The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.
Gustave Flaubert

Thursday 4 July 2013

Interflora's Darling

If equity can have its darling,* Interflora v Marks & Spencer demonstrates that there is room in legal doctrine for at least one more (and I hope many more). In that case, the court invoked the well-informed and reasonably observant Internet user. That hypothetical person was not aware that the defendant's flower delivery service was not part of the Interflora network, and on that basis Interflora succeeded. I think we need a shorthand expression for that hypothetical person, who did not make their debut in the Interflora case but played such a leading role in it that I feel justified in proposing this neoligism.

Because I enjoy digressing, and hope you do too, I'll just recall a thought that came to me yesterday evening as I cycled home from the station - though the act of cycling had nothing to do with it: it was thinking of that case that did it. It took me back to when I was at university, and increasingly exotic options were being offered (though when my great friend Nick Gillies, the legal journalist, asked in a staff-student liaison meeting about the possibility of doing an option in social history, Professor Geoffrey Wilson of Constitutional and Administrative Law fame retorted "if you wanted a cafeteria, you should have gone to Keele!"). A rumour started, or more accurately I think we started a rumour through the medium of the student newspaper, The Warwick Boar, which under my editorship became a highly unreliable source of hard news, that a new joint honours degree was to be offered by the English and Politics departments, on Communism and sixteenth century English literature. It would basically consist of Marx and Spenser.

Another rumour, which I don't think The Warwick Boar started, suggested that the Law Department and the Sociology Department were planning to offer a course together leading to the award of the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Laws and Sociology, or BALLS for short.

*The bona fide purchaser for value without notice, in case you had forgotten, as most people have done with almost everything they ever learned about equity. Though one thing I do remember about it: at the College of Law, Guildford, for my Part II course (who remembers that?) a new maxim of equity appeared on the blackboard (who remembers them?) before a lecture: "He who comes to equity comes with a muddled mind".

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