16 Feb 2011

Ignorance of the law

Ignorance of the law is a rampant thing… more widespread than I thought. I say in utter certainty, not only because of dotish sayings in newspapers and letters to the editor (this one past dotish!!) – both of which are a direct reflection on the knowledge of John Public on the law…

The title of my post is not so much to do with the knowledge of John Public but rather the ignorance of John Public when it comes to the law, and how the legal ‘authorities’ (read lawyers and police) take advantage of our ignorance.

My diatribe stems from an email I received yesterday (but only read about an hour ago) from the Office of the Ombudsman. Specifically, from the legal adviser in the Office of the Ombudsman, whom I reasonably expected to know the law.

In ‘advising’ on a complaint I made, Ms Adviser cited a totally erroneously part of the Constitution, expecting no doubt that I (as a layman) may be impressed/overwhelmed/intimidated by the words “Chapter so and so, section so and so”. I am not even whelmed.

I immediately went to the Constitution and read the relevant section quoted and then the actual relevant section only to realise that Ms Adviser didn’t even know which section of the Constitution applied to her office and that of the Ombudsman, her boss. Just to be clear, she quoted Chapter 1:01 when she needed Chapter 6 Part 2 Section 98 (7).

And that is what I meant by ignorance of the law. That these people assume we will never check, or indeed not know the law and never haul their arses into account.

I read two things into this misquotation…

  1. Ms Adviser was trying to play on my ignorance of the law. Heavens to Murgatroyd know how many were fobbed off in the same manner.
  2. She is just too lazy to do some research (but I would think as a legal adviser working in a specific area she would at least know what areas of the law pertains to herself and her boss).

The question now is – do I want to play tag with an ignorant Monkey Islander, even if there is significant money involved?

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