While reading some paperwork regarding International Tax Law subject following statement drew my attention:
"The complexity of the international tax rules makes it nearly impossible to diffuse the public sensibility about the issues."
It is from the speech "Sense and Sensibility: The Policy and Politics of BEPS" by Manal S. Corwin.
The full text can be found here:
That thought is not unique to tax law. In my experience of more than 3 years doing what I call “applied dispute resolution” which correlates with law research and paralegal activities I see that in any area of law, social matters, environmental, humanities, economics and others we can witness increasing level of challenges that our society face.
Let’s take as an example The Law.
Carefully crafted legal framework is one of the essentials of contemporary society. However what we see is:
- Growing complexity of legal system. Even some regular activities that are related to private or common property and should be easily resolved take
a) law specialists, because legislation and common law in those areas are so tangled that usually people don’t take any action at all even if they are right;
b) time and effort incompatible with the perceived risk of uncertainty when dealing with matters regarding property, rights and wrong doings.
- Growing costs of people who interpret the law to others and of the whole justice system. As a consequence we are getting increased entry level to achieve so-called justice.
- Increasing number of issues that current legal system cannot resolve at all in the current state of affairs within the society.
- Too much interpretation is required, because laws and their implementation are complicated.
If there is a dispute during any social interaction there is a couple of options:
i) come up with an agreement that suits all parties without getting to legal system
ii) get to legal system as an authority to help resolving the problem
Agreement is impossible in situations when all parties keep their positions tightly. If responsibility is higher than minimal, i.e. involves large sums of money or big effort to undertake – responsible party will avoid agreement at all and make everything necessary to extend the period allowed to act responsibly in a hope that other parties would give up.
In this case the winning party is the one with more strength, ruthlessness, financial and human resources, courage and network with various other entities including government agencies. Therefore in majority of potential cases that should be resolved by legal system people or companies who feel oppressed and bullied by others don’t do anything and just accept the situation as is. This approach doesn't improve either their lifestyle or the society in general and is simply wrong.
Consider a couple of examples.
Some government agency allegedly breaches legislation. All the legal research is done by affected party and documents supplied to the agency with explanation of why the legislation considered breached in that case with references to statutes etc. Response from the government agency is: we did everything right if you think otherwise go to the court. Court process was estimated to come up around $12000-20000 without limit, which straight away puts the offended party into a position where legal system bestowed upon us is not an option at all.
Another matter is relevant to the situation when damage is done to the property and is documented, but the legislation does cover the wrongdoer from any charge or makes the procedure too expensive and complicated for the damaged party to try and get remedy. A residential tenant caused water damage to the unit below the one he occupied. It was pointed out to him in person and he agreed that it’s his fault. The damage was reported straight away with photos to the strata manager of the owners corporation and to the member of executive committee and the notification was forwarded to the tenant’s agent. The tenant’s agent agreed in writing to recover the damage and costs involved. Three days after the tenant’s agent changed the mind and said that the tenant is refusing that it’s his fault, that the owner of the unit below lied before and that they are going to fight. After careful review of the situation the owners corporation strata manager suggested that it will be almost impossible to get the remedy from the tenant, because of existing laws and that it would take more money and time to try and chase up the tenant than to just rectify the problem at owners corporation cost (all owners).
The other type of matters arises from strata living in Australia. At the moment there is more than 3 million people live in strata schemes across the country which is more than 10% of population, but from experience it looks like only a few understand legislation in that area. This is not because the rules are wrong or not effective – the rules are complex but the level of understanding is low.
Problems of complexity that is higher than changing the light globes take months and years to resolve!
It’s just a couple of examples out of multitude of others I had a chance to work with in the recent past.
Imminent growth of issues complexity is faced by indefensible decrease in people's understanding of the issues and ability to resolve them.