Ian Bowie
Ian Bowie: Well, how did I become a clerk? I was an apprentice draftsmen drawing heating and ventilating systems in 1972 and I used to play football for a club in Drury Lane, not far from here, which was called the ‘Inns of Court’ and that was founded by the barristers from the Inns of Court and, as a result, I met a number of friends through football, who were barrister’s clerks. I’ve never heard of this job and we were heading into recession and the work I was doing for the firm wasn’t fulfilling me, because there wasn’t that much of the technical work that I wanted to do and it was the warden there who suggested that I might consider becoming a barrister’s clerk and he actually put me in touch with a member of the bar down in Harcourt Buildings. I still, to this stage, think it’s very unusual for a young seventeen year old to go down to be interviewed by a member of the bar for a job as a potential barrister’s clerk. He was a very nice chap in Harcourt Buildings and put me in touch with a man called Cyril Batchelor. Cyril Batchelor was the senior clerk in a set of chambers in 2 Crown Office Row and was the chairman of what was then called the ‘Barristers Clerks Association’, now the ‘Institute of Barrister’s Clerks’ and, anyway, I saw Cyril Batchelor who then employed me as a young junior clerk.
I remember my first day in chambers because I was sporting a black eye from playing football the day before and sustained an injury during the match but he was a very, very nice man and I was there for just six weeks, because another of my friends, who was already a clerk in Vivian Price’s chambers – Joe Penny’s chambers in New Court, said, “Oh, there is a job going in patent chambers, would you be interested in applying for it?” And so, – I thought – well, this was nice and Cyril Batchelor said “Yes, you should go for it” because it was a small set of chambers, there was only one senior clerk there, and a junior clerk who happens to be John Call. John Call was moving on to another set.
The junior clerk suggested I go for an interview. John Call was leaving and this was in 1972 because the senior clerk in 6 Pump Court, John Glazebrook, had been approached by Sydney Leigh, who had said [that] he was retiring in four years’ time and would John Glazebrook mind if they took John Call to groom him to become senior clerk in 1976. John Call didn’t want to leave, but he was encouraged to leave because it was a very, very good opportunity. So he left a gap and I moved in, having been in another set of chambers for six weeks, and that was great fun, but we didn’t have many barristers in 1972. They were Douglas Falconer, William Aldous, David Young, and Antony Watson: that was it. I joined in the May of 1972 and then, in July, Simon Thorley came along.
Facilitator: And how many QCs were at that time?
Ian Bowie: At that time we had Douglas Falconer and William Aldous; they were the only two QCs in 1972.
Facilitator: Aldous’s father had already retired …
Ian Bowie: Aldous’s father, Guy, retired in the late 60’s in about 1966-67 and what happened, at that time, barristers used to be able to take their post-cessation receipts free of tax. When they retired any money that was on the books owing to them they could take tax free and the government at the time were going to change that and so a number of barristers at the bar, in general, had a little bit of money owing to them. Because, you have to remember in those days that the rate of tax was something like 83%, with the super tax in the high 90%. There were a number of reasons why there was no incentive to bring the money in. One, barristers, in those days, it was more a ‘calling’ and some of them did come from wealthier backgrounds, so they weren’t necessarily in it for the money, and we’ll come back to that point later on. Also the rate of taxation was so high, there was no incentive to bring it in. So you had to manage the money coming in.
Facilitator: It was more for prestige –
Ian Bowie: Yes, it was. Barristers were, you know, up there with the professions; it was a very a very respectable profession, as it still is.
Facilitator: As Lord Cawley and other people, they were more aristocrats…
Ian Bowie: Yes, but what happened was they obviously heard there was going to be a change in the taxation. So quite a few barristers, Guy Aldous included, retired very, very quickly, because then they would able to take the money that was owing to them, tax free rather than having to pay 83%. So that was one reason why Guy Aldous went slightly prematurely, although he personally stayed in the law, because he went on to help and found the trade mark department, the legal department, at Allied Breweries.
Ian Bowie: Well, Simon Thorley will tell you this. I can only summarise, because I was 18 years of age and didn’t know a lot of what was going on, but his father was the chairman of Allied Breweries, Sir Gerald Thorley, a very, very nice man, and I can only assume that because Guy Aldous was dealing with trade marks there, I can only assume that it was more than a coincidence that Simon Thorley came to see whether he wanted to become a barrister. My understanding at that time was that he was in two minds; whether to become a brewer, to go into the brewing industry or to become a barrister, and Douglas Falconer was very instrumental, as I understand it, in persuading Simon that his future lay in the law.
Facilitator: And the chambers were at 6 Pump Court?
Ian Bowie: That’s correct, yes.
Facilitator: What other chambers were at that time practising patent law, 3 Pump Court?
Ian Bowie: 3 Pump Court is partly where you are today. A number of members from these chambers are now here at Hogarth. Bernard Budd was the head of those chambers, and they were in 3 Pump Court. Their senior clerk was a chap called Bert Martin, and Raph Lunzer was in those chambers.
Facilitator: How different is the work in patent chambers from the work in common law or chancery? What makes patent chambers special?
Ian Bowie: There are fewer barristers and [they are] much more specialist, of course. In criminal chambers (and I’ve only worked really in ‘Intellectual Property’ chambers, so I have only known that specialist side of the law) much of the work comes into the chambers and the clerk would distribute it. Because much of it was publicly funded work, you had to work out the way to make sure that you didn’t have one or two barristers going to one court. It is the economics of running those chambers, and so the clerk would have to basically work out if you had 15 barristers and you had 15 courts that each barrister was covering a different court on different cases. So it is a different way of clerking down there. Here, it [work] used to come into chambers more; nowadays I think it comes to the barristers, people have become much more savvy instructing solicitors who know the barristers. Years ago, if you came, if you made a phone call and you didn’t have an idea of who you wanted, the clerk would suggest basically who he thought was available and who was correct for the job. Nowadays, to a degree, the solicitors, the patent attorneys and the trade mark attorneys already know who they want. They are much more savvy; – they will have a shopping list and they will say “Well, if you can’t offer me the two people I want in Hogarth Chambers then I will go to 8 New Square or 3 New Square or 11 South Square. So things have changed considerably.
Facilitator: Another change has been [the] email contact with solicitors. To an extent, that before all the work before was channelled by telephone.
Ian Bowie: Very much.
Ian Bowie: For me, when I was senior clerk in 3 New Square I was mainly the conduit and it was the way the barristers wanted it. They wanted all instructions to come through me or through the clerk’s room. I left after 40 years in whenever – 2012, yes 2012 and after a while I decided I was too young to really retire and Hogarth asked me to come and join them, and I noticed a different way of doing things here. There is much more contact and it’s a much more modern thing, there is much more direct contact between the instructing attorney and the barrister in these chambers. I can’t say whether that’s the same in all chambers. The thing with email now is that everyone is expecting an immediate response. Years and years ago, before we had the fax, we had the telex, instructions would come down in the post and it would take days to get it sorted out or ring up on the telephone and was dealt with as quickly as possible. Nowadays the way communications have moved on everything is done at a breakneck pace.
Facilitator: I guess also the Bar Council has relaxed any rules about publicity, contact, etc. Etiquette has also been relaxed – in the last 20 years, 30 years.
Ian Bowie: Well, that takes me on, one of the highlights really was when your junior barrister becomes a QC. In the 70s, ‘80s, ‘90s you would have a small party for the barrister, for his family, for the members of chambers and that was it. But then it sort of moved over to becoming a ‘thank you’ to all of the people who had instructed you as a junior who had got you into that position of taking the next step up to becoming QC, and there were some who were uncomfortable with change. I think the person who struggled with that, most of all, in my old chambers, was Douglas Falconer because he was from an era where that just didn’t happen, it wasn’t allowed. But of course the rules were relaxed, as you said, and this was a great opportunity to, from a clerk’s point of view, to say thank you to all those people that helped [the barrister] to get there, but to also to introduce other people to this barrister, he or she, who is now embarking on a new career. Going from a busy junior doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to be a busy QC. So you’re starting all over again and the more people you can get introduced to the person at that time, the better. So these things have changed dramatically.
Facilitator: And what is the difference of clerking QCs and junior barristers?
Ian Bowie: I would say there is no real difference. The type of work at QC level tends to deal with more weightier elements but most things will start with the junior. Intellectual Property being what it is, especially patents, where you’ve got a monopoly involved, parties [are] generally, diametrically opposed and, therefore [for instance] in pharmaceuticals, there is so much of stake, as with the new wave of telecom cases. You tend to say – ‘if it goes to court, we’re going to have a QC’; so you tend to get your QC at the very outset for tactical thinking and all sorts of things like that, but yes, there was a big difference between the junior, who generally does the pleadings, and the sort of general day-to-day stuff, and then when you want an overview, how the case is going to be run, when you want the evidence to be reviewed; what is going to be used in trial; it would be naive not to get your QC involved at that time because if he turns up at court and says well, “If I’d have a say on how this evidence was going to be phrased, I would have done it in this way”. So, you know, there are strategic points when you bring the QC.
Facilitator: And also from the ’70 to now, the amount of [intellectual property] QCs have grown exponentially.
Ian Bowie: Enormously, and if you were to say to me, can you name the big names? In the ’70s and the ’80s and to a degree the ’90s it was easy to pick out big names like Stephen Gratwick, Robin Jacob, Hugh Laddie, William Aldous, Simon Thorley, these were the big names. Nowadays, there is a lot of work around, but there is so many more people and there aren’t that many people who can shine above a very, very, good pack of QCs. I mean we’re blessed with very, very, good brains which is why so many of them become Judges.
Facilitator: What is the impact on chambers of one QC going to the Bench?
Ian Bowie: Oh it depends what chambers and you know–
Facilitator: When he goes there might be some people who might think that set of chambers is going to collapse because and I think there might be previous examples, perhaps Hare Court, for instance, the first chambers were Michael Fysh was–?
Ian Bowie: Yes.
Facilitator: Tookie retired, and Russell-Clarke died and Michael Fysh moved to Blanco White’s chambers.
Ian Bowie: Yes, Blanco White did very well in his time, and – but this coincides with, going back to 6 Pump Court, you might have considered when Guy Aldous, retired in the late ’60s, that with only four or five barristers that could be a problem. It wasn’t a problem for the reasons I outlined earlier on; it wasn’t all about money then, and you had one or two clerks and you had the barristers and it was all done in a rather old fashioned way. Nowadays, it’s much bigger business and chambers have become larger which also softens the blow when you lose, even if you lose a big name who is going to the High Court Bench or retires; it’s easy to do, for argument’s sake. I mean, in 11 South Square they have lost Nicholas Pumfrey, they’ve lost Christopher Floyd, Richard Arnold, Henry Carr and they’re still going on very, very well. There are people who would say this could lead to a collapse of chambers, well, it doesn’t, because they had some very, very good people coming up and this is what you planned for. It’s what we planned for in 3 New Square of the new young silks brought in 15, 20 years ago, very carefully selected and we didn’t lose a judge for quite some time. Colin Birss was a bit of a blow because I don’t think anyone saw Colin Birss becoming the Patent’s County Court Judge. It came out of the blue. He had his own personal reasons for doing that. As a clerk, I was a little disappointed because he was one of the best juniors around and had such a potential as a QC, but I think the prospect of being weighed down by litigation – case after case after case – and if you’ve got a chance you must ask him what his true feelings were at that time. This job came up and I think he felt this was a very, very good challenge because previously before him the Patents County Court hadn’t achieved its full potential and Colin Birss certainly did that. I think he knew that sooner or later he would go on to the High Court Bench, although I don’t know – that would sound cynical because he took the job in the Patent’s County Court purely because he felt this was a challenge and he was only looking at that particular job at that time.
Facilitator: Is the relationship of clerks with barristers so close to the extent that you also recommend important career decisions such as taking silk, is that relationship so close?
Ian Bowie: That relationship has changed over the years, the clerks who are coming through now and because of the size of chambers and because of the nature of the barristers who are coming through who are very…. professional, but they look at the law in a slightly different way that it was looked in 20 or 30 years ago.
Facilitator: I mean professional as opposed to vocational.
Ian Bowie: Yes, very much so. And I think there are probably very few barristers who don’t want to become a High Court Judge. They will say they don’t, but I suspect that – it is natural to want to progress in a profession and that you would want to go up the ladder
Facilitator: My understanding is that Stephen Gratwick refused to become a Judge, or, better said, he rejected the offer.
Ian Bowie: He rejected it. And you have to admire somebody like that. Being a judge at that time was a very, very lonely life and again it would not have been about the money for Stephen Gratwick because he was in every big case going. So I don’t think money was a problem for him, but he just took the view that he didn’t want it, and he liked the life in chambers. Chambers is a family, but going back now to the question you asked about the influence of the clerk on barrister’s career decisions, I was always asked about what I thought about prospects of taking silk. When I was senior clerk – because I have been senior clerk from 1987 through to 2012 (25 years) I brought a lot of people through and we were very close, and it was a small set of chambers, you knew what was going on everywhere. So that was quite good, I think nowadays barristers make their minds up. Sometimes, I’ve learned on the grapevine that somebody that has applied, you get to know who is applying for QC, and I’ve been shocked that the clerk in a particular set of chambers hadn’t been brought into this decision by his own barrister which is a problem because a clerk still has to plan what’s going on in chambers to a degree but I think that role has changed. I think the closeness between a clerk, who used to be a confidant, and the barristers, has changed and the relationship between clerks and barristers has widened, it’s not as close as it used to be.
Ian Bowie: The relationship was very close. As I say, I can only speak for the ‘Intellectual Property Bar’, but I would say that the relationship was definitely close between most barristers and their clerks. It’s quite touching actually. There are many stories I could tell you because you became part of their family; you got to know their children as they were growing up as a clerk. That doesn’t happen anymore. That was common but it is no longer the case – I’m sad about this but it’s just like everything else. To a degree, the close relationship has disappeared. It is also much more competitive at the ‘Intellectual Property Bar’ now, there is a lot more lucrative work around.
Facilitator: How have these changes affected clerking as well?
Ian Bowie: It’s hard to say; I would say I had probably one of the best jobs in clerking, I had a set of chambers which we built up from when I took over in the sort of mid-80s, and when I left it, it was in a far better position than where it was when I took over. But there is still the new clerk who is taking it on to the next level, which is really good. So for me I was a very proud of what we did there and now all of the – of the baby barristers that we chose collectively are now becoming QCs at the first asking. In my old chambers now I think they’ve got eight QCs which is more than we ever had I think the most I had was six. So it’s really good.
Ian Bowie: I think there was probably a lot more copyright work in those times. Because of course we’ve had laws that have changed since then. We had the Patents Act, then we had the—
Facilitator: For some barristers we interviewed American Cyanamid was the big case in the last forty years.
Ian Bowie: David Young, was in that one of course. And I think it was about 1985 or something like that was – yes that was a game changer especially on the way that interlocutory injunctions, where the rules have changed, on how could be granted. So that was a big game changer. There has always been cases and of course the law has changed from time to time and every time they change laws, more work comes out of it, I’m afraid.
Facilitator: Simon Thorley has a recollection of Aldous’ times – and he summarised the changes, for instance, that hearing days are much shorter in the recent times. So patent cases before Aldous could go on for days and days —
Ian Bowie: Oh, yes. We had a case – I was clerking William Aldous, when he was a barrister, I think it was the Lucas and Chloride case and it was Sir John Whitford who was the Judge, and Bernard Budd in these chambers was on the other side and this case was going on for six weeks and unfortunately Whitford became very short tempered and he took a lot of his temper out on Bernard Budd. He was not a happy man during that trial, because the trial couldn’t be managed properly. Nowadays, the modern judges are now managing the cases much better. But in the last three or four years we’ve seen the case size is growing again. We’ve got a fairly couple of fairly small disputes and they are setting down for 15 days and it’s just ridiculous. So sort of it goes up and down I’m afraid but it main…
Facilitator: So things have changed, I guess. One is relationship between barristers and solicitors, to the extent that before what I have heard it was not something gentleman one to be seen with solicitors, ask often –
Facilitator: Now it’s essential?
Ian Bowie: Not, it’s essential because –
Facilitator: But before some barristers were not considering solicitors as were to be seen with–
Ian Bowie: This may go back to the – sort of the – coming in as a vocation rather than as a – a profession and the people coming in to the bar now are here to earn money.
Facilitator: I think from the time also a bit earlier, from the time of Robin Jacob, Hugh Laddie in this generation already changed it?
Ian Bowie: I think they were the people who started to modernise relations between barristers and again, I can only talk for the Intellectual Property Bar and the solicitors, but it isn’t so, it was a good thing because then they became much friendlier as well. So everyone was becoming part – I won’t say that the same club but –
Facilitator: Group or–?
Ian Bowie: It was – it was a group with the same interest and there was not a question of barristers and solicitors carving something up against the client, the solicitor was always – and the barrister in his own way would always have the client’s interests – the lay client’s interest at heart. Obviously, the big negotiation is with the solicitor. Barristers don’t actually like negotiating their fees. They find it very, even now to a degree a little embarrassing and that’s why you need going back to the army analogy you need the Sergeant Major to go in there, to be dispassionate and say, “Well, look, this job, this is what it’s going to take and this is what it’s worth” and having that negotiation.
Facilitator: And the type of work was – and I think it’s really its conference, opinion, court work?
Ian Bowie: Yes.
Facilitator: Court–
Ian Bowie: Yes and pleadings, the drafting of the pleadings but just the – those stages leading up to the trial, but –
Facilitator: Do you also have the sense when you were working with some of the barristers that they were better in writing and not in court work–
Ian Bowie: Very definitely, yes. Yes. It’s something you – when you are interviewing somebody for pupillage which is 12 months, six months where they are totally supervised and can’t go into court. The second six months they are allowed to go into court, but they’re still supervised and then after that they’re basically on their own. But you can’t really tell what barristers are going to be like until you see him on his feet and nowadays the opportunities to get them in court, in that first 12 months when they’re in their – in effective apprenticeship, their pupillage are far and few between and so you make this decision. Basically, you’re looking for someone who is going to come in to be part of the chambers family and you hope they’re going to make it, but there is sometimes little less court work – I know very, very good junior barristers who were in demand, because they were behind the – Robin Jacobs, the Hugh Laddie, William Aldouses but they wouldn’t actually go into court on their own for many, many years and when it came to them applying for QC, they had really not have done a case on their own. So were barristers supposed to be trial advocates? It’s been a small part.
Ian Bowie: The primary task of the barristers’ clerk is to nurture those relationships (with solicitors) over a period of years. I can’t tell you the number of times especially in one of the larger firms where you get a young solicitor who would come alone and really haven’t – didn’t know the way around the courts and the department would say ‘ring up Ian Bowie’ or ‘ring up John Call’ or ‘ring up Roy Nicholls’ or somebody because they will be able to tell you what to do, and so there was this trust and relationship which takes years and years and years to build, and it was one of those things where all solicitors have their favourite sets of chambers, and if they got enough work they’ll have more than one.
So there is very often a time where you can think of a firm of solicitors were about to expect a client, a claimant, to be making an application for an injunction. Now I know, the firm on the other side so I’m pretty sure I know which chambers they are going to, that’s just the way it is. But it takes years – those relationships are built up over a number of years and a solicitor will ring up because they are almost a friend and if they are in a jam they will be able to talk to you, and the trouble. There may be more mobility amongst clerks. I don’t think there necessarily is, on occasion there is some of the larger commercial sets, a clerk will go from one set to another. It could good well be there is more money in it for you. In the main, clerks tend to stay for a long, long time and those relationships get built up over a long time. And one thing my old senior clerk said to me was, look after the articled clerks as they were then- trainee solicitors- because tomorrow they are going to be the partners and that’s rung true many, many times. Because you built up a relationship from a time when they were considered as carrying no weight in their firm they were the lowest of the low to a time when they were able to make decisions as to who they wish to instruct and work with, and part of that formula was the clerk who they could work with, who they felt they had trust, who could get them what they wanted in the courts. So it’s taken time.
Facilitator: And remunerations of clerks has always been an issue, was it like the 10% of barristers—
Ian Bowie: Well, you know we are in the decimal system now. But years ago we used to have pound, shillings and pence. And there were 20 shillings in the pound, okay? Now 1/20 is 5%. Barristers were paid in guineas, and a guinea is 21 shillings, the clerk had the shilling in the guinea as his own by right, 5%, ok? So the barrister took the pound, the clerk took the shilling, the twenty first shilling out of a guinea. The other 5%, the other shilling, was by negotiation. So clerks years and years ago used to get 10% that was it. Now, in those days, chambers were very small, there wasn’t a huge income coming in chambers and nobody bothered. But then there was a time when say you would have 50 or 60 Barristers working in a criminal set of chambers and they were all earning let’s say a 100,000 pounds. Collectively chambers is earning 5 million pounds and that puts the clerk, an uneducated man to a degree, on the 500,000 pounds and that’s where the problem started. So bit by bit the 10% disappeared and I very much doubt now that there is anyone who is paid a remuneration of 10% because chambers are now very large businesses with turnovers of tens of millions of pounds, and the figures just don’t stack up.
Facilitator: Was the clerk and before and now also negotiating the fees of the barrister?
Ian Bowie: Yes, well I don’t want to give you too much on this way now but for me when I took over, William Aldous was my head of chambers and the previous senior clerk was earning 10%, and I wasn’t such a fool that I expected I could possibly earn 10% but I knew that we could slightly modernise chambers because at that time in the late 80s computers were coming in, which meant you didn’t have to type all the fee notes out, you could just put them all and just keep sending them out. So cash flow was going to increase quickly anyway, so I was one of the few who were on pure commission. Therefore in the work we do, everything was negotiated, every single fee, and that would have been done by me as the senior clerk. Nowadays, people want to know hourly rates. I still have a view on hourly rates. I can quote somebody an hourly rate. Some clerks say “well I quoted you an hourly rate and it is taken the barrister ten hours and that’s what you are going to be billed”. Is that what the clerk was expecting? I don’t know. I personally prefer to say that I’d spoken with the barrister and I will give you a figure that will not be exceeded and if we spends more time on that, then that’s for the clients benefit. So I don’t personally like hourly rates because they can be open ended. But nowadays there is much less of a negotiation on the bigger fees than there was previously but there is much more, I think, the solicitors they want much more transparency.
I can remember a time when the clerk would say to the solicitor “the fee for this job is this”, and he wouldn’t say that in an arrogant way but he felt with his experience the fee for this job was worth so much and a solicitor would not negotiate and he’d say that’s very good, I’ll tell my clients and – that’s a done deal. Nowadays there is much, much more negotiation involved and in fact clerks nowadays have to go on negotiating courses. But at the end of the day, you can still say I can make a good case for this particular fee but it’s the solicitor who has got to convince his client to part with quite a considerable sum of money. And so there is still has to be a negotiation, even if, – one thing we, as a clerk, we don’t want to do is get a fee from a solicitor and never see that person again. So it’s all part of the continuing relationship and coming to a compromise that suits everybody.

Ian Bowie: In barristers clerking you do get to know a lot of clerks over the years. People do stay in jobs, it’s a great job. Some of the jobs are well paid, some aren’t well paid, but you do get to know people over many, many years and you do see sons and daughters coming in. It’s very convenient, but nowadays – for argument’s sake, my son was quite keen on coming into chambers as a clerk and I said, I won’t have it. He needed a profession and I didn’t feel that he should be associated with the work I had done – the job of clerking has changed a great deal, and I felt that the clerking now is becoming much, much more of an everyday job, because the skills that we used 10, 20, 30 years ago aren’t required nowadays because fees don’t demand quite so much negotiation. Anyone could do them just by calculator. You used to look after clients when they came into chambers, lot of conferences now are held at solicitors’ offices, so those relationships are taking a lot longer to sort of strengthen between clerks and the people that are employing chambers. So I think that job is changing.


Ian Bowie: You need to have – the thing is, in army terms, you have – the barristers are the officers and the barrister’s clerk is the Sergeant Major. He’s – and he is the one that – in the nicest way tells the barrister what he’s got to do, but always calls him ‘sir’ at the end. “You’ve got to do this, sir” but the barrister knows – he’s got to do that- and so I think the senior clerk is a man who has a lot of integrity, can be trusted by people, but is a man –I won’t say not necessarily to be fooled with, but he knows what he’s talking about, he has the experience and is a businessman, but is not going to be a push over – he’s not – he is a man who has to make decisions for important people involving important matters.
Facilitator: Accountants as well?
Ian Bowie: For me – I may have been slightly unusual and again from a slightly – I think things are changing again, since I left, but I would deal with all the accounts in 3 New Square, I would get all the accounting figures from the barristers, the fees, the expenditure and I would deal with each individual accountant on behalf on the barrister. Because each barrister is a sole practitioner in his own business. So – but a lot of other people, if you had 30 or 40 barristers, you couldn’t possibly do that. So I think chambers now are getting in bookkeepers. We have one here. A lot of chambers are now forming companies which is slightly more tax efficient. It was much easier to administer a company and then it made it much easier with the individual barrister rather than itemising everything. So you – and I still, even here have to deal with accountants for the barristers and say have you thought about this, have you thought about that – because accountants – barristers are a peculiar professional entity and they want to be absolutely above board and so really barristers have to get somebody else to deal with that and they don’t want to get their hands dirty for that, but in bigger sets of chambers they got a book-keeper in, but a lot of it is done in-house. Some barristers do like to look after their own affairs but it takes time.
Facilitator: And listing cases is also part of the clerk work?
Ian Bowie: Yes, very much. I mean when you go to, again this is part of negotiation, because if you are a claimant in a case, invariably you want to get your case into court very quickly, and if you are a defendant you may want to slow things down, unless you got an injunction or if you got an injunction over your head, then you want to get things out quickly to get rid of the injunction. So a clerk has to – and you know, you go through the pleadings and then it’s ready to be fixed. Then what we do is, we go to see a check on the clerk of the list – the listing officer in the Chancery division. He is a very pragmatic man and he has a very similar job to a barrister’s clerk. We look after the barristers, he looks after a number of judges.
So he has to arrange his diaries accordingly and it is our job to tell him what the case is about. So that he can try to do the same job as we do with solicitors. You know a solicitor comes here and says, “I’ve got a confidential information case. I think I want to use this person here” and we say “Absolutely, but you might want to consider others as well” and then when they look up and they say “Oh, actually he’s done the current case” or he or she has down the current case, there may be other reasons. You know they would push work away, but the clerk of the list will want the right judge with the right skill set for the case if he can, because if the case is going to take two weeks before a judge who knows what he’s doing, he doesn’t want it going before another judge who could take six weeks, because he doesn’t understand the technicalities or whatever. So he relies on information from us and then we have a negotiation and we fix the case, as I said. Nowadays, there are more and more deadlines coming in, where a case has to be fixed within a window, but if you want it to delay something for some reason or another and you have good reason, he is a very pragmatic man and there is still an element of negotiation in all of this.
Ian Bowie