Day 126 (week 26): Cab Rank Rule

The papers arrived for my first case in court on Monday. As anticipated they involve a plea in mitigation. All I have is the charge sheet and three lines of instructions from the solicitor which read as follows:

“Instructing Solicitors apologise for the scant nature of the paperwork. Suffice to say that the client is no average scumbag or petty thief caught with his hands in the till though this is what he is being charged with. Counsel will see what Instructing Solicitors mean when he meets the client at court. He is hereby instructed to enter whatever plea in mitigation he sees fit.”

Sounds cryptic and not a little peculiar. Out of curiosity, I google my client’s name. The instructions then start to make a little more sense. Seems he’s not only a tealeaf. If it’s the same person, and it looks like it might be, then he’s also a notorious football hooligan with the Chelsea Headhunters and a member (allegedly) of the extreme right (and extremely violent) Combat 18. Certainly not someone I want to be meeting in a stressful situation never mind representing. I wonder if there’s any way at all to get out of the case. Maybe I’d have a conflict of interest due to the fact that I detest the racist Nazi views he propagates?

I phoned the Bar Standards Board anonymously to seek their guidance. No way out they said. Cab Rank Rule. As with black cabs, if your light is on and you’re available for work then you’re not allowed to pick and choose between the jobs you take. “Even racists have the right to representation” they said. Even so, why do I have top be the one doing it? And on my first day, too?

In my irritation I decide to check out this so-called Cab Rank Rule and hail a black cabbie.
“Can you take me to the top of Chancery Lane please.” I ask in my best barrister voice.
“But that’s only fifty yards away mate. Just over there. You don’t need to cab.”
“Yes, but I’d like to travel in a cab.”
“Just not worth the hassle mate. Have you seen the traffic jam I’d get caught in over there.”
“What about the cab rank rule? Don’t you have to take me wherever I want?”
“Oh. I get it. You’re another of those barristers. Hate ‘em I do. Always reminding me of that stupid rule. Well forget it, mate. Taking the mickey. Report me if you like.”

And with that he drove off.


Anonymous said...

what a stupid rule. you should be able to do what you like.

Mike Callow said...

Actually, I'm glad we have this rule. No matter who they are, everyone should have the right to a fair trial and as part of that to good representation.

Anonymous said...

Cab drivers are always doing this!

Anonymous said...

I'd just take a sickie if I were you

Anonymous said...

It's the cab w$$k rule and everyone knows it, an excellent cover for taking on lucrative but unpopular cases - it enables you to have Sunday dinner with your Nan and keep face when representing Peter Sutcliffe.