Palm tree justice from HHJ Pennyweather @theiclr

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I hate judging. I really, truly despise the whole process. The dressing up, the sitting around, the having to listen to jumped-up young barristers carping on earnestly about this and that point of obscure law. But above all I hate that I was forced to do this terrible job simply because I was misguided enough to apply for silk and was then unlucky enough to get it. What? I hear you say. There are people queuing up to become a prestigious Queen’s Counsel. Quite true and there are also plenty of people who wish they could slip out of silk, so to speak, and return to their previously successful practice as a junior. People like me who found that although solicitors were happy to feed them bread and butter in the early years they did not have the star quality necessary to pick up the cream later on. Which put me in no-man’s land with virtually no practice save for the odd sympathy brief and even less of a pension. Which of course, like so many other judges before me, left me no alternative but to turn to the bench.

When you’re doing a job you hate, what makes it even worse is when everyone else seems to be out enjoying themselves. All the more so when the sun is shining and worse still a few of your good friends are emailing you photos of their latest catch from your local river whilst you’re sitting hearing a particularly tedious property dispute. Which explains why I got even more grumpy than usual yesterday morning when one of the barristers accused the other first, of going on a frolic of his own and then, of setting off on a fishing expedition. To mention such things in these circumstances really just wasn’t cricket and if you’ll allow me to mix my metaphors even further I wrought my revenge with my own particular form of palm tree justice.

So around midday, I told the two barristers that I would spend the afternoon giving careful consideration to their arguments and in formulating my judgment. Which is exactly what I did alongside my friends on the riverbank and far far away from the hot and stuffy courtroom and, as it happens, even stuffier barristers.

Come this morning, after further cogitation and fine-tuning of my judicial thoughts, I decided the case, as I have often done before, on the quality of the law reports which were offered by either side. I therefore gave a very short judgment in favour of the barrister who had presented me with print-offs from the impeccable ICLR online. Despite my reasoning being almost non-existent I do at least have one factor going in my favour: that the winning barrister with the ICLR reports would in my view be the most on the ball with his law and therefore the most likely to appeal a bad judgment. Which, given that I found in his favour on all points, avoided that particular risk.

So, whenever you hear that famous mis-quote ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged’ think of me and have a little sympathy. Some of us are forced to judge even when we’d much rather say ‘live and let live’ and ‘what will be will be’ whilst passing the hours on the side of a river.

July 9, 2013 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
Posted in: ICLR