Fascinating account of British lawyer’s Italian adventure

An Avvocato Inglese looks back: Being the recollections of a British lawyer in Italy


David MacFarlane


£9.97, Kindle edition



Having started his professional career at a City firm, David MacFarlane took the opportunity to temporarily run the Milan office. He was reassured that this move would be good for his career, particularly if he could make the branch office profitable. He got directions to the office by looking at an Italian banknote that featured a picture of La Scala (pictured); the firm’s office was on the left hand side of the opera house. Although the London firm decided to close the Italian branch, MacFarlane decided to stay. He made the right choice.

MacFarlane seemed to have had a very varied caseload, including private law, family and criminal law cases, as well as commercial and employment work.

He acted for ex-pats and nationals of other countries who had business interests in Italy. His clients often had issues relating to unpaid debts, or passport difficulties, or disputes about wills involving cross-jurisdictional issues. At times the book reads a bit like a Graham Greene novel, particularly when he describes Britons abroad.

Many British people have strong links to Italy. The author had dealings with the Bronte family – no, not the literary clan from Haworth. The title of Duke of Bronte had been given to Nelson and it stayed in Italy with his Italian descendants. MacFarlane also worked with the then owner of the copyright to Lady Chatterley’s Lover. DH Lawrence had lived in Italy and rented a house from an army officer whose experiences inspired that novel.

The author reminds us that Italy is a country of different regions, each with its own strong local identity, culture and traditions.

In the 1970s and1980s, Italy was plagued by terrorism. Many lawyers and judges were assassinated. There is an anecdote in the book about the international links between terrorist organisations.

Legal business was sometimes done on an informal basis. MacFarlane was meeting a local notary and was worried he would miss an important flight. The notary obligingly offered to telephone the airport and tell them to hold the plane for him.

This is a fascinating and lively book, full of anecdotes.


David Pickup is a partner at Pickup & Scott Solicitors, Aylesbury