Last week’s partners’ tea was stressful. Mr Pettifog couldn’t stop gloating about the result of the referendum. Soon we will be released from the shackles of a jackbooted superstate, he said, mixing his metaphors.
He has been like this ever since he was strongly advised to withdraw his application to become a judge of the Unified Patent Court. He did so, to avoid public embarrassment. But he hasn’t forgiven the Dutch member of the appointments panel who is reported to have joked that Mr Pettifog had all the judicial qualities of Mr Justice Peter Smith and all the diplomatic skills of President Benoit Battistelli.
In fact, though he refuses to admit it, much of Mr Pettifog’s income depends on the UK remaining part of the European Union. His main client is an American patent troll called Randy Duke III, who regularly instructs him to write obnoxious letters to small businesses across Europe, demanding compensation for infringement of his patents. The patents claim the use of a computer for preparing invoices, and are allegedly infringed by most commercial enterprises. So far, Mr Pettifog has avoided writing to any business that might be able to afford patent lawyers to challenge the validity of the patents.
Randy has told Mr Pettifog on more than one occasion that the only reason he instructs him is because London, England, is the English-speaking capital of Europe, and Mr Pettifog is the best writer of European kick-ass letters he knows. Randy has written to the senior partner of our firm, complaining about the Brexit vote, and threatening to withdraw his custom if the firm doesn’t sort it out.
Mr Pettifog is convinced that the solution to this problem is to open a branch office of the firm in mainland Europe. It shouldn’t cost much: there will soon be a slump in Brussels property prices, reasons Mr Pettifog, as thousands of British Eurocrats leave the city and return home. Young Hope is to be sent on a fact-finding mission to Brussels, to enquire about the process for opening a law firm there. Mr Pettifog has offered to relocate to Brussels and be Chef de Protocole of the Belgian firm. Mr Pettifog has no idea what a Chef de Protocole does, but he likes the sound of the words and understands it to be a senior position.
Anyway, Brexit may never happen, claims Mr Pettifog. His friend in UKIP, Monty Kildare, has told him that several EU countries are about to demand a revision to the EU treaty, in which free movement of labour will be severely restricted. If that happens, the leaders of the Conservative Brexit campaign will announce this as a major victory and avoid triggering Article 50.
Some of the other partners would like to point out the errors in Mr Pettifog’s logic, but they hardly know where to start, and they are still feeling traumatised by the referendum decision. They drink their tea in gloomy silence.