What your Instructions say Vs. what they mean

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A guide to what instructing solicitors are really telling barristers.


1. “Counsel is instructed to advise generally” = We would like the benefit of Counsel’s insurance policy

2. “Counsel is instructed to use her best endeavours” = We know it’s a crap case as well

3. “Counsel is instructed to vigorously resist the application” = Despite the fact that it’s utterly hopeless to do so

4. “The facts in this case are apparent from the statements” = The client might know what he means but we have no idea what he’s on about

5. “The facts in this case are apparent from the documents enclosed” = Neither the client nor we know what’s going on, but we hoped you might

6. “It is the client’s firm belief that…” = The client is completely obsessed and may stalk us both

7. “The client specifically instructs us that” = The client is a congenital liar

8. “Counsel will find herewith solicitors’ entire file of papers” = We are wholly unable to ascertain what may or may not be relevant, so you do it instead

9. “We believe this matter is capable of settlement” = We have no case whatsoever

10. “The other side are most aggressive” = The other side have also figured out we have no case

11. “In the light of the most recent information, Counsel is asked to re-consider his previous Advice” = The client went ballistic when he saw your advice and now has a note from his mum saying he’s right and the other side are very naughty boys

12. “The facts in this matter are somewhat complex” = The client keeps changing his instructions

13. “It may be helpful for Counsel to see the client in conference to advise as to the current state of the evidence” = The client is a psychopath who won’t take it from us that his claim is hopeless

14. “The client’s evidence is set out in the draft statement enclosed” = Until you tell us it isn’t good enough, in which case the evidence will change as required

15. “We enclose the Advice from previous Counsel” = The client is looking for someone to blame

16. “We enclose the file of papers from previous solicitors” = The client has found someone to blame

17. “The clients comments on the Defence are enclosed” = The Client has scrawled “Bollocks! Bollocks! Bollocks!” on the Defence

18. “The Client has a number of witnesses” = The client has a large extended family

19.“Your Instructing solicitor considers that the case of Donoghue v Stevenson may be relevant” = Your solicitor has recently been on a course to get some CPD points

20. “The other side have referred to the following case…” = Why didn’t you mention this case in your Advice?

21. “If counsel requires anything further she is requested to telephone her instructing solicitors on…” = But don’t expect anything other than general observations about the weather