Warning: “milk bottle contains, er, milk”

by Walter Olson on February 1, 2009

The warning on a bottle from Asda, a large U.K. grocery chain, is “indicative of a policy by supermarkets and food manufacturers to liberally stamp warnings on products to avoid legal complications.” [Daily Mail]

{ 3 comments }

1 Andrew_M_Garland 02.01.09 at 6:48 pm

Law has become complicated and mysterious. It seems that judges will not impose a reasonable interpretation of what is written as law, but are quite willing to read typos, omissions, and “technical” infractions as worthy cases for exploration and punishment.

I can imagine a judge saying “The statute says that the product (milk) shall carry a contents warning label that conforms with section 8(b). The “common” label is not conforming, and there is no warning label that fits the definition of 12(a). Therefore, the milk is mislabeled, with judgement for the plaintiff for $934,000.”

Long ago I sued a company for payment. I had written the contract in question (reviewed by an attorney). I was advised not to offer any opinions about what the contract meant because I wasn’t an attorney! Contracts, it seems, are treated as works of impressionist art. The inner meaning of the document is only available to attorneys after the fact.

I don’t blame the attorneys. They are competing in the environment created by politicians and judges. Possibly the law is a fiction, covering up the political rule that has always controlled societies.

2 Corey Frisbee 02.01.09 at 9:06 pm

laws written by lawyers, who else could understand them??

3 Bruce Lagasse 02.02.09 at 2:16 pm

Andrew Garland: “Contracts, it seems, are treated as works of impressionist art. The inner meaning of the document is only available to attorneys after the fact.”

Reminiscent of Tom Wolfe’s observation in his book “The Painted Word”: “The purpose of modern art is to illustrate the writings of modern art critics.”

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