Hello – Do you COPY?

Green ink alert!


Maybe its just the slight irritability that comes with having been up all night with Braxton Hicks contractions, or maybe it’s a legitimate gripe. But why is it that Her Maj’s Court Service increasingly expects counsel to stay at court – without payment – drafting orders which by rights should be drawn up by court staff, only then to demand £5 per page for the luxury of a photocopy of that order? Frankly, Mr Shankly, it’s a bit of a cheek.


We don’t mind drafting orders in our own time and we don’t complain (in fact we often volunteer both to draft and to type). It is in certain circumstances part of the job. But there is a quid pro quo. Don’t make us write it out twice just so we don’t have to go back to our solicitor empty handed. And don’t go all jobsworth and simply state and restate that ‘thems the rules’ and its not your responsibility to pay for copies. Because it ain’t my responsibility either – and you know it. I’ve just done your job for you and you want to charge me for the pleasure? Pu-LEEASE (as they say).


So, not only do I have to submit my SIPS form to get paid a paltry uplift on a paltry fee, not only do I have to give myself writers cramp writing out a four page order, but I then have to engage in THE MOST ridiculously sterile argument with court staff about the fact that there is no mechanism for counsel to reclaim the £20 photocopying charge that it is suggested I pay out of my own pocket – correction make that £40 because I was actually trying particularly hard to get a copy for the dyslexic litigant in person on the other side to take with him to his solicitor rather than have him wait 48 hours for court staff to type it up (remind me again why I had to stay at court to draft this urgent order?). Most days I smile sweetly and charm the court staff. But some days I balk at the pointless ritual humiliation. And if you make me traipse pointlessly up and down several flights of stairs trying to sort out rubbish like this, and to stand arguing weak kneed and breathless at your counter for long periods whilst 8 months pregnant you’re probably going to get the less smiley me.


Look, I know what the rules are. And I know that resources are very overstretched and staff are overworked. And I know what my professional obligations are too. But why does everyone in the system expect all the give to be on the part of counsel? If we aren’t getting it from the LSC, we’re getting it from HMCS – and as a profession I think we actually do our level best to help out the Court Service whenever possible. Solutions on a postcard by the time I’m back from maternity leave please. If you’re lucky I’ll be less crotchety by then.

8 thoughts on “Hello – Do you COPY?

  1. PS I’m feeling better now. Honest… And I do love 99% of HMCS staff 99% of the time.

  2. I just don’t ever like 99% of HMCS staff on principle as most public servants seem jobsworth Aparachiks from the Gormless Gordon/Blair Gulag.

  3. Provincial Solicitor

    We must have very sympathetic court staff. No such nonsense here, as many copies as we need, no charge. Quite right.

    However, most advocates come ‘tooled up’ with laptop and portable printer.

    • Actually most local courts here are quite sympathetic, just one or two locations which are sticklers for the rules. I often consider bringing laptop but most often just go straight back to chambers and type up and e-file. Last time I brought my laptop to court I typed an order but HMCS computer systems prevented them downloading the word document off my usb keyring (although in other locations its not a problem). And I’ll be blowed if I’m going to fork out for an expensive mini-printer OR lug it to court with my other three tons of files.

  4. I just don’t ever like 99% of HMCS staff on principle as most public servants seem jobsworth Aparachiks from the Gormless Gordon/Blair Gulag.

    • That’s harsh. The court staff are in my experience almost without fail a very hard working and tolerant bunch. There is of course the occasional jobsworth, but more so than ever this has to be seen in the very difficult context in which they are working.

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