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Betty Rabbitte and the Reverend 7 April 2014

Betty Rabbitte and the Reverend

Betty Rabbitte was not a happy bunny as Easter approached that year. Her beloved Berty had blotted his copybook – again! Whether the seasonal simile of ‘breeding like rabbits’ or the nominative determinism of his surname played a part is debatable but his infidelity was now exposed – in more ways than one. He had arrived home clad only his boxer shorts and vest with two black eyes and a bloody nose. He stumbled into the living room, unaware that in his absence, (his alibi had been that he doing a night shift as a Samaritan), his wife had arranged for the ladies of the local branch of ‘Save the Children’ to hold their monthly meeting in her front room. Seated, suited and satiated with cup cakes they were astonished as the dishevelled spouse stumbled into the prim parlour.

‘Do you know Mrs Scarlett in number 69’ asked Berty of no one in particular, ‘whose husband is always at sea with the merchant navy?’

The assembled ladies nodded their mute acknowledgement slowly in unison, too shocked by Bert’s state of undress and altered appearance to speak.

‘Well, he’s home’ affirmed Berty and took to the stairs – coyly covering his posterior with a copy of ‘Homes and Gardens’ snatched from the coffee table as he ascended the stairs three at a time.

Nor was the physical assault on his person the only retribution taken by the cuckolded Mr Scarlett. As Berty had attempted to flee in his wife’s beloved BMW, the irate husband had driven into his car pushing it across a pavement into the meticulously manicured manse garden of the Reverend Alwyss Smyles – a timorous gentleman at the best of times who sought solace in port rather than prayer when faced with life’s tribulations. The Reverend Smyles had seen a BMW, a half dressed gentleman, a merchant seaman and a performance of the sailor’s hornpipe before. However he had never before seen a BMW suspended on raised garden beds, occupied by a half dressed driver, with a merchant seaman in full formal dress performing a sailor’s hornpipe on its roof whilst screaming blood curdling obscenities. It was too much for the feeble prelate – he fainted, striking his head off a ceramic receptacle for potted petunias.

Such was the unhappy state of affairs when Mrs Rabbitte consulted her minister for matrimonial advice only to learn that the Reverend Alwyss Smyles had witnessed first hand the retribution sought by the aggrieved husband. Bert Rabbitte, unlike his spouse, was better known in the pubs than the pews so he had not recognised him. Fortunately the Reverend was at that time consulting Campbell & Haughey Solicitors about a probate matter, having been left a legacy by a second cousin, Clarissa Cackenhanded, whose late husband had accumulated a sizeable fortune as an importer of fine port. Whether she actually liked her clerical cousin, or whether it was in recognition of his support through copious consumption of the product, we know not.

In any event, Martin Campbell had processed the probate promptly and Keith Hamilton in the practice had, at his request, used part of the proceeds to purchase a nice little property in Port Ballintrae for his retirement. The Reverend commended the firm without hesitation.

Betty was most impressed. Paul Haughey arranged a hire car and the repairs to her vehicle and Gill McAreavey negotiated a generous sum for depreciation. His assistant, Paul Lenehan, obtained a decree on the grounds of adultery and a generous settlement against the chastened spouse in a short timescale. Clen MacKenzie in the practice obtained compensation on behalf of the parish for the damage to the garden of the manse.

Both the Reverend and Betty Rabbitte were delighted with the efforts of the firm in their respective cases. Nowadays, whilst sipping port on their balcony in Port Ballintrae, the very happy Mr Alwyss Smyles and his beloved wife, Betty Smyles, often reminisce on the strange sequence of events that brought them together and how conveniently their idyllic new life together was facilitated by their solicitors.

Problems are often no more than opportunities! Contact Campbell & Haughey Solicitors if you have a legal problem and be assured of prompt, professional and personal service.

DEATH BY ATTORNEY? 21 March 2014

Lawyers are not exempt from asking asinine questions.  American lawyers however tend to excel in this department as exemplified by the selection below.


These are from a book called Disorder in the American Courts and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and published by court reporters who had the torment of staying calm while the exchanges were taking place.

ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?

WITNESS:      He said, ‘Where am I, Cathy?’

ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?

WITNESS:      My name is Susan! 


ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?

WITNESS:      No, I just lie there.


ATTORNEY: What is your date of birth?

WITNESS:      July 18th.

ATTORNEY: What year?

WITNESS:      Every year.


ATTORNEY: How old is your son, the one living with you?

WITNESS:      Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can’t remember which.

ATTORNEY: How long has he lived with you?

WITNESS:      Forty-five years.


ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?

WITNESS:      Yes.

ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?

WITNESS:      I forget..

ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?


ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn’t know about it until the next morning?

WITNESS:      Did you actually pass the bar exam?



ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the 20-year-old, how old is he?

WITNESS:      He’s 20, much like your IQ.


ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?

WITNESS:      Are you shitting me?


ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?

WITNESS:      Yes.

ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?

WITNESS:      Getting laid


ATTORNEY: She had three children , right?

WITNESS:      Yes.

ATTORNEY: How many were boys?

WITNESS:      None.

ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?

WITNESS:      Your Honour, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?


ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?

WITNESS:      By death..

ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?

WITNESS:      Take a guess.


ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?

WITNESS:      He was about medium height and had a beard

ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?

WITNESS:      Unless the Circus was in town I’m going with male.


ATTORNEY: Doctor , how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?

WITNESS:      All of them. The live ones put up too much of a fight.


ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?

WITNESS:      Oral…


ATTORNEY:  Do you recall the time that you examined the body?

WITNESS:      The autopsy started around 8:30 PM

ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?

WITNESS:      If not, he was by the time I finished.


ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?

WITNESS:      Are you qualified to ask that question?


And last:

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?

WITNESS:      No.

ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?

WITNESS:      No.

ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?

WITNESS:      No..

ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?

WITNESS:      No.

ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?

WITNESS:      Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.

ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?

WITNESS:      Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law

Divorce Lawyers at War 27 February 2014

I hope that we in Northern Ireland do not experience the fractious fallout that has arisen between divorce lawyers in England over their ‘celebrity’ clientele.  Mayfair lawyers Sear Tooth, who have acted in such high profile cases such as that of the Abramoviches, accused rivals Vardags of poaching clients.  The matter has been settled after some acrimony with compensation being paid without an admission of liability.  We, in Northern Ireland, have a deficit of ‘celebrities’ to whom we could charge the £500 per hour reputedly paid to these firms!

who gets custody of the clients

im seeing someone else

Death of a Gardener 26 February 2014

This is my favourite ‘Spring’ poem juxtaposing the cycles of nature and life.  Phoebe Hesketh spent her whole life in rural Lancashire and was a prolific poet but I think this is her best.




Death of a Gardener



He rested through the Winter, watched the rain

On his cold garden, slept, awoke to snow

Padding the window, thatching the roof again

With silence.  He was grateful for the slow

Nights and undemanding days; the dark

Protected him; the pause grew big with cold.

Mice in the shed scuffled like leaves; a spark

Hissed from his pipe as he dreamed beside the fire.

All at once light sharpened; earth drew breath,

Stirred; and he woke to strangeness that was Spring,

Stood on the grass, felt movement underneath

Like a child in the womb; hope troubled him to bring

Barrow and spade once more to the waiting soil.

Slower his lift and thrust; a blackbird filled

Long intervals with song; a worm could coil

To safety underneath the hesitant blade.

Hands tremulous as cherry branches kept

Faith with struggling seedlings till the earth

Kept faith with him, claimed him as he slept

Cold in the sun beside his upright spade.

The truth is, family courts are fair to fathers 20 February 2014

When women are judged to have failed as mothers caring dads can win custody battles.

We learnt yesterday that a “permissive mother” had lost custody of her sons after a family court judge transferred the residency of her children to her father. The judge stated that the woman behaved more like a friend than a parent. The transfer was granted despite the two boys, 14 and 11, having lived with their mother since birth.

Read the full article by Martin Narey >

Judges embrace i-trials 2 February 2014

Judges embrace i-trialsIt is a little known fact that our very own Lord Kerr of Tonaghmore, was the last ever appointed Law Lord, a centuries old tradition ended by the creation of the Supreme Court.  Lord Kerr, who incidentally hails from Lurgan, was appointed by Lord Carswell of Killeen whilst Lord Chief Justice to travel to America to investigate the potential of technology to assist in the administration of justice.  On his return the courts in Northern Ireland embraced the new technologies, unlike the Supreme Court, which until now, has been reticent.  Lord Kerr has been given the responsibility of implementing technological change in the Supreme Court and his efforts appear to have been successful according to this article in The Times.

Download The Times Judges embrace i-trials article (.pdf) >>

New Year Newsletter 2 January 2014

Noel and Nelly Nockembac had little of New Year cheer as they warmed their hands on a feeble flame in their temporary accommodation. It had been an unfortunate and unforeseeable train of events that had caused their misfortune. It had started when their next door neighbour had received a Christmas gift of a metal detector from his wife. As you may guess from his nickname, ‘Shudavegone’ Sullivan was terribly short-sighted. He and wife Susie were not enjoying the warmest of matrimonial relations and her design was that the metal detector would lead her myopic husband onto the nearby railway track – hopefully in front of the Dublin express. Instead it led him along the track of his neighbour’s oil line. Convinced that he had detected a trove of Viking gold, ‘Shudavegone’ set about uncovering the treasure with his trusty spade. Whilst he had little joy in uncovering treasure, he was singularly successful in severing the Nocembacs’ oil pipeline – allowing the entire contents of their oil tank to seep into the subsoil and under the founds of their house. Such was the pollution that the Nockembacs had to vacate their home on Christmas Day.

This was the last straw for Susie Sullivan. Earlier that day ‘Shudavegone’s pet ferret, (the salesman had taken advantage of his poor eyesight and told him it was a miniature Jack Russell) had defecated yet again in Susie’s Prada shoe. Balanced precariously on the unsoiled shoe Susie set about Shudavegone with the other. Shudavegone fled to his garden shed where he steadied his nerves with a some brandy that he kept there for ‘marital’ emergencies. When the coast was clear, he decided he would drive to the hostel to offer his apology to the Nockembacs but somewhat peckish on the way, Shudavegone decided to stop for a fish supper at a mobile chippy. The mobile chippy turned out to be a police breathalyser van so now he was waiting on a solicitor in his police cell.

Susie did not fare much better. In a terrible temper she pursued the fleeing husband in her prized Mini with only one Prada on. Unfortunately the ferret’s faecal deposit on her unshod stocking made her foot slip from accelerator on to the brake and she was rear ended by a tailgating lorry driver.

However help was at hand. Paul Lenehan from Campbell & Haughey Solicitors attended Shudavegone’s PACE interview. Paul secured his release and later reduced his driving ban with an eloquent plea and a place on the drink/driving rehabilitation course. Having told Paul of the plight of the Nockembacs, Clen Mackenzie intervened and in no time at all the Nockembacs were in a hotel courtesy of the insurers of Shudavegone; awaiting a handsome compensation package. Paul Haughey secured a replacement car for Susie and Gill McAreavey negotiated a settlement for her injury. Noel Nockembac’s elderly uncle died leaving Noel his farm. Martin Campbell completed the sizeable estate with Noel as sole beneficiary. He invested in a pub, purchased by Keith Hamilton and Martin Campbell successfully completed the licensing application. The pub, appropriately called ‘Knock them back at the Nockembacs’ was a complete success. There was no way back however for the Sullivans but the divorce was conducted by Campbell & Haughey with sensitivity. Shudavegone got custody of the ferret and Susie her second shoe – cleaned at his expense. All matters resolved so amicably that the Nockembacs and Sullivans are planning a New Year’s Reunion next year at the pub – the only proviso is that the ferret remains at home.

If you are having New Year blues as a result of legal problems, why not let our experts help?

Happy New Year to all our clients.

New Year Newsletter - Campbell and Haughey Solicitors, Lurgan

Santa’s legal woes 12 December 2013

Early December and things were not going well for Santa.  Mrs Claus was threatening divorce on suspicion of adultery and unreasonable behaviour as he could not provide a satisfactory explanation for his annual absence on Christmas Eve nor his lack of sobriety upon his return.  A neighbour had raised a right of way issue against his property and one of the elves was taking a personal injury claim under the health and safety regulations – alleging a nasty fall from a reindeer.  Worse still, his own back was sore after his sleigh had been rear ended by an uninsured motorist, leaving it currently out of commission. He still had to face an unwelcome appearance at Lapland Court for driving his sleigh without due care and attention last Christmas Eve.  He had promised his wife that he would update his will but had not yet found the time.

Fortunately, help was at hand.  Whilst playing with an iPad present that he was due to deliver, he came across an excellent website for Campbell & Haughey Solicitors. In no time at all, his problems were solved. Martin Campbell updated the wills for himself and Mrs Claus, who was so pleased that she dropped her divorce petition.  Paul Lenehan liaised with the Lapland PPS and Santa was given a caution only for his driving offence.  Keith Hamilton inspected his deeds, challenged the third party solicitor and the right of way case was withdrawn.  Paul Haughey sorted out the repairs to the sleigh and arranged a replacement sleigh during the period of repair.  Gill McAreavey negotiated an excellent settlement, (including physiotherapy), for Santa’s bad back with the Motorist Insurers’ Bureau. Clen Mackenzie successfully defended the action brought by the elf whom it turned out had fallen, not from a reindeer, but from a donkey on his way home from work via the Lapland Lounge where he had consumed a not inconsiderable amount of liquor.  Santa could now relax from his worries and concentrate on Christmas.

If problems such as these are causing you concern, why not let us help in the New Year.  Our service is fast and friendly, courteous and considerate.  It is client centred – not costs driven.  In the meantime, we wish all our clients a very happy Christmas.

a merry christmas rhyme by Paul Haughey



PS: our very own Paul Haughey has published a very funny poem for children based on the story of Christmas.  It would make an excellent gift at this time of year.

A Merry Christmas Rhyme is available on Amazon >>






Technology and the Law 11 December 2013

The Northern Ireland Courts continue to lead the way in exploiting the advantages of technology. 


Our Mr Haughey recently attended a symposium organised by the Bar Council on the expanding role of technology in the profession and courts.


We attach a recent decision in the High Court by McCloskey J.  This is something of a radical departure from the norm but many would agree that it makes common sense in the interests of justice. Download decision (PDF attachment) >>

Paul meeting the Secretary of State at Ceara School 6 December 2013

Paul is on the Board of Governors for Ceara School, Lurgan – pictures of him meeting the Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers MP, as Ceara prepare for their varied Christmas programme.

Sec of State visits Ceara Special School PMAKER 6

Sec of State visits Ceara Special School PMAKER 7

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