Legally beloved

Big brother’s banking on the truth

I’ve just spent twenty minutes putting our child into the banking system. I suppose she is now able to trade shares in Oslo and gamble in Ulan Bator. Good luck to her and I hope the $10 per month from mum & dad assists in world domination.

My own interest in the process was piqued when I returned to my chambers (jargon warning — barrister’s word for office). There was an email from the bank to our child thanking her for coming in.

She hadn’t, of course.

But the fact that a major bank uses a pro forma greeting letter is hardly world-shattering. More interesting was what followed:

We have attached a summary of the conversation held today (Conversation Summary Letter) which includes any products discussed and provides links to relevant Product Information.

My business is forensic truth, assembling versions of events that are said to have happened five, ten or twenty years ago in a manner which best advances my client’s case a legally admissible and ethically constrained way. Anyone in the game knows that human nature tells us that just about the best evidence there is of forensic truth is a document, especially a document produced by a large and generally well-regarded institution. It’s just the way many of us prospective judges and jurors work.

Heaven help a child if she ever has to prove she didn’t open her bank account:

Cross examiner: Madam, it is your evidence that you did not attend the bank on that day?
Witness: Yes. I was only two years old at the time.
Cross examiner: I show you an email from the bank.
Witness: [after reading it] Yes.
Cross examiner: It is addressed to you, clearly.
Witness: But it’s my mother’s email address.
Cross examiner: Your honour, please.
Judge: Yes, Mr Bigshot. Ms Bumptious, please answer the question without commentary.
Witness: I’m sorry, your Honour.
Cross examiner: You accept that the document is addressed to you.
Witness: Yes, but…
Cross examiner: And you accept that there was a conversation?
Witness: Well, it says so, I suppose.
Cross examiner: I ask again, madam, it is your evidence that you did not attend the bank?
Witness: Of course not. I was two years old. It must have been my mother.
Cross examiner: And you are suggesting that your mother, having been duly informed by the bank that she had conversed with it, took no steps to correct the record?
Witness: You’re joking, aren’t you?
Cross examiner: Your Honour…
Judge: Of course, Mr Bigshot. Ms Bumptious, I must warn you once more…

Ah, the future. Enjoy your Conversation Summary Letters when you get them. They may be the only memory of the conversation you can ever get.

And I cannot give an account of my account.
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