SEPTEMBER 19, 2007

An opinion from a legal mind

Ian Mill is a Queen's Counsel, a lawyer appointed to be one of "Her Majesty's Counsel learned in the law". In order to receive such recognition and "take silk" one has to serve as a barrister for at least 10 years and one has to be eminent. Mill is a leading light in commercial litigation, intellectual property, media and entertainment and sports law. A product of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, Mill has been a lawyer since he was called to the bar in 1981 and has been a QC since 1999. He has been joint head of Blackstone Chambers since 2004. At 48 he has served as chairman of the Football Association's appeal board and as chairman of the UK Athletics' disciplinary committee. He has also been on panels for the FA Premier League and the International Cricket Council and had experienced in the world of rugby. In short his professional experience is long and distinguished. He was called in to represent McLaren at the FIA World Motor Sport Council and in his summing up of the case he gave the following opinion.

"The question is not: can McLaren prove that it has not used Ferrari™s confidential information, but rather the opposite," he said. "Is it established, to the standard that the president [Max Mosley] himself suggested was appropriate, and that is a very high standard indeed, that we did use the information? Of course not. How can it? We are left with the suspicion that the president has, based on the slightly theatrical run-through of those pages, as he stood up and showed everyone the two files. The suspicion that there is probably something in there. Fine. Then the response is not bring us back here, let alone throw us out of the championships. Rather, you bring in Mr Whiting [F1 race director Charlie Whiting]. We have issued an invitation, and it remains on the table. Do not draw conclusions against us. Tell Charlie Whiting to go into McLaren to go into the organisation and not return until, having checked it from top to bottom, he is satisfied that no use has occurred. That has not happened; I don™t know why.

"I do, however, know that if you convict us today without the FIA having done that, that will be the grossest misjustice in my professional experience."

Legal hyperbole and theatre? Perhaps, but an interesting remark nonetheless.