It’s been a busy couple of weeks. As I near the end of one phase of the project, life gets a little hectic. As the famous engineering saying goes, “The first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the development time. The remaining 10 percent of the code accounts for the other 90 percent of the development time.” (Tom Cargill, Bell Labs) Right now, we’re in the last 10% of the phase of the project. I’ve been traveling a little more often dealing with problems like ‘What do you mean that don’t have power? 420 volts does not equal 380 volts. No, I do not have an adaptor for an entire building!”
I did have one bit of good news in this trying times… I survived my first experience with the British legal system!
So if you remember back from blog post A Return to Normalcy, I was in an accident, the tragic early demise of my beautiful Mini.
Unfortunately, the driver of the other vehicle was quite insistent that it was my fault. In fact, the driver’s insurance company would not budge from anything less than full liability on my part.
Having been in a very similar accident before, I knew that the case wasn’t as strong as they hoped. I went through several interviews, gave written depositions, and spoke with more than one solicitor about the case, and we decided to fight it out.
Now, I have watched my fair share of British television shows (read: Monty Python), and I knew precisely what to expect.
Lawyers in wigs, robes, the whole nine yards. I was actually really looking forward to it. Then reality sank in…
Instead of barristers in wigs, I got a solicitor who was easily ten years younger than me. Instead of the courtroom with a bench, it was more of a desk in front of a set of tables.
Enough about the look of the place, on to the main event! First, the accusing party spoke and gave their version of events. My solicitor prodded and poked holes in their story, asking the accuser to tell the same story several times. Even the judge noticed that the accuser gave three versions over the course of the roughly hour the accuser spoke.
Then I was called to the stand (ok, more like a card table, but intimidating at this point, none the less). My solicitor started off with a multimedia presentation. We had pictures from Google Earth. We had pictures I had taken the morning of the crash. We even used, no joke, matchbox cars to walk through my version of events. The other insurance company’s solicitor then took to grilling me. He attempted the same tricks I had witnessed previously used on the accuser. He tried asking similar questions at various times to see if I would change, even slightly, my story. He tried putting words in my mouth or suggesting ways I might phrase something to try and trip me up. I gave my version of events as consistently as possible.
Then, once closing statements were made, it came down to the judge’s decision. Was I 100% responsible or would it basically be split as a 50/50 fault, as my insurance company was hoping for?
And the verdict was… it was 100% the accuser’s fault, the judge ruled. I was cleared of any fault in the accident! From 100% at fault to completely exonerated was something even my solicitor was prepared. It was a complete reversal. The relief I felt after two years of having this drag on and ending up with this result was exhilarating. I was basking in the glow of victory for at least a week.
It sounds funny, but I feel that this whole experience for me is one of the strongest memories I’ll have of England. Now I can look back, whenever we leave this island, safe in the knowledge that I will be forever immortalized in the British legal system. Officially, we have left our mark on the public record.
Hope you’re well!
Derek, Libby, and Duke