Lost in translation

first_imgObiter’s mailbox has been inundated following last week’s request for amusing dictaphone bloopers. Larry Rawlinson, a personal injury associate at Wards in Bristol, offers this diverting tale from the good old days: ‘When in articles, my then boss dictated a long letter on a commercial lease to a solicitor on the other side who was known to be very overweight. My boss was prone to using Latin in his correspondence (it was a long time ago), and in one part of the letter, to emphasise a point, he dictated ipso facto… the letter came back, “if so, fatso”.’ A Freudian slip, it seems. Sam Firth at Fentons says: ‘I once had a secretary bring me a letter I had dictated. I certainly had no memory of alleging that “the defendant’s erotically manoeuvring vehicle crossed the centre line”, but can see how it happened.’ She adds that ‘a former colleague once dictated, “our client relies on the maxim, res ipsa loquitur”, but what came back was the altogether more intriguing, “our client relies on Maxine. Ray’s hips are locked together”.’ Nick Wright of Pinders in Derby recalls how, in a dangerous driving case, ‘an otherwise dangerous manoeuvre’ somehow became ‘an otherwise dangerous manhoover’. Beachcroft personal injury partner Paul Parke has two favourites which crop up every now and then: ‘post dramatic stress disorder’ – presumably common among actors at the end of a show – and ‘pain suffering and loss of immunity’, which must be prevalent among diplomats. Nigel Cragg, operations director at Pinto Potts, recalls ‘res judicata’ coming back as ‘raise Judy Carter’, while commercial litigator Claire Twells of the Smith Partnership was surprised to find the well-known settlement phrase ‘drop hands and walk away’ had morphed into ‘drop pants and walk away’ – what was the typist thinking of at the time? Former district judge Mr Thornton Lambert was intrigued to find ‘passengers joining at Leicester’ inserted into a draft judgment he had dictated on a train. Mark Antingham, principal at Antinghams, tells us of a secretary confused about the whereabouts of a restaurant called ‘The man with the cap stays on’, which turns out to be Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quatre Saisons, though Obiter rather prefers the secretary’s version. Managing professional support lawyer Andrew Marshall relates some blunders from his home country Australia: ‘fee declined’ became ‘feed the client’, and ‘head lessor’ was recorded as ‘headless whore’. Whoops! But perhaps the best error which came to Obiter’s ears was made not by a distracted or hard-of-hearing typist, but by digital dictation software. Jonathan Malits of Malits in Cheshire recalls a letter which transformed the CPS into the ‘Crown Prostitution Service’. Fortunately, Malits spotted the error before the correspondence left the office – let’s just hope other defence lawyers using the software were equally sharp-eyed. Keep those bloopers coming. Click here for more dictation bloopers.last_img

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