Tulkinghorn recognises that the existence of a compensation culture in the UK is largely a media-fuelled myth. That cannot be said for the US, though, and the following cautionary tale gives ample warning to lawyers over here of following too closely the example set by our American cousins. Such is the litigation frenzy that exists in the US, news reaches Tulkinghorn of a lawyer who has actually managed to sue himself.
As reported in the Madison Record, Illinois attorney Emert Wyss encouraged a client to bring a claim over an illegal $60 (£31) ‘fax fee’ charged by a mortgaging company, bringing in four other firms to handle the case. He made an agreement with those firms that he would get 10 per cent of the lawyers’ fees collected if the case was successful.
But in his zeal to get justice for his client, Wyss appeared to forget that a company he owned had collected the fee on the mortgage firm’s behalf, and so his own company was also liable for the claim.
Wyss and his company are now added to the claim as third party defendants. Wyss has also surrendered his 10 per cent fee.
It just goes to show that, for lawyers, having other interests can be a dangerous game.