Legal cartoons and humorous comment (c) Paul Brennan. All rights reserved.

I decided on 101 reasons as I didn’t want to depress the entire legal profession by having 1,001.
Paul Brennan, Lawyer, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

# 42. They have done some dirty deeds

The importance of avoiding legal potholes

In 1895 “The Importance of being Earnest” opened to packed theatre audiences. The playwright, Oscar Wilde received rave reviews except from the Marquis of Queensbury who was the father of Oscar’s “partner”, Lord Alfred Douglas (“Bosie”).

What was acceptable homophobia in those days is probably illegal today and what was an illegal practice then is “A” ok now which just shows you how fickle the law can be, especially if you are on the wrong end of it.

The Marquis added his then understandable (but now unreasonable) righteous indignation, to his eccentric, cantankerous and feisty (he did invent the Queensbury Rules) nature and tried to make their life a misery. Oscar considered having the Marquis bound over to keep the peace, but wanted to avoid scandal.

The Marquis finally went too far when he left a card at Oscar’s club saying "To Oscar Wilde posing as a Somdomite".

Either the insult or the misspelling or both drove Oscar over the edge. He decided to have the Marquis charged with criminal libel. Oscar’s lawyer exercising caution required Oscar to swear on a bible that the insult was not true, which he did.

The trial was abandoned after the defence threatened to produce evidence from rent boys, to support the allegation. However, the lawyers for the Marquis sent the papers to the Director of Prosecutions. Oscar was convicted of gross indecency.

You would need to be very unlucky if your legal dispute resulted in your financial ruin, divorce, two years hard labour and caused you to leave the country in disgrace, quickly followed by your early death in poverty. But what was a disaster for Wilde, regrettable for his own lawyer and a tragedy, was probably considered a good result for the other lawyer.

Avoiding disputes in the first place especially with the cantankerous, violent, mad and bad is often the most effective, but least popular option.

Paul Brennan
This is an extract from Paul Brennan’s eBook:
How to win your legal dispute or at least struggle through it,
remaining relatively sane without losing your shirt”

Sponsored by Brennans solicitors

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