Year 3, week 18: in praise of good counsel

Nice little comment from Ward LJ in Greenland Bank Limited (in liquidation) v American Express Bank Limited yesterday: "This is the kind of litigation that could feed the public’s worst perception of lawyers and the law. Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels, once described lawyers as: "… a society of men … bred up from their youth in the art of proving, by words multiplied for the purpose, that white is black, and black is white …" and then he added maliciously: "… according as they are paid". He then went on to point out that Amex were arguing one thing in front of him after arguing quite another in a Bangladesh action. He continued: "Riding two horses at the same time is always difficult enough: riding them when they are charging in opposite directions is an altogether remarkable feat, so let me begin by praising the skills of counsel for Amex, Mr David Wolfson, who with customary courtesy, cogency, and not a little charm, managed to stay in the saddle notwithstanding some hostile fire from at least this incredulous member of the court. He escapes all Swift’s opprobrium. How did he manage it?" He then went on to answer his own question after finding in Amex’s favour: "To return to Jonathan Swift’s view of lawyers, while Mr Wolfson has not shown that black is white nor that white is black, he has managed to paint the problem in a shade of grey. To that extent he has succeeded."

January 28, 2009 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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