Obiter once watched a sports personality attempt to jump a queue and, when challenged, wheel out the ‘do you know who I am?’ line.
‘Yes, you’re that sh*te footballer’, said the plucky checkout girl, as the deflated hero returned to the back amid cheers and sniggers.
Equally, the ‘I’m a lawyer’ line is not to be deployed unless in extreme circumstances. And probably not when you’re in a heated discussion at the self-service queue in Tesco, if a High Court judgment published last week is any guide.
The case involved law graduate Syed Yavuz, who encountered problems at a Lewisham store, and subsequently brought a claim against a customer assistant for slander and trespass to the person. Yavuz alleged the assistant called her a thief; he submitted that he merely pointed out a transaction hadn’t gone through and she needed to pay.
It was then alleged that Yavuz told the assistant: ‘I’m a lawyer; I will cause you a problem.’ In court, Yavuz disputed this claim, saying she knew the distinction between legal professionals and would not use the expression ‘lawyer’. Judge Richard Spearman QC was ‘not impressed’ by this argument. ‘I consider that the word “lawyer” is in common usage.’
The judge went on to find that Yavuz had not proven that she had been called a thief or, even if the words had been spoken, that they had been heard by anyone else.
Claim dismissed, judgment for the defendants – and lessons learned all round.