Last week RTÉ reported that a person convicted of burglary, and with almost 100 convictions, was given a suspended sentence because the court felt the person “deserved one last chance”.
This was another instance of a judge being disconnected from what society expects of our courts — a system rightly given independence, but one that needs to remember what its primary responsibilities are. That impression of disconnect was strengthened when the Irish College of General Practitioners described the majority of whiplash claims brought to our courts as “frankly spurious”. That statement was made in a submission to a Personal Injuries Commission group considering our compensation culture.
It goes without question that anyone hurt through the negligence of another is entitled to compensation and it goes without question that the insurance industry is happy to create an atmosphere where claims are seen in a particular light but that does not excuse the compo circus in our courts.
Bizarre awards are everyday.
Evidence is often rejected as dishonest, many claims are withdrawn when stoutly defended, but perjury charges are almost unheard of. Why is this?
The judiciary is correctly entrusted with considerable latitude but in too many instances that independence is misused. It is time judges who undermine the credibility and effectiveness of our courts by believing the plainly unbelievable were held to account.