Bring back barrister immunity

One of UpTights’ pupils was reporting in on his case today.

“The client told me he’s going to sue me for losing the case,” he said.

“What for?” asked TheVamp.

“She said I wasn’t forceful enough in my cross-examination and that I kept having to check through my notes when making my closing submissions.”

“What more does she expect? You’re a pupil,” said BusyBody.

“I know, that’s what I told her,” he said.

“Which will only have made it worse,” said TheBusker.

“I realise that now,” said the pupil as he lowered his head in shame.

“So is it your insurance or UpTights’ which will cover the claim?” said OldSmoothie.

UpTights looked uncomfortable. “It’s about time they brought back barristers’ immunity from claim when they’re appearing in court,” she said.

“I agree,” said HeadofChambers. “I mean, how on earth are we meant to do our jobs properly if we’re always having to look over our shoulders for the next law suit coming over the horizon?”

“Always having to keep the client happy and making sure we put every finickity little argument to the judge just in case you miss something that might later come back to bite you,” said UpTights.

“Oh for the days when barristers could just roll out of bed with a hangover, rock up at court, nod and wink at the judge and totter back to chambers to collect their brief fee,” said BusyBody sarcastically.

“Surely that accurately describes OldSmoothie’s living even now,” said UpTights.

“It’s all a load of nonsense anyway,” said OldSmoothie. “It’d be near impossible to prove a barrister had gone beyond what a responsible body of other barristers might have done. Think how wide that would be.”

“Responsible body of barristers?” smiled TheBusker. “Now there’s a thought.”

“Then you’d potentially have to rely on expert barrister opinion as to the range of reasonable standards and who on earth is going to give evidence against a fellow member of the Bar?” said OldSmoothie.

“And even if you overcame that difficulty, you’d still have to get it past a judge who more likely than not would have been a barrister for most of his professional life,” said OldSmoothie. “For my part, I can’t think of a single judge who’d find against a barrister for his conduct in court.”

“I can hear the judge now,” said HeadofChambers. “Very high hurdle, wide discretion, enhanced burden of proof and all that.”

“So, young man, I think you can stop worrying about being sued, for the moment at least,” saiOldSmoothie.

“Yes, and worry instead about having a complaint made to the Bar Standards Board,” said UpTights.

An observation from which there came no response.

BabyBarista is a fictional account of a junior barrister written by Tim Kevan whose new novel is Law and Peace. For more information and to read past posts visit babybarista.com. Cartoons by Alex Williams, author of 101 Ways to Leave the Law.

February 4, 2013 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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