CLASHES between legal representatives are commonplace in court room drama - but not outside it!

Yet one was to feature in an extraordinary case brought at Winchester Quarter Sessions in 1823 when a solicitor was accused of assaulting a barrister in the city centre the previous day.

Thomas Burridge was so agitated he was unsure whether he wanted the hearing to immediately take place or have it adjourned.

"As you are in the profession, you ought to know you have the option of traversing if you think that is proper," Recorder Eldridge reminded him.

Burridge gave it a few seconds thought before pleading not guilty and asking for it to be heard at the next sessions.

No sooner had the judge consented when he made a bizarre demand.

"I wish to be permitted to state some circumstances to the court relative to the case."

"What is that?" the puzzled judge asked.

"My revenge is satisfied and I entertain no further angry feeling towards Mr Williams."

The judge acidly replied: "Revenge, sir, is not a proper term. It is not language fit to be addressed to this court."

Fearful of another attack, Williams urged the court to bind Burridge over to keep the peace until the next hearing.

It transpired the solicitor's animosity towards Williams stemmed from a case five years earlier, in which he had an interest and blamed the barrister for losing by not calling a witness.

Burridge had since bombarded him with a series of threatening letters which Williams had chosen to ignore and his anger spilt over as the barrister was walking down the High Street after leaving the Assizes.

"Suddenly, by stealth, and without provocation, he punched me with his clenched fist on the side of my face," Williams alleged. "In his letters he has frequently expressed his intention of committing some act of violence and under these circumstances I feel it necessary that he should be restrained by the court."

Burridge finally confessed there had been no justification for his conduct but his wish to say something in mitigation was at once rejected."

Those circumstances are of no consideration for this court," the judge forcefully told him. "Either accept being bound over in the sum of £200 with two surities of £100 each or be remanded in custody until your trial. The officer of the gaol will make arrangements as comfortable as the nature of the place will admit."

Burridge took the hint and hastily conferring with two other solicitors who had earlier offered him advice, was persuaded to plead guilty.

"I throw myself at the mercy of the court and the kind consideration" of Williams.

The barrister said he was satisfied with Burridge being bound over which the judge accordingly ordered.

To applause, he commented: "The termination of this business gives me great satisfaction as, from what has transpired, I believe Mr Burridge harbours no further design to wound my feelings."