Something a bit lighter for a Friday even though it involves a serious judgment from Italy.
Lawyers have to be robust in arguing their clients cases. They may use strong language to counter questionable arguments. But they can get into trouble if they go beyond this and launch insults at each other. So if I tell an opponent that his case is a fantasy that is probably alright.
But if I tell them that they are dishonest vipers who should burn in hell then I will probably get into trouble. And so I should.
It is even worse to insult a client. In one Australian case a lawyer got into trouble for calling his client a moron and it continued –
‘I can't deal with #### morons. Get out of my office’. He used the word 'bullshit'. He also said to a client in the reception area ‘What the #### are you doing here?... You don’t have the right to waste our ####ing time. I have spent enough ####ing time on the ####ing file. You are a ####ing moron. If you had signed the ####ing contract properly in the first place we wouldn't be in the ####ing mess. #### off out of my reception area.’
All of this has become a major issue in Italy where a magistrate told a lawyer in court that he had no balls. The offending magistrate was fined and this has been upheld by an appeal court. The offence was not that the statement questioned the physical attributes of the lawyer but because it suggested that he lacked – ‘determination, competence and consistency – virtues which, rightly or wrongly, continue to be regarded as suggestive of the male sex'.
In other words he lacked balls in the courage sense rather than the biological sense.
It was the attack on the lawyers’ qualities as a person rather than as a true male that was the problem.
Interestingly the lawyer and the magistrate were cousins.
So there we have it. I doubt if the UK courts will be called upon to decide any similar cases as we are far to civilized and genteel to ever get involved in such uncouth beaviour - ahem!