“What are we going to do?”
Ben, Jacob and Wai were silent. They had no answer to Dylan’s question. Ben had reluctantly agreed to Dylan’s insistence that they tell the boys of Stan’s discovery. They were sitting in the conference room in a state of shock.
“We’re assuming of course it’s the Government who did this”, said Ben.
“Of course it is!” exploded Dylan.
“It must be. You have no other cases that would justify this”, said Jacob.
“What about the police?” said Ben. He knew it was a ridiculous idea as soon as he said it.
“I assume that is a joke”, said Dylan.
“You know”, said Wai slowly, stroking his wispy beard, “we could use this to our advantage”.
“How?” said Jacob.
“Well, we could deliberately give the Government false information. If they are listening in, let’s feed them with crap.”
“Yeah”, said Dylan enthusiastically, “we could really damage them.”
“I don’t see how we have any choice”, said Ben. “We can’t complain to the authorities. They are the authorities. In future, all conversations between us will have to be on our mobile phones.”
“Assuming they haven’t bugged them” said Jacob.
“No, Stan assures me he can fix it that our mobiles will be bug free”, said Ben.
“We’ll still have to have some communication by normal phones, or the Government will get suspicious”, said Dylan.
“Yeah, non-controversial stuff, or the misleading information we want to feed them”, said Ben.
“OK, that’s decided”, said Dylan. “Let’s turn this to our advantage. Jacob, have you prepared that discovery affidavit yet?”
“Yes, here’s the first draft.”
“Right, we’ll fax that to Richard Yap now. We can issue the summons tomorrow.”
There was a silence. Wai broke it.
“There’s one more thing”, he said. Ben and Dylan looked at him.
“We’re having trouble in the villages. Not everyone agrees with what we’re doing. Many of the Clan don’t support us, they’ve been promised all sorts of things by the third defendant if they support him”.
“What, you mean Chan, the rich guy?” said Dylan.
“Yes. He has a lot of influence in the villages. A lot of these people are triads. And we’ve been threatened.”
“By the triads?” said Ben.
“Yes. Not physically. Yet. My car was badly scratched last week. Yesterday Jacob and I were stopped in one of the villages by a gang of young men. They said that they know where we live and we should be careful. They said no more.”
“Report them to the police”, said Dylan.
“For what? Anyway, we believe the local police are controlled by the same people. It would be a waste of time. I mention this, right, just so you know what we’re up against. This is not just a litigation case. Too many people’s interests are at stake here.”
Silence again. It was broken this time by a knock on the door, followed by Patty’s entrance.
“This fax has just come in. From the Government”, she said. “Excellent”, said Dylan, “perhaps they’ve made an offer to settle!”
“No such luck”, said Ben, taking the fax from Patty. He read it and turned pale.
“What’s the matter?” said Dylan. He grabbed the fax from Ben. “I don’t believe it”, he muttered. “What is it?” said Jacob anxiously.
Dylan looked at Ben. “It’s the expert reports. They’ve instructed Peter Cartwright as their Chinese customary law expert.” Ben’s heart jumped.
Wai looked perplexed. “But...they can’t! He’s our expert! He agreed to do it for us! Ben, you spoke to him, right?”
“Yes, I did”, said Ben miserably. He was in a state of shock. Dylan didn’t know that two nights ago he had told Mandy of his intention to instruct Cartwright. What was going on?
“And he agreed to prepare a report for us?” said Wai.
“He said we should send him the papers for his initial comments. I was going to send them today.”
“What! You haven’t sent them already?” said Jacob.
“Look, he’s been away, he couldn’t have seen them until this week anyway. I didn’t see the point in sending them yet.”
“If the Government get Cartwright, we’re dead”, said Jacob. “He’s the leading expert.”
“I’ll call him up later today to find out what’s happening”, said Ben. “There must be a misunderstanding.”
“They must have found out through their bugs that we were instructing Cartwright”, said Jacob. Ben simply nodded. They talked about the problem a little further and agreed to meet again the next day to issue the discovery summons. Wai and Jacob left the office. Dylan looked at Ben coldly.
“You still think Mandy’s wonderful?” he said.
“Let me call her, I’ll try and sort it out, there must be a mistake.” Ben left the conference room and went into his own office. Mandy’s number was in his phone’s memory, he pressed the button. Mandy answered immediately.
“Mandy Lam”. “Hi Mandy, it’s Ben”.
“Oh hi Ben, how are you?” She sounded pleased to hear from him. “ When are we going out again?”
“This weekend, if you’re up to it”. “That’ll be great, I’m doing nothing”.
“OK. Mandy, I’ve got a problem. I’ve just received your fax about Professor Cartwright”.
“Yes. I thought you would be upset about that.”
“But Mandy...I told you that my clients were instructing him!”
“Ben...what can I say? My boss told me to contact him to see if he would prepare a report for us. I couldn’t say no. I spoke to Cartwright and to my surprise he agreed to help us. I thought he would say no, as he was already acting for you. He said he had received no papers from you, and so he was free to help us. I’m sorry, Ben, I was only doing my job.”
Ben was speechless.
“But....”, he spluttered, “I told you in bed two nights ago I was about to send him the papers!”
“I can’t disobey my boss Ben, you know that. There are other experts, get one of them.”
“That is not the point, Mandy. You used information you got from me, in my bed, to help your client!”
“Ben, I didn’t!” Mandy was in tears now. “It’s just a coincidence that my boss asked me to call Cartwright yesterday, I promise, you have to believe me!”
Ben didn’t know what to say. He shook his head.
“Mandy, I have to go now. I have to explain to my clients what’s happened. I’ll call you later. Bye”. He put the phone down gently.
Dylan poked his head around the door.
“Sorry, I couldn’t help but overhearing that. You told Mandy about Cartwright after one of your sessions?”
“Dylan, she would have found out soon enough.” Dylan shook his head.
“Ben, you have to be careful with her. I’m not saying what Bill Haley said was right, and all this could be a coincidence. But we’re playing with millions here. If we lose this case, this firm is finished, and so are we. She’s not worth it.”
Ben nodded grimly. What was really going on?