AT THE OFFICES of Messrs. Venal & Grabbit, Solicitors, it is eight o'clock on Monday morning. Sir Edgar Venal and his partner Ebenezer Grabbit are opening the post.

"Did you see that Payne Hicks Beach are being sued by a client over their billing?" Asks Ebenezer, slicing through an envelope and its contents with his letter-opener.

"Yes I did. Nasty business." Replies Sir Edgar. He frowns momentarily when he realises that the letter he has just opened is from the SRA, before filing it in the waste bin.

"The client has the temerity to complain that they billed her for every second of their time." Continues Ebenezer, as he sellotapes back together the halves of the court order he has just sliced in two.

"And what is wrong with that?" Asks Sir Edgar, putting a letter from a particularly difficult client on the pile of the trainee, D'Arcy Downtrodden.

"Nothing whatsoever." Replies Ebenezer, as he attempts to unsellotape his fingers. "One is quite entitled to charge for every second of one's time. Payne Hicks Beach's conduct is beyond reproach."

"Well, I wouldn't quite go that far." Says Sir Edgar, putting a large cheque from a client on to his post pile, despite the fact that it was addressed to D'Arcy.

"Oh really?" Queries Ebenezer, also using the waste bin for filing, this time for a fee note from counsel.

"Yes." Says Sir Edgar. "They only charged her £600 an hour."