Judge Neil Hickman has put together an amazing collection of anecdotes from a career in the law lasting over 40 years, both as a solicitor and latterly as a district judge. We learn how a judge acquired the nickname Tosser, what people write on court forms about the level of judge desired, and judicial and other put-downs. These stories are enriched with the cartoons of late district judge Jeff Bower – and the book is thoroughly enjoyable.
This is a book for solicitors. Every litigation lawyer ought to familiarise themselves with Sir Stephen Sedley’s Laws of Documents. If you do not know it, it is the collated experience of judges who get handed bundles which never match, have unreadable photocopies, and are not properly numbered. Staying with bundles of documents, there is an account of Holman J exploding when over-burdened with unnecessary papers. The parties settled the litigation in question the following day.
£6.99, Book Guild Publishing
One solicitor billed for attending his client on his deathbed, despite getting there too late. Another submitted an account for attending at the client’s execution. It is wise advice not to ask a client if contents of statement are true unless you know the answer, which is plainly illustrated in another anecdote. When all parties agreed that a child care case should be dealt with by a circuit judge, a solicitor rose before the lay bench to apply for transfer. The chair asked if he was suggesting that she and her colleagues were not intelligent enough to deal with the case. He replied: ‘Madam, I couldn’t have put it more eloquently if I had tried.’ Probably not an example to follow.
There is some splendid correspondence in the case of Arkell v Pressdram between Goodman Derrick & Co and Private Eye. The unfortunate claimant was told to go away in explicit terms.
The book contains some examples of how to respond to daft letters and is worth the money for that alone.
David Pickup is a partner at Pickup and Scott Solicitors, Aylesbury