BabyBarista: Ignore the new Practice Direction on the Citation of Authorities at your peril!

Posted on 6th Jun 2012 in BabyBarista

TheCreep

I had a small appeal today and my opponent was none other than TheCreep turned up with a huge bundle of authorities. Having failed to bash me over the head with them in the robing room, we went into court. Before TheCreep could even start whining on, the judge boomed: “MrCreep, you have provided me with a ridiculous number of so-called authorities and yet not a single one of them comes from the Official Law Reports on the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting. I will adjourn this case until you manage to comply with the Practice Direction: Citation of Authorities (2012).” He then quoted a particular section:

“Where a judgment is reported in the Official Law Reports (A.C., Q.B., Ch., Fam.) published by the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for England and Wales, that report must be cited. These are the most authoritative reports; they contain a summary of the argument. Other series of reports and official transcripts of judgment may only be used when a case is not reported in the Official Law Reports.”

TheCreep looked crestfallen and dashed out of court. Eventually, his furious-looking solicitor managed to get copies of the authorities faxed from his own office and he came back with revised bundles mumbling about never instructing such an amateur again.

TheCreep then delivered his submissions to a notably unimpressed bench. As for my own submissions, my Skeleton Argument took a strategy of TheBusker’s that I’d used before and said simply: “The appeal is misconceived since it fails to refer to the binding Court of Appeal case of [name of my magic case].” As TheBusker had explained to me in the past: “Judges will be impressed both by your courage and your cheek in resting simply on this one sentence. Above all, they’ll believe that no-one would possibly dare to do such a short Skeleton unless they were absolutely certain they were going to win.” Then he added with a smile, “So it’s always good ground for a bluff.” In the judge’s summing up, he said: “Mr BabyBarista provided me with a commendably brief Skeleton Argument, the reasoning of which I accept in its entirety. I should add that this case highlights that a single authority well-chosen and downloaded from the ICLR Online can be worth more than a multitude of lesser authorities, all the more so when they are drawn from less authoritative sources.”