The contents of the following article may offend some readers

03 March 2012 By Lawyers Weekly

The contents of the following article may offend some readersLast week Folklaw’s vast, unpaid research staff sent us a copy of an article on our other favourite f-word, written by a…

The contents of the following article may offend some readers

Last week Folklaw’s vast, unpaid research staff sent us a copy of an article on our other favourite f-word, written by a safely-tenured professor at Ohio State University’s College of Law a couple of years ago.

“Three consonants and a vowel ordered one way — ‘fcuk’ — is a multimillion-dollar designer label coveted by many worldwide,” Christopher Fairman wrote in Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No 59 otherwise entitled Fuck. “With the slightest of alterations, f-u-c-k becomes so forceful that its utterance can land you in jail. What transforms these four letters into an expletive of such resounding power?”


The examination of the taboos and various legal consequences of the word runs for 74 enthralling pages with 409 dense footnotes. Sadly, we’re on deadline here and can’t really entertain the notion of digesting the article for our learned readers, most of whom could probably google “Fairman fuck” and find the offending fascicle with ridiculous ease. However, this fascinating piece of legal linguistics has led us on a rather unscientific search for our judiciary’s most highly-cited exclamations and swearwords.

And the winner is indeed “fuck”, for which there are 1,258 hits in CaseBase. This is significantly more than “shit” (782), “bastard” (707), the C-word that Folklaw wouldn’t dare use in mixed company (532), “bitch” (511), “slut” (334), “bugger” (107), “fair dinkum” (70), “strewth” (three), “twat” (one) and “folklaw” (one; but not this Folklaw … yet).

Clifford Chance network raises ire

London lawyers are reeling over reports that Clifford Chance is setting up a lesbian, gay and transgender network. Readers of The Lawyer, a UK legal business magazine, have responded to the news with much furore on the magazine’s website, some dismissing it as nonsense. Others, though, have been more positive.

“What a nonsense. Can I launch a left-handers’ network?”

Lawyers Weekly Discover

Posted: 29 November 2007

From: Anonymous

“If anything, the last comment is clear evidence for why such a network support/development groups are necessary.”

Posted: 29 November 2007

From: Anonymous.

eBay law degree mill

Fed up with the long hours, “stress and misery” his law degree had afforded him, and intent on raising capital to fund an online venture selling pornography, lawyer David Wold put his degree up for sale on eBay with a US$100,000 ($111,000) reserve price, RollOnFriday reported.

The lot description included an assessment of some of the unique selling points of the degree, suggesting that the degree had qualified him “to work at least 60 hours a week at a place where I don’t want to be for people that I don’t care about”.

Clearly unimpressed with the profession he had chosen in his youth, Wold was apparently seeking to sell his degree to fund a sea change of sorts, selling X-rated videos of his romantic entanglements with his partner.

However, it seems that you can take the boy out of the profession, but can’t take the profession out of the boy. Wold remembered to put a disclaimer in the lot description, observing that merely purchasing the testamur doesn’t mean you’re qualified as a lawyer.

“Please note that I am in no way claiming that by purchasing this degree you will be given credit for having attended an accredited law school and completing its course of study nor will it give you the necessary credentials to take the bar exam,” he said. “You will not be able to become a lawyer by purchasing this degree. However this would make a great collectible if your name happens to be David Wold.”

Even Folklaw knows that in Australia you need a practising certificate to achieve the same level of misery.

Holidaying in hospital

Here’s a cheap accommodation idea for all you young articled clerks contemplating your budget holidays this year. A man in Austria managed to trick 93 healthcare professionals into admitting him to hospital with fake illnesses, and managed to con three years’ worth of accommodation and food out of that nation’s health system.

Unemployed 59-year old Franz Steiger managed to tour Austria’s apparently salubrious healthcare system for three years, but was finally caught out when he complained of suffering from dizzy spells after a “motorcycle accident”, reported. Physicians were unable to find any other corresponding injuries and checked his medical history with other hospitals.

The case continues.

Pity the Austrians won’t accept our Medicare cards. While the northern beaches of Sydney are lovely this time of year, Folklaw isn’t sure how many stars Royal North Shore Hospital would get in a Fodor’s travel guide as a result of the recent NSW parliamentary Joint Select Committee inquiry.

Biting the hand that feeds addiction

This story isn’t strictly amusing, but it seems a fascinating application of the Canadian civil justice system, and it seems to have all sorts of potential that the cleverer readers of Folklaw could surely find an application for. TimesOnline has reported that a Canadian woman addicted to crystal methamphetamine, and who spent her 20th birthday in a coma as a result, has successfully sued a long-time friend and drug dealer.

When police exhibited little interest in her case, 23-year-old Sandra Bergen elected to sue the dealer who sold her the drug that triggered the heart attack which put her in a coma for 11 days. TimesOnline described the case as a “ground-breaking suit” exposing “drug-dealers to legal jeopardy not just from the often-overburdened police but also from their customers, who can easily identify them”.

Bergen alleged that a childhood friend introduced her to the drug when she was 13 years old. “Usually what he does is he offers you some for free because he knows you are addicted. Once you have some, he offers to sell you some,” she said. Six years later, but after Bergen had been drug-free for eight months, Davey reintroduced her to the addictive drug with near-fatal consequences. reported that Bergen was due to testify as a complainant in a sexual assault case against a friend of Davey’s. The suit alleges that “such sale by Clinton was for the purpose of making money but also for the purpose of intentionally inflicting physical and mental suffering on Sandra”.

Davey initially rejected the allegations but ceased to contest the case rather than risk a contempt-of-court charge for refusing to identify his supplier, named in the suit as “John Doe”.

“I think it’s a different way to hit drug dealers financially, and that is where it would really hurt them,” Bergen said. “I have gotten sober. I think that’s taking responsibility for my actions. I don’t think I should have to take responsibility for both of our actions. I think he should meet me half way. That’s what this lawsuit is about.”

Bergen is claiming CA$50,000 ($54,635) in damages plus medical expenses on behalf of the Canadian medical system.

Folklaw loves it when a plan comes together.

Words we’d like to see judicially defined


Definition: “(say ‘jereemanduh) noun 1. Politics an arbitrary arrangement of the political divisions of an electorate, etc., made so as to give one party an unfair advantage in elections. verb (t) 2. Politics to subject (an electorate, etc.) to a gerrymander. 3. to manipulate unfairly. [Gerry + salamander; from Governor Elbridge Gerry, Republican Party Governor of Massachusetts, USA, who in 1812 manipulated electoral boundaries in this way, one district being said to look like a salamander]” — Macquarie Dictionary online.

One of only three uses in Australian case law: “The first relates to the grouping together of electors with common interests, the second to ease of communication between member and electorate, the third to estimates of future population changes, the fourth, as I would understand it, to the shape of electoral divisions, a matter relevant to the topic of the gerrymander, and the fifth to existing electoral boundaries, any too frequent or unnecessary alteration of which may be disruptive of relations between an electorate and its member” — Attorney-General (Cth); Ex rel McKinlay v Commonwealth (McKinlays case) (1975) 135 CLR 1.

Mess hits fan

Add this to the list of things not to do in court when it looks like things might not be going your way. A Trinidadian man on trial in the magistrate’s court in Port of Spain elected to endear himself to the magistrate by throwing bags of human excrement at her, recently reported.

Accused of arson, and apparently annoyed with the length of time it was taking to have his day in court, Tyrone Clarke managed to smuggle plastic bags of poo past security and launched an attack on Magistrate Michelle Maharajh-Brown after she denied him bail. The projectile didn’t hit the magistrate directly, but some of the splashback was indeed effective.

“I am ignorant and stupid, my nerves bother me plus I do not like the justice system in Trinidad,” Clarke later told journalists. No-one reportedly disagreed with the first part of his statement. “I am a small man who have to wait long time for my matter to be heard, while the big man getting short adjournment dates,” he said.

Clarke apologised to the magistrate and told reporters “I think she took the apology to heart; from the look on her face and her body language I could tell that.”

If only he could have exercised that level of judgement before he bagged the poo and secreted it into the court.

The contents of the following article may offend some readers
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