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THE LAW AND THE LORDS

By the time you read this, or soon after, the judgment of Lord Laws and Mr Justice Crane will have been announced following the Appeal, in the London Divisional Court from 20 to 22 November, against the convictions of the five 'Metric Martyrs'. But we had to go to press meanwhile, to ensure that this reached you before Christmas. Besides, the judgment and its consequences will require many weeks of consultation. So here we can only comment on the Appeal proceedings, while preparing for a full statement on the outcome in our next number to appear in March. 

Whatever the decision, the preamble will surely elaborate on the remarks in Court that condemned the excessive volume and complexity of the metric regulatory machinery. Recalling that the Sunderland judgment had complained of this "Byzantine" legislative complexity, Lord Laws felt that such a description was "unfair on the Late Roman Empire"! He even wondered whether the legislation might be considered "void for uncertainty and obscurity". He also denounced the latest regulations - which, with effect from 31 December 2009, terminate the right to use imperial units as 'supplementary indications' - as "disproportionate"; observing that it was enough to make the use of metric units compulsory, without going the length of making the additional use of imperial a criminal offence. 

But for all these encouraging signs of robust open-mindedness, it is deplorable that no reference whatever was made to either of compulsory metrication's two fatal flaws. The reason for these crucial omissions is because they were not mentioned in any of the earlier trials - or anywhere else, for that matter - and the reason for that is because they both relate to practicalities rather than to the law. But they are vital to the case. 

The first 'Big Lie' - peddled unquestioningly by politicians, the DTI and the entire metrication camp, and assumed implicitly throughout last month's hearing - is that "A customer is free to order goods in imperial measures, whereupon the trader simply supplies the metric equivalent". This is "THE GREAT GRAM SCAM". It is not only untrue; it is impossible. For an essential element in any contract is consensus: i.e. an understanding and agreement between the parties as to terms. But that criterion is not met if I do not understand metric measures, nor if we have not agreed terms in metric units. Accordingly, there is no contract and consequently the transaction is unlawful. So the Government is inducing millions of unlawful transactions every day. 
Furthermore, if I ask for a pound of mince, it is extremely unlikely that I will be served with the metric equivalent of 453.59237 grams. If it is not exact it is not the equivalent. I may be sold 454g or anything between 400 and 500g. Under the imperial regime the trader tries to give as close to the requested measure as possible, depending on the nature of the commodity, and always informs the customer ("A bit over, luv, is that alright?"); whereas with metrication it may not even be an approximate equivalent but merely the denomination that is convenient to the supplier - i.e. what suits the metric system. The shopkeeper used to serve the customer: now the roles are reversed. The opportunities for cheating are legion. But the law remains oblivious to such mundane matters. 

The second colossal confidence trick, played by the metric authorities in order to deceive both the public and the judiciary, concerns 'supplementary indications'. We are all supposed to be grateful for this major 'concession', on account of which Lord Laws virtually dismissed the human rights aspects of the Appeal - repeatedly asserting that since traders are free to use imperial as supplementary indications their human rights are not being abused, and that the situation may change again before 1 January 2010 when even to mention the imperial equivalent is due to become a criminal offence. But this is a gigantic hoax. Supplementary indications are no more than the provision of additional information to assist the consumer, which cannot require authorisation. Their use is entirely at the discretion of the supplier and is therefore of no legal significance and no concern to the EU or DTI, who have no right either to grant or withhold permission for their use. It is astounding that throughout the passage of these Statutory Instruments through parliament only nine months ago, nobody pointed out that this particular Emperor has no clothes! 

Assuming the case goes on to the House of Lords (and European Courts), Judges must realize that these are the two reasons why compulsory metrication has not worked and cannot work; that without these confidence tricks a metric monopoly could never be imposed; and that compulsory metrication itself constitutes a violation of human rights in this country. 'The Law and the Lords' - not 'The Flaws and the Frauds'!

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