Litigation as sport
Litigation should be approached as sport - it is obviously adversarial and
competitive, but it is actually most like a
life-sized game of chess:
- it is hierarchic, rule-bound, and the men
all wear fancy-dress;
- players take it in turns, and each move is
calculated to mount pressure over time;
- the aim is generally to get the other side
to concede, rather than to go to checkmate/trial.
Happy note: although litigation is distressing, considerably less people
die from litigation than were killed
in the medieval wars on which chess is based!
For those hardened by too cases and legal threats, and
for those whose financial and personal circumstances allow, then it may
well be time to play the game of litigation and have some fun.
litigation as sport allows you to:
(as opposed to following lawyers' rules and advice)
(eg. going to court opens up
whole new avenues for media interest and publicity)
(eg. Animal Liberation showing they are not intimidated by being sued
by serving legal responses while wearing a chicken costume)
(how else do you cope with a judge enquiring about your sewer system
in order to determine whether you were malicious in publishing an article
about the effect of litigation on public debate! [Yes,
that actually happened])
(by being uncomfortable, not knowing what you are up to, or just having
to do more work to react to your fun)
Too many good people and organisations have been ground down by litigation that drags over years at great financial and emotional costs. This
is simply unjust, but surely at the heart of community politics is the concept
of empowerment. Must we abandon that when the writ is served?
of going to court like lambs to the judicial slaughter, we should view court
as another political arena and ask what we can get out of it, how can we
further our cause by being active in it, and how can we ensure people want
to be part of the campaign (case).
A few sporting examples:
Steel and Morris in the
McLibel case getting senior company executives to say under oath that
they thought their products were healthy because they contained water!
Animal Lib getting itself sued for producing a T-shirt and then making
a media event by the legal argument against an injunction (click
for more info)
The Wilderness Society delivering a birthday cake
to Gunns who was suing them in a massive case - just to be clear that
environmentalists were not intimidated by a legal case
The bush lawyer responding to personal service at one's home by finding out where the
opposing lawyer lived and serving the response at their house (just so the
litigious invasion of personal space did not go all one way)
Another bush lawyer setting sporting goals like writing to or ringing the
other lawyers at least once a week on some ground or another - just to
keep in touch (at $X per minute) and ensure good case-flow
Competitions between bush lawyers to see who can
come up with the most creative
defence or the stupidest legal term (bonus points for Latin). Note:
the same game is often played by those suing when creating inuendoes for what
your statements meant!
Taking the concept of suits against activists (sometimes referred to
as Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation - a SLAPP suit) into the
court - literally!
But ultimately, the most sport is just mimicking
the other side's lawyers!
For more fun with litigation, see
The Bush Lawyer's Award's for Dealing with Litigation