back to article 'We've done it, we've wasted further time!' Judge raps HP over Mike Lynch court scrutiny

The judge presiding over HPE and Mike Lynch's titanic courtroom clash has told HPE's lawyer to get to the point of his marathon cross-examination of Autonomy's former CEO. Barrister Robert Miles QC, Lynch's lawyer, questioned in court earlier this week "whether it's really cross-examination at all" for HPE's barrister to take …

  1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Makes sense...

    Makes sense... as we've all previously commented on; HP have no real evidence to back up their allegations of an $8bn fraud, so they are trying circuitous character assassination instead?

    Way to go HP. And yes... that sound you can hear is the global IT community laughing AT you.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Makes sense...

      "that sound you can hear is the global IT community laughing AT you"

      For those of us who remember the HP that was, we laugh that we may not weep.

    2. ToddRundgrensUtopia

      Re: Makes sense...

      AGAIN

  2. NBCanuck

    Time Wasted = Billable Hours

    There is no incentive to the lawyers to be expedient. The longer it takes them to win (or lose) the more money they make.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Time Wasted = Billable Hours

      Except in the specific case where they piss off the judge! At that point, they're risking their valuable reputations - and thus chances of getting paid by future clients. People are less likely to hire barristers who lost high profile cases - which is why they so often persuade their clients to settle.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Time Wasted = Billable Hours

        That's what comes of letting a US brief act in a UK court.

        This isn't going to do HP's plan B, getting Lynch extradited, any good either.

        1. Zimmer
          Unhappy

          Re: Time Wasted = Billable Hours ----

          Yes, my time wasted !! El Reg Lego clickbait picture and NO LEGO... !!

          (Disappointed of Tunbridge Wells ....)

          1. MyffyW Silver badge

            Re: Time Wasted = Billable Hours ----

            If you want to render the HP saga in Lego you'd need to take all your best bricks, build them into fancy shapes - let's call them VMS, Alpha, Tru64, Compaq - and then take a hammer to them until all you have left is a pile of primary coloured plastic dust. Then separate the dust into two or more piles and pay somebody to take it off your hands.

        2. Commswonk Silver badge

          Oops

          That's what comes of letting a US brief act in a UK court.

          From the article: For the past three weeks Lynch, the former CEO of Autonomy, has been cross-examined by HPE barrister Laurence Rabinowitz QC.

          If Mr Rabinowitz is indeed a QC then it seems unlikely that he is a "US brief".

        3. streaky Silver badge

          Re: Time Wasted = Billable Hours

          Rabinowitz isn't a US brief, he's part of a well respected commercial law firm in the UK - if there's a problem in that regard it would be being directed by a US brief rather than the in court thing. Also if HP think they can have somebody extradited over a civil claim (and I've seen no evidence they think that) they're out of their minds. Not gonna happen.

          The smart thing to do if they wanted somebody to prosecute would have gone after their former board for not doing due diligence and I'd draw attention to HP's out of court settlement to back that up.

  3. sabroni Silver badge

    Pissing the Judge off over a number of weeks

    In the USA this tactic works, does it? Looks like it's failing spectacularly here.....

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Pissing the Judge off over a number of weeks

      I doubt this tactic works in any case where the judge is the one deciding the trial. US, UK or anywhere else. Courtroom theatrics, emotional appeals and trying to obscure with ludicrous detail are for confusing juries.

      And even there, from my limited experience of 3 trials on a jury, the best defence barrister was quite clear and concise. He kept it simple, didn't try to overwhelm us with crap by pointlessly questioning witnesses - and was the only barrister to give us a proper speech when summing up the defence case at the end.

      Though that might just be because there wasn't enough evidence against his client, whereas the other two were found guilty - and so chucking about pointless detail was all that was left for the barristers to do, after failing to persuade their clients to plead guilty?

      Given the judge is an ex-barrister, who has seen all the written evidence (something a jury don't get) - he's already going to know a lot of the questions to expect. So he's also likely to have a good idea of what's pointless detail and what matters.

      Equally though, lots of questions answered by the witness does give them a chance to point out any inconsistencies in his evidence. If there actually are any.

    2. Munchausen's proxy
      Pint

      Re: Pissing the Judge off over a number of weeks

      In the USA this tactic works, does it? Looks like it's failing spectacularly here.....

      "If you can't convince them with facts, then baffle them with bullshit" has been a cornerstone of U.S. discourse for quite a while, now.

    3. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: Pissing the Judge off over a number of weeks

      No Rumpole story is complete without him regularly pissing off the judge ...

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Pissing the Judge off over a number of weeks

        This is true. But Rumpole never even had a chance of becoming a QC (Queer Customer) let alone a Circusit Judge.

        Hence he was so often stuck being an extremely senior, junior counsel. Not to mention not being able to afford to drink anything better than Chateau Thames Embankment...

    4. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: Pissing the Judge off over a number of weeks

      Damn it! ... He's using the Chewbacca defense!

  4. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    (UK) Judges have tended to have an image of an old-fart well out of touch with the real world. This judge sounds like he might have at least one foot planted firmly on the ground.

    1. Sooty and Sweep

      Never mess with an English High Court judge !

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      That's usually just a caricature though.

      I'm sure we've had a fair few old buffers on the bench, but the thing about being a senior judge is that in order to get there you've seen an awful lot of court cases in your career as a barrister - and that means having to work for a whole bunch of clients and master a bunch of different briefs. This should give you a pretty varied education - if you're at all awake during it.

      My experience of Crown Court judges (I've been on the jury in 3 trials with three different ones), was that they were pretty switched on and took no shit in their courtrooms.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Your experience agrees with mine. I'd still have liked to have seen judge Wright, he of the Prenda Law case, at work.

      2. BebopWeBop Silver badge
        Meh

        Acting as an expert witness, the examining barrister was obviously fishing for irrelevant details, And my experience suggest was that the Judge was somewhat severe with the time waster. (lost me up to 3 days being lucratively cross-examined mind you).

    3. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      (UK) Judges have tended to have an image of an old-fart well out of touch with the real world.

      The past tense is correct. There used to be some absolute stinkers - most people know of the mid/late 60s judge who asked who the Beatles were, and there was a case in the 70s where a judge dismissed a claim for damages for injury on the grounds that is was impossible for a single man to have a sex life. In the 80s the legal profession decided it had had enough incompetence in its ranks and sorted itself out (which is why there's a mandatory retirement age for judges). These days I'd trust a judge to be on the ball and far more trustworthy than most MPs, which is a good job as one of my cousins (-in-law appropriately) is a judge.

      1. Nick Kew Silver badge

        Asking who the Beatles were doesn't actually mean the judge is out of touch. It might just be something that needs clarifying, perhaps to avoid participants talking at cross-purposes or misconstruing the record.

        What you do need to abandon before you can hope to qualify as a judge is any naïve notion that the law you exercise has more than the most distant relationship with justice.

        1. PhilipVirgo

          Many years ago the NCC Microsystems Centre had a small contract to deliver a series of Saturday Morning sessions for Judges so that when they asked Counsel "And what is this think you call a micro-computer" they would be able to tease out what the Jury needed to know that was relevant to the case. Today a Judge might similarly ask "What is Artificial Intelligence" in order to tease out whether the system in question was a simple rules based engine or a complex hierarchy of linear regressions and the provenance of the data that fed it … and thus who might reasonably be assumed responsible for which aspects of what it was doing. And if he got a mass of technobabble he would know that Counsel (or the witness) did not know what they were talking abut or was bullshitting. Those who delivered the lectures never discussed the experience … save to say that the audience was very polite but also very perceptive in the questions they asked and how they checked the answers they were given. They also helped me set up the original BCS Expert Witness Panel.

          1. JimboSmith Silver badge

            A friend who was a barrister and possibly a QC asked me about something technical. It was to do with the security of WiFi and I gave him an answer. He then confessed that he was working on a case where.this was very important. I said I didn't qualify as an expert and was told they already had one of those. He was just checking that the expert was giving them correct info.

      2. eldakka Silver badge

        These days I'd trust a judge to be on the ball and far more trustworthy than most MPs, which is a good job as one of my cousins (-in-law appropriately) is a judge.

        Unlike MPs, judge's actually work for a living...

    4. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      The reason for that is because they ask for everything to be explained so that precise details are entered into the court records.

  5. adam payne Silver badge

    The more I read about this the more i'm convinced that HP have nothing in the way of real evidence. It all seems to be smoke and mirrors.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It all seems to be smoke and mirrors.

      .. delivered in an overly large box..

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Thanks for the memory!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          .... which comes to you via Puerto Rico, thanks an HP Invent tax-avoidance scheme ...

      2. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Delivered via Amazon?

  6. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Alien

    The question is...

    Will BoJo still be PM by the time this case is settled?

    It seems to have been going on for decades already.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: The question is...

      Will the Sun still have hydrogen left to fuel it? Or will the trial have to be completed in a heavily shielded bunker, buried in the centre of Pluto?

      I'm still reeling from that xkcd explainer that points out when the sun goes, you'll get a fatal dose of neutrinos out past Mars orbit!

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: The question is...

        "a fatal dose of neutrinos out past Mars orbit"

        That would be the least of your worries.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: The question is...

          Yeah, but if you're going to go, it's got to be worth constructing a bunker in the centre of the planet, just so you can in style.

      2. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        Re: The question is...

        I'm pretty sure that was for a supernova. Sol is not projected to go supernova--it is entirely too small.

        Still, the idea of ANY main-sequence star dumping neutrinos like that... ...... .........

    2. Anomalous Custard

      Re: The question is...

      Jarndice v Jarndice for our times

    3. jim.warwick
      Unhappy

      Re: The question is...

      Actually a very relevant question.

      Given BoJo's (and indeed the country's) forthcoming need to subjugate itself to the US after we've crashed out of the EU, the extradition request from the US for Lynch may well be a sweetener here that BoJo will be working to influence (albeit he shouldn't be able to).

      I'm sure Lynch will not want to count on BoJo backing him in his corner.

      Nice to see what "taking back control" looks like anyhow.

  7. a pressbutton

    Step 1

    I think Rabinowitz's strategy is to try to establish that Lynch did read - and so know - things he has said earlier he did not know.

    (Rabinowitz hopes to prove that Lynch knew Autonomy was fraudulently bulking out its revenues to make itself look like a tempting takeover target.)

    Step 2

    Building on that he can then say that he has had a controlling hand and influence over other things

    (Rabinowitz hopes to prove that Lynch influenced or controlled the bulking out of revenues at autonomy)

    Step 3

    Then he can claim that Lynch committed fraud

    ... Looks like he is stuck on step 1

    1. xeroks

      which is why he queried Lynch about actually reading the court docs during the course of the trial. And why Lynch detailed exactly the mechanism he'd used to do so. Otherwise we'd have had something along the lines of:

      "yes I'm familiar with this email"

      "exactly when did you read it?"

      "last night."

      "how so?"

      "well you know the court evidence website thing. you know. err. someone sent me a link. ..err by err.., a secure, totally secure method , which has since been irrevocably deleted forever. by accident or possibly design."

      "you read this document 10 years ago, didn't you?"

      "no"

      "DIDN'T YOU?"

      "I may have smoked but I didn't inhale it."

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Sounds more like the underpants gnomes' strategy to me. Step 1 is already very tenuous. Bulking up revenues is standard practice and not in itself fraudulent. It's also what you have due diligence for.

      HP's problem is that it broke off due diligence, ignored all the warning signs and went ahead with the purchase anyway. In which case the charge should be in a US court against the board of the time over material damage. Except, of course, their severance agreements no doubt include nice waivers

      1. LeahroyNake Bronze badge

        I think you pretty much summed it up there.

        While im having a good giggle at the proceedings this is getting tiresome for everyone especially the judge. I'm not saying that he has made his mind up already but its sure looking that way.

      2. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

        "It's also what you have due diligence for."

        It's also what auditors are for. If there was an $8bn fraud then you would have expected Deloittes to be highly complicit in it, similar to Andersons in the Enron case.

  8. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Facepalm

    The Rules

    Rule 1: Don't piss off the judge.

    Rule 2: see rule 1.

  9. BebopWeBop Silver badge

    "When I come to write the judgment, which is after all the purpose of this entire business, to see where the truth of the matter lies in my view, there is a danger that the true involvement of Dr Lynch will have become obscured in a welter of documentation in which he was not a participant."

    and

    in that case it was both too late and too early. There we are, we've done it, we've wasted further time!

    Judicial sense to restrain barristers bills?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    what even is the point of this?

    Whoever wins, the loser will appeal. That will take years to resolve.

    Whoever wins that, the loser will appeal. That will take years to resolve.

    Whoever wins that, the loser will appeal. That will take years to resolve.

    etc.

    1. PhilipVirgo

      "Few things are certain in this world, save that when two parties go to the law over an estate, at the end of the affair the estate shall be sold to pay the expenses of the lawyers." From a Henrician (during the reign of Henry VIII) "Common Place Book" - a collection of witty sayings..

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      HP have to do this, because it was either that or the board resign en masses for total incompetence.

      By the time all the appeals are done, they'll have retired - so everything is fine.

      It's not like they're going to get much in the way of compensation out of Lynch. It's possible they could squeeze a few hundred million out of him, but that's not going to make up for their claimed $8bn loss. Although a few hundred million here and a few hundred million there - and soon you're talking serious money.

    3. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Only if there are grounds for an appeal.

  11. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    "Mr Gambini, what are utes?"

    1. FozzyBear Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      And I'm finished with this guy!

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    WTF?

    The paradox. HP writes down $8 off the Autonomy purchase but....

    Don't seem to have any solid evidence to prove actual wrong doing on behalf of Mr Blobby Dr Lynch.

    WTF?

    1. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: The paradox. HP writes down $8 off the Autonomy purchase but....

      This seems a rather expensive process to argue about $8, don't you think? ;)

  13. Electric Panda

    This case feels like a ridiculous, long winded fishing expedition.

    It looks like HP know fine well they have nothing, hence the 'strategy' adopted by Rabinowitz is to take the scenic route in trying to concoct a character assassination on Mike Lynch and see about tripping him up, not proving any actual wrongdoing. This is the clear impression I am getting based on the reporting here.

    The judge is fed up and that is not where you want to be when trying to win a case.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      There must be some evidence for something in the court papers, or the case would have been dismissed before trial. Of course that might just be footling issues for a few million here or there - which can hardly be material to a supposed $8bn loss. But there's still a chance that there's more here than we've yet heard about in court. Otherwise HP are going to end up looking very silly indeed.

    2. Commswonk Silver badge

      The judge is fed up and that is not where you want to be when trying to win a case.

      Which takes us back to Alladin Sane's Only if there are grounds for an appeal.

      <Deity> help us if HP loses the case and decides to lodge an appeal on the basis that the trial judge was prejudiced against them purely on the basis that he expressed dissatisfaction with the way HP presented its case.

      Popcorn futures anyone?

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        If judges being sarcastic at timewasting barristers was grounds for appeal no cases would ever finish.

  14. Steve Knox
    Coat

    With Apologies In Advance

    "Well, in that case it was both too late and too early. There we are, we've done it, we've wasted further time!"

    "A Barrister is never too late, nor too early. He wastes exactly as much time as he intends to waste."

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