least three copies of this six-page form are made and given to the parties.

This is only the tip of 
the iceberg as there are numerous other forms dependant on how the case progresses.

It really does feel as though we are becoming engulfed by all of this nonsense, which is a reaction to the sloppy old days when cases were conducted on the back of a cigarette packet, but in my view, as in many other walks of life, it is complete overkill.