Judges – square beyond a reasonable doubt


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The news that a judge threw out a claim by Apple – that Samsung's Galaxy Tab infringes on its all-conquering iPad – has shaken the judiciary to its core. This is mainly because High Court Judge Colin Birss showed remarkable astuteness by insisting Samsung's products were "not as cool" as Apple's. British judges long stand accused of being out of touch with the general public, with their cluelessness regarding popular culture providing particular amusement,

Famous cases include the judge who didn't know who The Beatles were, another queried what a "Gazza" was, while one asked, "What is Linford Christie's lunchbox?", to the sprinter himself.

Just last year, Lady Justice Hallett, the Court of Appeal judge and chairman of the Judicial College, told of her plans to introduce lessons in real life, dubbed "social-awareness training", that would teach judges about slang, mainstream entertainment, unemployment and housing. But a study last year challenged the notion that judges were fogeys. "The media tends to perpetuate this stereotype of judges by the way they report some of the daft things they occasionally say," Dr Penny Darbyshire, who carried out the study, said. Still, it will take a while to shake off old stereotypes. And as Colin Fowler, a lawyer at Rouse, pointed out, "Whilst the judge pays Apple a compliment, this may be little comfort given that it is doubtful that many style-savvy consumers look to the courts for guidance on this issue."