It’s a really strange saying, letting sleeping dogs lie.  Any one who has a dog or even has any experience of looking after dogs, they don’t really sleep.  It’s like they constantly have one eye open (or one ear cocked) in case there is something they should be eating, sniffing, peeing on or barking at.  Sometimes all four.

When I was lucky enough to have dogs, I couldn’t move without them watching me.  No matter what time of day or night it was, if I or one of the kids so much as shifted in our sleep, one or other of the beasts (and sometimes both) would be up and at it.

Nevertheless, I do understand the principal – if an animal with that number of sharp teeth and powerful jaw, should not be woken up suddenly or you’re at risk of it being very painful.

Which is why advising people to consider letting sleeping dogs lie is a phrase I use often when talking about court proceedings that have gone to sleep.  If you haven’t heard anything from the court in a while, that could just meant that it’s because they’ve got a huge backlog or the case has been overlooked (which happens more often than you might think), but it could also mean because something has gone wrong (such as a letter has gone out to us but not been received or they’ve got our wrong contact details) and it be that the case is progressing without us, to my client’s detriment.  So one option is for us to call the Court on a regular basis for an update, the advantage being that if there is something that’s been missed, it will come to our attention fairly quickly but the disadvantage being that if the case has been overlooked by the Court it will be bought back on track.  If you would prefer the case to go away, sometimes letting sleeping files lie can be just as wise as letting sleeping dogs lie.

Interestingly, I was in conversation with a Judge earlier today during a telephone preliminary hearing.  My client is the Defendant in an employment Tribunal matter where the Claimant was a no show, which is not unusual, particularly at the moment.  The Chairman had the option of adjourning the matter to give the Tribunal time to see if the Claimant could be located but was instead persuaded by me to make a more draconian unless order.  This puts the responsibility on the Claimant to justify his absence within a fairly short period of time, failing which the case will automatically be struck out without me having to do anything.  Part of the Chairman’s reasons for making this decision is that the Claimant had not made any attempt to contact the Tribunal since the proceedings were issued five months ago, whereas other people call regularly for an update.  His apparent lack of interest in the case was therefore considered relevant in deciding to make it his responsibility to persuade the Tribunal to allow him to continue, rather than just being allowed to turn up at another hearing and start again.

Kleyman & Co Solicitors.  Rottweilers for hire.  Our bark is every bit as vicious as our bite.