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As everybody knows, the world is a more litigious place these days, but some legal battles are surely doomed before they ever reach a courtroom.
Tulkinghorn invites you, dear reader, to judge for yourself on the latest batch of barminess that reaches Tulkinghorn Towers.
As you may be aware, lawyers for Lloyd’s of London are bracing themselves for a bitter and potentially protracted battle that could be even more damaging than the ‘names’ litigation of the 1980s. Lloyd’s has been sued in a New York court by the high-profile (some would say self-promoting) class action specialist Edward Fagan, the man who was the face behind the settlements secured from a number of Swiss companies in relation to Nazi gold. Now Fagan is demanding that Lloyd’s pay reparations for having insured slave ships in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
The looming litigation pales into insignificance, however, when set against that planned by Carlos Traboulsi, the president of the Argentinian Christian Democrats, who has filed a $67bn (£36.57) suit against the UK in a Buenos Aires court.
Traboulsi is seeking damages arising from the UK occupation of the Falklands since 1833 and the “theft of the River Plate Viceroy treasury in 1806”. Of course he is.
Traboulsi may be quietly confident of victory, but he has failed to be quite as aggressive as Tulkinghorn’s favourite loopy litigant, the Kampala-based King Solomon 1.
This gentleman, the omukama, or king, of the Bunyoro Kingdom in western Uganda, has set his regal eyes on a £3.7tr action against the British Crown for deposing his grandfather, King Kabalega II, in a five-year war in the 1890s. He admits his plan is to “bankrupt” the UK.
“The British burned down houses, destroyed crops and introduced syphilis to my people,” he is reported to have said. “They were responsible for the deaths of 2.4 million people. Moreover, they stole my grandfather’s cattle and ivory. It is not what we expected from civilised people. What they did then is no different to what al-Qaeda is doing today.”
Tulkinghorn’s advice to any public international law barristers out there who are at a loose end is: watch out. The king has retained lawyers in Uganda and London and is apparently looking to hit the legal warpath any day now. As a clerk at one leading set put it: “The case is completely bonkers and you’d be very unlucky if you fell foul of the cab rank rule on this one.”