Herewith another excerpt from May it Please Your Lordship by Toby Potts, Chapter Nine:



BEWARE OF CLERKS who say, ‘Just a short application, straight in and out, no problems, and you’ll be back in Chambers by eleven.’

This I was to discover to my cost.

I had just celebrated my first six months as a member of Brick Court, and it had gone passably well. There had been highs and lows, as with any barrister feeling his way, but that was to be expected, or so I told myself. I wasn’t in the ‘fat cat’ club, as yet, and my modest earnings seemed to dissipate at an alarming rate. There was value added tax to be paid at the end of each quarter, travel to and from court, chambers rent, clerks’ commission and then, of course, the dreaded income tax. It all left me perilously short at the end of each month. Still, I thought, it was only a matter of time.

The euphoria surrounding my day of fame in Little Hampton Magistrates Court, rubbing shoulders with the Great and the Good, was but a distant memory. No invitations were forthcoming to join the Earl and his party at Henley, or Ascot, or the glorious twelfth on the extensive Fitzherbert estates in bonny Scotland, in fact, not even a postcard for old times’ sake, so the wedding plans to the fragrant Lady Lucinda, or whoever, had to be put on hold.

In spite of effusive promises after the case, no work, either, from Mr Simkins. All that heady praise about a star in the making and a glittering career were nothing more than puffs of wind. It was a strange old world, and there was nothing stranger than solicitors. One minute they were all over you like a cheap suit; the next minute they were but a distant memory.

I was shaken out of my dark mood by a knock at the door, and before I had time to answer in sloped Paul bearing a brief, which he plonked down unceremoniously on my desk. ‘Brief for tomorrow,’ he grunted. ‘Short application, straight in and out, back in Chambers by eleven.’ Before I could reply, he sloped back out again.

The head note on the backsheet was enough to stiffen my sinews, and more, as I read to my horror: ‘In the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division.’

This can’t be right. Nobody appears in the Court of Appeal Criminal Division, or any Division, for that matter, without months of painstaking preparation. After all, for most practitioners, the Court of Appeal was the highest court in the land. Yes, of course, there was the House of Lords, but few indeed, with the obvious exception of Gazzard, sought fit to jolt the old fossils out of their judicial torpor. The Court of Appeal was the business end of the law in action, where the buck stopped, and usually with a full stop.

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David is an English barrister, writer, public performer and keynote speaker. His full profile can be found on his website.

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