Students show coffee house knowledge of leading cases

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By Legal Cheek on

End of term exam time is hitting some law students hard this year. Mounting evidence has emerged over recent days of how some can be driven close to the edge by endless hours of revising for obtuse questions about champerty and maintenance, landlord and tenant law and general tort issues.


British high street icon Costa Coffee has witnessed a phenomenon in which its distinctive, if not environmentally friendly, disposable cups have been amended to read: Costa v ENEL. Several examples of this trend have been sent to Legal Cheek.

For those who dozed off during successive EU law lectures, this is a pithy reference to a landmark 1964 European Court of Justice case establishing the supremacy of community law over the domestic legislation of member states. In other words, exactly the sort of thing that gets Nigel Farage and the Ukip contingent slightly hot under the Crombie.

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As with so many things European and legal, the detail is fairly complicated (hence so many drifting away in the back of the lecture hall), but the gist is this: Mr Costa — in common with the coffee shop chain founders — was Italian, and he objected strongly to the then-proposed nationalisation of the country’s electricity sector. To demonstrate his dissatisfaction, he refused to pay successive ‘lecky bills.


Energy company ENEL sued — and the rest … well, read the text books. Or better yet, simply order a large latte at your local Costa Coffee and scrawl ‘v ENEL’ below the logo. That should be enough to exhibit a sufficient awareness of labyrinthine European case law as far as any reasonably-mined lecturer is concerned.


Indeed, Legal Cheek suggests some domestic cases might qualify for similar treatment — and keep Mr Farage happy into the bargain, as these are pure English.

Scribbling ‘v IRC’ beneath the author’s name on any Gordon Ramsay cookery book will demonstrate an acute awareness of the ‘Ramsay principle’, which emerged following a 1982 House of Lords ruling around tax law. And ‘v Metropolitan Police Commissioner’ will go nicely in the programme notes after the character Fagin for any production of ‘Oliver’ – although there is a slight issue around the spelling.

Other suggestions gratefully received — or witnessed at various venues around the land.