Sunday, 29 July 2018

Can we fight without being fought?

I was faced with a weird dilemma the other day at work while drafting a legal document. Have you ever been in a situation where you were at a loss about what to do because the other person was being too honest? I was faced with a similar situation where i was drafting a reply and i came across the following paragraph:

I started the drafting fully geared to contradict everything the opponent said and make his case a complete nothing. And then this innocent honesty threw me completely off track. You must be wondering what this is all about so let me explain a few things about legal drafting.

It it standard legal practice that while replying to any document filed by the opponent, if any statement is not categorically denied it is implied that such statement is admitted by us. So over the years it has become the practice to deny every statement of the other party irrespective of whether it is true or false. For example, if the opponent writes that apples and oranges are fruits, we write that it is denied that apples and oranges are fruits. Because, well, when we are arguing, are we ever humble enough to admit that the other person is right about something? Not really. We often keep fighting knowing that we are wrong and in most cases the favour is returned by the other person and the momentum of the fight stays intact. This is the same in case of a legal battle. We deny everything the opponent says just because the opponent said it.

I felt bad for the person who drafted this because it is almost never that you find someone who is honest enough to agree to anything the other party says. I found it almost childlike with the broken English and the repeated "I didn't know". To be honest, our case was not even completely justified and yet I was prepared to counter him if he fought. But i didn't know how to react when he was being honest. Just like we have learnt since childhood that you do not accept sweets from a stranger, as a lawyer I have been taught to say " it is denied that..... (basically whatever you said)" but how do i deny something when the person is agreeing with me?

Maybe our mind is so conditioned to deal with people trying to hurt us that we are at a complete loss when someone is not. I can recall so many instances when I've taken a step back from helping people assuming ill about them. Haven't we all thought twice before giving money to a poor person doubting whether he will buy medicines with it or gamble with it? Or even worse, in this moral dilemma we don't help the person and then later find out that the person was indeed suffering and not trying to fool us for money. I'm not saying its always wrong cz we defend ourselves only after being tricked in the past. But what do we do in a situation where we are prepared to fight and the other person lays their arms down? We can either lay down our arms too or we take advantage of the situation shoot at an unarmed person. In this case, unfortunately, i was compelled to do the latter but i hope in real life we can make a better choice. I hope we don't reach a stage where we are so used to acting a certain way that we no longer have the choice to make that choice. I hope we do not eventually become fighter robots.

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