Monday, 18 December 2006

Noting brief

I'm just back from my first 'noting brief'. I've read about these in the pupillage folder the Bar Council sent me on registering my pupillage. It's where someone gets sent along to court to take a note of proceedings where the client is not otherwise represented but is interested in the outcome. An example might be the outcome of a criminal case which will affect some civil proceedings, or vice versa. It's the one kind of paying work that first six pupils are allowed to take on.

It was all a bit confusing, though. The third six pupil was supposed to be doing it but was allocated a case in Redbridge at the last minute. Apparently the solicitors had forgotten to mention the case until this morning. The clerks gave me a call, told me who I was supposed to be with and which court room (at the Royal Courts of Justice again) and also told me that I should just write everything down. They also said just to wait around at Chambers.

I managed to get hold of the third six pupil before she left and she said I should just be writing everything down, including anything said in conference before the hearing. I would be paid for attending but I would also be paid for typing up the transcript.

I hung around until 10.15am waiting for someone to call me then decided to head down to court and try and find out what was going on. I found my barrister, and it quickly emerged that the hearing was for the dischanrge of a fairly long standing care order, and that all the parties (the mother, the guardian and the local authority) were agreed.

The hearing lasted twenty minutes. I really struggled to make a note of everything and resorted to some quite creative acronyms and abbreviations. My handwriting is truly terrible at the best of times, but my note of this hearing is quite special even by my own low standards. I could easily go into cryptography for the government if this pupillage thing doesn't work out.

I had a quick word with my barrister afterwards, and he doesn't want me to write it up as he was there himself and got it down himself. So I carried his stuff back to chambers, getting hopelessly lost around the RCJ yet again in the process.

So what on earth was all that about? Were they trying to create work for the third six pupil? Or perhaps the hearing was expected to be contested but in the event was not? The latter seems pretty unlikely from the little I gleaned about the case.

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