There were no law students in the 2019 Oxford and Cambridge men’s boat race crews, alas. Yet perhaps it’s just as well our most venerable law firms no longer overlook a 2:2 or third attained after ‘too much time on the river’.
As we ponder ways to streamline dispute resolution, however, Obiter thinks there were lessons from this contest.
Cambridge were first across the finish line, but the Oxford cox raised his hand to appeal the decision – there had been a clash of oars a minute into the race when Cambridge were warned out of Oxford’s water.
The umpire gave his decision (against the dark blues) and his reasons, boat-to-boat, mostly using hand gestures – a process with momentous consequences for Oxford’s hopes that took all of 61 seconds.
Suddenly, by comparison, our focus on disclosure, the tariff-incentive of a guilty plea and the costs sanctions related to part 36 offers seem a little timid as attempts to cut time and cost. Family court judges could divide a couple’s assets with a melodramatic karate chop. A freezing order could be granted simply by a judge striking a statuesque pose, while a variety of hand signals would emphatically overrule an advocate’s opportunistic objection.
Quick, easy and above all cheap. What’s not to like?