Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Courts Government Businesses The Almighty Buck News

Investing In Lawsuits Beats the Street 203

Posted by kdawson
from the some-dare-call-it-champerty dept.
guga31bb sends word on the next wave of investment in a slow market: bankrolling others' lawsuits. The practice sounds on the face of it indistinguishable from champerty. "Juris typically invests $500,000 to $3 million in a case, Mr. Desser said. He would not identify the company's backers, but said that 'on the portfolio as a whole, our returns are well in excess of 20 percent per year.' He added, 'We're certainly beating the market.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Investing In Lawsuits Beats the Street

Comments Filter:
  • Ah yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jurily (900488) <jurily@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:11AM (#28193207)

    Treating the legal system as a business opportunity is not new, but to base a business model on it?

    You guys should start cutting down on lawyer fees, fast.

    • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:20AM (#28193261)

      There are many things that people do as professions that are ethically questionable but undoubtedly legal. Not to harp on Maggie Sanger, but the ethics of abortion are intensely debated. However abortion remains legal in the U.S.A. Telemarketing is almost universally reviled, but people still make a living at it.

      You would expect that ethics would take a big role in how the legal system is formulated, and for the most part you'd be right. But due to the creativity of human beings, the fruitful edges of legality and ethics can be sought out and exploited.

      • by Jurily (900488) <jurily@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:32AM (#28193317)

        You would expect that ethics would take a big role in how the legal system is formulated, and for the most part you'd be right.

        I don't care about ethics. The problem is, the whole system is geared towards requiring lawyers to function. Unclear laws, obscure precedents, etc. Not to mention the special powers the lawyers' associations have, like automatic trust of a member judge.

        In order to change this, laws should be written at least as unambiguous as RFC's, for starters.

        • by Guido del Confuso (80037) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:38AM (#28193355)

          You can't make laws as clear as technical documents. That's a quixotic notion held by those who fail to appreciate that other people see things vastly different from how they do. The difference between an RFC and a law is that you can reasonably expect people to follow the RFC because it is in their own best interest to do so. A law, on the other hand, will always have an exception, a border case, or some other mitigating circumstance that will require interpretation. That is the job of the courts and lawyers.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by dword (735428)

            You can't make laws as clear as technical documents. That's a quixotic notion held by those who fail to appreciate that other people see things vastly different from how they do.

            But isn't that the whole reason for which we have laws?

          • by Jurily (900488) <jurily@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:01AM (#28193457)

            You can't make laws as clear as technical documents.

            Of course you can. Rule #1: Follow the intent, not the letter, And then make the intent as clear as humanly possible.

            The difference between an RFC and a law is that you can reasonably expect people to follow the RFC because it is in their own best interest to do so.

            Laws are not optional. They're protected by force and imposed on everyone in the area. And they have penalties, too.

            • by AlXtreme (223728) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:35AM (#28193567) Homepage Journal

              Of course you can. Rule #1: Follow the intent, not the letter, And then make the intent as clear as humanly possible.

              I don't know if making laws that vague would solve anything, instead it would probably make things much more worse. All those lawyers would have a field day in arguing that the intent of a law is something different to what the rest of us think, or use the intent of one law to negate a completely different law.

              Things aren't perfect as they are, but the legal system isn't this complex merely due to the lawyers. All these laws have to be as clear as possible, in intent and letter, which is the task the legislative branch has when coming up with a law.

              The problem is that each year many laws are added to the system (because the legislative branch has to keep up the act) but there is very little incentive to actually remove laws to simplify the system. The more laws there are in the system, the harder it will be for a layman to understand even a portion of these laws and the more ammunition lawyers have in the courtroom.

              Or to continue the analogy, what if you had 100 non-deprecated RFC's that define a simple protocol like SMTP? You would get a whole branch of IT workers through whom you would have to dictate your emails, because the whole system is so complex.

              • by NonSequor (230139) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @07:44AM (#28193875) Journal

                Have you heard the expression "your right to swing your fist ends where my face begins"? Well I imagine if that were put into law the process would go something like this:

                Legislator 1:I want to ban people hitting other people's faces with their fists.

                Legislator 2: What about a light tap with a closed fist as a sort of, "Go get 'em champ!" endearing sort of thing? Do you really think that should be illegal?

                Legislator 1: Sure, I buy it. We could put an exemption for that.

                Legislator 3: I'm more worried about people hitting other people in the face with things other than fists.

                Legislator 1: Like what?

                Legislator 3: Well this guy slammed a door on my brother's face and broke his nose.

                Legislator 2: Ouch...

                Legislator 1: Sure that should be illegal too.

                Legislator 2: Wait, what if it wasn't on purpose? What if, like, you were holding a door open for someone and then slipped and slammed the door in their face?

                Legislator 1: Well that wouldn't count.

                Legislator 3: You would still be responsible for being clumsy.

                Legislator 1: Yeah, I guess that makes sense. You should have to at least pay for medical bills or something, but it's not like we're going to lock people up in jail over that.

                Legislator 2: What if it's a windy day and the wind blows the door closed and it breaks someone's nose and the guy thinks that it was you slamming the door?

                Legislator 1: Well if it was really the wind and not you, then you aren't responsible.

                Legislator 3: Wait, how do you prove it was the wind?

                Legislator 1: Well... ...And so on and so forth.

                The moral of this story is that we don't just throw out old laws because we don't want to go through the trouble of hashing out all of the minutia in them over again. The law is never going to be not complex, because the essential logic that it needs to express is complex.

                So long as the concerns that motivated the original law are still essentially valid (which, of course, is not always true), then it's generally better to amend the existing law and build off the work that has already been done, rather than attempt to rewrite them completely.

                The law has the difficult task of objectively resolving disputes with subjective elements. When you think about it, that's a problem roughly equivalent to Hard AI. Over many centuries, law has developed heuristics for dealing with this problem. If you take the time to learn about them, you'll find that although they don't produce justice with algorithmic certainty, they do tend to produce reasonable results more often than not.

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by swilver (617741)

                  All of these examples however differ in just one thing. Intent. Did you intentionally break someone's nose or was it an accident?

                  The law therefore could simply state: intentionally breaking someone's nose is illegal.

                  Trying to extend the text of the law to provide a fail-safe method on how to prove intent is futile. It's not possible to establish intent without cooperation from the suspect. The most we can hope for is a good guess. I mean, I could take a swing at someone intending to stop just short of

                  • by NonSequor (230139) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @08:56AM (#28194355) Journal

                    That's what I meant when I said the law has to objectively resolve disputes with subjective components. Intent is subject to interpretation, and the law specifies mechanisms for testing for intent.

                    What is and isn't illegal is simply the first question. The second question is, how should mitigating factors be considered in answering the first question? The third question is, how is a violation punished? The fourth question is, to what extent should mitigating factors be considered in determining the intensity of punishment used?

                    A system that doesn't attempt to consider all elements of the case is tyranny.

                    So how do you weigh all of the pertinent considerations against each other? Is one of them always most important? Or maybe one of them should only be important when it crosses a certain threshold.

                    The whole point is that the legal system is an attempt by humans to establish methods for making good guesses which take into account as many relevant factors as is possible. Since they're at best good guesses (and sometimes bad guesses) bad results do sometimes occur. However, it's better than the binary alternatives of either not punishing any crimes or punishing all suspects.

                    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                      The whole point is that the legal system is an attempt by humans to establish methods for making good guesses which take into account as many relevant factors as is possible. Since they're at best good guesses (and sometimes bad guesses) bad results do sometimes occur. However, it's better than the binary alternatives of either not punishing any crimes or punishing all suspects.

                      Further you can only really address most of these problems as they occur, hence the need to rely on precedent a lot of the time.

            • by jimicus (737525) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:52AM (#28193645)

              Of course you can. Rule #1: Follow the intent, not the letter, And then make the intent as clear as humanly possible.

              What a good idea.

              Which is exactly why any half-decent judge interprets according to the spirit of the law.

              Where a problem occurs is when the spirit isn't clear but the letter is - and the most obvious interpretation of the letter is pretty bad.

              Myself, I think laws should have something akin to the preamble section in the GPL - a short paragraph which explains in clear English exactly what the law hopes (and doesn't hope) to achieve - in order to aid understanding the spirit.

              • by nomadic (141991)
                Myself, I think laws should have something akin to the preamble section in the GPL - a short paragraph which explains in clear English exactly what the law hopes (and doesn't hope) to achieve - in order to aid understanding the spirit.

                They generally do.
                • by jimicus (737525)

                  I think this depends on the country in question's laws.

                  I do recall hearing about a country which decided that all future laws would be drafted in clear English in their entirety - but I can't recall what country this was and I'm having trouble finding it so I've no idea how successful this was.

                  • by nomadic (141991)
                    I am going by American law, which is 99% of what is attacked here; generally you have a first section in each law that describes the intent behind the law.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by zotz (3951)

              First you need to decide whether equity or predictability is more important in your law.

              all the best,

              drew

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            RFC has some precise definitions that allow such exceptions.

            The device MUST implement X.
            The device MUST either implement X or fall back gracefully to Y
            The device MAY implement X. Presence of implementation of X is recognizable by Y.
            The content of field X is undefined and subject for proprietary extensions. If the content is not recognized, the device should ignore it..

            Law is a set of inclusive specs: whatever isn't forbidden, is allowed. Thus, if a case is not covered by law, it's no-case.

            And border cases a

          • Good lawyers are actually legal hackers. They look for the edge cases where the law is broken for the good of their client. There's really a lot in common between programmers and lawyers.
        • by mh1997 (1065630)

          The problem is, the whole system is geared towards requiring lawyers to function. Unclear laws, obscure precedents, etc. Not to mention the special powers the lawyers' associations have, like automatic trust of a member judge.

          With most politicians being lawyers, is it any wonder that they would write unclear laws with loopholes to exploit to benefit themselves and the "industry" they came from?

        • In order to change this, laws should be written at least as unambiguous as RFC's, for starters.

          . . . we would have no Internet today; we would still be waiting.

          IETF: "We plan to have ARP through legal by 2012. TCP and UDP might make it sometime around 2050."

      • by QuantumG (50515) *

        The whole point is that this is illegal in most everywhere in the world.

      • This is however, very borderline. It is, if not illegal, very close, depending on the exact wording of the contracts, and the exact nature of the particular cases (and also depending on the jurisdiction).

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Chrisq (894406)

          This is however, very borderline. It is, if not illegal, very close, depending on the exact wording of the contracts, and the exact nature of the particular cases (and also depending on the jurisdiction).

          You mean like Microsoft paying an "undisclosed sum" /to fund litigation/ .. cough .. for Unix licenses.

      • by Eivind (15695)

        I don't think so. What's legal and what's ethical are two completely different questions. Sometimes the answers to both questions are the same, and sometimes they're not.

        I don't think they -should- be the same either, because there's a large set of actions that are unethical, yet the damage from laws against them would be significantly higher than the damage from the actions themselves, so it'd be a net loss for society to have such laws.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sjames (1099)

        True, but nobody is legally compelled to listen to a sales pitch or to be involved in an abortion.

        Should anyone try in a similar way to not participate in the civil court system, the judge will practically rip the shirt from their back and give it to the plaintiff.

        Lack of ethics in sales is harmful to society, but lack of ethics in the legal practice can actually unravel the fabric of society. IMHO, the courts and legislature are being quite careless about that currently.

        • by nomadic (141991)
          IMHO, the courts and legislature are being quite careless about that currently.

          Do you have any concrete examples of this?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thrillseeker (518224)
      Once upon a time, our elected official were people who had built their own businesses - people who knew how hard it sometimes was to make payroll - and people who knwe how hard it occasionally was to be unable to make payroll. We had laws that encouraged growth, which requires someone, somewhere to voluntarily invest something, whether it be his own time or someone else's discretionary nickel. When something worked it was praised, encouraged, duplicated and expanded, and when something didn't, it was simp
    • Treating the legal system as a business opportunity is not new, but to base a business model on it?

      You guys should start cutting down on lawyer fees, fast.

      Lawyers have been treating it as a business opportunity, why shouldn't the capitalists get involved?

    • Treating the legal system as a business opportunity is not new, but to base a business model on it?

      Also not new. See, Law Firms

      In a non-pedantic way, this business model has existed for a while, but I've usually heard about it on a smaller scale.

      You guys should start cutting down on lawyer fees, fast.

      It's actually based on the non-lawyer fee side of the equation. That is, taking money that would normally go to the plantiff, not the plantiff's lawyers.

      And while it is a lot of money, keep in mind that it is

  • by ionix5891 (1228718) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:11AM (#28193211)

    well if that doesnt ring any alarm bells!

      maybe we should introduce Bernake to these people :D

    • 20% per year is not outrageously high. If a business makes 20% profit per year, it would be doing fairly well, but not spectacularly. The problem is with GUARANTEEING that rate of return to others. That's when it becomes fraud. But simply stating that you're making that much, especially when it's true, is perfectly legitimate.

      • And even an idiot can have a good year in the lawsuit world. Like the stock world, you print the statistics that make you look best to encourage more investors, and you don't want to admit that if you role a fair dice 3 times, for 12.5 % of the people who do it it will win every time, and for 12.5% it will lose every time. You, as the salesmen for the investment services, make your money from the transaction fees (and the bribes and kickbacks ans shwag), not from the investors winning or losing.
      • 20% per year is not outrageously high

        No [morningstar.com]?

        Looks pretty good to me.

  • Fire Sale (Score:5, Insightful)

    by siloko (1133863) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:13AM (#28193217)
    Investing in cultural naval gazing more like. When the process of legal shikanery yields better returns than investing in real world products then it is apparent that the our culture has run aground . . .
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jurily (900488)

      When the process of legal shikanery yields better returns than investing in real world products then it is apparent that the our culture has run aground . . .

      No, it's just the logical conclusion of a culture of worshipping money.

      • Re:Fire Sale (Score:5, Insightful)

        by malkavian (9512) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:45AM (#28193609) Homepage

        No, it's the logical conclusion of a culture that considers ethics of no consequence.
        You can worship money all you like, and still create a fantastic environment (run your own company? In a company that you enjoy being in? They're not there for the express purpose of making your life fun, they're there to chase money. Ethical companies make a great place to work, the leeches will burn you out and leave you broken). However, all this activity boils down to is parasitic behaviour. When you can make more by discarding ethics, not producing anything and basically sucking the life out of anything that does produce, then the problems start.

        • by umghhh (965931)
          sounds like description of majority of financial institutions to me. However 'not producing anything' is not necessarily a bad thing - services work that way and as long as there are customers willing to pay for the service it is fine. The problem is if one branch of economy bubbles out of proportions and creates inbalances which make the economy crash - lawyers and wizards of finance are two such examples in western world.
          • by sjames (1099)

            That may be why the world's major religions call for strong limits (or ban outright) barratry and usury.

        • by Kjella (173770)

          When you can make more by discarding ethics, not producing anything and basically sucking the life out of anything that does produce, then the problems start.

          Heh, it's a good question what's cause and effect here - are lawyers the unethical bloodsuckers you make them out to be, or is it a result of companies that engage in vast unethical behavior hoping not to get caught? It's not surprising that if their legal strategy is to get away with it and these guys are good at not letting them get away with it then there's good money in that.

          Because it's unheard of that "producing companies" ever try to get away from marketing bordering on fraud, product quality tjat's

          • by malkavian (9512)

            Lawyers are not the guardians of our ethics, and I don't believe they ever state that it's their intention to be either.
            Lawyers are ,first and foremost, people. Their ethics vary, and they bind themselves to their own ethical codes.
            Their first responsibility is not to ethics, it's to their client and the law. But the law being what it is, is open to interpretation (thus we have lawyers). We don't have a system of justice (though that does sometimes happen), we have a system of law. That's interpreted th

      • No, it's just the logical conclusion of a culture of worshipping money.

        And lawyers are the new priesthood.

        • by moeinvt (851793)

          If lawyers are the new priesthood in the cult of money worship, bankers must be the deities and demi-gods.

      • by bmajik (96670)

        No, it's just the logical conclusion of a culture of worshipping money

        http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=1826 [capmag.com]

        "So you think that money is the root of all evil?" said Francisco d'Anconia. "Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the mooch

    • Investing in cultural naval [dict.org] gazing more like.

      What's wrong with watching ships in the water?

    • The real problem here will start where every situation takes a turn for the worst - when everybody and their grandmother start borrowing money to get into the "surefire profit" business and get into debts, scams popping left and right to provide investment opportunities and toxic assets (like our good friend Lionel Hutz) getting into the business to collect some of the windfall. The market will collapse, leaving most small investors holding an empty bags while the usual rich people run off with the leftover
  • by Guido del Confuso (80037) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:15AM (#28193229)

    According to the article, they only invest in cases that are pretty much a surefire win for the plaintiff. This makes sense, because if they're in it to make money, then cases that are likely to be questionable are a bad investment.

    Seems to me that they're actually doing a public service, by allowing little guys who can't afford to take on big corporations who have clearly done them wrong to proceed with a potentially expensive lawsuit. No longer can the party with deeper pockets simply fight a war of attrition and hope to run the other guy dry. If the plaintiff ends up winning he gets more than he would have gotten had he simply given up, and if somebody else makes a buck off it as well, then so much the better.

    • by Jurily (900488) <jurily@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:24AM (#28193281)

      Seems to me that they're actually doing a public service, by allowing little guys who can't afford to take on big corporations who have clearly done them wrong to proceed with a potentially expensive lawsuit.

      They're solving a problem that shouldn't exist in the first place: the legal system is a capitalist enterprise, with heavy price fixing by the lawyer community.

      Oh, and a perverted enough legal system that lawyer skill actually matters in a case.

      • Even accepting your statement about what is or isn't the problem with the legal system, it is the way it is and that's not going to change in the near future. Is your proposed solution simply not to solve the problem?

        And of course the skill of the lawyers matters. It has always mattered. That's why we don't let just anybody be a lawyer. In case you didn't realize, being an effective lawyer requires a great deal of skill. The ability to analyze a case, compare points of law between present and past case

        • by Jurily (900488) <jurily@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @05:52AM (#28193431)

          Is your proposed solution simply not to solve the problem?

          My proposed solution:

          1. abolish legally binding precedent. The accepted interpretation of a law should be a consensus among the legal community, not a decision of one moron 150 years ago.
          2. Hire someone competent [faqs.org] to rewrite the laws, aiming for clarity and precision.
          3. Law should be treated like software: any and all changes should be incorporated into the text, not distributed as amendments. The current legal system looks like Linux 0.01 with all the patches distributed separately up to 2.6.30, and you can win a case by confusing the judge and your opponent into forgetting a critical patch.
          3. Make the up to date text of every law easily accessible and searchable by anyone.
          4. If you find there is no law for something new, like, say, the internet, say so. Don't torture existing unrelated laws fo fit the new situation.
          5. Arguments should be based on merit, not qualifications and the overuse of jargon.

          I'm sure there's more we could do, but these should solve the big problems.

          • by Marcika (1003625) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:16AM (#28193517)

            Is your proposed solution simply not to solve the problem?

            My proposed solution:

            1. abolish legally binding precedent. The accepted interpretation of a law should be a consensus among the legal community, not a decision of one moron 150 years ago. 2. Hire someone competent [faqs.org] to rewrite the laws, aiming for clarity and precision. 3. Law should be treated like software: any and all changes should be incorporated into the text, not distributed as amendments. The current legal system looks like Linux 0.01 with all the patches distributed separately up to 2.6.30, and you can win a case by confusing the judge and your opponent into forgetting a critical patch. 3. Make the up to date text of every law easily accessible and searchable by anyone. 4. If you find there is no law for something new, like, say, the internet, say so. Don't torture existing unrelated laws fo fit the new situation. 5. Arguments should be based on merit, not qualifications and the overuse of jargon.

            I'm sure there's more we could do, but these should solve the big problems.

            All your points pretty much described a conversion from the Common Law [wikipedia.org] system as it is practiced in the UK and its former colonies (US, India, Pakistan, Oz etc) to the Civil Law [wikipedia.org] system that has been introduced practically everywhere else and has been used since the times of Hammurabi and the Romans.

            However, the problem is that such a conversion cannot happen while there is a large establishment built on it - the judges would have to re-learn, the lawyers would have to re-learn, the legislators would have a gargantuan task of creating a whole corpus of laws without bad loopholes... It would only happen after a revolution. (The German-style civil law was introduced in China, Japan and Korea in the early 20th century, but the power situation were very different from the status quo in the US today...)

            • by Jurily (900488)

              All your points pretty much described a conversion from the Common Law system as it is practiced in the UK and its former colonies (US, India, Pakistan, Oz etc) to the Civil Law system that has been introduced practically everywhere else and has been used since the times of Hammurabi and the Romans.

              I was actually describing an idealized version of the Hungarian system. The real one has its flaws, of course, like the overuse of references. The whole thing looks like a wiki on paper. And the distorting of old laws for new situations happens here as well.

            • It's interesting that after the US helps rebuild a country, we give it a better constitution and legal system than what we have. This is how it should be, but it's obvious that we should backport the best of the new legal systems to our own.

              This doesn't happen of course, because vested interests are making money from the current systems. If the inefficiencies are fixed, they might have to find a new job. To quote the movie "Risky Business", "You don't f*ck with a man's livelihood." People will fight
              • by nomadic (141991)
                It's interesting that after the US helps rebuild a country, we give it a better constitution and legal system than what we have. This is how it should be, but it's obvious that we should backport the best of the new legal systems to our own.

                I reject the idea that the Civil Law system is "better" than the Common Law. I note that Common Law countries tend to, and have always tended to, have better economies than Civil Law ones.
            • by Sique (173459)

              Do it as the bavarian judge did, when the new Buergerliches Gesetzbuch (Civil Code of Law) was introduced in 1900 in Germany.
              A law inspector was impressed by the amount of decisions the judge had already based on the new Code of Law. And the judge just told him: "You know, beforehand I wrote down that I based my decision on the Pandects (Roman Law). Today I keep it in mind."

            • by semiotec (948062)

              However, the problem is that such a conversion cannot happen while there is a large establishment built on it - the judges would have to re-learn, the lawyers would have to re-learn, the legislators would have a gargantuan task of creating a whole corpus of laws without bad loopholes... It would only happen after a revolution.

              so the cost of educating lawyers and judges and rewriting laws is less than a revolution?

            • My understanding from speaking with people who actually have practiced in both systems is that there really isn't much practical difference between a common law and a civil law system. In both cases, judges and attorneys look to previous cases with similar facts for guidance of what to do in present cases. The difference is the common law system pays greater lip service to following previous decisions, while still retaining almost full ability to not rely on them if it so chooses.

              If you think about it, it
          • by psmears (629712)

            3. Law should be treated like software: any and all changes should be incorporated into the text, not distributed as amendments. The current legal system looks like Linux 0.01 with all the patches distributed separately up to 2.6.30, and you can win a case by confusing the judge and your opponent into forgetting a critical patch.

            3. Make the up to date text of every law easily accessible and searchable by anyone.

            This exists (for both of your item 3s :-), for the UK at least [statutelaw.gov.uk]...

          • by iserlohn (49556)

            Those that forget history are doomed to repeat it. This is part of the problem that "Precedent" solves in Common Law jurisdictions. If every judge interpreted law without "Precedence" as a guide, then you have a problem with consistency.

            The other part of the problem is that no law can cover every conceivable situation. Sometimes bad laws are made, that's the reason that Jurisprudence is importance. In Common Law countries, it is a flexible system that allow lawmakers to make laws which are applied to specif

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by swillden (191260)

            3. Law should be treated like software: any and all changes should be incorporated into the text, not distributed as amendments. The current legal system looks like Linux 0.01 with all the patches distributed separately up to 2.6.30, and you can win a case by confusing the judge and your opponent into forgetting a critical patch. 3. Make the up to date text of every law easily accessible and searchable by anyone. [...] 5. Arguments should be based on merit, not qualifications and the overuse of jargon.

            These three, at least. are already the case in the US, at both federal and state level. Your second 3 is not yet implemented by all counties and municipalities, but they're getting there. As for your first 3, while changes in statutes are passed as "diffs" by the legislature, generally, the patches are applied after they're passed, and the up-to-date version of the law includes a footnote that it was changed and on what date, but the text you read is the "patched-up" version.

            I do think it would be very

            • by swillden (191260)
              Doh! Sorry for not fixing up the formatting in your text. It seems like the slashdot "quote" feature used to work better than it does...
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            Jurily, you should learn more about our legal system. It is the product of 2000 years of the best legal minds of our civilization.

            1. You cannot abolish precedent. First, they are not made by "morons". Second, most precedent is recent. The courts have a heirarchy. Lower courts must follow upper courts, and the same court must follow its past decisions interpreting the same law before it.
            2. The legislature does hire competent attorneys to write the actual text of the laws, and they do aim for clarity a

            • by Ihlosi (895663)
              It is the product of 2000 years of the best legal minds of our civilization.

              I think the Romans would disagree.

              You cannot abolish precedent.

              Odd. There's no such thing as precedent in civil law systems, apparently it's not necessary for a legal system to function.

              Second, most precedent is recent.

              ... unless it's not. And recent precedent may still be based on not-so-recent precedent.

              The legislature does hire competent attorneys to write the actual text of the laws, and they do aim for clarity a

            • by Jurily (900488)

              For instance, does free speech apply to the internet? Under your rule, the answer would be "no", since there was no internet with the Constitution was written.

              There was no First Amendment, either.

          • by Comboman (895500)

            4. If you find there is no law for something new, like, say, the internet, say so. Don't torture existing unrelated laws to fit the new situation.

            Conversely, don't create new laws for situations already covered by old laws just for the sake of looking progressive (e.g. If fraud is already illegal, there shouldn't need to be separate laws stating fraud is illegal through the mail, over the phone or over the internet).

          • by Kirijini (214824)

            1. abolish legally binding precedent. The accepted interpretation of a law should be a consensus among the legal community, not a decision of one moron 150 years ago.

            Old decisions, while they may be technically binding, are usually unpersuasive unless it accords to the general legal consensus within and without the jurisdiction. Publications like the restatements of the law (which are essentially just lists of contemporary legal principles, and not actually binding law anywhere, nor adopted by legislatures

          • by nomadic (141991)
            1. abolish legally binding precedent. The accepted interpretation of a law should be a consensus among the legal community, not a decision of one moron 150 years ago.

            Precedent changes frequently, and is generally a consensus decision arrived at as judges look at how other judges ruled. And there are few, if any, precedents that were established 150 years ago, and any that are tend to be re-affirmed by a new look at the law periodically.

            2. Hire someone competent to rewrite the laws, aiming for clarity
    • Surefire win for the plaintiff does not mean that the plaintiff's complaint is just, true, or morally upstanding. It just means that prior plaintiffs with the same situation have done well in the same venues. I see a parallel to the American phenomenon of two drug stores on every corner - if the first one makes it, it can be studied and shown that another one will also survive in the same place - not that that's the best place to put a new store, just the lowest risk.
    • by sjames (1099)

      If justice requires rounding up investors, then the society of laws is already on it's deathbed. It also does a great injustice to anyone who probably should prevail but is not certain to by creating a legal services bubble. Just like the real estate bubble, this will likely drive up the costs of legal services. There are very good reasons such practices are generally considered unethical and in many legal systems, actually criminal.

      It also has the unfortunate effect of encouraging 'sure thing' lawsuits tha

  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swynfen_will_case [wikipedia.org]

    Got promised 1.3mil to win a case, the first case I've run. Had sex with the hot beneficiary. Won the case. Didn't get paid. She married someone else and sued me for misconduct. My life sucks.

  • by westlake (615356) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @06:13AM (#28193501)

    The trial attorney's primary asset is his experience in court - his ability to win cases.

    But that makes it difficult to hit a bank for a loan.

    So he - like generations of skilled craftsmen and professionals before him - seeks financing outside the normal banking system.

    There is the side issue of collection from the client who isn't paying his bill. Corporate litigation at the highest level tends to more rather more work and expense than the collision at Third and Main.

    Gah. Does the phrase "independent contractor" ring a bell with anyone here? Or are you all still living in the Dorm?

  • We all bemoan how the non-moneyed are at the mercy of the wealthy in the legal system.  Perhaps "angel investors" in a legitimate case are not such a bad idea?
  • As the US turns to heavy litigation, the targets flee. Start-ups consider greener pastures.

    Want proof? The country that led the industrial revolution is now a service industry nation.

    As consumer protection lawsuits pervail, industry leaves. Small planes, diving boards, vaccines, and other products are not made in the US simply because of litigation and the threat of litigation.

    The risks to the nation are huge including massive trade defecits, collapse of the economy due to devalued hard currancy, and sho

    • by swilver (617741)

      I see it the same way. Legal services are just an economic drain on productive society. They cannot exist without the other making them similar to leeches. Having too much resources tied up in legal technicalities will eventually be a bad thing for your economy. Legal services are also something that is pretty hard to export, so they basically only hurt yourself not your "competitors".

  • American Dreams (Score:3, Insightful)

    by moeinvt (851793) on Wednesday June 03, 2009 @07:59AM (#28193949)

    Old American Dream: Rugged self reliance, hard work and innovation lead to success and propserity.

    New American Dream: Have the government take care of you while you attempt to win a lawsuit or the lottery.

  • Look at the kind of crap that the SCO Group pulled over the last six years...
  • as a business method then they'd have to stump up licensing fees in order to do it...
  • by PPH (736903)
    ... this differs from the way the ACLU backs certain cases how exactly?

There is no distinction between any AI program and some existent game.

Working...