Just spent a day in court unexpectedly conducting a final hearing!
I took on a financial case where the couple have been acting for themselves over the last two years with very little success. They had managed to make virtually no progress in their case and seemed no closer to achieving a result despite a number of court hearings and directions orders.
The wife had consulted me a couple of times this year and finally decided to take the plunge and make a payment to my firm using her credit card. I understand how difficult that was for her as she is a full-time student and she was anxious about the cost of involving a solicitor.
I was therefore instructed only two weeks ago and with a long list of court ordered directions that had not been complied with. It looked very unlikely that the hearing would proceed and I told my client so. I wrote to the husband suggesting an adjournment but he refused.
I did not have all of the papers as many documents have not been saved by the parties and I had had no control over the financial documents that had been prepared in the case. Further I had not had the opportunity of ensuring that all of the directions orders had been complied with.
The information given to me suggested that the hearing today was to be a directions hearing. That is what I initially prepared for although some crucial documents were only served on me yesterday. When reviewing the file last night I realised this was not the case. The hearing that I was preparing for was the final hearing listed for a whole day.
Needless to say the judge was very unhappy at how poorly prepared the case was because of all the missing documents that the couple had not provided when they were acting for themselves. There was a great deal of missing evidence from the husband and the evidence bundles were therefore incomplete. It was a difficult call for the judge to decide whether or not to hear the case or adjourn it yet again. She was understandably reluctant to delay this case any further as it has been going on for two years and the final hearing had already been adjourned once. Despite her concerns the judge decided to hear the case today which I think was absolutely the right decision. As the judge pointed out if she put the case back for the outstanding evidence to be prepared there was no guarantee that it would be given that this couple had failed to comply with court orders in the past.
So I have been cross examining the respondent all afternoon. I’m exhausted but I enjoyed it. I’d forgotten how rewarding it is to flush out the evidence and how much I enjoy cross examining a witness.
It was a good day and we got the right result.