In praise of …
However brilliant the lawyers or enlightened the judges, the law can only evolve if there are clients who are brave enough to put their head above the parapet.
The doyenne of courageous clients must, of course, be Doreen Lawrence, who has battled for 20 years on behalf of her son Stephen.
Doreen’s dedication has rightly been well recognised. However, there are many other clients who have fought for justice just as doggedly, whose names remain unrecognised.
Any client roll call of honour must include the likes of bereaved mother Anne Williams, without whose tenacity there would have been no second Hillsborough inquest; and Pamela Coughlan, paralysed after a road accident, who showed that local authorities can’t go around breaking their promises and established the principle of substantive legitimate expectation (which now holds sway over most of the common law world).
It must also include a retired couple who can only be referred to as Mr and Mrs E, who were behind the ground-breaking Bournewood gap case, which led to greater protections for people without capacity. Mr and Mrs E’s case is all the more remarkable because they weren’t fighting for justice for themselves or another family member, but for HL, a 48-yearold man with learning difficulties they were fostering. Yet, in their determination to get him back home after he was informally detained in hospital, they took on the entire UK legal system, going all the way to the European Court of Human Rights.