Strauss had written a novel. Francis’ review was a real stinker. Strauss sued for libel. Strauss was represented by Serjeant Ballantine who opened the case, had the article admitted in evidence and left it at that. The defendant was justifying the criticism.  Ballantine seems to have managed to get Strauss and his instructing attorney’s clerk to leave court ostensibly to take instructions on whether the case should be settled.  Strauss did not want to do this but by the time the clerk had got back into court Ballantine had withdrawn it.

Strauss went to the Court of Queens Bench to have the order overturned. He failed. Blackburn J said (page 381),

Counsel have far higher attributes [than the power of argument and eloquence], namely, the exercise of judgement and discretion on emergencies arising in the conduct of a cause, and a client is guided in his selection of counsel by his reputation for honour , skill, and discretion. Few counsel, I hope, would accept a brief on the unworthy terms that he is simply to be the mouthpiece of his client.

This reading is of historic interest. The BSB Code of Conduct (contained in the BSB Handbook) now governs the ethical behaviour of barristers.