In praise of forensic schizophrenia

This is the heading with which English judge Ward LJ opens his judgment in Greenland Bank Ltd v American Express Bank Ltd [2009] EWCA Civ 14.  

Ward LJ continues as follows:

This is the kind of litigation that could feed the public's worst perception of lawyers and the law. Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver's Travels, once described lawyers as:  "? a society of men ? bred up from their youth in the art of proving, by words multiplied for the purpose, that white is black, and black is white …" and then he added maliciously: "? according as they are paid".  That calumny against the profession could perhaps be voiced in this case by a cynical observer of this litigation. Here Westmont Power (Bangladesh) Ltd ("Westmont") brought an action against American Express Bank Limited ("Amex") in Bangladesh for a declaration, in effect, that a guarantee given by Amex had not expired. Amex resisted vigorously and claimed the return of the guarantee from the beneficiary. Amex lost. Now, in a complete volte-face, Amex have successfully contended before Evans-Lombe J. in a claim brought against it here by Greenland Bank Ltd (in liquidation) ("Greenland") that they could have been wrong in that defence and that there is a real prospect that the Bangladesh court did decide the matter correctly against it. That is Amex's defence here notwithstanding the fact that back in Dhaka Amex still stoutly maintain their appeal against that decision on grounds that it is riddled with error. Riding two horses at the same time is always difficult enough: riding them when they are charging in opposite directions is an altogether remarkable feat, so let me begin by praising the skills of counsel for Amex, Mr David Wolfson, who with customary courtesy, cogency, and not a little charm, managed to stay in the saddle notwithstanding some hostile fire from at least this incredulous member of the court. He escapes all Swift's opprobrium. How did he manage it?"

Nothing to do with Scotland, but as our roving reporter David Vaver put it, "irresistible".