Saturday, 24 July 2010

Legal draughts

Shortly after the funeral of the island’s most senior judge this week (see ) came a hilarious insight into the way justice is done here, and the less than reverential attitude of some of the island’s legal profession to those who do ‘good works’.
A friend from the legal profession mysteriously managed to be present when the Isle of Man Law Society turned out in force to show respect at the courthouse following news of Mike Kerruish’s death. I say mysterious, because My Legal Friend has officially been off-island on leave for a while – extremely inconvenient as my company and others use him almost daily for notarising documents and similar services.
So he confessed the hilarious truth about his absence.
In addition to his paid work, MLF is also known by charities as a soft touch for pro bono work. It appears some time ago he was called in suddenly by an island MONGO (‘Methodist Orientated Non-Governmental Organisation’). More precisely, the highly waged government employee who actually runs said MONGO asked him to revise a legal document at an hour or so’s notice. MLF, yet again, did this and in lieu of actual cash received his usual token payment for such favours – which is two lunchtime pints of Guinness.
This is a long-running joke between the parties in question, made all the funnier because most of these MONGOs work for the removal of easy access to strong drink at reasonable prices. The only part of the joke the HWGE and MLF refuse to reveal is if the cost of the Guinness is then billed to some obscure government expense account.
Unfortunately, MLF was then due back in court and arrived a little late, 'tired' and unprepared. The late Mike Kerruish was notoriously sharp-tongued with legal counsel who wasted court time, or offered less than a full service to clients, and he was on form that day.
However, Deemster Kerruish was no teetotaller either, and later took MLF aside to offer a less formal legal judgement. In essence, if MLF was not to face formal disciplinary proceedings, he should cancel any upcoming court work and in the near future take an extended holiday where he should consider his future. In particular, how to bring forward plans for handing over such work to younger partners.
This MLF duly did. At the time I learnt this he was in receipt of yet another ‘payment in kind’ (via a HWGE) from unwitting but grateful temperance nazis and the Manx government, both of whom will be totally unaware of the arrangement and certainly regard MLF as a bad example to upright youth they’d like to remove from our streets.

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