A Case in Oldham

This is a tale told by John Orrell, a senior lawyer with BP when I joined them, who became a good friend. Under a quiet professional demeanor he had a sparkling sense of humour.

He started his career as a young barrister in Manchester. He received instructions to appear in a case in Oldham, a ninety-minute train journey from Manchester.

He had been working hard, and was tired. So instead of getting the early morning train from Manchester, he booked a hotel in Oldham and took a train the previous evening. This would give him time to read the brief and have an early night so as to be on top form for the case next morning.

Unfortunately he fell asleep on the train. He was shaken awake by a guard at two o’clock in the morning. The train had long since passed through Oldham, and was now high in the Pennines.

As good fortune would have it, there was a night mail train going back to Manchester via Oldham, so he caught that and made himself comfortable among the bags in the mail carriage.

Unfortunately he went off to sleep again. At seven o’clock in the morning he was shaken awake by a guard in Manchester. He was just in time to catch the early morning train to Oldham, the very train he had decided to avoid.

When the laughter subsided I asked him: “But did you win the case, John?”

He smiled: “As a matter of fact, I did!”


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Chris Thorpe

Chris Thorpe is a respected independent lawyer in the upstream oil and gas industry, and an established lecturer and author. Chris has a LLB in law from Magdalene College, Cambridge and trained as a barrister in London. He worked for eight years' as an in-house lawyer for BP and Marathon. Since 1991, Chris has run his own upstream legal practice, CPTL, which has acted for many upstream clients. He has extensive experience of international upstream transactions, principally in the North Sea, the FSU, Africa and the Middle East. Chris has spoken at many UK and International Conferences and Seminars, both public and in-house. His most popular current lecture is Fundamental of Upstream Petroleum Agreements, a two-day course with accompanying book.