Obiter has never seen a courtroom as busy as for last week’s three-pronged scrimmage in the Court of Appeal on case management rules.
It was action all the way as master of the rolls Lord Dyson, flanked by the man himself, Jackson LJ, sought to come up with new guidelines on three cases surrounding relief from sanctions for non-compliance.
The irony of the hearings starting almost 30 minutes late was not lost on lawyers about to argue that judges were being too harsh on missed deadlines.
And there was plenty of light relief to relieve the tension: one of the late witness statements up for debate was filed by a Mr Goodenough (presumably it wasn’t), while one barrister mentioned that a previous hearing had been presided over by a ‘grumpy judge’.
‘You may well have another one soon,’ retorted Dyson.
Of course, some may question the wisdom of having the creator of sanctions guidelines (Dyson) and the creator of the rules that required those guidelines (Jackson) hearing these cases.
But Dyson was keen to stress that he was not precious about criticism of his judgment in the Mitchell appeal last year.
‘In Mitchell I attempted - albeit not too successfully - to provide some guidance,’ conceded the MR – with masterly understatement.