'The explanation for my client's alleged participation in this conspiracy is summed up in the old Creole saying, "He who lies down wid de dogs, gets up wid de fleas".'This was what Lord Justice Ward once heard John Roberts QC submit passionately to His Honour, the late Judge Norman Brodrick, as he recounts in his judgment in the recent case of Baldwin v Berryland Books  EWCA Civ 1440, para 95.
The case concerns a claim for conspiracy to injure a business by unlawful means. It's not being reported by ICLR because the law applied is well settled in a number of cases already reported (see paras 45 to 49), but that decision is only taken after both the reporter and the relevant editor have carefully considered the case. One of the perks of this sometimes arduous task (we read and consider thousands of judgments a year) is to come across a hidden gem or amusing aside, such as that above.
It's not that surprising when you think about it. Judges are natural raconteurs, and if they don't use as much humour as they might do in their judgments, it is only for fear of upsetting the parties or being misunderstood (deliberately or otherwise) in the press.
I shall continue to celebrate flashes of forensic wit and judicial anecdote as and when I come across them, and welcome external contributions to, and comments upon, this occasional series.