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Harvard law professor’s legal threat to Chinese takeaway which slightly overcharged him goes viral

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Ben Edelman has since apologised, but his terrifying emails (re-produced below) remain out there for all to see

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Law isn’t just about intellect, it’s about common sense too — and sometimes even a degree of compassion.

Young Harvard academic Ben Edelman — who holds a law degree from Harvard Law School and lectures in law at its business school — has learned this lesson the hard way, after his emails threatening a small Chinese takeaway with legal action for overcharging him by $4 were leaked to a website.

Over the last 24 hours they have sparked worldwide outrage on social media.

The full email exchange between Edelman and the Sichuan Garden restaurant, courtesy of Bostom.com, is below.

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Prior to the exchange, Edelman, 34, had been developing a reputation as an internet consumer champion, with his work exposing big companies’ breaches of the law online seeing him dubbed by Bloomberg Businessweek the “Sheriff of the Internet”.

Yesterday, having accepted that his formula doesn’t work so well against small businesses, Edelman issued this apology on his blog.

“Many people have seen my emails with Ran Duan of Sichuan Garden restaurant in Brookline.

“Having reflected on my interaction with Ran, including what I said and how I said it, it’s clear that I was very much out of line. I aspire to act with great respect and humility in dealing with others, no matter what the situation. Clearly I failed to do so. I am sorry, and I intend to do better in the future.

“I have reached out to Ran and will apologize to him personally as well.”