The other News From England.
Friday May 7th., 1993.
I seem to have lost the ability to write about something because I find it amusing, or because it mkes me happy, and become stuck in all the filth of British life as though there is no other aspect. A lot of ordinary British people seem to feel much the same. I believe this because I discuss the world with the local shopkeepers and my (adult) students. We are, in the main, disgusted with both our lawyers and our banks.
This week has been an amusing week for the British newspaper reader, what with Asil Nadir doing a runner with £2,000,000 bail on his head, and the usual seedy antics of the aforesaid lawyers and banks.
Asil Nadir is a person who managed to gain control of a Limited Liability Company quoted on our stock exchange, and in due course when the company got into financial difficulties was charged with various types of corruption. That is not to say that Asil Nadir is necessarily corrupt, although as large numbers of people seem to be corrupt in the financially or legally influential reaches of our society, it is a possibility.
Whatever the reality, he was charged with various things, and various lawyers and experts both corrupt and otherwise will have found themselves with plenty of work as a result. I don't suppose it matters much to most of them what the outcome of their activities is, as long as they get paid.
Months ago now, Asil Nadir was let out on bail whilst accountants and people tried to build a case against him and others tried to build a case for him.
Then, on Monday, he disappeared to Northern Cyprus, a country with which Britain has no extradition treaty.
There is no way available at the moment that he can be brought back to England, although it is reported that he says he will come back of his own accord if his conditions of bail include a proviso that he can travel anywhere in the world something that might or might not be reasonable in the light of the fact that he has been involved in international business in the past, and that it may be quite difficult for him to go on trading if he is confined to Britain. He will need to do plenty of trading to support the army of lawyers and others who will have latched onto his case?
He also made a statement to the effect that he felt it would be impossible to get a fair trial in this country, which sounds to me quite realistic. What he says has happened so far is that each time he has been charged with something the Judge has ruled that there is no case to answer, and then a new charge has been produced as from nowhere and the whole process has been started over again.
So he broke bail.
There is Just one other thing. Investigators picked up a story that a Judge in this matter had been offered a bribe. They don't seem to have interviewed the Judge.
Perhaps more sinister is the fact that the police had been anonymously told he was about to depart, but as he turned up to report at the police station at the end of last week, they cancelled their instructions at the ports to keep an eye out for him. 3ust a coincidence, I suppose.
Well, that's Asil Nadir, and I must stress that I have no idea whether he is honest or not, but I do know that the antics of English lawyers are such that whatever the court finds in the end (if they get a chance to see the matter through, and if they can bear to conclude such a lucrative case) it will be anvone' 5 guess what the reality of the situation is.
A small number of lawyers, I am told, are trying to do something about the state of English law.
The problem is not helped by the fact that lawyers tend in the main to be afraid of each other, and even more afraid of Judges (who are lawyers themselves.) Thus, to say a Judge is bent (which is something I have tried) to a lawyer is to invite a selection of possible responses:
They do not want to work on your behalf, but are obliged to by law, and thus it would be very difficult to feel well represented.
They panic and can't think straight and thus it would be very difficult to feel well represented.
They think you are mad, because all Judges are to be treated as gods, and thus it would be very difficult to feel well represented.
I'm sure there are other good reasons to avoid rocking their boat, but they are escaping me at the moment because I am a person who believes like some lunatic optimist out of the 60's that they could be honourable "if only they would pull themselves together", and consequently I am overtly critical where I feel it is Justified. Far out, man!
The lawyers must have a side to this discussion, and I am given to understand that the argument takes the form of saying that it is only those who are dissatisfied with the result thev Justification unless you are a lawyer that lawyers find more frightening than the other lawyers, and then it probably won't matter whether your complaint is Justified or not, it will be accepted as Justified out of fear or perfectly genuine belief,
Which brings to mind a case that was reported in The Independent this week.
I could Just lift the whole thing, but it is very wordy, and doesn't flow well - indeed, I found myself going over and over bits of it, and wondering if, as it was written by a lawyer, it was deliberately heavy going. Curiously, there was almost no Latin involved.
THE CASE concerned a lady who tried to get three solicitors struck off for practising without practising certificates (it seems to me they would still practise without if they'd already done that in the past), charging for work done without practising certificates (I suppose the argument was that as they were without certificates they could not legally charge for solicitors' work), and generally behaving in an unfit manner (what is that?> and deceiving the court.
She was self-representing (anyone who's read certain earlier Other News's will know I tried this once) and so I assume had no qualified lawyer representing her.
The three solicitors (who had since got themselves practising certificates!) represented themselves. She had complained before to the Law Society (the solicitors' trade association), but the Law Society had done nothing but give them a warning (the standard procedure - most people think the Law Society is there to get solicitors off the hook), so now she was applying to get them struck off.
The Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1873 and other bits of legislation were referred to, and the Judge ruled that the complainant had no right of audience (that is she was not allowed to talk to the Judge) because she was not "counsel".
This "counsel" is Just another type of lawyer, but that's irrelevant. The solicitors were not struck of f because there was no hearing, and you can be pretty certain nobody else will apply to have them struck off.
Part of the argument, by the way, was that she was dissatisfied with the outcome of her case. She was dissatisfied, therefore she had no case? To a lawyer, this is logical when it suits their purpose, and to me it looks very much like this was the only other reason the judge could lay hands on to get his fellow lawyers off the hook.
THE BANKS have been behaving exactly the same as last time I wrote - like thieves with a stranglehold on the economy - and there is nothing new to report here except a small discussion between myself and a glass shop proprietor. It went thus:
"How much for a piece of glass for this picture?"
"Two pounds if it's cash."
(This is a subtle bit of cockney humour - there is a lot of it about).
"Actually, I can't use any other means as I've sent my credit cards back and the Abbey National (bank) have stuck on so many poverty taxes that they have cleaned out my account and I have no means of giving you a cheque".
"Good for you. If everyone would do that the banks might start making it possible for us to make a living. After all, you only need a credit card if you go to America or something and need it to pay your hotel or car hire bill."
I pointed out that when I took my Access Mastercard to America thinking I could use it if I needed to, I discovered that in fact it was impossible to even pay a hotel bill with it, and had I not had friends I would have needed to contact the British Consul to get home and to cancel all other arrangements.
Need I say more?
But then, at the end of the week, I managed to make quite a nice recording of a tune of my own - the Camberwell Hymn - so sod the lot of them!