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?”


“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 Cartoons by Alex Williams, author of 101 Ways to Leave the Law.

October 15, 2013 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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