Lord Denning Cuts The Crap

Lord Denning begins his judgment in Buttes Gas and Oil Co v Hammer and others [1980] 3 All ER 475 with this:

“Abu Musa is a small island in the Arabian Gulf. Early in 1970 oil was discovered nine miles off its shore. Each of two American oil companies claimed the right to exploit it. They started litigating about it in October 1970. Now ten years later the action is nowhere near trial. It has only reached the stage of discovery of documents. On this interlocutory point the argument before us took nine days, with five leading counsel and as many juniors. We have had excursions into the law of the sea, of territorial waters and the continental shelf, into sovereign immunity and diplomatic immunity, into the rules of court and goodness knows what else. No expense has been spared. No stone left unturned. McNeill J in the court below exploded. Even at that stage, when the application was before him, he said that the length of the proceedings was ‘outrageous and comes perilously near to an abuse of the process of the court’. Even more when it reaches us nearly a year later. Still we must go on with it. It looks like outdoing Jarndyce v Jarndyce (see Dickens, Bleak House) except that these litigants are not likely to run out of money.”

And ends with this:

“I return to where I started. This is merely an application for discovery of documents. Yet it has taken the master, the judge and the Court of Appeal many days of argument and many pages of judgments. All the territorial matters under discussion have passed into history. They were settled by international agreement eight years ago. The continental shelf of the Arabian Gulf has been apportioned out. The oil revenues have been divided by agreement. All that is left is this interminable action arising out of a speech by Dr Armand Hammer on 5 October 1970 at the Great Eastern Hotel in London. It is high time to let bygones be bygones. I would not allow any further discovery by either side. Let these two oil companies fight it out as best they can with such materials as they have available or can get hold of. By subpoena or otherwise. There is quite enough of it in all conscience. Take out a summons for directions. Either side can demand that it be tried by a jury. I pity the jury. Set the action down for trial at once. Let it hang about no longer. For goodness sake get rid of it one way or the other.”

Lord Denning rOxOrs so hard sometimes.