Slick as a Whistle

By | 12th June 2013

In 1848, a certain John Russell Bartlett published a Dictionary of Americanisms. Mr Bartlett has it that the phrase slick as a whistle is “a proverbial simile, in common use throughout the United States. To do anything as slick as a whistle, is to do it very smoothly, perfectly, adroitly.”

Possibly because I do not listen hard enough, I have never come across this phrase either written or spoken, but that is in no way to impugn Mr Bartlett’s definition.

Mr Bartlett will have had absolutely no knowledge of e-discovery. Indeed, how could he? He was compiling his dictionary some 150 years before the idea was invented.

However, the recent case of Slick Seating and Anor v Adams and Others [2013] EWHC B8 (Mercantile) heard in the Birmingham Mercantile Court by His Honour Judge Simon Brown QC might have been in his mind had he lived in the present day.

The outcome of the case both on liability and damages was highly satisfactory for the claimants, despite the fact that the defendants took virtually no part in the proceedings, leaving the claimants with the burden of proving their loss from scratch.

But the important part of the case concerns costs. The judge awarded indemnity costs because of the conduct of the defendants and the extra burden which that placed upon the claimants. He awarded costs in accordance with the bill of costs submitted at the trial. There was no need for a detailed asessment. The judge concluded that, having case managed the case throughout, against a costs budget of £359,710.35 and a final bill of £351,267.35 there was no problem in awarding the whole of the sum claimed. Further the judge commended the claimants for controlling their budget throughout.

If that cannot be described as slick as a whistle, I am not sure what can. The whole case seems to have been run to fit Mr Bartlett’s description, smoothly, perfectly, adroitly. I feel sure we will be seeing more in this vein in the future.