Soapy Joe pissed it up against the wall

Guido understands from his sources in Dublin legal circles that the consensus view was that he was “p***ing in the wind”. This did not stop Jolyon crowdfunding £70,000 in fees, then dropping the fight as soon the Irish Attorney General indicated she would challenge the case on the grounds of jurisdiction. Jolyon folded claiming it would be too expensive to fight the matter. So the £70,000 of donor’s funds will be wasted without even a proper fight.

46 comments on “Soapy Joe pissed it up against the wall

  1. I have to say that this crowd funding lark is beginning to look suspiciously like an old fashioned short con.

  2. It is the legal equivalent of The Producers!

    Good for him. After all, who has he hurt? Really?

  3. I loved Guido’s summary of Soapy’s line of reasoning – that because of the Anglo-Irish agreement, Irish voters should have a right of veto by referendum over the result of the UK referendum since they might be affected over the border arrangements.

    Yeah, right….

    Like something that obtuse was ever going to get by a judge.

    A position so stupid that only an intellectual could have convinced himself of its correctness.

  4. Noel’s link is great fun – currently 3394 people have stumped up £107k for the Jo of Tax to tilt at windmills, er, or not.

    From the link, I particularly liked:

    There is also a perception that HMRC has one rule for big corporations and another rule for everyone else.

    and, not being a lawyer, it strikes me that a perception and reality can be two different things.

    This was also rather nice:

    Last week, our Director, Jo Maugham QC, took an Uber from his office to meet a client. The law gives him a right to a VAT receipt for that journey. But Uber can’t give him a VAT receipt without accepting it is liable to charge VAT. And it says it isn’t. And so Jo intends to sue Uber in the High Court to force it to give him his receipt.

    The Mrs Bison brought me a cup of tea earlier. I asked her for a VAT receipt but she told me to eff off.

    The Mrs Bison isn’t a lawyer either.

    Pace E Lud

  5. He’s gone from Mr Courtesy to a complete arse on Twitter since the Brexit vote.

    I am blocked, by the way, as I believe is our genial host.

  6. Not at all, Mr Bison. This is the sort of thing that gives lawyers a bad name.

    I must say, though, that I’d assumed he’d have the basic decency to crowdfund for no more than Uber’s costs were he to lose, rather than to pay his own fees for a feelz jolly.

  7. Edward Lud, it looks increasingly as if this crowdfunded “good law” stuff is Soapy’s only way of getting money. The flow of customers prepared to pay him to lose in court seems to have dried up. Maybe Rocco can get him a part

  8. Noel as I posted elswhere

    Would be good if Herbert Smith were able to recover punitive costs personally from the smug Soapy twat on the basis that he is a vexatious litigant.

    I’d be happy to see a For Sale sign on the windmill.

  9. So hang on, is it true that in these two crowd funded cases that Soapy Jo is charging his normal fee for the ‘work’ he is doing on the case? And some/most/all of the money is going to him personally, less costs (travel etc)?

  10. As I posted below, he’s also getting the willies about personally being on the hook for Uber’s legal fees:

    Oh that’s a good one! “I’m crowdfunding to fight a legal battle against Uber, but if I lose I’m not on the hook for the fees because I have no private interest in the litigation.” Good luck with that one, pal.

  11. Noel

    Pesumably adding such a concert space smooths the way with planners on the argument that it is for the benefit of the wider “community” (community meaning in this case the invited privileged friends of Soapy resident in Islington and Camden and all having the appropriate left-wing credentials)

  12. I’m quite tempted to start a crowdfunding campaign to purchase land next door to this cunt and his windmill and then invite the travellers of the world to bring their piebald ponies, Transit vans and old washing machines to set up there.

  13. He claims on his site that he isn’t benefiting personally from the crowdfunded fees, and that it has cost him.

  14. “He claims on his site that he isn’t benefiting personally from the crowdfunded fees, and that it has cost him.”

    In the sense of “I charged myself a lower hourly rate, meaning that it cost me compared to doing the same number of billable hours on a client’s work at a higher hourly rate”?

  15. abacab, he says: ‘I have neither sought nor derived professional, financial or other benefit from this litigation’.

    I don’t have a problem with him paying himself whatever he likes, as long as he disclosed it up front to the funders. If people collectively want to pay him for a service, that’s fine.

    But if he says he has received no benefit, I’d expect this to mean ‘zero’.

  16. @Adrian, I went delving into the nest of sychophants to find a statement, and this one is indeed quite unequivocal:

    As I have already publicly stated:

    (1) I have neither sought nor derived professional, financial or other benefit from this litigation. Indeed, I have relinquished a substantial part of my paid practice to pursue what seems to me to be the public interest and betterment of my country.

    (2) A proportion of the monies raised have been expended on lawyers, none of whom I have any connection with. Indeed I have not sought reimbursement from the monies raised even of personal expenditure I have incurred directly related to the litigation. Nor will I benefit from the residuum of the monies raised which will go to other Brexit related litigation or charity.

    (3) I have been chasing the solicitors since Friday last for a final account. When that account is settled I will make it available publicly.

    One thing that annoys me about Soapy, and it’s something trivial, is signing off all his posts and comments with “Soapy Joe QC”. I find the use of titles / degrees / professional qualifications on Teh Intartubes to be incredibly arrogant. Don’t know why it bugs me so much – people using “Dr.” in their twitter handle or Facebook name (aside from medical-specific accounts, which makes sense). Like “Dr.” Eoin Clarke.

    Hell, I don’t even put my letters-after-my-name on my business cards…

  17. You only need to read the short phrase “the residuum of the monies” to know that this is a man to be avoided at all costs when he pokes his nose into the village pub. No/one could write such a combination of words and not think “Er, no, I sound like a complete cunt writing that” except for a complete cunt.

  18. Abacab – the thing I don’t understand is this:

    Presumably at the time the crowdfunding had taken place, the work to establish the arguments and the likelihood of success had already been largely done. A sunk cost, incurred regardless of how the crowdfunding went.

    If that cost was to be paid from the crowdfunding, Soapy Joe would know what that figure is (‘there is a bill for X for working this out and needs paying – who’d like to chip in’).

    Then there can’t have been much work beyond that, to the point it has reached now – capitulation without a shot fired.

    So who’s getting a ‘substantial’ portion of this £70k, and for what?

  19. @Adrian – yes, it does indeed seem to be a fairly substantial chunk. Let’s say a top barrister was on the case at £800 p.h., that’s still over 80 hours of work, with Soapy having contributed a large amount already.

    You’re right – something here doesn’t add up…

  20. It takes a practised hypocrite to write that he has received no benefit from this self-imposed work but is doing it for the betterment of his country. What a soapy piece of work he is. The Uber thing is entirely for the benefit of cabbies…. Just glance through the people who have provided the “hard-earned” money. He is in league with vested interests and that gives Soapy a hard-on. Calling Rocco!

  21. He didn’t “take an Uber”, he took a private hire taxi. If the taxi driver’s turnover is under, what, 80 grand he/she does not need to be VAT registered and is consequently unable to and not required to provide a VAT receipt. I’m sure anybody with a modicum of nous would be able to find VAT Circular 700/25.

    Uber are a radio control centre and Uber’s customers are the taxi drivers, so any VAT recipt would be going from Uber the supplier to the driver the customer.

  22. If anyone is interested in another Brexit crowdfunding fail, look no further than #BrexitJustice – http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/brexitjustice

    The guy who set it up, a complete unknown, manage to raise £145k to privately prosecute politicians involved in the leave campaign for misconduct in public office amongst other charges. That was back in July last year. Since then, he’s spent the money on professional head shots of himself, £3k on a video camera for his mates and designing a logo for the campaign. Not only that, he’s spent the entire time arguing with his lawyers legal opinion and has admitted he need to raise another £2m to actually bring the cases to court. The whole sorry saga is here – http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/brexitjustice/updates/?

    He also successfully crowdfunded £30k to pay himself a salary whilst working on the campaign. How are there so many people that stupid, gullible and with money to burn out there?

  23. @abacab: what you’re forgetting is that lawyers (shysters that they are, all of them) are legally able to bill for more time than they spend on your case, indeed to bill for more hours than there are in the day most likely. This is due to the ‘billing unit’ system – they bill you for a certain number of minutes of their time (mine does 6) regardless of whether 6 minutes were spent doing something for you. Thus opening an email, reading contents with no further action = 6 minutes of time added to your bill. A 2 minute phone call = 6 minutes on the bill etc etc. Not only this but all contact with the client is billable, its not just them poring over legal documents, but them in anyway interacting with you, even if its to show you to the door and wish you a good day.

    Then there’s VAT on top of course. So the £70k raised would be £58k net. Of that I expect less than half would relate to ‘real’ legal work that you or I wouldn’t be able to do, the rest if just office admin/email reading/phone calls etc. An £800+vat barrister would probably do less than 40 hours proper legal work on a bill of £58k, the rest would be padding. I know, I’ve had similar sized bills and been through the billing schedule line by line. What they charge the client for is iniquitous. I was once charged for a conversation my solicitor had at his Rotary club meeting with another professional who was acting for me at the same time.

  24. Wasn’t there an old joke about a solicitor’s fees; something like “on seeing you in the street and crossing the road to discuss your case with you, realising that it was not you and crossing back again”.

  25. @Jim – try US patent attorneys on for size.

    The worst example I’ve had so far: your case is handled by a “cheap” trainee @ $250/hr. Trainee takes quite a long time over it. His supervisor is a senior associate at say $450/hr. Trainee discusses case for half an hour with associate – total hourly rate = $700. Then, they ask a second opinion of a senior partner at $900/hr. Mercifully, this only takes 15 minutes, but at a total rate of $1600/hr.

    So, what would have been a 4hr task for a good associate at $450/hr (cost $1800) ends up being 6 for the trainee ($1500) plus 3/4 hour of discussion up the food chain (350 + 400), so a total of $2250, so 25% more for a job worse done cos the trainee did the bulk of it.

    Makes you remember you’re dealing with Real Lawyers (and not us peon Euro-stylee patent attorneys) when you see a bill looking like that.

    Oh, and the other one was seeing a $900/hr senior partner doing monkey check work that *could* (and *should*) have been done by a trainee or even paralegal. Boiled my blood did that.

  26. abacab – the best wheeze from my trainee days: the old fart partner (struggling to keep up with the new commercial ways) needs to fill his timesheet.

    He’ll pop by your desk and cheerily ask ‘what are you working on’. You’d tell him, have a chat as if you were talking to your grandpa. 5 mins later his PA would be around asking for a file number.

  27. @Adrian – wow, just wow.

    As I see it, a lot of the problem comes from people imposing ridiculous billing targets which just encourage *everyone* to cheat.

    If I could reduce management to just 2 maxims, they’d be:

    1. Don’t screw up.
    2. Don’t do *anything* that encourages (or worse, forces) good employees to cheat.

  28. It got worse. If the file wouldn’t bear the cost, your time would get written off (and off your target). His would stay there. And you had to make up the time.

    I knew one bloke (really good young lawyer – haven’t seen him in 25 years) who would automatically allocate 1 6-minute unit to every file in the firm each month. If asked, he would say he took a call – nobody could disprove it, & I don’t think he was ever questioned. Could just about fill his entire month without doing any work at all.

    Otherwise a decent bloke, but the incentive and pressure to cheat got too much.

  29. @Adrian – again, woah. Yes, the incentive and pressure to cheat. Atrocious management. Realistically, a bright person has 3-5 hours of real, proper concentration time per working day with which to do highly intellectually-demanding tasks. Any system which demands more than 5 hours of that per working day is automatically encouraging cheating, and as for cutting the employees’ time in favour of the partner – what a massively brilliant way to give employees no faith in management and encourage the good ones to bog off elsewhere.

    Where I was before, it wasn’t really lawyer-level bad re. targets, but they would pester and bully the high producers (including me) to do more, while letting the idiots just float along through life. Unsurprisingly, the turnover rate was (and still is) quite high…

  30. “Realistically, a bright person has 3-5 hours of real, proper concentration time per working day with which to do highly intellectually-demanding tasks.”

    Really good point. Damagement ignores stuff like that.

    In my field, we often have tech work out-of-hours. I always assume in any plan that the person carrying it out in the wee hours is nowhere near as smart as they would be during a normal working day.

  31. When I started working alongside management consultants as a telecoms technical specialist I was appalled at the waste and the way the screwed their clients.

    On one project in Zurich a partner kept a hotel room permenatly booked in case he decided to drop by, may 2 days a month. When he did he would be smoking very expensive cigars and billing them.

    On another project the partenar turned up once a week, billed a full day but spent most of it discussing and selling other projects then would spend the night drinking champagne on the clients tab.

    I could go on but eventually that management consultancy went bust, having bought us and then shafted us.

    When I worked for investment banks doing technical due diligence I found them to be far more professional and respectful of their clients’ money. They were arrogant bastards, though.

  32. There’s a deal of ruin in a profession. And honest people to be found, blinking, in amongst the rubble.

  33. “(1) I have neither sought nor derived professional, financial or other benefit from this litigation. Indeed, I have relinquished a substantial part of my paid practice to pursue what seems to me to be the public interest and betterment of my country.”

    I’m still suspicious. Note that this doesn’t explicitly say “I have received no payment”. It talks about receiving no “benefit”. So the interpretation put forward by abacab could still stand.

  34. Tel, it begs the question of whether anyone still pays soapy Jo to practice, or whether he is just drawing in his hetero normative horns

  35. I expect Soapy gets work from the left these days. All this controversy is good advertising for him.

    P.S. You mean ‘raises the question’, not ‘begs the question’.

  36. PS Cal, since you understood what I meant, I must have got it right. It’s a question of usage.

    Take this from Language Log

    Even if “assuming the conclusion” is something that people often want to say, “begging the question” is such a confusing way to say it that only a few pedants understand the phrase in this sense any more.

    You can see that this is true by looking at how the phrase is used, even in well-edited sources. For example, if we search the NYT index for recent uses of “beg the question”, we find that out of the first 20 hits, 15 use “beg the question” to mean “raise the question” — and of the five that don’t, four are usage articles berating people for misusing the phrase!

    Turning to the broader and more erratically edited range of material indexed by Google News, a check of the first 50 of the 127 current hits for “beg the question” turns up 49 instances meaning “raise the question”</blockquote.

  37. “since you understood what I meant, I must have got it right.”

    Hardly. If I type ‘cnut’ when abusing someone and they understand what I mean, it doesn’t mean I got it right.

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