On a related subject, there was some much-needed comic relief in what has become the tragic opera of Bloxham v Freshfields.
The last day of the hearing saw the tribunal in a particularly demob happy mood. At one point there was much tortuous argument as to what exactly constituted a pension. Chairman Thomas Ryan asked Tim Pitt-Payne of 11KBW for the claimant if he had the dictionary definition of a pension. “It’s rather like an elephant, sir,” replied Pitt-Payne. “You know it when you see it.”
He then conceded that he had not consulted the dictionary before the tribunal.
As efficient as ever, Dinah Rose QC for Freshfields quickly read out a definition garnered from www.dictionary.com from someone’s BlackBerry. “There are three definitions, sir,” said Rose. “‘A fixed amount other than wages paid at regular intervals to a person or the person’s surviving dependents in consideration of past services, age, merit, poverty, injury, or loss sustained’; or ‘An allowance, annuity or subsidy’; or ‘A boarding house or small hotel’.”
The chairman pondered this for a while and quipped that he was quite sure he wouldn’t have to be concerned with the final definition.
More’s the pity: perhaps everyone would be happier all round if the firm’s former pension did provide each Freshfields partner with a B&B in Clacton-on-Sea.