Year 2, week 25: taxing taxis

The judge for my case today, was to say the least, not at all happy with having to be at court today, “particularly given the good weather” according to the usher. His kids are all on holiday apparently and his wife had had an outing all planned. Ouch. It didn’t bode well for a smooth ride in court. Both sides’ solicitors were at court due to the fact that the judge had already warned about making costs orders against them and they were busy beforehand going backwards and forwards between their clients trying to carve it up. My client was a cab driver who was claiming loss of earnings caused by an injury in a car accident. Pretty straight forward case and the only reason it hadn’t settled was that my client was being greedy and had rejected the pretty reasonable offers from the other side.

When we went into court, the judge was almost theatrically peering over his glasses at the parties.  After I had briefly introduced the case and asked the judge if he had any questions, he sat in stony silence staring at us for at least a minute looking from my opponent to me and back again.  My opponent was the first to crack. “Er, Your Honour, may I assist the court?”
“It seems that you cannot. What on earth is this case doing at a final hearing. Should have settled months ago.”
“Er, well, Your Honour…” mumbled my opponent, not wanting to give away the fact that his side had actually made numerous attempts to settle themselves.

The judge was not slow to pick up on this and turned to me.  “Mr BabyBarista, I take it from your opponent’s awkward response that he is quite rightly not wanting to reveal what might or might not have gone on before the parties. Obviously, I don’t want you to give any of this away either but what on earth is going on? Does it have anything to do with your rather ambitious loss of earnings claim by any chance?”
“Er, well, Your Honour…”  Awkward mumblings from me this time.
“Excellent, well now that we’ve got to the bottom of the problem, I would like to make an observation. Having looked through these papers, I can tell you now that if this case goes ahead I shall be cross-examining your client as to exactly what earnings he has declared in tax in the past.  Furthermore, when the case is over I shall be sending a transcript of any answers along with the rest of these papers to the Inland Revenue. I am obviously making no accusations whatsoever but I thought it right that I should give your client fair warning of what I intend to do.”

The canny judge had rightly guessed that in fact my client hadn’t been altogether straight with the tax man in the past and as soon as he had made this warning, my client was whispering to my solicitor who then whispered to me.  I stood up. “Your, Honour, may I request a brief adjournment?”
“That is an eminently sensible course of action Mr BabyBarista. You have five minutes.”
As we left court, my opponent whispered, “The offer we made last June is still available though you’ll obviously be paying our costs since then.”

Two minutes later and we had accepted said offer and the judge got the rest of the day with his family.

March 19, 2008 · Tim Kevan · 5 Comments
Posted in: Uncategorized

5 Responses

  1. Unhappy Barrister - March 20, 2008

    I have had four cases adjourn at court this month alone. I don’t know whether it is the judges or the listing office but something needs to be done

  2. Uncivil Serpent - March 20, 2008

    Video conference court.
    Seriously, if witnesses can give evidence remotely, then why not have an eCourt?
    Here everyone can log in from Chambers, a quite spot in their fav. pub, their garden shed, etc.
    So long as all physical evidence is agreed, and everything else is paperless…

  3. Rose - March 21, 2008

    I hope you have a happy Easter with your family too, Baby B. Spend some time in the Spring sunshine, while it’s there.

  4. Hard-working City Solicitor - March 22, 2008

    Barristers have all the luck – some of us poor mugs have cases to prepare for Tuesday.

  5. abigail - March 26, 2008

    Why should he not wish to reveal that he has made approaches about settlement? No case is certain, he might consider that he has made an appropriate offer considering the value of the claim, and so tried to help the backlog of court business; and the judge will know about settlement from his own practice.
    “We have tried to settle but have been unable to do so” does not necessarily reflect badly on either party.