Lawyers or hucksters

I love legal shows on TV - Boston Legal, Ally mc Beal, The Practice, LA Law, Street Legal and the lot. I always wondered why there seemed to be so much negative energy aimed at the profession of lawyers, especially when I idealistically thought, since my grandfather was a lawyer, that they helped even out the score between the common man and those well connected.

Well, this piece of idealism went the way of the birds thanks to a recent incident. About a month ago, my husband was coming home from work around 10:30 pm. He was in the back seat, chatting with his mom on the cellphone when all of a sudden another car hit his car from behind. He dropped the cellphone, still on, which worried his parents no end because they'd heard the crash, and the impact caused him to bang against the front seat, resulting in aching ribs and a muscular pain which is yet to subside. When he got out, he saw a Skoda Octavia behind his car, with a crumpled fender. His car's boot had been badly smashed up too. Before he could say anything, four men got out of the Skoda, and the driver of the other car started beating up our driver.

By this time I had heard about the accident and managed to message him asking him not to get into an argument, because Delhi is full of horrifying road rage murders and beatings. The three men from the Skoda turned out to be lawyers from a well-known corporate law firm known as Fox Mandal Little. One of the guys was a partner in the firm. They said that my husband's driver was at fault and that whatever part of their damages was not covered by their insurance would have to be paid by my husband. Not to worry, his insurance firm would pay third party insurance. Then they compelled my husband to hand over the registration certificate of his car.

When my husband and I discussed the incident at home, we realised that it could not have been his driver's fault, if the other car came and hit our car from behind. If our driver had braked or served suddenly, my husband would have noticed. In any case, in no way is the car in front responsible for what happens to the car behind, particularly on a well-lit road with little traffic and ample space for keeping a distance.

The legal firm asked for a meeting the next day. My husband went, along with a colleague from the legal department of his firm, and explained the facts to them, and said that we were not responsible for the accident and therefore would not be asking our insurance firm to pay them anything. At this, the lawyers got very upset and aggressive, and started throwing threats around, saying they had filed a police report, and that they would launch a legal case to get their money. They mentioned that a legal case could take several years to resolve in which time our car would be in the custody of the court, and did we really want to make it a legal matter. They also refused to discuss the issue of the registration certificate. Moreover, when my husband was out of the room for a few minutes, they actually had the gall to tell his legal dept. friend that in case the firm my husband works for agrees to put them on its legal panel, they will drop their demands.

The amount of money they did all this for? Rs. 50,000 was the total amount not covered by their insurance, and in the course of the same meeting, they dropped their demand from the full amount to half, to Rs. 10,000!
Frankly, everyone's advice was to just settle rather than get embroiled in India's courts which have a huge backlog, and in India's justice system where evidence can be bought and sold for peanuts. My blood boils at the principle of it - that a lawyer whose job is to uphold the law can stand there and use his knowledge of the legal system and the courts to threaten a law-abiding citizen and extort money. Rs. 10,000 is the price of his conscience - and he a partner who must earn nothing less than Rs. 50 lakh ( Rs. 5 million) a year. If even the law turns to the dark side, who does the common man have, besides himself, in his corner?


mummyjaan said…
That's shocking. I find it very discouraging to see these things happening in India, but bird's eye view....there is ugliness like that everywhere. In some places it's open and in others, it's cleverly hidden.

I thought there would be no such things in the 'developed world', but guess what? there's corruption in Ireland here too - in different forms.

Wherever there are humans, there will be some ugliness.

It's only a matter of time before idealistic idiots - like me - find out about it and are disillusioned.

The bright side is - there are good people everywhere too.

This is my second visit to you blog. Thanks to the links you have here on your page, I have discovered that I am 65% addicted to blogging, and avoid 100% of common blogger's spelling mistakes.
Mimi said…
Yes I agree! xoox
bird's eye view said…
mummyjaan and mimi,

I guess it is everywhere. I just wish ordinary people wouldn;t get into it, that it would stay restricted to politicians and suchlike.

PS. My addiction to blogging score is from way back - I bet the % has gone up since!
M&Ms... said…
Just stumbled upon your blog..
The incident is ... am speechless!!! So frustrating!
bird's eye view said…
Tell me about it, m&ms!

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