Day 234, week 47: OverQualified

I was told yesterday by my solicitors who my opponent would be for today.  When I looked him up online I almost got the fright of my life.  It wasn’t merely the pose of utmost seriousness and pomposity.  It was the fact that he appeared to be one of the most qualified people in the world ever.  In fact, let’s call him OverQualified.  Just to list it is exhausting.  A first in natural sciences from Reading.  Then a PhD in biology from the same place making him a doctor.  Then a change-over and eventually a medical degree in London making him a what?  A doctor, doctor?  Honestly.  Then he qualified as a barrister at which he’s been practising in Leeds for the last eight years (though he still mentions that he “completed his pupillage in London”).  Oh, and the website was at pains to make it clear that he was also a major in the territorial army.  Then there was his practice which was apparently “exclusively high value medical negligence and personal injury cases along with commercial litigation.”

All of which made me a little surprised to be against him today fighting over the value of a six-month whiplash caused by a road traffic accident.  Not that coming down in the world humbled his manner this morning.  When I approached him and suggested we might be able to agree the value at say, £1,500, he replied,

“I’m afraid that doesn’t take account of the numerous inadequacies in your evidence.”

It wasn’t merely the oily way in which he replied which irked, but the patronising manner of its delivery.  So I asked what points he might be putting.

“Oh, I like to keep my cards close to my chest, young man.  It all very much depends upon how you introduce the case and the mood of the judge.  So many factors to consider.  You might even consider me somewhat of a busker in my advocacy.”

Yeh, right.  One thing it was clear that he wasn’t was a busker.  Not my busker or any other.  However, it did get me thinking how TheBusker himself might approach OverQualified.  It wasn’t until he was coming to the end of a half an hour of submissions about stuff and nonsense over my client’s two-page witness statement that the answer occurred to me.  I let him continue uninterrupted and just watched the judge getting more and more irritated by OverQualified’s talking down at him.  Eventually, he drew to a close, suggesting that the case was worth a maximum of £900 and turned to me with the same slimey smugness which had characterised everything he’d done so far.

“Thank you, Mr OverQualified,” said the judge.  “Mr BabyBarista, what do you have to say?”

I drew myself up to my full height as I stood to make my submissions.  I put on my most serious face and tried to look particularly grown up.  I then said in as deep and slow a voice as I could muster,

“Sir, there are only a few things which it is appropriate for grown men to fight over and the value of whiplash injuries is not one of them.  Six months is £1,500.”

I sat down and cringed to myself.  It was the first time I’d actually managed to play a BuskerCard but there was no knowing whether I’d receive the wrath of the judge or perhaps gratitude for not wasting his time further.

“Thank you, Mr BabyBarista.  I agree wholeheartedly and I have to say it is a great shame…” at which point he stared for a little too long at OverQualified, “… that other members of your side of the profession don’t approach their cases with the same maturity.  £1,500 it is.”

Now I’d noticed that throughout his submissions OverQualified was getting sweatier and sweatier and this judgment only served to make the problem worse.  With perspiration dripping onto his reams of notes, he stood up and countered,

“With respect, Sir, you can’t make such a finding without…”

To which the judge interrupted him with,

“Mr OverQualified.  I have listened to you patronise me now for over half an hour.  Whilst I accept that you are entirely within your rights to make submissions, however turgid, it is not your place to give me instructions as to what I can and can’t do.  I have heard enough.  If you want to appeal me then do so.” 

With what can only be described as a brass neck OverQualified battled on. 

“Permission to appeal,” he said, returning the judge’s stare with a slightly mad glint.

“Mr OverQualified.  For someone supposedly as clever as your good self, you really are a very slow learner.  Having myself practised in this area for over thirty years, I very much doubt that your insurer clients will take this issue quite as seriously as you.  Permission denied.  Good day.”

With which we were dismissed from court.

August 31, 2007 · Tim Kevan · 8 Comments
Posted in: Uncategorized

8 Responses

  1. Old Sweat - August 31, 2007

    Oh Baby B you are slipping:
    Standing to make your submissions to the DJ/DDJ in a small & short assessment of damages hearing with the evidence apparently all on paper? Somewhat unusual perhaps?
    Still more so when it seems the Defendant’s submissions came first? That would be usual for closing submissions at a trial, but not an assessment of damages hearing.
    Methinks you are perhaps rather more senior than you let on? Perhaps allowing distant memories of such knock about venues and proceedings to be confused by experience over many more recent years in loftier process and higher tribunals?
    Like your technique though. Used it myself nearly 30 years ago in a local County Court with a learned friend specially brought in from afar. He decided it was beneath him to discuss cases with opponents who were mere articled clerks, bored the pants off our local Registrar (as District Judges were called back then), failed to notice the warning signs, (obvious to any of us local hacks), and, after I pruned my intended submissions back to 60 seconds or less, came the inevitable cropper.
    Best Wishes
    Old Sweat
    P.S. And do not worry too much about your sleepless nights before the coming unpleasantnesses for the Boss. Your fear has got great potential to help you develop an empathy for what most future clients and many witnesses will be going through before their star turn in what for many lawyers would be a mere routine day in the criminal courts.
    O.S.

  2. anon - September 1, 2007

    Funky Dory, Baby B!!!!!

  3. Tom - September 1, 2007

    Less is often more. Well done.

  4. TheHun - September 1, 2007

    Brilliant.

  5. Sarah - September 4, 2007

    Nobody likes OverQualified.

  6. FrenchNotary - September 6, 2007

    Greetings from across the Channel, dear BébéAvocat.
    After having read your feigned (as I’m now convinced) scares about the uncovering of your identity, I have to say I was rather disappointed that googling a bunch of terms such as “natural sciences”, “biology”, “barrister”, “leeds”, “london” and “territorial army” simply led me back to your blog, instead of OverQualified’s identity.
    I only discovered your online diary two weeks ago, and I immediately thought I’d be able to unmask you using precious clues you would inevitably have left in through carelessness or “fanfaronnade” (I’ll look up the English translation this afternoon), but alas, the rules of your game were bent since inception. All of those characters you so vividly describe are just papier-mâché puppets you have been dangling from so many strings.
    Which doesn’t mean I’ve given up on finding out who you are…
    (Worry not, naming and shaming is definitely not part of my plan).
    Wishing you well,
    LeNotaire

  7. Nin - September 10, 2007

    LeNotaire,
    It’s fiction.

  8. FrenchNotary - September 12, 2007

    Well, even if it is (even though I have five euros in my pocket that says it isn’t… entirely), the hunt is still on for BébéBarista’s real name. And as Black Adder would say, “I’ve got a plan so cunning you could pin a tail on it and call it a weasel”.
    [Cue evil laugh].
    LeNotaire