Posted Wednesday, December 22, 1999

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London, Wednesday, December 22, 1999



IN 1985, The Sunday Times was faced by a libel claim from a Sikh separatist who said he had been wrongly accused of advocating terrorism. The newspaper settled for £12,000 damages plus the plaintiff's costs, but the plaintiff's solicitors then put in a bill for expenses which, with VAT, amounted to more than £1 million.

On examination, it transpired that the documents to support these claims were almost entirely fabricated. High Court hearings that began in 1993 have just been concluded in the Court of Appeal with the newspaper cutting its costs to virtually nothing.

Some may be tempted to rejoice at a triumph for British justice, and there can he no doubt that sanity prevailed at the end of the day, the right side won. But one cannot help wondering how much this extended battle over legal fees has cost in further legal fees, who has paid them and why.

In my experience of life, the best advice for a friend is never to go to court, or hire a lawyer. One can achieve much by simply neglecting to answer or acknowledge lawyers letters. They seldom issue a summons, but if they do, it can best be dealt with by a two-line note to the Clerk of the Court regretting that you will not be in England at that time.

Lawyers may have no greater skills, and no greater knowledge, than the average car mechanic, but many feel it is a major scandal of our society that their services are affordable only by those on legal aid. I suggest a more philosophical approach. We can all live happy and fulfilled lives refusing to acknowledge their existence.

This Website learns that the plaintiff's solicitors were Messrs Singh & Choudry, of Dalston in the East End of London.

Related item: How Waugh once learned that he had been spied on ("monitored") by the Board of Deputies of British Jews

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