More judicial flourish please!

Barristers are forced to read a lot of judgments, which can often be a pretty grueling exercise. But it also depends on whose opinion you are reading. Of course judges are not in the business of entertaining their audience but every so often a bit of colour can make all the difference and at least from my own perspective, is always encouraged. As a light aside to the usual hints and case notes I post here, I give you three of my favourites.

The first comes from the United States, where Chief Judge Kozinski of the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit ruled in favour of a Japanese whaling research organization against Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Organisation with which he is associated. The former sought an injunction to prevent Watson et al from continuing what were alleged to be piracy activities (in the name of protecting the whales). In his judgment Institute of Cetacean Research v Sea Shepherd Conservation Society 12-35266 His Honour opened his opinion with this:

You don’t need a peg leg or an eye patch. When you ram ships; hurl glass containers of acid; drag metal-reinforced ropes in the water to damage propellers and rudders; launch smoke bombs and flares with hooks; and point high-powered lasers at other ships, you are, without a doubt, a pirate, no matter how high-minded you believe your purpose to be.

Something more local comes from Justice Pembroke of the NSW Supreme Court, who maintains a sharp turn of phrase in all of his judgments. In an application brought by Channel 7 seeking to restrain its former employee James Warburton from going to work for the enemy, His Honour commenced his judgment in Seven Network (Operations) Limited & Ors v James Warburton (No 2) [2011] NSWSC 386 by saying:

Mr Warburton is a highly skilled and talented television executive. At the Seven Network, he was the natural successor to David Leckie as chief executive officer. Like Caesar however, Mr Leckie was not ready to go.”

Who better than to have the final say than the inimitable Lord Denning who in the famous nuisance case, Miller v Jackson [1977] QB 966, said:

In summertime village cricket is the delight of everyone. Nearly every village has its own cricket field where the young men play and the old men watch. In the village of Lintz in County Durham they have their own ground, where they have played these last 70 years. They tend it well. The wicket area is well rolled and mown. The outfield is kept short. It has a good club house for the players and seats for the onlookers. The village team play there on Saturdays and Sundays. They belong to a league, competing with the neighbouring villages. On other evenings after work they practise while the light lasts. Yet now after these 70 years a judge of the High Court has ordered that they must not play there any more. He has issued an injunction to stop them. He has done it at the instance of a newcomer who is no lover of cricket. This newcomer has built, or has had built for him, a house on the edge of the cricket ground which four years ago was a field where cattle grazed. The animals did not mind the cricket. But now this adjoining field has been turned into a housing estate. The newcomer bought one of the houses on the edge of the cricket ground. No doubt the open space was a selling point. Now he complains that when a batsman hits a six the ball has been known to land in his garden or on or near his house. His wife has got so upset about it that they always go out at week-ends. They do not go into the garden when cricket is being played. They say that this is intolerable. So they asked the judge to stop the cricket being played. And the judge, much against his will, has felt that he must order the cricket to be stopped: with the consequence, I suppose, that the Lintz Cricket Club will disappear. The cricket ground will be turned to some other use. I expect for more houses or a factory. The young men will turn to other things instead of cricket. The whole village will be much the poorer. And all this because of a newcomer who has just bought a house there next to the cricket ground.”

Hear, hear, jolly good show!!

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