Archive for September, 2010

Sep 03 2010

Beyond parody: Miss World and South Lanarkshire

Published by under Info law,International law,Scots law

I’ve said before that Mr Justice Albie Sachs of the South African Constitutional Court is one of the great judges of our time. One of his great writings is his concurring opinion in the case of Laugh It Off Promotions CC v South African Breweries International (Finance) BV, [2005] ZACC 7, in which he posed the question “Does the law have a sense of humour?”. This was an action by a beer distributor in which, to use his words,

a graduate of a course in journalism decided to do battle with a number of corporate giants, calling his enterprise Laugh it Off and arming himself with T-shirts bearing parodied images and words brazenly pilfered from his opponents. One of his victims, South African Breweries [SAB], saw one of its well-known trademarks reproduced on T-shirts for public sale. The words ‘Black Label’ and ‘Carling Beer’, which accompanied the logo were transformed into ‘Black Labour’ and ‘White Guilt’. In smaller lettering the slogans, ‘America’s Lusty Lively Beer’ and ‘Brewed in South Africa’ were converted into ‘Africa’s Lusty Lively Exploitation Since 1652, No Regard Given Worldwide’. SAB did not laugh. Instead it went to the Cape High Court and sought, and obtained, an interdict restraining distribution of the T-shirts.

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Sep 02 2010

What’s wrong with South Lanarkshire?

Published by under Scots law

South Lanarkshire Council has long had a certain reputation for Brezhnevism. Recently it seems to have excelled itself by bringing threatening proceedings for defamation1 in Lanark Sheriff Court against the membership of a local community council for an article on its website which linked to another article on a different organisation’s website entitled “South Lanarkshire Council and Scottish Coal Hand-in-Hand at Community LIE-aison Meeting”. I have never before heard of a Scottish local authority attempting to bring a defamation action at all, let alone one like this which is done purely to shut up ordinary political criticism. No authority with any appreciation of the right of free speech, and its relationship with the rule of law, could abuse the legal system like this. This sort of legal action happens in Russia, which is one reason why Russia keeps the European Court of Human Rights so busy: but until now, it didn’t happen in Scotland. Continue Reading »

  1. They say they didn’t; but this is what the victims say. [back]
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