In a Changing world Some Things Rest Eternal


I have long left France, but news still reaches me.

Not the national stuff – there are newspapers for that – but the important, the local, stuff.

Recently the wires have been hot with the mystery of how the chemist managed:

A) to get enough dosh together to buy racehorses. Answer, the sale of suppositories

and B) whom did he bribe and with what to be able to take over the farmland on which to keep them which should have gone to the new entrant to farming who had completed all the formalities and was just awaiting the final accord. Answer not yet forthcoming, but my hounds are on the scent.

However the geegees have faded into the background for the moment as a new subject has appeared on the horizon: a variant on the old standby of the local lawyers.

They can always be relied upon to be a source of interest, from various estimates of their venality and incompetence to proof thereof as witnessed and paid for by their victims – otherwise known as clients.

Their method on taking on a new client is first to go to the window to see how much his car cost in order to formulate their eye watering demand for an initial provision, followed by a cursory read of the papers to see whether or not any local bigwig is involved in which case they will either

A) discover a conflict of interests

or – for the more machiavellian among them – B) take the case in order to obtain an outcome satisfactory to said bigwig, no matter what the cost to the unfortunate client before them.

However, this time they are at war with themselves.

Every couple of years they elect a council headed by a shop steward (Batonnier) to represent them to third parties and to maintain internal discipline – let no one charge less than the maximum….but this time they seem to have caught a tartar by the tail.

One can only imagine the man to have been a sleeper, placed there by some outside body years ago until his moment came to be elected as Batonnier and he threw off his disguise to reveal himself as someone who thought that the law should be applied to his flock of black robed vultures.

French lawyers are obliged – by a decree dating from 1991 – to undertake training to update themselves as to the state of the law. If general lawyers miss a year they can make it up the next year, but those claiming to be specialists have to do ten hours hard every year and the new Batonnier discovered that several of his colleagues – specialists – on the council not only had done nothing of the sort but clearly did not intend to do anything of the sort.

They complained that he was adopting a legalistic attitude….and then decided to cover their backs by passing a regulation, applying only to themselves,  which put off until 2017  – after the term of office of the Batonnier ends – the obligation to comply with the legal requirements of 1991…

Let us recap…lawyers decide to avoid their legal obligations by awarding themselves immunity….and complain that their Batonnier has no respect for the old Spanish customs of the local legal fraternity when he demands that the requirements of the law are observed.

Infuriated, the Batonnier removed those who in his view were no longer qualified as specialist lawyers from the appropriate part of the official list of local lawyers – where they now figure as mere generalists.

Outraged, the demoted called a meeting and demanded the resignation of the Batonnier.

But there is no known procedure for stripping a Batonnier of his office….and the gentleman in question promptly referred the demand for his resignation to the local prosecutors office to be heard by the regional Court of Appeal.

His colleagues, now decidedly humpty, have decided to ask for the case to be dismissed as they claim that they were not made aware of the proceedings and have not had time to read the papers.

The more cynical of their clients note that that has never stopped them going to court before….but then, this is different. This concerns them.

People here  frequently complain about the idleness, incompetence and general shadiness of Costa Rican lawyers…..but their French counterparts beat them into a cocked hat.

Reassuring to know that some things never change….as long as you are well away out of their clutches.












24 thoughts on “In a Changing world Some Things Rest Eternal”

  1. Ah the french legal system, so helpful to your posts.
    Be careful, they may charge you for making use of their er, integrity…

  2. Surely everyone knows the trick of assessing by model of car and gets around it by driving to the lawyers in the 4L they use for going to the tip? And anyway, the number of people I know who live in large comfortable houses but get around in the most appalling old bangers (err…I mean a classic dans son jus…) is considerable. Mind you, I did see someone in Blois the other day in a Peugeot RCZ towing a miniscule trailer full of garden waste. And they weren’t Parisien. Deeply uncool I thought.

  3. ‘. . . sans commentaires!’ We were once at a lawyer’s office with a Turkish friend, the lawyer unaware that J was damn-near perfect in Turkish. He proceeded to try and persuade our friend to join in his scheme to rip-off the ‘yabanci’ (foreigner). The profit, he assured her, could be considerable. He was not briefed for what came next – our friend exploded and J quietly informed him that her next port of call would be the state prosecutor’s office. We didn’t bother but it was very satisfying to imagine him sweating profusely and trying to clear out any evidence of other wrongdoing.

  4. Lovely. I have an intellectual connection. As the elected fiscal officer of my township, I am required to undertake four hours of training per year. This is a new requirement, and I believe having done so will be noted in the bi-annual audit. I don’t yet know the punishment for failing to do so. However, I told the trustees of my township, I am through with the damn “training” and the auditors may notice that when I am gone in four years.

  5. And so the mystery of the chemist’s purchase of racehorses has revealed a very deep subject: the sale of suppositories. But then that’s a depth I’d rather not enter into. Awaiting what the hounds will find re: the farmland. 😉

    1. Early results suggest that the young man hoping to have the land as in the ‘wrong’ farmers’ union and so vulnerable as the ‘other and big’ farmers’ union in effect controls who gets what…but the digging goes on…

  6. Ahh, the mystery is solved. It seems French lawyers are posing as US politicos (or vice versa) with jokes about suppositories abound. Hilarious, but the scary similarities warrant another tipple right now … at almost nine in the a.m. Cheers, Helen!

    1. I used to wonder why my elderly nerighbours began the day with a tot of eau de vie at 4.30 a.m.: now I know – the French system had driven them to drink!
      Glad you have surfaced after all that hard work!

  7. What do you do? What can you do?
    I suppose there’s no point in crying, so you might as well laugh. And have that tipple, at whatever time of day or night.

    (Heavens, what did I just say: I do not mean to advocate drunkenness; you never know how people might react to a throwaway remark)

    1. Life in France brought me to the conclusion that the members of the oldest profession probably had considerably higher moral standards than the members of the legal profession….
      And on that note…cheers!
      Here is to the cup that cheers and, with luck, inebriates!

      How people react tells you an awful lot about them….

  8. If a lawyer here fell into a pond, the reptile inhabitants would flee in disgust…as we should all do from the current crop of pols…

  9. I have had no further dealings with lawyers since my divorce and I intend to keep it that way. Nuff said.
    I was very pleased when my son started law and soon decided it wasn’t for him because the students were not the type of people he liked.

  10. What a murky can of worms. Of course lawyers aren’t the only ones who are lackadaisical with their clients but like greased lightning when it comes to defending their own interests. Twas ever thus. Heaven forbid they should actually keep themselves up to date with legal changes. Whatever next?

  11. I’m not sure there is such a thing as an honest lawyer anywhere in the world if the collective experience of Two Brains and I in the UK, France, US, Chile and Italy are anything to go by. Slithey Tothes the lot of em.

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