Minding the Law: The hazardous and hilarious world of handling complaints against barristers
- Publication Date:
- 8th Jun 2023
- Marble Hill Publishers
- 140 pages
Our price £16.99
Minding the Law
In 1997, the Bar Council, which regulates the behaviour of barristers, appointed Michael Scott, a recently retired soldier with a distinguished war record but no legal experience to head its first Complaints Commission to deal with the public’s complaints against the legal profession.
It was the sort of minefield Scott had not encountered before. He had to deal with murderers, gangsters, drug barons, paedophiles, bitter divorcees and infuriated neighbours, all of whom believed they had been let down by their legal representation. He found that the price of justice brought him face to face with all kinds of hostility, from mockery to threats of violence, appearances in court and, of course, regular scrutiny by journalists and consumer counsellors.
But amongst these stories of delusion, sadness and occasionally tragedy, there are moments of great hilarity.
- A rich and enthralling account of how human nature will tie itself in knots to get what it thinks it deserves.
- How an experienced and honest ex-soldier was up to all the tricks his complainants played on him.
- A book for all ages - humorous, truthful, and constantly entertaining.
This is a book in a grand tradition of looking in at the nuts and bolts of a hidden world: in this case, complaints against barristers. It is very funny from start to finish but it is much more than comedy and, to lawyer and non-lawyer alike, gives a number of important pauses for thought as well as introducing a world not known to many, including actually the vast majority of barristers. David Etherington KC.
Minding the Law is a marvellous page turning book: accessible, fascinating, and in his silent responses to some legal beagles and those from the other side of the coin I heard my mum’s voice. It is not only hilarious, but also sobering as we meet many of the disparate characters and complaints, some, by no means all, worthy of a second look. Margaret Graham, Frost Magazine
An evening in the pub, a dinner party or a walk in the country with Michael Scott should be on everybody’s wish list. If such pleasures are out of reach, this book is no poor substitute. It is an education; it cannot be read without growing admiration for the author. Philip Bambury
The book is replete with colourful stories of “good, honest crime”, as it used to be called by the Army during the Northern Ireland “Troubles”, in contrast to the routine threat of terrorism. So we read of cuckolded husbands trying to “do in” their rivals by running them over, of a sawn off Purdy shotgun being used by an old Etonian in a bank raid, who escaped a prison sentence from a fellow Etonian Judge, and of the barrister “having a tough row to hoe” defending a husband accused of attempted murder by pushing his wife’s lover onto the Central Line. So, never a dull moment! Sir Hew Pike
Thoroughly excellent: Mike Scott has written a clear, detailed, and humorous insight into a part of our legal process which very few know anything about. It is an enjoyable and easy read written in a self-deprecating style which is typical of the author but should not be mistaken for a laissez-faire approach as I’m sure many Barristers and Complainants found out. T S Spicer
The result is a delightful memoir which takes the reader inside the world of the Bar Council as seen through the author’s quizzical eye. Robin Buchanan-Dunlop
This is a wonderfully amusing book full of wise home-truths about decency and fairness and how to treat others with respect. A soldier of Mike Scott’s background and calibre was clearly an ideal person for a demanding job that requires ‘people skills’, sound judgement, and decisiveness. He was never a faceless bureaucrat. Simon Doughty
The book’s great strength is not just the humour, variety of anecdote and pacy narrative, it is its educational value…. Scott has breathed life into the profession of barristers which to the layperson can often seem obscure and through personal example, he gives confidence to anyone seeking a career change in later life. Paul de Zulueta
The Story Behind...
Minding the Law
When considering a new manuscript for publication, as a publisher I concentrate on the quality of the subject and the market it is aimed at. Yet so often there is a story behind the manuscript which provides an essential selling ‘edge’ to the book. This was certainly the case with Michael Scott's Minding the Law.
The idea for his book was intriguing: how he became the first Lay Commissioner to deal with the public’s complaints against barristers and solicitors. As I questioned him when we first met, the full story behind his book slowly emerged. Michael Scott was a former General, (his last job was Military Secretary at the Ministry of Defence), a distinguished war veteran, earning the DSO during the Falklands War, and a historian, the author of three previous books.
But there was more to come. One moment he had a chauffeur and status, the next all that had gone. After thirty-five years in uniform, he faced retirement and the pressing question of what to do next? At nearly sixty, he faced the daunting task of starting again. He applied for and was appointed as the first-ever Lay Commissioner, swapping military life for a profession about which he confesses he knew little.
But what he brought to the role was essential to his subsequent success: common sense, decency, the ability to seek advice when he needed it - but above all, he had the invaluable experience from his years in the Army of knowing the foibles of human nature and how to deal with them. His lively memoir, at times hilarious and others hazardous describes a testament to the invention human nature - though not always in a good cause!Francis Bennett