Shoosmiths red-faced over courtroom gaffe

Shoosmiths is “embarrassed” that one of its litigators – along with two other advocates – failed to spot a relevant reported authority and bring it to a judge's attention.

The slip caused outrage when the case came to the Court of Appeal, with Lord Justice Buxton slamming it as “extremely discourteous to the judge” and a “waste of time and money”.

Buxton said “very great concern had to be expressed” that the three advocates appearing in the original case had claimed there was no relevant authority when there was a recent reported Court of Appeal decision on the point.

Shoosmiths personal injury partner Alan Harrison says: “I find it embarrassing because we actually employ a 'know-how' officer, who is both a qualified solicitor and a computer expert.”

He says Shoosmiths “takes the matter seriously” and plans to investigate the matter.

None of the advocates involved – including the Shoosmiths litigator and Bridewell Chambers barrister, Brian Cummins – had discharged their duty to the court, said Buxton. Even when the case came to appeal, he said, it was not appreciated that the relevant case was reported and 2 Crown Office Row barrister, Jason Evans-Tovey, only referred to it in transcript form. This was “not satisfactory” he said.

Brian Cummins says: “I had checked the All England Law Reports and there was nothing there. The case in question concerned an issue which had not been raised between the parties beforehand. It was something the judge raised in submission. That's probably why we all missed it.”