Day 146, week 31: Weasel

Sometimes an opponent can do you over by plain, simple, straightforward dishonesty.  It’s not sneakiness.  Not witty.  Not in any way sophisticated.  It’s a ram raid, smash and grab and run for your life approach that characterises the very few.  Well, I think there are only a few.  Probably because like the ram raiders, it’s not long before they’re caught out and banged to rights.

Let’s call him Weasel.  Cut glass accent, immaculate suit and probably mid-thirties.  Which made me wonder what he was still doing fighting in claims worth only a couple of thousand pounds.  My guess is that he was an estate agent who thought he could do better for himself, didn’t have the degree to get a decent chambers and has been scratching around ever since.  But hey, who knows?

All happened very simply this morning.  Weasel agreed my costs beforehand on the basis that if I won, I would recover £8,000.  My solicitor was happy with this and so it was all settled.  Off we went into court and sure enough, for once I did manage to get my way and then I was seeking my costs.  Before I could tell him that these were agreed, the judge looked at the schedule and commented,

“These look a bit much for such a small case.”

To which Weasel immediately piped up,

“Yes, Sir, that was my thought exactly.  They are wholly disproportionate and should be substantially reduced.”

I was genuinely shocked.  My mouth almost hit the table as he sat there all wide-eyed as he reneged on our very clear agreement.

“But…” I managed to mumble.  “I thought we had agreed…”

It was clear that the judge could almost smell my inexperience and came to the rescue.

“Mr [Weasel], did you agree costs beforehand?”

“Well, Sir, we did discuss costs but obviously I don’t want to tell you what was said.”

“Mr [Weasel] don’t play games with me.  Did you agree costs beforehand or did you not.”

“Well, if you could call it an agreement…”

The judge then turned to me. 

“BabyBarista, were costs agreed beforehand?”

“Yes, Sir.  At £8,000.”

“Mr [Weasel], misleading the court is serious enough.  Going behind Counsel’s agreement undermines all that this great profession stands for.”

“But, Sir, I didn’t mean to suggest that there was no agreement.”

“Mr [Weasel].  Please don’t make it any worse than it already is.  I expect you to apologise to BabyBarista after this hearing.  I will put this down to a bad day on your part.  You are fortunate.  Some judges would have involved your Head of Chambers.”

After the hearing Weasel came over and said,

“Sorry for any confusion, old chap.  Think we were at cross purposes.”

Won’t be long, I imagine, until he’s back behind the counter at his estate agency.

April 30, 2007 · Tim Kevan · 3 Comments
Posted in: Uncategorized

3 Responses

  1. AJ - April 30, 2007

    Sadly I think that there are a lot of weasels out there. Or maybe I just get all the luck…

  2. Fellow Pupil - April 30, 2007

    I have certainly come across someone like that already after going for less than a month

  3. Fellow Barrister - May 1, 2007

    I have to admit that people such as Weasel exist. However my experience is that they become less and less as you get more senior. In the end no-one can trust them and they leave the bar.