In the last few years lawyers have begun to gush about the ‘Sumption effect’. They were not thinking of Jonathan Sumption QC’s fine legal mind — which was of such a quality that the Supreme Court elevated him straight from the Bar to a seat on the highest court in the land. Nor were they praising his history of the Hundred Years’ War, a conflict of such violence and duplicity that perhaps only an English lawyer could do justice to it. Rather, his peers gazed on his wealth in wonder, and hoped that his riches would flow into their pockets too.
Sumption had collected about £7 million for representing Roman Abramovich in his fight with Boris Berezovsky. The case told commentators much about how hard-faced men moved to divide the spoils after the fall of the Soviet empire. But they barely discussed its most extraordinary aspect. The oligarchs’ dispute was none of our business. It had nothing to do with England.