Faculty of Social Sciences, 16a The Lyons,
Monica P. Shaw, Hetton-le-Hole,
Ellison Building, Tyne-Wear,
University of Northumbria, DH5 OHT.
Copy to Mr R. Boyes MP
May 17 1994.
Dear Ms Shaw,
I have recently received a copy of your reply letter to my MP Mr Roland Boyes dated April 20 1994 and reply to it as follows :
In paragraph three of your letter you say that the emphasis is on educational benefit to the student. I cannot accept that in the matters that have arisen with the Law Clinics involvment in my next door neighbours actions against me, that students educational benefit was, and has been, the main object of the exercise. At no time during my contact with The Student Law Clinic was any student seen or spoken to. In my two forced appearances in the Newcastle County Court no students were present. Indeed at the second appearance in the Newcastle County Court it was visually confirmed that on my first appearance at the Court not only was the head of department Professor Kenny in attendnce, but in addition the departments director Mr Brayne and Mr Kerrigan a senior member of staff as well, but as I have said no students. Professor Kenny and Mr Kerrigan were allowed into the room in which the hearing took place but Mr Brayne was not. A question which comes to mind, bearing in mind that I have been told that the the Student Law Clinic is run by students under the supervision of solicitors, who was supervising the students at the Law Clinic while Professor Kenny, Mr Kerrigan, and Mr Brayne were in attendance at the Court?. The best part of the afternoon was taken up with the matter and I would question why it was necessary for all three, two being the most senior members of the departments staff to attend the Court, while no students were in attendance?.
I am in some confusion with paragraph four of your letter. In paragraph three it is said that you would not consider taking on a clients case unless there was a visible educational benefit. In paragraph four it is said that once a case is taken on the solicitor must ensure that the standard of service is of a professional quality. It goes on, this means intensive supervision of the students, but occasionally, and with reluctance, taking over aspects of the case where students for whatever reason are unable to cover the work to the requisite standard. Surely if students could not cover the work to the requisite standard, where this now appears to have been the case, was it was not right and proper that the case should not have been taken on, when, as I have stated, student involvement with me was totally nil from the outset, not at a point of time into the proceedings. Mr Kerrigan and Professor Kenny were made aware of at the outset that I was handling my own matters, and I am not a solicitor. In this case I would say that the educational benefit to any student at the Law Clinic must have been minimal because of the facts that involvement in the matter could at most have been in, as you say, extensive legal research during the lifetime of the case. It would be presumed that, irrespective, the learning process for students would involve this anyway. I cannot accept as right that students engaged in extensive legal reasearch should pass on the fruits of their research to three members of your staff in order that they personally should conduct the case, after all surely it is the actions that take place in the Courts in which students should be involved, in order that they alone should benefit from the experience of not only their research, but the application and use of their research in the Courts. If the student has the ability to research legal issues correctly, then surely that students ability would enable him or her personally to proceed with the legal issues in Court ? Then that would be of the utmost educational benefit to the student because then the fruits of their research would be put into action. I am not convinced that any student at the Law Clinic would not have been able to do at least as much as any member of your staff in an appearance in Court. A reason has not been given by you which might explain why matters in this particular case have been so complex that it has needed, to the exclusion of students, only the personal Court appearances of three senior members of your staff in proceedings against me, when I have on these occasions appeared and handled my own defence personally in the Courts. I am only a layman in matters of law, but I am unable to see that anything is so complex in matters at hand that required personal appearances only, to the exclusion of students, of the senior members of your staff.
In the second appearance at the Court Mr Brayne and Mr Kerrigan were in attendance, this was at a time while the University students might have been away on holiday, so there is perhaps a reason to accept that they would not be present on this occasion. On the second occasion in the Newcastle County Court I had a long conversation with Mr Kerrigan. In the conversation with Mr Kerrigan he told me that he would not like to live next door to me. I replied that if he had the problems from my neighbour that we have had since she came to live here in 1988 then he might not think that way. Mr Kerrigan should keep such thoughts and statements to himself until he was entirely sure that the client had acted in a proper manner to ourselves, which in the course of time I will prove that she has not. My neighbour, it is apparent, has led Mr Kerrigan, Mr Brayne, and Professor Kenny down the proverbial garden path.
On the first occasion that I received a summons to attend Court it was served personally by Mr Kerrigan. It could, as it appears to be normal procedure, have been served by the Court bailif for a charge of ten pounds, was it less expensive for the University to bear the cost ?. I believe that again on the second occasion that I was served a summons to attend Court it was a member of staff at the University that served it personally, again was this necessary ?. The University of Norhumbria is some considerable distance from our homes and I would question the time, and expence of the University in conducting this type of action against me, or indeed anyone else, that is not apparently normal procedure of any practicing solicitors. Where could a student learn from this type of activity?. My neighbour has now been served summonses and I had to foot the bill for the Court bailif to serve one of them, at the time, had I employed a solicitor, I would not have expected the solicitor, or a member of his staff, to serve the summons personally, yet this was the case with The Student Law Clinic.
All the senior members of your staff will be well aware that the case they brought against me should have been placed before the Court that is most local to the defendant. In this matter the local Court for both Plaintiff and Defendant would have been Durham or Sunderland both being much nearer to us. When, in the conversation with Mr Kerrigan at the Newcastle County Court I asked him if the reason they had gone ahead with the case in the Newcastle County Court was for their benefit alone since it was near to the University of Northumbria, the only reply was of a broad smile. I presumed the answer to have been yes since no explanation was offered by Mr Kerrigan for their action. This in itself could not have been due to ignorance on their part. Perhaps I might yet receive an explanation for the latter?
With reference to paragraph five of your letter, it would seem apparent that from the outset of the Law Clinic taking up the case on behalf of my neighbour that the decision had been made from the start that only senior members of staff should deal, in person, with me since this has been the case. Further, with regard to the other comments this paragraph, I would agree that "unique" is the right word to be used only in the service that has been given to my neighbour. It should be borne in mind that legal costs for anyone is now very expensive. I have no doubts that such a unique service would sway a lot of people from trying to fight against injustice in the sort of situation that I have been placed. When the head of department can make Sunday afternoon visits to his client to see the situation, use students to research the matter, and for the University to foot the bill for even the issuing of summonses, let alone these senior members of staffgiving such personal attention in Court at public expence, it would not surprise me that it is one that is nationally acclaimed for its quality.
When the situation is so lopsided, on matters of cost alone, it would seem logical that the Law Clinic has a good head start. What normal law practice could offer such services without passing on the possible financial costs to their client ?, the answer is of course none. When finance can enter into the outcome of justice, which, now because of government legislation I believe to be the case, then those with the least are at risk. Even though to date I have not used direct involvement of a solicitor, I have been put to great expence in the matters. My neighbour has expressed her amusement at the situation which to date has cost her in terms of finance, a lot less than employing a conventional law practice, and certainly a lot less than myself, this has effectively spurred me on not to give in to the situation that is so biased. My neighbour is in a far better financial position than even most people to be able to afford the services of a conventional law practice, her lifestyle and possessions without doubt indicate this to be so. Had my neighbour employed a solicitor at cost then I am very sure that matters would not have gone this far, at the outset of our differences she told me she did not want the cost of a solicitor.
A letter to me dated April 14 1994 from Mr Brayne at The Student Law Clinic states that they had advised the Plaintiff that they did not have the resources to continue to represent her at present, and that the Plaintiff advises me that in due course she will be instructing other solicitors who will be in contact with me. I have attended Durham County Court since that letter in which the Plaintiff, but in this particular matter now being the defendant has appeared, she has not to date employed a solicitor to represent her. I am not convinced at this time that The Student Law Clinic is not still providing a service to my neighbour in her actions against me, perhaps you might be able to confirm or deny this to be the case. If my neighbour is no longer a client of the Law Clinic then perhaps I might now be able to use their services ?.
If the services that have been given to my neighbour are the services that anyone using the Student Law Clinic can expect then the system is spiked with injustice. Had both parties the same opportunities and services as has been given to my neighbour then the so called " scales of justice " would be truly out of balance. I have tried and I am unable to find another local University that provides the same services of the Law Clinic. One local University said that they could not even offer me any legal advice because they were not insured for such purposes.
You say that you are confident that the qualified staff working in the Student Law office provide an invaluable-indeed unique- educational experience for Law students, but perhaps you might see the situation from the other side, what is unique on one side, can only be imbalance on the other, and in the system of justice that should never be allowed. It is hoped that such services that have been provided for my neighbour will be withdrawn from all until the situation comes about, if ever, when other government financed bodies, such as other Universities, will commonly offer such services to all. Until that time what is apparently on offer to the selected few, and I would point out the possible pitfalls in the system of selection, who'se case is taken on by the University Law Clinic is very wrong and unjust and I will not be persuaded, having had personal experience and involvement with the Student Law Clinic, or rather its members of staff, that it can be any other than injustice. It would seem in my own particular case, that most experience seems to have been gained by members of staff not students. This experience has and is being funded by the public as a whole. Until the public as a whole can enjoy the services such as that of the Student Law Clinic, ie of other such public funded establishments generally, then I strongly believe that such services should be withdrawn in the interests of justice.
In paragraph six you say that the Law Office endeavours to be professional and fair in its dealings both with its own clients and any people with whom its clients may be in conflict. I have not found this to be the situation.
On two occasions I was asked by Professor Kenny if I was willing to enter into discussions to try to find a solution to the conflict between my neighbour and myself. I agreed on both occasions to any discussions on the matters at hand. The last request of a meeting was made by Professor Kenny immediately after the Court appearance at Newcastle on the first occasion. I agreed to attend the University of Northumbria at Newcastle for such a meeting at the request of the Professor, nothing was heard again from the Professor regarding this. You may recall in my first letter to you that Professor Kenny had agreed to a joint meeting with both their client and myself at our homes to discuss matters, as I told you, I had agreed to provide evidence of title to land of which their client falsly claims as her own, at this meeting, the Professor did not call, as he had said in his telephone discussion with me that he would. Can this truly be said to be fair dealings ? I got from the outset of dealings with The Law Clinic an impression of almost being asked for confrontation. In my case I can truly say that fair dealings have not taken place. The system operated, apparently almost nationally exclusively, by the Law Clinic, cannot, because of the circumstances and nature of its work be in any way classed as "fair". If you can imagine yourself in a situation such as that in which I have been placed, then from, as it were, the opposite side of the fence, I know that you would understand that what is presently being done by The Student Law Clinic is wholly and totally wrong. To repeat again, until everyone in this country has the equal chance of such services from such establishments then the very foundations of The Student Law Clinic is built upon injustice. This is not only my view but the view of many people with whom I have discussed matters arising.
In view of what I have said, I would hope at the very least, that you will take steps to review the present situation with The Student Law Clinic in order that you might draw your own conclusions from the situation that has and does prevail.
Mr. M. Kellett
Any E-mail please to: Justice@jiwalu.demon.co.uk
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