Tardy Judge Fines Solicitors Who Fail to Wait, 1899

From the Daily Nation, 19 January 1899:

“SIR- Reading from to-day’s ‘Legal Diary’, I find that Judge Ross [was] announced to sit at 11 o’clock.  His Lordship, however, did not sit until after 12 o’clock. Owing to the erratic sitting of the court a large number of barristers and solicitors were not in attendance at the required time… fines of £50 each were imposed on the solicitors who were not present, these sums to be deducted from the accounts of their certified costs…

During the last year or more [Judge Ross] seldom has sat until after 11.30 o’clock, when his time for sitting was announced at 11 o’clock….on one occasion [he] sat before 11 o’clock and called his list twice over, and no one being present, departed… [Surely] when their lordships allow themselves such a large amount of latitude, they should be disposed to give a small amount to those who appear before them?

An article in the same publication of the following day drew attention to the selfsame judge’s own persistent unpunctuality and likened the fines imposed by him to the old barbarian custom whereby princes and youths of noble ranks were provided with whipping boys who suffered in person for their own faults.

Judge Ross suffered a remarkable run of bad luck after this incident. In 1901, he was involved in a carriage accident in Sackville Street. In 1905, when shooting, he was injured in the hand and chin by a number of pellets. And on the 1st July 1914, when being conferred with a degree by Trinity College Dublin, he fainted dead away just as the oration to him was in full swing.

Bad karma or simply the assiduity of the solicitors’ profession in reporting his every misfortune thereafter to the media?

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Author: Ruth Cannon BL

Irish barrister sharing the history of the Four Courts, Dublin, Ireland, and other Irish courts.

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