SHARP practice has been described as a pejorative phrase to describe sneaky or cunning behaviour that is technically within the rules of law but borders on being unethical. In short it is practice that is frowned upon.
The Oxford Dictionaries describes sharp practice as: Dishonest or barely honest dealings. It adds that: “ any kind of sharp practice will ruin a barrister’s career”
This practice includes “a lawyer using misleading statements to opposing counsel or the court, denial of oral stipulations, agreements between attorneys, previously made, threats, improper use of process, or tricky and/or dishonorable means barely within the law”.
Although within the law a lawyer who constantly uses this practice is open to disciplinary action by regulating authorities.
Other definitions actually refer to it as fraud. The business dictionary explains sharp practice as “cunningness, deceit, misrepresentation, trickery, and other unscrupulous behaviour just short of the legal definition of fraud”.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary describes sharp practice as: the act of dealing in which advantage is taken or sought unscrupulously.
In the same way a filibuster is a parliamentary procedure where debate is extended, to delay or entirely prevent a vote on a given proposal from taking place.
The filibuster is sometimes called talking out a bill or talking a bill to death because members will speak in a relay format to make sure that the bill “dies” by sheer passage of time.
According to Wikipedia one of the first known practitioners of the filibuster was the Roman senator Cato the young who would often obstruct legislation by speaking continuously until nightfall, because the Roman Senate had a rule requiring all business to conclude by dusk.
He is even reputed to have frustrated the political objectives of Julius Caesar.
In the United Kingdom a bill defeated by a filibustering maneuver is said to have been “talked out” and may not be re-introduced.
Such are the manoeuvres of those who know the law.
It has even been suggested that “If it is true that lawyers succeed in the degree to which they are effective in negotiations, it is equally true that one’s effectiveness in negotiations depends in part upon one’s willingness to lie.”
It is true that lawmakers and lawyers share certain traits that make it difficult for the ordinary person to discern when they either engage in sharp practice or indeed filibusting or perhaps doing both in a bid to defeat a cause or simply raise so much confusion that the process is abandoned.
Sadly for the gullible, matters always appear in large relief as black and white reliefs, not open to scrutiny, questioning or criticism.
Such is the inertia that allows crooked lawyers to succeed even when they have no feet to stand on.