For an advocate at least. This is not a family case, but a judicial review relating to the prosecution of a speeding offence. It is by way of an entertainment, rather than any important legal principles.
Poor Mr D George of counsel was appearing on behalf of the Applicant, and gets one of the most systematic dismantlings I’ve ever seen. At various points, it is clear that he is no longer trying to win his case (which is a lost cause) but to try to limit damage as the Court seem hell-bent on finding that his instructing solicitor is guilty of “sharp practice” (I am only quoting the Court here, not reflective of any opinions I may or may not hold)
(Of course, I make no comment whatsoever on this, and am just putting up the link to the transcript. There’s an interesting and lively exchange between counsel and bench as to the extent to which a defence solicitor is entitled to make use of the system to achieve a result for his client, even where this is stretching ‘fair play’ a little, and it is worth reading)
If you’ve had a rough day in Court as an advocate, or fear you are about to, this transcript will offer you a deal of comfort and solace that it won’t be half as bad as this.
This is the first substantive exchange, and one can see that poor Mr George is going to have a tough time of it
8. SIR JOHN THOMAS: He admitted he was travelling at 117 miles an hour in his Porsche, didn’t he?
9. MR GEORGE: At one stage, yes. The difficulty is that the plea that was entered was entered to a summons which appears to have been based upon incorrect ‑‑
10. SIR JOHN THOMAS: Surely he knew whether he was travelling at 117 miles an hour or not?
11. MR GEORGE: That’s only one ‑‑
12. SIR JOHN THOMAS: What injustice is there? At the moment, I wholly fail to understand what conceivable injustice there is in this case.
And the midway point
52. SIR JOHN THOMAS: All right. So he’s prosecuted on the basis of the ‑‑ let us look at the reality of the evidence, all right. Now, what is the difference between these two statements, apart from East Sussex and West Sussex which, quite frankly, is the most absurd point I have heard in a long time?
53. MR GEORGE: There are about 20 differences.
54. SIR JOHN THOMAS: Okay. Well, let us hope they are slightly better than that one.
62. MR JUSTICE GLOBE: 2109 and 2110. That’s 1 minute.
63. MR GEORGE: That’s a 1 minute difference.
. SIR JOHN THOMAS: Now, you are not relying on that, are you?
65. MR GEORGE: No. It’s the totality of the statement.
66. SIR JOHN THOMAS: Well, let us have a look at them. A totality of points which are completely stupid, the result is a completely stupid one.
And then things really go awry
167. SIR JOHN THOMAS: It has not been abandoned. It’s nonsense, I suggest. Look, the reality of this case, in anything other than someone’s imagination, is that the officer made a simple mistake on his word processor. It’s perfectly clear that both statements say that the machine registered 117.9 miles per hour and your client pleaded guilty.
168. MR GEORGE: Yes.
169. SIR JOHN THOMAS: He had no defence to this. If there was something, for example, if the second statement said he was only travelling at 40 miles an hour, of course you would have a case, but this is absurd.
170. MR GEORGE: There is additional evidence in the first statement of course because it is suggested that the driver acknowledges the speeding in reply to the caution.
171. SIR JOHN THOMAS: If Mr Ali really believed he wasn’t travelling at this speed he could have pleaded not guilty. What you are doing is something that I find repugnant ‑‑ and not you personally ‑‑ but Mr Freeman’s conduct I find repugnant and improper conduct of the proceedings in that someone who has made a genuine error comes along, your client has pleaded guilty, knew all along what he was doing, and these nonsensical arguments are being used to waste the courts’ time. I am sorry to put it so brutally, but the single judge said this was a nonsense and it is a nonsense, this application.
172. MR GEORGE: I can only go on the basis of the evidence I have before me.
And if poor Mr George didn’t take a much deserved drink of water at that point and feel that the ground was swaying a little beneath his feet then he deserves a letter about being made a Silk at the next tranche of appointments, because he’s made of stern stuff.
It gets worse still
203. SIR JOHN THOMAS: Why was this not drawn to the attention of the court? Are you seriously disputing that there was a ‑‑ the CPS say there was a DVD of the incident.
204. MR GEORGE: Yes, there must have been.
205. SIR JOHN THOMAS: We know, in these courts, that actually DVDs are extremely reliable. If there was a DVD of this incident and it showed your client driving, maybe we should call for it and call for why this case is before the court. Because if it is the same person, this court has been misled ‑‑
206. MR GEORGE: I don’t know ‑‑
207. SIR JOHN THOMAS: ‑‑ in a most serious manner. I think what we should do is call for that to be produced.
208. MR GEORGE: Can I just ‑‑
209. SIR JOHN THOMAS: No. Shouldn’t we do that?
210. MR GEORGE: No, my Lord.
211. SIR JOHN THOMAS: Because if that is the same DVD, these whole proceedings have been an abuse of the process of this court.
212. MR GEORGE: May I ‑‑
213. SIR JOHN THOMAS: Do you want to take some instructions while we deal with the next case?
214. MR GEORGE: I can, of course.
215. SIR JOHN THOMAS: You see the gravity of what I am saying?
216. MR GEORGE: I do appreciate that, my Lord. Can I just ‑‑
217. SIR JOHN THOMAS: Because we are not here ‑‑ we are here dealing with a judicial review of a decision. I have no idea whether the DVD is the same, but if it is, and Mr Freeman must have known this, this application is an abuse of the process of this court and it might contend further sanctions. We simply cannot have this happening.
218. MR GEORGE: It would appear that the issue as to ‑‑ I don’t know whether ‑‑
219. SIR JOHN THOMAS: Because if the DVD is the same, there was a DVD of this incident and it showed your client speeding, this case is an abuse of the process of this court.
220. MR GEORGE: I don’t invite your Lordship to call for the DVD.
If his attendance note began “Thank you for your instructions in this matter” I would be profoundly surprised.