Seven day wonder

By | 9th December 2010

Why are there seven days in a week?

The Biblical answer I suppose is that Genesis tells us that God created the earth and all that is in it in six days and on the seventh day he rested.

The Babylonians had seven days in their calendar and the lunar rotation takes 28 days and the ancients might have thought that a quarter of that time was a useful measurement.

Astrology also plays a part in that in the days before powerful telescopes were invented there were only five planets visible in the sky and together with the sun and the moon there were seven heavenly bodies. The English and French languages continue the tradition with their names of the week, eg Lundi, Monday, Moon or Tuesday, Mardi, Mars etc.

The Norse connection is also present in Wodin-Wednesday, Thor-Thursday and Freya-Friday.

Recently I saw an article by a journalist called Peter Sargent published in the Eastern Daily Press of November 13th 2010. I have been unable to find a link but was intrigued by his reference to a statue to an Anglo-Saxon god called Tiw which stands in the grounds of Anglesey Abbey, confusingly not in Anglesey but in Cambridgeshire. According to Sargent, Tiw was a belligerent fellow renowned for his courage. On one occasion the other gods were at a loss to know what to do with the savage wolf Fenrir. Tiw put his hand in Fenrir’s mouth in a bid to bind him. He succeeded although he lost his hand in the process. His name is the origin of Tuesday and the toponomically named town of Dewsbury etc.

However you sort it, Harold Wilson famously complained that a week is a long time in politics when things started to go wrong for him and his government. But to business: I could go on because this sort of thing always enables me to pass the time I spend on trains! I do not always want to read a book or a newspaper and I certainly do not keep the other occupants of the carriage infuriated by my tinny and overloud music or regaled with my exploits repeated loudly over my mobile.

In common with others in the e-disclosure world I have been waiting to see what will happen to the firm recommendations contained in Lord Justice Jackson’s report in January that lawyers need training in e-disclosure. I am pleased to hear that efforts are being made by certain members of the judiciary to enhance their knowledge of e-disclosure issues, the marketplace and the technology which exists to bring solutions to some of the problems thrown up by a surplus of paper/electronic documents and insufficient time to review or money to pay for it.

But what really caught my eye was the report in The Times of December 1st headed “Judges save paper in digital test”. It seems that the judges of the Supreme Court, sitting as the Privy Council in a case involving damages claims arising from the Isle of Man and whether they can be enforced in that jurisdiction when the companies concerned were only based there for tax purposes, are using a system for sharing documents which is said will save the court 1.25 million sheets of paper each year.

Now it might seem churlish to suggest that if they had insisted that the solicitors dealt with disclosure and trial bundles electronically, many more sheets of paper could have been saved in this case and could be saved in any given 12 month period. Suffice to say, however, that progress is being made!

In these days of WikiLeaks, The Times of December 1st, in the person of Daniel Finkelstein is also the source of an article on how information has always spread as power shifts from group to group. Because of the paywall I cannot give you a link but I can tell you that he mentions how Martin Luther’s theses which were nailed to the door of the church in Wittenberg on October 31st 1517, were being printed in three other cities within weeks. This was progress indeed (doubtless because of the invention of the printing press) but its effect was dramatic and, as Daniel says, the Pope probably wished he could have turned those presses off!

A week may be a long time in politics and we may argue about why a week is made up of the days it is (and incidentally why do we have 12 months of differing lengths and not 12 months of 30 days with a 5 day Christmas holiday at the end of December or 6 days in a leap year?!), but information is key as the justices of the Supreme Court have demonstrated.

It is my fervent hope that members of the legal profession will continue to embrace the technology which exists to assist them and their clients spread the word to the courts and the opposing parties to their litigation to describe exactly what their case is about and to do so in a timely, cost effective and efficient manner. It should not matter how many days it takes or what the days are called if the process is completed efficiently and at a reasonable price. Otherwise, it will soon be a case not of justice delayed being justice denied but justice at an exorbitant cost will be justice denied.

It need not be like that!