A cautionary tale

In February of this year, being a little bored, I hatched a cunning plan.

I would take my forensic costume, board the Easy Jet and go to London. There, I would pretend to be Peter Sefton Q.C. and appear in the High Court. What could go wrong?

I found a victim, Carmen Mazo. This lady was unhappy with the damages she had obtained at first instance.

I persuaded her and her solicitor that I had extensive experience at personal injury work in London. They were completely fooled. I could have found a whiplash or a broken leg case but no, I was reckless, I wanted to go for the big money. I advised that there should be an appeal and that we should seek millions in damages.

It was easy from there on.

We went to the Strand, I appeared before Lord Justice Laws [what a great name for a judge, surpassed only by Lord Chief Justice Judge].

If he wondered about my accent he probably thought that I had spent too much time in Belfast with Orlando Pownall.

He addressed me with the gravity befitting my senior status.

He acceded to my application and the case will be re-heard soon.

Result! I headed back to the Province, heady with my achievement. I began to calculate my brief fee.

But I had forgotten about the Fourth Estate. A reporter was present. The story took off! The Daily Mail was outraged and I was quoted. Other papers also published it.

I held my breath. Had I got away with it? Was the NI Bar Council awake?

Weeks passed and I relaxed.

Then BAM! The English Bar Standards Board were tipped off. By whom I know not.

A complaint has been raised against me. I am charged with holding myself out as a barrister and performing reserved legal activities when not authorised. I suspect that if they could have charged me with being an “Uppity Paddy” they would have done so.

So what now, I hear you say. I’m pondering my next step. Should I confess? Have I got a legal leg to stand on? Mistaken identity? Do I have a OTR letter? Shall I plead insanity? I mean I must have been good enough to persuade Laws LJ to give Ms Mazo an appeal.

Perhaps I should put it down to experience. Write a book. Get film rights. What would the movie be called. The Man who fooled Laws. The Q.C. who never was. Silky Smooth Sefton Suckers Solicitors. I’ll ring Jimmy Nesbitt….

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Will I also be charged by the NI Bar Council. Crossing the state line for the purposes of advocacy? Is there a European dimension?

So , Dear Reader, if you are tempted to such a thing, make better preparations. Steal the identity of a dead barrister, or one that doesn’t practise, or who has gone to Hong Kong. Choose a less unusual name, call yourself Laws or Judge or Chancery.

Meantime, I’m off to do a little brain surgery at the Royal.

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