Day 136, week 28: time wasting

Today I went to Willesden County Court and waited. And waited some more. And some more. Seems they list all their cases at 10am for the whole day and like the sleaziest of airlines count on a fair proportion not turning up. When that doesn’t happen, well, it’s just tough luck. Tough luck, that is, on the clients, not the lawyers, as they get paid whether the case goes ahead or not. Eventually, we got in front of the judge at about 4pm. Two barristers, one assistant solicitor (for the other side), two clients and three witnesses. Eight people all hanging around to be given a "terribly sorry and all but no time to hear you."  You don’t say, Sherlock! That was fairly obvious back at 10am but hey, I’m beginning to realise that common sense doesn’t come into it when you’re talking about court lists.  Certainly makes you question whether the courts are run for the convenience of the judges rather than the court-using public who fund the who charade. 

Which left me sitting there all day watching barristers practise their advocacy skills on the ushers.  Given that the usher is the one who often decides the order of the cases and therefore who gets finished first, for many barristers it’s their most important submission of the day.  Kind of like a game of poker. If they give too short a time estimate for their case they’ll never be believed and get sent to the back of the queue. Too long and that’s again where they’re going as judges like to hear the quick stuff first. The best of them did the whole chat:

"I know I’ve sometimes said this in the past, but honestly, this one’s unopposed. Only five minutes. Just ticking a box. Honestly."

"So why is your opponent here if it’s unopposed?"

"Er, because we’ve only just come to an agreement. Really. Just details. In and out. Promise."

Must have heard a dozen stories like that during the day and yet only a couple of times did it prove to be true.  A lesson learned.

On returning from court late afternoon, I had the pleasure of overhearing UpTights deal with a call centre operative.  Well, you can imagine.  It was a call to her telephone banking service which she had on loudspeaker, presumably so that she could successfully "multitask" as she likes to call it.  She’d obviously been on the phone for a while by the time I arrived.

"Yes, I realise it’s late but may I please speak to someone with an ounce of authority."  She barked.

"Certainly, Madam.  Please hold while I…"

"No.  Don’t cut me off.  Just give me the direct number I can call."

"Certainly Madam.  Please hold while I tranfer you to the person who…"

"No!  Look.  Please just pass the phone over to your manager."

"Please hold Madam…"

It was when they eventually did put her on hold and she heard the inevitable "we very much appreciate your custom and are very sorry for any inconvenience" that she finally lost it, slammed the phone down and screamed, "I need a drink" before storming out. 

Which for a strict tee-totaller was an interesting reaction.

April 12, 2007 · Tim Kevan · 4 Comments
Posted in: Uncategorized

4 Responses

  1. James Hogan - April 13, 2007

    Finally someone has spoken up against the mess that is the court system. Nice one BabyB

  2. Claire Hartley - April 13, 2007

    Watch out for UpTights. There’s definitely more to her than meets the eye!

  3. Karen - April 13, 2007

    I had no idea that cases would be left waiting like that – is that fiction, or does that really happen? Waiting is something you may expect in a supermarket, but in a Court, surely that has more priority than grocery shopping?
    Love the blog… it really gives a window on a world I know nothing about and it’s a fascinating insight. Thanks, Karen

  4. mad about babybarista - April 15, 2007

    That telephone banking can be a nightmare..