The trial was held on the 18th June 2010 in the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice in London, England. I did not sleep at all the night before so I was wired.
My arrival in the courtroom was met with somber stares by the opposition. I was ushered by a steward to a seat next to my solicitor Joseph Kovsky. In the row directly in front of us was my barrister Mark Blackett-Ord. He wore a back gown and wig. Yes really - he wore a black gown and wig as you see in the movies.
At one point in the trial, the judge asked my barrister;
" Have you considered an ongoing share as part of the settlement?"
My barrister mumbled something about it being "an unsatisfactory solution" or some other legal mumbo jumbo nonsense. Although I sensed that my barrister Blackett-Ord was a decent guy, his hands were tied. Under the rules of the UK legal system, the barrister is given instructions by the solicitor to speak and can not stray from them. Neither I nor my solicitor was allowed to speak. For under UK rules, only a barrister is allowed to speak to a judge in court.
Every impulse in my body screamed at me to say,
"YES! YES! PLEASE MY LORD DEAR JUDGE MASTER BRIGGS THIS IS THE DEAL WE HAD!"
But alas I had to hold my breath, my tongue, and stifle my inner screams.
It's funny how the UK system is seen worldwide as a shining example of a civilized institution. If this is the pinnacle, what are the rest like?
Quite a few of my mates turned up. Nick Payne, Eric Robinson, Olivia deLaunzac, and my Law Works mediator Conor Dufficy were with me to finally witness the outcome of all I had anxiously awaited over the past 3 years.
The only one on Julian's side was his Mom. Blonde hair streaked with grey and power dressed waspishly as always, here was the woman who once made it a point to share her excited jubilation over Julian's birth with me;
"...and I'm sorry to say Meg... NO, NO! Scratch that, I'm NOT sorry to say... I was so happy that he was a BOY."
I wondered if it ever occurred to her that my Mom might love and care as much about me? (Even though I was not a boy). I looked at her and wondered what went on in her head. I thought about my own poor mother who had a great big heart and enough empathy for everyone(not just her own children). But Grey Standen (that's really her name) looked blank and well... grey.
Conspicuously absent was Standen's wife.
During the lunch break, my solicitor chased me around like a nagging harridan. Standen wanted to settle and offered me an amount. But I refused. I didn't come this far to settle for something which Standen should've offered me on the 22 of February 2007 - the day before he seized the business. My solicitor screamed at me and demanded I accept the settlement. But I was fed up with being bullied and wanted to hear the outcome.
We were all called back into the courtroom. After another half hour of magical verse and legal mumbo jumbo Judge Justice Briggs ruled in favor of my claim# HC07C0318 proving that I was indeed a partner and not just the "hired" help as Standen had claimed.
The relief spread through my body with the same rapidity that was once a wildfire of an immune response. My mates rushed excitedly up to me. I may have been in tears at this point, but I can't remember as my emotions seemed to swim outside my body. There was jubilation as we chatted and relived with fascination what had gone on. Most of us were musicians so this was a perplexing world we had only seen on tv. For us, this day in court was an awesome thing to witness.
The winning of this first trial for liability within a split trial paved the way for an out-of-court settlement in the form of a "Tomlin Order". Some on the web have questioned where to find the trial information online. But UK Civil trials are not automatically posted online. This is especially as ours was a "split trial". But along with the Consent Order, I can demonstrate that I received my settlement payments from Standen on the following dates;
It's early days for the Gearwarz website. I've just started to flesh out the skeleton so it's a bit "bare bones" and far from complete. As I refused to sign an NDA I will include everything that I am legally entitled to publish. Stay tuned as I fill in more detail - including the bit where I came close to finding a buyer, new co-partner, and ousting Standen.
Eventually, I hope my experience and all I've learned will be useful to others who find themselves in a Davey and Goliath-style legal battle where the game is stacked against them. Ultimately I'm committed to the idea that the legal system is in need of reform. For it is the engine at the heart of a society that disproportionately favors the powerful and perpetuates a society riddled with inequality.
Some have a view that it's a dog-eat-dog world and survival is only for the fittest. If you get screwed, it's your own fault for having evolutionarily "weak" qualities such as trust in your fellow human beings. But if everyone saw things this way, we as a species would most certainly evolve into something resembling armored tanks with spiked tails, horns, and claws. We'd live alone in caves, sleep in our vomit and eat our young.
Not exactly a good look for humanity is it?
A high level of mistrust is also a good predictor of teams, groups, and nations that fail. Those who admire and identify with dishonest perpetrators over honest victims are not the best people to have on your team - avoid them. When this attitude takes hold, it signals the decline of the group.
The good news is I refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement at the cost of a larger settlement. I did this because I knew that one day I would want to tell you my story.
For we live in a world where those who cheat or steal often win. At such times, the only weapon we may have to fight back is our voice.
Meg Lee Chin - 2021