âBut I donât know anything about family law,â I answered.
âDonât worry about that. You probably still know more than me and anyway, itâll settle, I promise.â Then he added slightly mysteriously, âThe judgeâll see to that.
So it was that I ended up doing my first family law case yesterday. Iâd 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 wasnât helped any when the judge then boomed at my opponent: âWhoâs paying for this complete waste of time and money?â
âEr, er,âŚâ My opponent didnât seem to be any more confident than me in this area and he was stumped. âEr, Your Honour, may I please take instructions?â
âYou certainly may. But let me warn you now. If this case is being funded by the taxpayer and it doesnât settle pretty sharpish, itâs the sort of case where the papers may just well end up with the inland revenue.â
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. âSettle or else your respective clientsâ small business gets done for tax evasion.â 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 wasnât just the lawyers that had got the none too unsubtle message being handed down by the learned bench. First off, my opponentâs 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. âEr, Your Honour, it seems that a compromise may now be possible. Would you allow us a brief adjournment?â
The judge had anticipated the answer and was already half way to his room as he turned and said, âTen minutes. No more.â
All I can say is that SlipperySlope was right and in fact we were back in five.