Make Sure Judges Understand the Cases They are Judging
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If the court system is to work, judges must be made to understand the cases that they are judging in order to avoid grotesque abuses of justice. Judges must be compelled to read the witness statements so that they understand what the case is about. If a judge does not know what a case is about there can be no certainty that the case will be judged fairly.
I was involved in a dispute with a neighbour about a water leak into his property. Because the only known water leak was from my property I paid my neighbour £830 to have it repaired. It then transpired that it was in fact another water leak, directly over my neighbour's property, and not from my property, which was causing the leak. Therefore I asked for my money back. But my neighbour refused, saying that the leak was coming through the party wall which separated the two properties.
A specialist engineer was called in who performed two tests which concluded that the leak was not coming from my property. A third survey from a chartered surveyor also concluded that the leak was not from my property.
The party wall was repaired by a specialist water engineer. Despite that repair, water ingress was described by the tenant of my neighbour's property as being as bad as before the repair.
One of the surveys showed that there was a secondary leak, from my next-door neighbour's property, which was directly above the water ingress point below, in my neighbour's property, a barber shop.
I produced plans to show that in order for the water from the leak in my property to leak into my neighbour's property, the water would have to flow UPHILL.
My neighbour still refused to give my money back, so I had no option but to take him to court (costing me more money).
I prepared my witness statement very carefully, chronicling the events as they took place and referencing all events and emails relating to events as they took place, in a very methodical fashion. I only had to prove to the judge that water cannot flow uphill, but I wanted to make sure that I had the best possible preparation for my case in any event.
The hearing was scheduled for 11 May 2017 at 10.00 a.m.
Unfortunately the judge was two hours late, so the hearing started at about noon that day. It became apparent that the judge had not read the witness statement, as her opening gambit was to advise both myself and the defendant, who was also present, that we should get a survey done.
This was an immediate giveaway: had the judge read the witness statement she would have known that not one, but three surveys had been done. All of them supported my case.
Eventually I was able to bring these surveys to the judge's attention. It is not clear what she made of them.
I was then able to show that the party wall, which the defendant insisted had enabled the leak to progress from my property through to my next-door neighbour's property then down to his, had been repaired, and that this repair had made no difference to the water ingress. This would suggest to anyone that the party wall therefore did not play a part in the water leak to my neighbour's property.
I asked the judge if I could show a video showing the damage caused by the water leak. I was told that I could not do that. The judge also did not take a close look at any of the exhibits I had brought along to support my case.
The judge asked several questions which were unconnected with what the case was about, which was very strange. The judge asked specific questions about matters which were not in contention, such as whether the money which changed hands had been acknowledged (which was self-evident).
The judge did not pay any attention to the results of the three surveys or to the repair of the party wall making no difference to the leak. Nor did she make any inference that the water leak directly above the water damage, coming from my neighbour's property, could be responsible for the damage.
Having dismissed the three surveys and all the causal evidence pointing to the leak coming from elsewhere, and having dismissed all my evidence and exhibits, and having forbidden me from showing my video of the leak, the judge decided to TAKE A VIEW. instead.
The judge ruled that I was not entitled to have my money back because --- the person who did the repair on the party wall had done a bad job.
Anyone reading this will instantly see that the judge did not understand what this case was about (presumably because she had not read the witness statement beforehand). Anyone reading this will realise what a miscarriage of justice this has been.
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