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Legal Minds

20 August 2015 / by / in ,

Procrastination is the thief of time.

Mr Justice Jeremiah Harman kept a farmer who had been bankrupted by a confidence trickster waiting for 20 months before giving his judgment.  This was roundly condemned by Lord Justice Peter Gibson:

Conduct like this weakens public confidence in the whole judicial process. Left unchecked I would be ultimately subversive of the rule of law. Delays on this scale cannot and will not be tolerated.”

The Saville enquiry into Bloody Sunday lasted 12 years, costing £400 million.

The Chilcot enquiry is now being criticised for running 6 years with no end in sight.

But how long is too long in relation to legal proceedings? When is justice delayed, justice denied?

Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights guarantees minimum rights for a fair trial, but there are no clear guidelines as to when a delay in the process becomes abusive. An old report by the European Commission may serve as  rule of thumb. The report provides a summary table of cases decided by the ECtHR by case type.

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John Bechelet

John specialises in commercial and civil fraud litigation. Admitted as a solicitor in 1983, John worked in private practice and in-house for a leading life assurance company before establishing Bivonas with Antony Brown in 1997. John has extensive experience in a wide range of courts and tribunals including the UK Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the Divisional Court. He has been involved in a number of important reported cases.