Before I finally called it a day, I would like to narrate a funny occurrence amidst a boring trial that took place today.
As we represented a corporation that is being sued, our contention was that all dividends of approximately 20 years have been duly paid to the Plaintiff. So as to lead the Court to such conclusion, we need to tender documents showing proofs of payment through the maker of the original documents.
Our first maker of the document was called to tender plentiful of documents dating a decade ago. The contents of the documents could be summed up as follows:- a lump sum figure is given and then divided by the size of the area held by the participants-that is how much dividend a participant should be getting. We wanted to show veracity of the contents of the documents, so we equipped our first witness of the day a calculator to calculate the total dividends given to the participants in order to obtain the exact lump sum figure.
There was a discrepancy of 5 cents in payment. Yes, you read me right. A meagre amount of five cents. Appearing in court 400 kilometres away from home, not to mention the long journey driving, two hours worth of sleep and many hours sorting documents the night before, the last thing you would want to do is to argue over the amount of five cents. In our daily life, we just cincai kira an amount as small as five cents. But in court, we fight hard over five cents! That was what we did today.
In my re-examination of witness, I was trying to establish that different decimal numerical systems may cause such small discrepancy. Noted by the judge and end of story.
To my surprise, my learned friend i.e. lawyer for the Plaintiff, apparently was not satisfied with decimal technical possibility and he tried to prove that the contents of the documents were incorrect just because of the five cents discrepancy. Fair enough, he had our second witness to re-calculate. To his horror and to my disbelief, the second witness got the exact lump sum figure instead of the one with five cents discrepancy as testified by my first witness.
I quickly grabbed my phone and started calculating; first attempt – short of 3 cents from the exact lump sum figure.
That witness of mine was a tough lady who was almost unbreakable. She was adamant with her answer as to the lump sum figure. My learned friend then tried to calculate the figures himself while I was on my second attempt. The presiding judge allowed us to take our own sweet time to calculate the figures ourselves as though he had perceived what might accrue next.
I finally arrived to the exact lump sum figure; you should have seen my face beamed in glory. Hahaha.
My learned friend on the other hand, was still in short of few cents. Realizing that the Judge had smirked over our silly encounter with numbers, my learned friend pulled back-he withdrew the question and asked no further question.
Moral of the story, don’t ask questions that might put strength to your opponent’s case. Second, contrary to the legal adage of “Agree to Disagree”, one thing the lawyers need to agree on is their weaknesses in mathematics.
At the moment, I would be more than happy to receive five cents coins from you!