Archive for June, 2007

Law and Disorder

If you have enjoyed reading parts of this blog and meeting the characters, you might enjoy reading the book in which I re-wrote BabyBarista’s first year in chambers and his fight for tenancy. It is published by Bloomsbury (of Harry Potter fame) and is called Law and Disorder. It was described by broadcaster Jeremy Vine as “a wonderful, racing read – well-drawn, smartly plotted and laugh out loud” and by The Times as “a cross between The Talented Mr Ripley, Rumpole and Bridget Jones’s Diary”. For more reviews click here (it’s original title was BabyBarista and the Art of War).

June 30, 2007 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Day 189, week 39: cherish the gift

“How’s the family BabyB?”

OldRuin’s sympathetic tone reached parts of a BabyBarista’s heart that his fellow members of the bar failed to reach.  Today he was again treating me to a catch-up lunch at Simpson’s on the Strand.

“I’d suggest the roast beef if I were you,” he followed up, softening his enquiry further.

“Good idea.  It’s very kind of you to treat me like this.  Not something you get very often as a pupil.”

“Some things don’t change BabyB.  Don’t worry.  It’ll all turn out for the best.”

Without even realising I was doing it, I slowly started telling him a little about my home life, something I’ve been very careful to keep to myself during pupillage other than with Claire.  Nothing particularly unusual if you took a cross-section of the general population but less common at the Bar.  Okay, separated parents from a young age crosses social divides.  But having to support your single mum is less common at the Bar.  Particularly when she’s sitting at home suffering from M.E., the so-called yuppie disease, the irony of whose name has never been lost on either of us.  Not that I provide much support these days other than help with benefits applications and shopping, cooking and cleaning.  Hardly the glamorous life, you might say.

“The Bar, BabyB, isn’t about dusty law books.  It’s all about people and their problems.  You’ll be the stronger for it.”

“Thank you OldRuin.  I’m sorry to offload.”

“It’s the dark ingredients of the soul which give us strength BabyB.  Cherish the gift for it takes us closer to heaven than ever we’d realise…”  He looked at me and paused wistfully before continuing,

“…though it also takes us closer to hell too.”  Again he paused and added something in a tone which left me unsure whether he was providing encouragement or a warning,

“It’s how we use that strength that matters.”

I’m not always sure quite what he’s going on about but as I’ve said before, I do like OldRuin.

June 28, 2007 · Tim Kevan · 7 Comments
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Day 182, week 38: some might say…

Well, now they’re all at it.  Asking my advice, that is.   This time, ThirdSix popped round to chat about what he thought he should do about the rumours started by TopFirst.  Of course, you might by now anticipate my answer.  Yes, it was simply,

“Why don’t you ask BusyBody?”

Sure enough, by this afternoon, TopFirst and ThirdSix were seen deep in conversation with ThirdSix eventually storming off.  TopFirst will never admit to his duplicity in reading the confidential letter (and it now seems, failing to pass it on) and so ironically the buck will remain firmly with him.  It’ll be interesting to see if and how ThirdSix takes his revenge.

As my two main competitors start to fight each other, some might say, “Case closed.”

June 19, 2007 · Tim Kevan · 4 Comments
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Day 180, week 37: announcement

Today BusyBodyBusyBody announced publicly that she’s pregnant.  Very publicly in fact.  In Chambers Tea.

“Excuse me, everybody, but I’d like to make a little announcement.  Some of you might already have heard but I would just like to say that I’m going to be having a baby.  I will finish my pupillage and then take a couple of months out before returning to the Bar.  Thank you.”

Stunned silence and a few open mouths.  No mention of the identity of the father and when I chatted to her afterwards she told me that she probably wouldn’t do tests to find out who he was unless she got into financial difficulties and needed support.  In the meantime, FanciesHimself (who knows nothing of the possibility of OldSmoothie being the father) got wind of this announcement and quietly took BusyBody to one side and proposed to her in the photocopying room.  She apparently thanked him very much but declined.  I don’t foresee OldSmoothie taking the same level of responsibility somehow.  Since the announcement, he has disappeared from chambers and is apparently off next week “at the dentist”.

June 15, 2007 · Tim Kevan · 2 Comments
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Day 177, week 37: going backwards

I noticed that The Times had a story last week explaining how researchers have found that if you ask people to recount their story backwards it’s easier to catch out the liars.  Today I thought I’d test this out in court.  My client was a thief and the witness I was wanting to trip up had identified him leaving the scene of the crime.  What I kind of figured was that asking even an honest witness to tell his story backwards might cause some difficulties.  What I hadn’t counted on was the assistance of a certain eccentric district judge who I shall not name.

“Perhaps,” I asked, “You might just take us through your story backwards”. 

“What do you mean, backwards?” The witness replied.

“Just what I say.  No more, no less.”

“Literally.”

“Quite so.”

The witness then went to his witness statement and started reading it word for word…backwards.  Starting with the date, her name and the statement of truth.  He was very clearly confused about what I had been asking.  However, the DJ wasn’t having any of it.

“Why on earth are you doing that?”

“Because I was asked to.”

“No you weren’t.”

“Yes I was.”

My client and I at this point became the audience to a very peculiar pantomime like stand-off.  The witness eventually got angry and against all the principles of natural justice, my client walked free with the parting words,

“How you twisted that one around, I’ll never know mate.”

Me neither.

June 12, 2007 · Tim Kevan · One Comment
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Day 174, week 36: TheTramp

The trial against TheVamp is coming up next week and already she’s been around looking for offers.  Of settlement, that is, though it is true to say that her flirting has gone to level “trial minus one week and counting”.  The temperature’s definitely increasing.  Yesterday she offered to buy me a drink after work although I was already booked unfortunately.  Today, she came round innocently offering to help me with a particularly tricky Particulars of Claim.  Although the case is not particularly big, I’ve worked out why it’s so important to her: this is her first case for a solicitor who is famous for paying high brief fees to the few barristers that he favours with what is an enormous case load. 

How far she’ll go to secure a result remains to be seen.  In the meantime, Claire says she’s got her measure and has nicknamed her TheTramp.

June 7, 2007 · Tim Kevan · One Comment
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Day 173, week 36: MrChipOnShoulder

Had the most annoying opponent you could imagine this morning.  He was a fellow pupil but was about ten years older than me and made it clear from the off that he had been “a very successful recruitment consultant before coming to the Bar.”  Bully for you, MrChipOnShoulder.  You really think I’m bothered about what you’ve been doing for the last ten years?  I apologise for the tone but he really did get under my skin during the hearing.  Not actually because of his smug, arrogant manner, though that didn’t help.  Simply because he was unable to let me open my mouth for more than about ten words before he interrupted with some rubbish or other.

In the end I just remained silent after a particularly rude interruption and then looked to the judge who by this time was as irritated as I was. 

“Perhaps,”  I suggested quietly, “my learned friend might like to take over my submissions for me?”  I was about to continue when he went too far even for this mild mannered judge,

“There’s no need for sarcasm from my learned friend.  It is quite proper…”

Finally, it was the judge doing the interrupting,

“What is quite proper and indeed desirable is that you allow your opponent the chance to make his case.  If I hear one more interruption I will find you to be in contempt of court.”

Well, this was like a red rag for me, the way I was feeling.  I then spent the next half an hour delivering the most laboured of submissions peppered with jibes at my opponent’s style of advocacy, legal case and even, at one point, his red spotted tie.  Each comment quite obviously calculated to goad and each allowed by a judge who by that point appeared to be enjoying the sport.

It also helped that he lost.

June 6, 2007 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Day 172, week 36: what’s it all about?

“What’s it all about BabyB?  What’s it all about?”

Those were the words of UpTights as I entered her room this morning.  She was poring over a lever arch file on a case I’d already worked on in the past.  It was the one in which our client had knocked over an old lady on a zebra crossing and the insurer was trying to get off paying her any compensation at all by pursuing the client’s spurious claim that he blacked out.  Seems the “tame” neurologist’s report has come back saying that in his opinion this is the most likely explanation for the accident.

“Why do we dedicate our lives to this BabyB?  Why?”

“Search me UpTights.  I kind of figure that you work to pay for the plastic surgery and health spas that you think will reduce the visible effects of your stressful job.  You work to be able to afford to look like you don’t work.  You climb on board your treadmill until it’s going so fast that you can’t jump off.  You tell me, UpTights.  Am I right?”

That’s perhaps what I should have said but instead what came out was,

“We search for the truth UpTights.  A noble endeavour.”

To which she answered,

“Yes, BabyB.  You’re right of course.”

June 5, 2007 · Tim Kevan · 3 Comments
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