NALP Exchange

Discussion of the Law

Month: April 2012

The problem of Greece’s growing debt burden

The debt crisis that has affected countries in Europe has been largely caused by their inability to pay debts that they have accrued over the years. Countries that have been unable to raise the amount of money needed to offset their debts have seen their economic growth affected to the point of asking for bail outs from friendly countries. The countries that have been worst hit by this crisis are Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Greece as well as Italy and are at a place whereby they can default on their payments which will affect their economies negatively.
Greece is one of the hardest hit by the debt crisis which has produced a lot of economic problems for the government and its citizens. Before the financial crisis in the United States which exposed fiscal policies that were unsustainable, the Greek government had not been spending money wisely and even ignored fiscal reforms and thus their economic growth was affected the most during the debt crisis. When the growth of the economy began to weaken as well as tax revenues, the budget deficits which are high became unsustainable.
The debt that has been accrued by Greece was larger than the economy of the country which posed a lot of problems for the country. Some of the problems facing Greece as its debt burden grows is the demand of higher yields by investors on the bonds made available by the country. The demands of higher yields result in raised costs which increase the debt burden, and can only be solved by the provision of poor credit loans by other European countries. Greece has been assisted twice by countries in the European Union so that they are able to pay their debts and finally solve their economic problems that has slowed down its progress.

Judiciary Power in Developing Countries

One of the most noteworthy aspects of the separation of powers is that the various independence and strength of each arm of the body politic – the executive, the legislature and the judiciary – varies from country to country. As mentioned in legal theory the judiciary is often considered to have too much power in America. As with the UK judges are able to interpret laws very much in a contrary way to the original intention of the legislatures who framed the law.

The reason for the strength of the UK and American judiciary is that judges do not feel threatened. They are revered by society and protected by the police. In Italy where judges have to deal with mafioso cases this is sometimes not the case. There is always a constant fear that the judge and witnesses will meet an untimely end in order to spoil the trial.

Part of the strength of a free and independent judiciary depends on a free press. Unless the press can report injustices, attacks on lawyers, bribery, corruption etc. then it is difficult for a judge to feel secure in his or her position. After all judges are able to decide if the president or prime minister is worthy of criminal prosecution. And if he or she is found guilty it is the judge that decides the punishment.

In Thailand it is noticeable that judges feel insecure. They tend to keep quiet during coups and never question the legality of constitutional amendments.

I once met a Thai judge in riverside hotel in Bangkok. He told me in confidence that the judiciary is far from independent.  The third estate is the army not the judiciary.

Legal Theory

Legal theory is concerned with the limits of judicial power. It asks such questions as how much leeway should judges be given to read new meanings into laws that were not intended when they were drafted by the legislature? How can judicial power be limited? Is it desirable to do so? How does the dynamic between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary work?

These are all vital theoretical questions concerning the law that all students of law need to think through. It is not a purely an ‘academic’ exercise. Rather these issues are at the heart of a healthy democracy.

It was the French Enlightenment political philosopher Baron de Montesquieu who first wrote about the idea of the separation of powers in the state. He was influenced by the British constitutional monarchy system and also the ancient Greek notion of preventing tyranny by separating out the 3 principle arms of the state – the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. It from Montesquieu that the notion of ‘checks and balances’ that is part of the American Constitution comes from.

It is interesting to note that Montesquieu noted that:

“The independence of the judiciary has to be real and not apparent merely”.

Elsewhere he wrote:

“The judiciary was generally seen as the most important of powers, independent and unchecked”

In short Montesquieu realized the danger of the judiciary. It is a fear that is found today in American society. In the field of morality and the law the Supreme Court appears to hold all the aces. It was the case of Roe v. Wade in 1973 that resulted in a Judge deciding that a woman had the right of privacy under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution that allowed her to have an abortion.

It is difficult to tell whether that was the wish of the majority of the people. Sovereignty lies with the people and they elect representatives to the legislature and executive to represent their opinions both morally and otherwise. Does a judge have the right to decide to change societal practice in such an extreme way?

Since that land mark decision every Republican President has used his executive powers to try and alter the judges presiding on the Supreme Court with the hope of over-ruling Roe v. Wade.

Why is it that the judges on the Supreme Court have life tenure? Why are they not elected representatives? Why do their decisions have the power to change laws dramatically in a society?

These are all questions that lawyers have to ponder. They must be servants of the law; and realize that have been given a massive responsibility. They must not abuse their considerable power. Rather the judiciary has to judge the feelings of the people to give the people the laws that make sense to them.

This is seen in the on-going struggle between state and federal law agencies and judiciaries regarding the issue of decriminalizing marijuana. It is something that the people want. It is the central executive and judiciary that are out of touch.

An Important Thing When Starting Law Studies

Starting out in Law can be a very daunting and laborious process. Spending a great many hours reading case studies and such in libraries and carrying about heavy books can prove to be a nightmare for students. Thankfully now with the growing popularity of laptop computers students can cut down on some of that weight and the hours spent writing has been cut down by easily typing.

It is obviously a very difficult industry to be a part of and even more difficult to get to a standard where you can be respected by your peers so study is a huge part of becoming as good as is possible. As I mentioned before a huge part of study now relies on computers and having a good, functioning laptop computer could be the difference between making it and not.

I know of one person who successfully studied law for a good many years and had the same laptop computer throughout the whole process, he swore by it. He told me the secret he had for keeping the same computer throughout his studies was that he looked for laptop repair Glasgow before he even had any issues with his computer and anytime he thought it wasn’t running up to speed or as well as he thought it could he got in contact. His favourite saying was ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ and he also lived by that saying in regards to his law studies. He felt that it was all good and well studying for a specific case but if he constantly studied previous case studies he would be prepared for anything that came his way and would be able to apply scenarios to the cases he was working on.

This is particularly useful in those fast changing areas of law such as those which affect the internet.  There are a myriad of issues which affect this area of law, for example often the people involved stretch across multiple borders.   The digital market place is a complicated area which involves numerous transactions including the use of fast proxies, VPNs and encryption to protect transactions online.

It turns out that his encyclopedic knowledge of law now sees him as one of the most sought after lawyers in the UK, and funnily enough he still has the same battered old laptop and refuses to buy a new one.

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