Can TV really provide us with all the Legal Knowledge we need?
A recent survey, the online YouGov survey, which was commissioned by QualitySolicitors in Liverpool, has shown some rather surprising results in the way in which the UK public glean their legal knowledge.
The survey shows that almost 50% of Great Britain’s public gain the majority of their legal knowledge from films, television series and dramas, the internet and media publications such as newspapers and magazines.
Of those living in the north of the country 14% said they gleaned what legal knowledge they had from films and television, a further 15% said they had gained their knowledge from university and schools, whilst 16% gained their legal knowledge from the internet.
A total of 43% of the public residing in this particular area gained their total knowledge of legal matters through the internet, newspapers and magazines and films and television. This figure is 4% below the national average for the rest of Great Britain.
Ranking at the very bottom were the legal experts themselves with just 7% claiming they used them as a source for their legal learnings.
The idea behind the survey was brought about by the first television broadcast of a criminal being sentenced in the UK. The decision to broadcast this somewhat controversial event prompted vice-chair of the Faculty of Advocates Criminal Bar Association, Prominent QC Brian McConnachie, to note that TV dramas appear to be where the general public get the majority of their legal information and so, QualitySolicitors decided to commission the survey to find out if this was actually the case.
The criminal sentencing television broadcast showed the sentencing of David Gilroy at the High Court in Edinburgh. Gilroy was found guilty of murdering 38 year old Suzanne Pilley, his colleague and former lover.
The survey brings to light just how far removed the general public are from the legal profession, with only 9% of the general public in the entire UK gaining their legal knowledge from the ones who know best, the legal professionals.
QualitySolicitors’ chief executive, Craig Holt, stated that, although it is unsure, as yet, as to whether the television broadcasting of court proceedings will change public opinion in the way they gather their legal information, with currently 47% relying on TV, films, the internet, newspapers and magazines, one thing that clearly does have to change is the general public’s accessibility to legitimate legal advice and information.
Mr. Holt also stated that, while legal dramas and television shows are very entertaining, they can lead to much confusion when it comes to real-life law in the UK.
Artistic licence enables the director to alter specific aspects of a court process scene to fit the script so what the public are seeing does not necessarily reflect true-to-life legal proceedings.
However, it is hoped that the recent changes made to the legal system will mean that the legal world is gradually becoming more accessible and easier to understand. The complete repealing of 817 outdated UK laws and the partial repealing of a further 50 laws has begun to clear the path somewhat and should cut down on much of the confusion surrounding our laws for both the general public and UK solicitors. Read more »