Archive for October, 2013

Book Recommendation: Brothers-in-Law by Henry Cecil

Roger Thursby, aged twenty-four, is called to the bar. He is young, inexperienced and his love life is complicated. He blunders his way through a succession of comic adventures including his calamitous debut at the bar. His career takes an upward turn when he is chosen to defend the caddish Alfred Greenat at the Old Bailey. In this first Roger Thursby novel Henry Cecil satires the legal profession with his usual wit and insight.

Available from Amazon

October 30, 2013 · babybarista · Comments Closed
Posted in: books

Never say what you actually mean

One of the mini-pupils crept into chambers tea today and innocently asked UpTights what was the secret to being a successful barrister.

“It all boils down to the art of the disingenuous comment.” She smiled at the pupil and added, “With the greatest of respect, naturally.”

“I like: Your Lordship is, as always, ahead of me in this matter,” said BusyBody.

“Or: My Learned friend has earned himself quite a reputation in this area of law,” said TheVamp.

“This victory had nothing to do with my hard work as your junior and everything to do with your brilliant advocacy,” said TheCreep in a rare show of honesty.

“I really can’t believe I’m worth the ludicrous sums they pay me these days,” said HeadofChambers.

“My huge fees are simply down to the genius negotiating skills of my clerk,” said
OldSmoothie looking over at HeadClerk with a smile.

To which HeadClerk replied, “Sir is worth every penny.”

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

October 29, 2013 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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What would happen to Walter White (Breaking Bad) if he were caught?

Brought to you by our friends at Prime Lawyers in Australia

Now before you read the rest of this article, let me reassure you that there will be no spoilers as to the final series of the excellent ‘Breaking Bad’ since it’s not released on DVD in this country until 25th November. But whilst awaiting that final series, one thing which might occur to the lawyers among the fans of the series is what would happen to Walter White if he were caught?

Well, the first thought might be as to the actual charges he might face and for each country viewing, the lawyers (such as those at Prime Lawyers in Australia) might well be able to list the various offences which might have been committed if he’d been operating in their jurisdiction. So what would he face if he’d been operating in England rather than across the Atlantic? Depending upon the facts and evidence, there would likely be a long list of contenders ranging from murder and other offences of violence through to the production and supply of drugs, namely methamphetamine or crystal meth. He might also face investigation in relation to money laundering offences under Part 7 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 along with other possibilities such as perverting the course of justice.

But really, if we’re thinking about what would actually happen to the lead character in this fictional series if he were caught, it’d likely lead to a whole new spin-off series – or two. First off, there’d be the legal proceedings. Well, that’s definitely one to entertain the lawyers, particularly when Walt and his sidekick lawyer Saul Goodman would probably go about trying to corrupt the system in one form or another. This might be jury-tampering, it might be corrupting the opposition’s lawyers or even targeting the judge. But knowing Walt, it’d probably end up as some sort of an incredibly sophisticated scheme whereby he stole evidence from the other side and destroyed evidence which might cause harm whilst at the same time pitting each of his opponents against each other.

But let’s assume that despite his best (or perhaps worst) efforts, he failed and was ultimately sentenced to life in prison. What would happen next? Naturally, he’d set about taking on the prison establishment. The guards and of course the governor. Maybe even the politicians who run the prison service. All through a mixture of corruption such as bribery and the use of and threat of the use of force. In doing so, he’d probably also start to run any illicit business which was going on within the prison itself. In fact he’d probably use one scheme to tame the prison warders as part of a separate scheme to take control of the illicit side.

But that certainly wouldn’t satisfy him and I imagine what he’d need would be to escape. But not merely an over the wall type of escape. No, the ego which is Walter White would want to walk out of the prison gates a free man. How on earth he’d do that, only the writers of the series would be able to tell you.

So, what would happen to Walter White if he got caught? He’d do what he’s done so far (or as far as I’ve watched): he’d survive.

October 28, 2013 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Monday morning with Alex Williams’ cartoons,28th October 2013

qccartoon28oct2013

This cartoon is by Alex Williams who draws the Queen’s Counsel cartoons for The Times and in numerous books including Lawyers Uncovered. He also does the cartoons for BabyBarista and has had two more excellent books published recently: 101 Ways to Leave the Law and 101 Uses for a Useless Banker. He offers almost all of his cartoons for sale at £120 for originals and £40 for copies and they can be obtained from this email info@qccartoon.com.

October 28, 2013 · babybarista · Comments Closed
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Book Recommendation: Jez Butterworth Plays: One (Mojo, Parlour Song, The Night Heron, The Winterling) [Paperback]

Jez Butterworth burst onto the theatre scene aged 25 with Mojo, “one of the most dazzling Royal Court main stage debuts in years” Time Out. This first volume of his collected work contains that play plus the three that followed, as well as two short one-person plays, Leavings and The Naked Eye, providing a complete record of his work up to to the multi-award winning international smash-hit sensation Jerusalem.
The four early plays published here for the first time in one volume are: the Olivier Award-winning Mojo, a sly and vicious black comedy set in 1950s Soho clubland; The Night Heron, a funny, sad, haunting, and strangely beautiful play about a group of outcasts gathered in the Cambridgeshire fens; The Winterling, a menacing comedy thriller about a group of misfits waiting out the winter on a moor in Southern England; and Parlour Song, a hilarious investigation of cunning, paranoia, and treacherous desire.
This volume also includes an interview with the playwright about his work.

Available from Amazon

October 23, 2013 · babybarista · Comments Closed
Posted in: books

Ethical dilemmas

A pupil rushed into the clerks room today with a look of blind panic. “What do I do? Ridiculously, I accidentally emailed my written advice to the other side’s solicitor who I also do a lot of work for. Should I call them up and tell them not to read it?”

“All I’d say,” said BusyBody, “is don’t listen to OldSmoothie.”

“Why’s that?” asked OldSmoothie. “Because I give such good practical advice?”

“Because you’re a lazy, corrupt old fool,” came the reply.

“Go on then, test me. See where I stand on your ethics-ometer.”

“Well, let’s start with the problem at hand. What would you do?”

“Absolutely nothing at all. Just sit tight and hope for the best. I mean, how can you be absolutely sure that you mis-sent the email in any event?”

“Because you’d check your sent emails.”

“All the more reason just to sit tight and do nothing then. Come on, give me a harder one.”

“Let’s say someone asked your informal advice on a case in chambers and then you suddenly realise the next day that it was actually about a case in which you’re representing the other side. What would you do then?”

“Absolutely nothing at all. Just sit tight and hope for the best. Again, how can you be absolutely one hundred per cent sure that it was about that case unless you were to check.”

“By checking.”

“Exactly my point. Come on, still too easy.”

“What if there’s an offer to settle your case miles below what it’s worth but you’re on a no-win no-fee agreement?”

“Easy again. It’s called litigation risk. Always a good reason to settle. Come on.”

“What if a barrister on the other side tells you something and claims counsel to counsel privilege.”

“Okay, call me a fat, lazy old fool and I’ll admit that I don’t know whether I’m right or wrong on the other examples. But this one is something that always gets my goat with self-righteous young barrister upstarts. Whenever they start claiming counsel to counsel privilege, simply point out that in this country at least, there is no such thing. For your part, you’re bound to inform your client and for their part they shouldn’t even be telling you anything unless they have the client’s say so. This much, young lady, I know.”

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

October 22, 2013 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Monday morning with Alex Williams’ cartoons,21st October 2013

qccartoon21oct2013

This cartoon is by Alex Williams who draws the Queen’s Counsel cartoons for The Times and in numerous books including Lawyers Uncovered. He also does the cartoons for BabyBarista and has had two more excellent books published recently: 101 Ways to Leave the Law and 101 Uses for a Useless Banker. He offers almost all of his cartoons for sale at £120 for originals and £40 for copies and they can be obtained from this email info@qccartoon.com.

October 21, 2013 · babybarista · Comments Closed
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In a political world of grey, Australian politicians are a breath of fresh air

Brought to you by our friends at Lexis Nexis in Australia

With all the recent coverage of the Australian election it reminds me in particular how much I like Australians. That’s not to say I’d support their cricket or rugby teams but for what it’s worth I do admire much of their apparent approach to life. In particular the lack of formalities where they are unnecessary and on top of that the sheer straight-talking.

This can also sometimes lead to a more colourful game of politics and certainly from the other side of the world that’s what the recent political developments appear to have been. First off, we had Julia Gillard challenging Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for the leadership back in 2010 and winning. Then, this year the same Mr Rudd appears to have done the same thing back. So all might have appeared to have been square with the Prime Ministership looking like a kind of prize in some form of grown up game of musical chairs.

But then along came that pesky little concept which is a general election and the inconvenience of having to get the electorate to approve of what you’re doing. Now, much if not all of the election may well have been fought on high political principle. But looking at it from afar, my reaction is that if you have twice changed who is Prime Minister without direct recourse to the electorate through a general election then there is a fair chance that that same electorate might start to get just a tad irritated. It just kind of seems a little, er, undemocratic. But whatever the reason and whether I’m right or wrong about the Australian people getting irritated, the election did indeed result in Kevin Rudd being ejected from the position of Prime Minister once more.

But beyond all of this to-ing and fro-ing of the political process, what I particularly like about Australian politics is its tone. As I’ve already said, it’s the straight talking as well as perhaps not taking yourself too seriously just because you’re a politician. For what it’s worth, I imagine Australian lawyers have an equally direct approach and when it comes to Dispute Resolution in Australia I can just imagine that there is a particular amount of straight-talking. Which for what it’s worth in my view is as effective a negotiation strategy as any.

Which reminds me of one of the greatest straight-talking Australians of modern times: Kerry Packer. I recently watched ‘Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War’ and relished watching the way he took on the English cricketing establishment of the 1970s and despite what might have seemed pretty long odds was ultimately victorious.

 

So from the other side of the world, I propose a toast to straight talking Australians whether they are politicians, tycoons or anyone else and make a gentle suggestion that more politicians might perhaps consider following their lead. Even if it didn’t change the outcome one way or the other, it may well lead to a more eventful election time and might even get more people out to vote!

October 20, 2013 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Book Recommendation: Lives of the Law: Selected Essays and Speeches: 2000-2010 by Lord Bingham

Tom Bingham (1933-2010) was the ‘greatest judge of our time’ (The Guardian), a towering figure in modern British public life who championed the rule of law and human rights inside and outside the courtroom. Lives of the Law collects Bingham’s most important later writings, in which he brings his distinctive, engaging style to tell the story of the diverse lives of the law: its life in government, in business, and in human wrongdoing.

Following on from The Business of Judging (2000), the papers collected here tackle some of the major debates in British public life over the last decade, from reforming the constitution to the growth of human rights law. They offer Bingham’s distinctive insight on issues such as the role of the judiciary in a democracy, the implementation of the Human Rights Act, and the development of the rule of law, in the UK and internationally.

Written in the accessible style that made The Rule of Law (2010) a popular success, the book will be essential reading for all those working in law, and an engaging inroad to understanding modern constitutional and legal debates for the general reader.

Available from Amazon

October 16, 2013 · babybarista · Comments Closed
Posted in: books

Money for old rope

HeadClerk passed me a brief this morning and said, “Sir, directions hearing tomorrow morning at 10:30. £500 for a five minute hearing. Everything agreed.”

“MFOR,” said OldSmoothie and when I looked bemused he added, “Money for old rope. It’s basically how much solicitors are prepared to pay someone to go and visit a grot hole of a place they’d never be seen dead in themselves. Let me guess. It’s in Harlow County Court?”

“Medway.”

“Well there you go. My worst of all used to be Ilford. I always thought it was particularly appropriate that it was situated right next to a graveyard.”

“I used to love directions hearings,” said UpTights. “Just like applications for adjournments or infant settlements. Little, if any, prep and lots of time for shopping afterwards.”

“I always see those hearings as if we’re simply being asked to go and harvest the cash we’re being paid from the magical money tree in the court garden,” said TheVamp.

“The irony is,” said OldSmoothie, “that whilst all you young ones are hankering for the bigger cases, us oldies very often want quite the opposite. One day your practice suddenly changes and it all starts getting just a little bit too serious. You even start to worry about the outcome.” He hesitated and, realising he was letting his guard down a little too much, added, “Well, occasionally anyway.”

“I’ve seen barristers crack when they hit that stage in their careers,” said
HeadClerk. “Simply lose their nerve.”

“What happens then?” asked TheVamp.

“It’s either a paper practice drafting schedules and assessing the value of injuries or more likely they head off to the back room of a good solicitors’ firm.”

“Funny how we rarely ever see them coming the other way though, wouldn’t you say,” said BusyBody.

“The reason people leave,” said OldSmoothie, “has nothing to do with losing their nerve and everything to do with the fact that the taxation system means that it’s simply not worth working any longer. For every extra £100 I bill, I end up getting around £20 in my pocket.”

“And how on earth do you work that out?” asked BusyBody.

“First there’s 20% VAT. Then my rent is around 25% and other expenses
10% and after that the taxman wants 50% and just for good measure there’s the plus 10% national insurance.” Then, as always, he pushed it just that little bit too far. “I mean, how are we meant to live?”

After which there followed an embarrassed silence until TheBusker piped up with, “Yes, what a terrible problem it must be.”

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

October 15, 2013 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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