Sunday, 14 April 2013

Jarndyce and Jarndyce: the great Grasp

'NatWest has been accused of "robbing" the victims of Jimmy Savile after the bank spent more than £1m earmarked as compensation for individuals sexually abused by the disgraced television presenter.

'The bank, trustee of Savile's estate, put on hold the distribution of its assets last October in the face of impending compensation claims from individuals sexually abused by the late DJ. The move was initially welcomed by lawyers representing victims on the assumption that it would ensure that the estate could provide compensation.

'The estate was worth £4.3m, but during the subsequent six months its value has fallen to £3m, a significant reduction that has infuriated lawyers acting for the victims of one of Britain's most prolific sex offenders.

'A legal source with knowledge of the Savile estate claimed that the reason for the huge drop is because of the costs NatWest is incurring in administrating Savile's estate, including its lawyers' fees. The expenditure has triggered accusations that money destined for the victims is being depleted at an alarming rate.

'A NatWest spokesman said: "All expenses to date have been approved through the court. We are working with the legal representatives of claimants and beneficiaries to agree future costs."'


'You are to reflect, Mr. Woodcourt,' observed Mr. Kenge, using his silver trowel, persuasively and smoothingly, 'that this has been a great cause, that this has been a protracted cause, that this has been a complex cause. Jarndyce and Jarndyce has been termed, not inaptly, a Monument of Chancery practice.'

'And Patience has sat upon it a long time,' said Allan.

'Very well indeed, sir,' returned Mr. Kenge, with a certain condescending laugh he had. 'Very well! You are further to reflect, Mr. Woodcourt,' becoming dignified almost to severity, 'that on the numerous difficuties, contingencies, masterly fictions, and forms of procedure in this great cause, there has been expended study, ability, eloquence, knowledge, intellect, Mr. Woodcourt, high intellect. For many years, the--a--I would say the flower of the Bar, and the--a--I would presume to add, the matured autumnal fruits of the Woolsack--have been lavished upon Jarndyce and Jarndyce. If the public have the benefit, and if the country have the adornment of this great Grasp, it must be paid for in money or money's worth, sir.'

'Mr. Kenge,' said Allan, appearing enlightened all in a moment. 'Excuse me, our time presses. Do I understand that the whole estate is found to have been absorbed in costs?'

'Hem! I believe so,' returned Mr. Kenge. 'Mr. Vholes, what do you say?'

'I believe so,' said Mr. Vholes.

'And that the suit lapses and melts away?'

'Probably,' returned Mr. Kenge. 'Mr. Vholes?'

'Probably,' said Mr. Vholes.

Charles Dickens, Bleak House, chapter lxv


We do things more speedily now.