Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Brush With the Law

This morning I took the bus to Kingston Magistrates' Court to get a Statutory Declaration signed. The inter-web informed me that this could be done quite easily; all you have to do is arrive at 9.00AM, and the magistrate signs it for you before court goes into session at 10.00AM. Easy.

I sat in the waiting room for what seemed like an age before I was finally called, just a few minutes before 10, by a white-haired, black-robed gentleman who beckoned me into his office. Or so it seemed.

The man, whom I thought was a magistrate, turned out to be an over-dressed usher. The room he led me into, which I assumed was his office, turned out to be a courtroom; a horrible, orange wood-panelled, Judge Judy-esque courtroom. This was not what I had envisaged.

My usher friend asked me to sit in the witness box. OK, I said. No sooner had I done this than he asked me to stand up. Three magistrates had entered the room and seated themselves at the top of a three-tiered platform in front of me. Oddly intimidating.

I was suddenly acutely aware of the fact that I was yet to shower that day, and was dressed somewhat like a teenage stoner. They discussed the matter that I brought before the court. I soon got the sense that everyone in the room, myself included, was wondering what on earth I was doing there.

I just wanted a Justice of the Peace to sign a Stat Dec. for me. A simple, one-page Stat Dec. And this? Perhaps I should have gone to a small-time solicitor. Maybe this was an overkill. In any case, it spelled death for my implicit trust in Yahoo! Answers.

They got me to read my declaration aloud to the court. I think they were trying to teach me a lesson by going through all the motions. To them I was like somebody who had brought a bazooka on their first pheasant-hunt. "Go on, shoot the pheasant with your bazooka. Do it ... do, it".

So I did it. I read that declaration in the loudest, most articulate voice I had. I could feel they were expecting me to stumble on words like "conscientiously" and "incidental", positioned, as they were, so closely together, but I just powered on through like I ate those words for breakfast. Stoner indeed! Take that magistrates! I could see they were impressed. One of them even said thank you at the end, but that was because I had stayed standing in the box too long, and they wanted me to leave.

Lesson learned.

6 comments:

sweetolivepress said...

You REALLY have to do all that for a stat dec in London?! I thought the punch line was going to be that you were mistakenly in court for someone else's matter!

My my my.

Clinton & Stacey (from What Not To Wear, naturally) would tell you never to go ANYWHERE dressed like a teenage stoner, "because you never know who you might run into". Yours may be even worse than the scenarios they had in mind.

Anonymous said...

Juzza, was this a dream? Are you sure you were awake? Maybe you fell asleep in the registry and suddenly there were magistrates singing Supremes songs. It can happen to anyone.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was going to be a 'Job Applicant Mistaken for Guy Kewney" scenario. HAhaha! I love that guy.
(dan)

Julian said...

No Anonymous No.1, this was not a dream. I'll admit there was a dream-like quality about it, but it's not even an exaggeration.

From what I can work out, virtually everyone over here goes to a small-time solicitor (or some other individual that I've yet to find) for their stat. dec.'s. Some idiot on Yahoo! Answers said it was easy to get it done at a Magistrates' before court went into session. And some idiot listened.

In any case, it was a far cry from getting it done by Doug at the post office in Gumdale.

Sweet Olive Press | Helen said...

Who is Guy Kewney?

Jules, only you would get your legal advice from Yahoo! Answers. Especially when you have a lawyer sister who has a lawyer friend in London... [not that you'd hit him up for your stat dec, but he COULD have shown you the right door]

Again: my my my...

S said...

Yahoo! Answers could help you there Helen. But to save you the trouble,

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/4774429.stm

You MUST watch the video.