Judge opens ruling with Winnie the Pooh quote

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By Rhys Duncan on

Case concerning honey

A judge has taken the unusual step of beginning a judgment by quoting from Winnie the Pooh.

Judge Neville, who sits in the first-tier tribunal handling general regulatory matters, was tasked with determining whether Odysea, a retailer of Greek food, could describe their honey as “raw”. This is a question that concerns the rather aptly named Honey (England) Regulations 2015.

Arguing against the label, Waltham Forest trading standards suggested that the marketing was misleading in that honey is not ordinarily cooked, although it’s temperature may be altered and it may undergo greater processing.

Rising to the momentous occasion, Judge Neville began his ruling with a quote from Winnie the Pooh:

“The things that make me different are the things that make me me”, said Piglet, who must have seen quite a bit of honey eaten over the years. If he treated Pooh to some ‘raw honey’, what would be different about it?”

With the words of A. A. Milne still ringing around the chamber, Judge Neville concluded that the term was not misleading as “The average consumer would struggle to explain what ‘cooked honey’ might even look like”. He did not, however, offer a definition of what might constitute “raw” honey, finding simply that the Odysea product “would satisfy just about everyone as being raw honey”.

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This isn’t the first time that judges have tried novel or innovative approaches to brighten up their conclusions however.

In a recent case concerning the tax classification of Walkers poppadoms (which are, for tax purposes, not actually poppadoms), judge Anne Fairpo invoked her inner philosopher, saying that “Nominative determinism is not a characteristic of snack foods”. This was evidenced, she said, by the fact that “calling a snack food “Hula Hoops” does not mean that one could twirl that product around one’s midriff, nor is “Monster Munch” generally reserved as a food for monsters.”

Back in 2017 a US judge opened his judgment with a quote from Game of Thrones character Tyrion Lannister. “A wise man once said a true history of the world is a history of great conversations in elegant rooms”, he began, before discussing the relevance of first amendment rights in an employment context.

Closer to home, a High Court Judge in 2016 added emojis to a decision in order to make it more accessible to the children and mother in a family law case. Peter Jackson, who is now a Lord Justice of Appeal, also used simple language and shortened his conclusions to further help the parties’ understanding.

Elsewhere in the world of judgment writing, great controversy has been caused by the font selection of the UK’s highest court, a change from Times New Roman to Calibri in 2021 sparking furious debate amongst lawyers.

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