Judicial blackmail

“Got you a nice little earner for you for tomorrow,” said my Instructing Solicitor SlipperySlope on Monday. “Family case. Very simple.”

“But I don’t know anything about family law,” I answered.

“Don’t worry about that. You probably still know more than me and anyway, it’ll settle, I promise.” Then he added slightly mysteriously, “The judge’ll see to that.

So it was that I ended up doing my first family law case yesterday. I’d done a bit of research but was still massively out of my depth and I admit that my knees were shaking just a little. Which wasn’t helped any when the judge then boomed at my opponent: “Who’s paying for this complete waste of time and money?”

“Er, er,…” My opponent didn’t seem to be any more confident than me in this area and he was stumped. “Er, Your Honour, may I please take instructions?”

“You certainly may. But let me warn you now. If this case is being funded by the taxpayer and it doesn’t settle pretty sharpish, it’s the sort of case where the papers may just well end up with the inland revenue.”

My opponent and I both looked at the judge in astonishment and then at each other. We had just been issued with a judicial proclamation of blackmail. ‘Settle or else your respective clients’ small business gets done for tax evasion.’ Not just any old blackmail either but with all the official bells and nobs on which really make a difference. We both knew that a reference from a circuit judge would get the tax man frothing at the mouth. This was a code red to the lawyers to sort it out or else!

Except it wasn’t just the lawyers that had got the none too unsubtle message being handed down by the learned bench. First off, my opponent’s lay client jumped up and started making all sorts of noise to his solicitor who then himself jumped up, poked my opponent in the back and whispered something to him. Then I got similar treatment from my own client. My opponent stood up. “Er, Your Honour, it seems that a compromise may now be possible. Would you allow us a brief adjournment?”

The judge had anticipated the answer and was already half way to his room as he turned and said, “Ten minutes. No more.”

All I can say is that SlipperySlope was right and in fact we were back in five.

September 22, 2015 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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