I am not entirely sure who to blame, probably my own idiocy and lack of interest. Perhaps I have just been too assuming about my own knowledge of the world and what makes it go round. I have recently discovered that all these years I have been in the dark. I am truly ashamed of my ignorance.
Pre-Brexit I had come across the word ‘sovereign’ and correctly understood it to mean something to do with nations, countries etc. To be brutally honest, I had little interest in the word, it obviously had nothing to do with me, besides I am just a little ordinary person and have little interest in politics.
Come Brexit and from nowhere everyone was an expert on the sovereignty of the UK, again I was just too lazy to look any of this up and got myself fixed on what I thought was correct. It did not take long after starting my law course for me to start asking myself ‘how come I did not know this?’ shaking my head in disbelief about how misinformed I had been. I can say that this head scratching/shaking activity will soon be the cause for my baldness. Since the cat is out of the bag, I will now confess to how I ended up doing law, and that’s ‘greed’. It was the love of money that made realise if I need to progress professionally, I had to get a Law degree or equivalent. In truth, I now believe that the law applies to every aspect of our everyday lives. We are just too busy or uninterested to notice because noticing requires that we pay attention.
It is also true that the law is not an abstract concept that barely applies to us. Many of us think of the law being relevant when things go wrong (death, divorce, crime and accidents), or perhaps acknowledge that the terms and conditions on contracts we sign are just a bit too long to read through. I know that sinking feeling that you have no choice but just to accept whatever the terms of sale are if you want the product, or the ever-annoying website cookies that you cannot opt out of.
Through my course I have come to realise that law is not for them, but for me and for you. Law should not be thought of as an abstract concept for legal practitioners and politicians. I have also come to realise how much the law is influenced by political pressure. This is demonstrated in the devolution Acts for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales that were passed in 1998, the economic pressures that saw us navigate Brexit, technological developments that have brought about various laws on gadget/internet safety and societal needs that brought us the Equality Act of 2010. Learning about the law is not just about history, it’s also about engaging with law-making that is happening now.
The Online Safety Bill is an example of a Bill that is currently going through Parliament. By looking up the Bill on the Parliament website it’s possible to see the law-making live, and to spot opportunities to voice my opinion too, for example by writing to my MP or signing an e-petition.
The light bulb moment for me was reading up on the Consumer Rights Act 2015. I just could not believe that I didn’t know this stuff, to be honest I am still in shock. I had no idea of the rights awarded to me as consumer in the UK. I can recall countless occasions when I did not return goods to a shop, assuming that I had no rights, yet I thought I was streetwise and informed. Then it makes me wonder how many other poor souls out there are as clueless as I am? At this point with a big sigh my heart sinks and I again shake my head in disbelief. I am still at the nursery school of law. I am genuinely still learning the alphabet. The cases are way too long and extremely boring. There is absolutely no drama in them. It’s nothing like you see on TV or Netflix about some people wearing wigs. Reading cases I can feel myself nodding off, but just as I fight off a snore comes the judgment! Some of the judgments are truly mind blowing, I mean in the sense that they don’t make any sense at all. Some are at complete odds with each other, but how come I did not know this?
Most are trail blazers, but how many people are going to have the patience or let alone enough vocabulary to make since of what Lord You-Know- Who and Dame You- Know- What were on about in the Miller 1 and Miller 2 case. The answer is very few. Law needs to be accessible to the common person.
We all have rights; we have a lot of rights, but it makes no difference at all because we do not know what our rights are. Now back to the question that is making me loose hair. How come I did not know this? I still cannot find an answer to my question. Could it be because I am asking the wrong question? Perhaps the question I should have been asking myself for starters is “should I have known this?”. If I should have known this, then perhaps I should have been educated about this sooner. Who should have educated me about this? Now the questions are pouring in. I strongly feel that there are elements of the law that are too fundamental to our daily live for us not to have been aware of their existence. I live a modern, sophisticated life, surrounded by multi-lingual gadgets with instant access to internet 24/7 yet I am still ignorant of legal matters and issues that could cause me great harm or discomfort. Perhaps I was not supposed to know any of this, otherwise why make the language weirder than that of Shakespeare? If I was supposed to know this why not teach just a teaser while at school? Why hide all the cases behind expensive paywalls and club membership passwords?
Despite all this I am so glad that I now know this because the moment my new television breaks down again, I am putting on my wig and I shall bounce all the way to the corner shop with my 100 inch-wide-screen TV under my arm singing the whole Consumer Rights Act 2015 section 19-24.
Beware Mr or Mrs shop keeper. Dost though knowest thou rights?
I am thankful to my wife (Lucy) and two daughters (Stella and Clara) for their un-wavering support through my study. They often ask me what new things I have learnt, and I think it’s mostly to keep me on my toes. I honestly could not have done any of it without my wife holding my hand all the time.
My aim when I started LLB was to develop and cement my knowledge of contract law. I have been working in procurement and purchasing for a number of years now but had no way of gauging how much I knew about the law pertaining to contracts or if what I knew was relevant or enough.
My 1st modules were a hit, I just could not get enough, I am really pleased that I made the decision to read law. I wish I had done it sooner. Credit to the OU, some thought was put into W211 and W212.