Covered in red tape

I overheard UpTights chatting to a mini-pupil in the clerks’ room this morning.

“Whenever we send papers back to solicitors, we tie them up in this pink ribbon,” she said, indicating a great mound of the stuff. “It’s where the phrase, ‘covered in red tape’ comes from.”

“But why isn’t it ‘covered in pink tape’ then?” asked the mini-pupil innocently.

“Because it isn’t,” said UpTights sounding irritated.

“Then what’s that white tape for?” asked the mini-pupil.

“Ah, well, that’s for government work,” said UpTights.

“So do they call that sort of work “covered in white tape”,’ asked the mini-pupil.

“No.” She paused and took a deep breath. “Anyway, after we’ve tied up the brief, we write what we’ve done on this piece of paper called the backsheet.”

“The sheet at the front of the brief.”



“I’m afraid,” interrupted OldRuin, “that there is never a great deal of logic to these things. As for covered in red tape, I prefer Dickens’ term wiglomeration.’

“I once had a leader who always insisted that the advice he gave in a case should be short enough to be handwritten on the backsheet,” said HeadofChambers.

“Yes, I think that was quite common back then,” said OldRuin.

“The best advice he returned said simply ‘You will win’.”

BabyBarista is a fictional account of a junior barrister practising at the English Bar, written by barrister and writer Tim Kevan. For more information and to read posts from the last few years visit Cartoons by Alex Williams, author of 101 Ways to Leave the Law.

December 17, 2013 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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