In 1946, whilst prosecuting on behalf of the United Kingdom at the Nuremberg Trials, the Scots lawyer Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe remarked "The law is a living thing. It is not rigid and unalterable. Its purpose is to serve mankind, and it must change and grow to meet the changing needs of society.”
This comment was probably borne out of exasperation, because Maxwell-Fyfe and others were wrestling with international law which wasn’t fit for the purpose of delivering criminal justice against those most responsible for the atrocities of World War II.
But, whatever drove him to say, he was absolutely correct to point out that law is supposed to be developed to help us live peacefully together, and should not hinder or harm us.
The idea of the law as a living, developing thing is something that me and my colleagues at Thompsons understand very well. It’s vital to us that the law adapts and evolves to meet changing social needs and attitudes. Sure, we all look to our elected representatives – whether it be Councillors, MEPs, MPs or MSPs – to put across our views on the most important issues of the day. But sometimes there can be discord between the party politicians and the public; or more often, there is insufficient political will or budget to cut through the red tape and effect the real change that people actually want.
As Personal Injury lawyers, our vocation is pursuing justice and compensation for people who are injured or who are treated unfairly by their employer, and this puts us in a uniquely privileged position to see exactly where and when the Justice System is failing to deliver justice. It’s in these instances that Thompsons Solicitors will look to build campaigns amongst those affected to try to change the law to help reduce harm and bring about good. Our partnerships with Trade Unions and victim’s pressure groups, allow us to assist them in lobbying and convincing government to make changes.
In recent years in the Scottish context, campaigning has brought about an increase to the categories of the relatives of someone negligently killed who are entitled to compensation, with the law now recognising that a close bond may exist equally between siblings or between grandparents and grandchildren. Also, in cases of the aggressive and terminal cancers caused by negligent exposure to asbestos, campaigning has led to a number of positive developments such as quickening of the legal process to increase the chance of someone being able to get compensation and the associated security and financial comfort before their death.
As well as the ultimate objective to change the law, campaigning also gives people a voice and affords the general public a chance to support causes that they believe are just. This public support, of itself, has an almost therapeutic quality to those most acutely affected.
With the opening of our Galashiels office, it’s an exciting opportunity to immerse ourselves in the town and the wider Borders area so as we find out what issues matter most to local people.
We want to become part of the community and will be working to try to help local people wherever we can. NHS patient safety, road safety, and agricultural health and safety are just some of the issues that have an impact on the lives of the people of Galashiels and the Borders. We will work as hard as we can to help change things for the better.