Truths and half-truths

SlipperySlope was in chambers today and lecturing PanicStricken over the duty of disclosure.

“It’s really not half as onerous as you think,” he said. “I mean it all boils down to the question of relevance and believe me, that really is a term of art.”

“But surely most things are vaguely relevant when you’re going through the particular files?” said PanicStricken.

“On the contrary, my dear. It really depends how wide you want to cast your net with the question of relevance and how critically you want to examine your own case.”

“Right,” she said, not looking at all sure.

“Well, being a simple soul myself, I tend to find that I only deem documents to be relevant if they’re obviously against our case. Those which some finickity lawyer wanting to go on a fishing expedition around the fringes wants to argue about just don’t figure in my calculation. Not my problem.”

“Though I imagine those documents which might even vaguely go against the other side get thrown in on the off-chance that they might help your own case,” said BusyBody.

“Er, well, that’s a completely different story,” said Slippery.

“It’s just like the so-called duty to tell the truth,” said BusyBody.

“I think you’ll find it’s a duty not to mislead,” said TheCreep.

“That’s exactly my point. Most normal people know what both of those mean and would say there’s very little difference between them. But a lawyer can do a merry dance around the truth through a carefully chosen form of words or simply omitting to mention a crucial fact or failing to correct a wrong assumption.”

“Yes, I’ve always prided myself on leaving a misleading impression,” said OldSmoothie. “The clear mark of a job well done.”

“Without ever positively misleading,” said HeadofChambers.”

“Naturally,” came the reply.

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.

May 30, 2013 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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