Sip before plea

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Aug 10, 2017
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In a time of increasing acid attacks and terrorists lurking behind every tree, you can never take too many precautions – or at least that seems to be the approach of those in charge of the courts and tribunals in England and Wales.

Lawyers have been left bemused and/or outraged by the latest edict from HMCTS, which stipulates that “customers” – as the service ludicrously refers to lawyers, litigants and witnesses – “entering court premises with an unsealed drink can/carton/costa coffee/ flask etc will be required to take a sip of that drink at the security arch to validate that the content is harmless”.

And just ensure that no one is left in doubt about the severity with which the court service is dealing with this matter, the edict continues: “Anyone refusing to comply with this request will be refused access to the court.” Some commentators on the Legal Cheek website reported the court service was simply creating a national policy around informal procedures that had already cropped up at individual court centres.

A sad indictment of the modern world, is the general view. But it was the invocation of the term “customers” that got many goats. “Are they deranged?” asked one commentator.

High flying billing

From the US comes a story of lawyers who are either simply just showing off – or an illustration of property rents gone mad in the Silicon Valley.

The partners at Patterson & Sheridan, a Houston law firm, are keen on servicing their California tech clients – and in bagging some fresh instructions. But instead of falling in line with the conventional approach of opening an office in the Silicon Valley and either sending some Texans over to staff or poaching some Californians, the Stetson-wearing buccaneers have come up with a far more novel idea.

They reckon it is cheaper to buy a Gulfstream G200 jet to fly up to nine partners at a time the nearly 2,000 miles to Palo Alto to do the businesses. Cheaper even though they have had to shell out $3 million (£2.3 million) for the aeroplane and $2,500 (£1,900) an hour to run it.

The firm’s top brass were quick to point out to the Houston Chronicle that the gambit is by no means as mad as it sounds. For starters, lawyers work on client files during the flight, so there is no loss of billable hours. And ultimately that is what matters at US law firms.

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