12.12.06

Day 51 (week 11): Small Claims Court

Went to watch a small claims case today in Willesden County Court. Not exactly the most salubrious of surroundings but the court was even worse. All the cases for the whole day had been listed at 10.30am on the basis I assume that a lot of people simply weren’t going to turn up. This may well be convenient to the judges but it meant that it was mayhem in the waiting room with barristers all clamouring to get in (and therefore out) first. The usher had clearly heard it all before with promises of “We’ll only be five minutes” and “It’s all been agreed” being met with raised eyebrows and a rye smile.

The number of barristers crowded into this small place was to say the least unpleasant. This was made even worse by nervous litigants all standing around in the same area. Opposing sides staring each other down. Inevitably this led to some small outbreaks of trouble and the guards had to eject at least two of the parties for disorderly conduct.

My barrister was about half way down the list and our case didn’t get on until after lunch (quite a good greasy fry on the road back to the station). Tiny case, more a squabble than an argument. What the judge called (thinking himself a wit) “A classic county court action between two stationary cars”. He was right though. Barristers on either side each only getting around £100 each which after their train fares and their contributions to Chambers’ rent probably left them with around £60 for a whole day in Willesden.

My barrister won almost just by shouting louder than his opponent. I was surprised that the District Judge allowed him to get away with it, but there you go.

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