The latest book to fit in the “Truth is stranger than fiction camp” is Alan Manly’s When There Are Too Many Lawyers. The story is part legal survival guide, autobiography and tragi-comedy that chronicles the ten years Manly and his co-defendant, Julian Day spent fighting a vexatious litigant. It’s an endless rollercoaster of a book that holds up a mirror to the quirks that underpin the judicial system in NSW.

The court cases began with a simple and innocuous invoice for $115. Manly and Day had received this because they were directors of the non-profit industry body, the Information Technology Society of Australia (ITSA). The invoice was from an individual who had volunteered for ITSA and was charging the body for alleged “photocopying” fees. The pair had had an uneven history with the litigant and after some investigation, Day had reason to believe that the receipt had been faked. So the two made a complaint at a police station in North Sydney.

What followed was over 250 appearances in court which arose from 34 separate cases involving “the fraudster”, with the actions even making it all the way to the High Court. Initially, Manly and Day would pay big money for legal representatives but as the cases endured and the two noticed the increased disorganisation and limp arguments put forward by their counsel, they eventually decided to sever ties and represent themselves.

The plaintiff in this tale is described by Manly as being like the Coyote from the Looney Tunes cartoons. Even after the litigant has faced numerous set-backs and losses, he would be quick to employ guile and ingenuity by returning back to the drawing board and attacking Day and Manly with another court case or argument. This book is an easy read with little legalese and it is gripping as you become engrossed in the account and wonder, “How will it end?”

Along the way Manly describes the affect that all of these cases had on his personal life and career. Overall, it’s a bizarre journey that this self-proclaimed, hot-headed redhead with a ninth grade education embarks on. Manly is also cheeky, clever and politically incorrect in his writing. When There Are Too Many Lawyers is ultimately a brutally honest, hold no bars-type tale where Manly recounts things with great clarity and passion. This then combines to be one unbelievably crazy, insightful and fascinating read that will leave you shaking your head with disbelief.


***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a The Reading Room giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit:


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