Nosemonkey\’s gone over to the Dark Side

(And yes, I am aware of the meme popular in certain anti-EU circles about Napoleonic Law versus Common Law and how the EU uses the former which only permits things explictly stated while the latter allows everything *except* things explicitly stated. It’s a load of ahistorical abject bollocks made popular by people who haven’t got the first clue about how EU Law actually works. In any case, it matters not a jot in this instance, as Britain (or, at any rate, England, Wales and Northern Ireland) still has its Common Law, and would therefore not be obliged to stop eggs being labelled by number even if the final version of this proposed legislation forgot to include an explicit opt-out.)

EU law over rides UK. EU law is Napoleonic: if it is not stated that you may then you may not.

I\’ve wondered this for some time and I\’m afraid, sorry and all that, but I think Our Clive is being paid you know.

Purely personal opinion, but I really do.

42 thoughts on “Nosemonkey\’s gone over to the Dark Side”

  1. In any case the legislation means that products have to be sold by weight. Which they already are. Eggs are classified by weight already. It does not stop any other text from appearing on the label. Nor does it stop certain quantities of products being sold. Just like bannanas. You buy a certain number of them but you pay by weight. All a big hoo-haw about nothing except a classic urban myth for the EU sceptics to carry on talking about.

  2. Wow, it’s like reversed chronology:

    TW: EU law over rides UK. EU law is Napoleonic: if it is not stated that you may then you may not.

    NM: A load of ahistorical abject bollocks made popular by people who haven’t got the first clue about how EU Law actually works.

    (clue: Napoleonic law doesn’t mean that if it is not stated that you may then you may not…)

  3. “EU law over rides UK.”

    I’m never quite sure if this is true or not. ID cards, internet monitoring, food safety and all that jazz have their origins in Brussels but they always still need UK specific legislation to enact them don’t they?

    I have come to a (less than concrete) view that, assuming that above is correct, EU law doesn’t legally trump UK law but does in practice. Our parliamentarians *merely* choose to defer to Brussels at every opportunity.

    An ideal political fudge. They can simultaneously claim no loss of sovereignty and give it all away!

  4. Napoleonic?

    Surely you mean it is a system of civil law rather than common law.

    Completely different. Seriously, what are you talking about Tim.

    Common law is good because of all the case law I agree, but you’ve grossly characterised civil law. Jeez.

  5. ID cards, internet monitoring, food safety and all that jazz have their origins in Brussels but they always still need UK specific legislation to enact them don’t they?

    Yes, that’s right. The way in which the food legislation would be implemented would be:

    1) The UK government passes a law or legislative implement (can’t be bothered to look up whether this is devolved or not for Scotland and NI) saying that labelling requirements must now comply with the requirements stated in the EU directive.

    2) Food producers must now comply with the wording of the new UK law/LI.

    3) Because the law in question is a UK law, even if Napoleonic law were as Tim characterises it (it isn’t), then the only way in which sale-by-number could be banned would be if the UK government decided to insert an extra clause that wasn’t in the EU legislation banning sale by number.

    If a member state fails to incorporate the EU legislation into its domestic law, then the European Commission can raise the case with the ECJ, which has the power to fine non-compliant member states.

    Unsurprisingly, there have never been any cases where a member state has been prosecuted for incorporating the exact wording of the legislation into domestic law (whereas presumably in Tim’s fantasy world, any common law jurisdiction would need to add paragraphs saying “and by the way, everything else is forbidden” to be compliant with the rules…)

  6. So Much For Subtlety

    The problem is one of appeals. British court cases will now be appealed to the European Courts. The Common Law has incorporated three civil law systems without too much trouble – the Napoleonic codes of Quebec and Louisiana, and the pre-Napoleonic civil law of the Dutch settlers in South Africa. In all three cases the civil law has been commonised. Because the dominant legal tradition wins in the end not least because cases are appealed to the Common law system.

    Britain is now incorporated into a civil law tradition. One that is very different. One that says Courts have no business imposing penalties that are rightfully legislative – there are usually no punitive damages in Civil law systems. One that says there is no binding precedents. One that says the Courts may not interfere in the Executive’s right to do what it wants.

    I can trivially foresee a time when an appeal will go to Europe and one or more of these will be found to be invalid. As with removing the Law Lords from the House, the Common law will have to change. And it will no longer be a Common law system.

  7. “I can trivially foresee a time when an appeal will go to Europe and one or more of these will be found to be invalid.”

    An appeal by whom, against what, to which court? Based on my understanding of the relationship between the states, the ECJ, the General Court and the ECHR, I can’t see any way in which this could occur.

  8. it’s like watching lawyers debate economics. (Or at least clever friendly ones – good will, intelligence, some knowledge, but it’s not quite the thing). Some very interesting things in the thread, though. EU lawyers will tell you the whole system is being “commonized” if that’s a word, that precedent is dominant in practice if not still in theory. As SMFS notes, this is what happened in Louisiana, etc. And no, civil law doesn’t ban people from using ipads until the legislature meets to vote a law expressly allowing them to do so. As for whether EU law overrides “UK law” (whatever that is), that rather presupposes they’re separate any more. And it’s the Brits and their legal philosophy that’s winning and changing Brussels and Luxembourg in just as important ways as the other way ’round.

  9. So Much For Subtlety

    ambrose murphy – “EU lawyers will tell you the whole system is being “commonized” if that’s a word, that precedent is dominant in practice if not still in theory.”

    But in practice precedent is not something you can really do away with. The Civil Law nations have had to pay attention to it, even if they do not accept it as a doctrine, if for no other reason than if the Cour de Cassation strikes you down once, they will probably do it again. This is not the civil countries becoming common law ones. Nor is it preserving the Common law tradition. But it probably does mean our assimilation.

    “As for whether EU law overrides “UK law” (whatever that is), that rather presupposes they’re separate any more.”

    That’s comforting. So it is too late.

    “And it’s the Brits and their legal philosophy that’s winning and changing Brussels and Luxembourg in just as important ways as the other way ’round.”

    No we are not. Or we would be able to sell a dozen curved bananas by the pound. Their tradition continues to be strong and we continue to change to adapt to it. We have not been able to stop the French deporting terror suspects to Algeria – even though we signed the same laws as they did and they prevent us deporting them to Italy. And yet we had to kick the Law Lords out of the House of Lords just to comply with their legal theories. They may be borrowing some useful commercial law from us, but where it matters, our traditions are being trashed to comply with their ideology.

  10. SMFS: the Brits do actually apply (and implement, for that matter) EU rules in rather different ways from the continental states – and then blame the rules for the results, not the implementation and enforcement. Walk a mile this evening and have a pint. (Enjoy it in good health while you’re at it). Brussels doesn’t care – it’s the UK ministries, who probably gold-plated the implementing legislation in the first place, and then enforce with enthusiasm that which could otherwise be benignly neglected, that create daily mail headlines.

    As for comforting, wasn’t meant to be.

    cheers.

  11. Oh dear, Tim, you used to be much better than making entirely unsubstantiated ad hominem attacks backed up with no more than schoolboy statements of “you’re wrong, I’m right”. I thought you used to pride yourself on being one of those evidence-based bloggers?

    For the record: I have never been paid a penny to write anything on my blog, and I have never been employed by any EU institution, body or representative, either formally or informally (unless you count the two weeks’ unpaid work experience I did at the Commission when I was 16 – at which stage I was as vehemently eurosceptic as you are).

    To suggest otherwise reflects far more on you and your desperation than it does on me.

    It’s sad, really – I always used to count you as one of the sensible eurosceptic bloggers. It would appear you’ve joined the ranks of the conspiracy theorists.

    It’s more than a little bit pathetic, and a very great shame.

  12. Jesus, the EU spends some people looney.

    “No we are not. Or we would be able to sell a dozen curved bananas by the pound. Their tradition continues to be strong and we continue to change to adapt to it.”

    Weights and measures aren’t something that the EU are forcing on us, the UK govt would do the same eventually. There’s nothing intrinsically better about imperial, in fact its intrinsically worse because they don’t make any bloody sense. And you can buy a dozen bananas if you like, just as for 12 (do you have a problem with arabic numerals). You can buy things by the pound, the metric will just also be displayed.

    This isn’t so much an EU thing as a rational weight and measure thing, it will make us all slightly better off in the long run.

    “We have not been able to stop the French deporting terror suspects to Algeria – even though we signed the same laws as they did and they prevent us deporting them to Italy.”

    This is idiotis. I assume you’re talking about Learco Chindamo. This isn’t about us not being able to deport him, we can. The point is that this man was bred in this country, the fact he spent 3 years in italy is pretty much irrelevant (as the court decided). I don’t know about France, but we can and have deported people all the time. We’ve deported refugees only to see them murdered. its recorded by chicken yoghurt, look it up.

    “And yet we had to kick the Law Lords out of the House of Lords just to comply with their legal theories.”

    Don’t know much about this; I know they’ve moved, but I just thought it was improving the set up, did the EU force it? Explain if you would.

  13. No we are not. Or we would be able to sell a dozen curved bananas by the pound

    *sigh*

    Before the UK joined the EEC, there were laws in England and Wales and Scotland and NI (since Ambrose is being pendant-ic about ‘UK law’…) stipulating which weights and measures could be used, and what the minimum quality (aesthetically and otherwise) of produce that could be sold would be.

    Before the UK joined the EEC, the government was in the process of shifting these laws to reflect the UK’s commitment to shift to the metric system.

    Neither of these have *any bloody thing whatsoever* to do with the clash between common law and Roman/Napoleonic law.

    I mean, “There shall be one measure of wine throughout our whole realm, and one measure of ale and one measure of corn–namely, the London quart;–and one width of dyed and russet and hauberk cloths–namely, two ells below the selvage…”.

    Bloody English union, imposing their London measures on us, when we want to sell ale and corn by the Wessex gallon and cloths by the cubit…

  14. So Much for Subtlety – “No we are not. Or we would be able to sell a dozen curved bananas by the pound.”

    Ignoring the fact that it’s rather difficult to buy a dozen bananas while simultaneously buying them by the pound, I bought a dozen eggs just this morning from Tesco (min net weight 540g, it says on the label, despite this legislation having not yet been passed or enacted), and tomorrow I fully expect to buy a pound of bananas from the market.

    Where are you shopping? It’s extremely rare for imperial measurements not to be used alongside metric. (And if they’re not, it’s got nothing to do with the EU anyway.)

    And where do you get the idea that the establishment of the Supreme Court has something to do with our EU membership? I’ve never heard that one before…

  15. And no, the setting up of the Supreme Court and removal of the Lord Justices from the House of Lords has absolutely fuck all to do with the EU, or with EU law.

    One of the theoretical reasons cited for setting up the SC is that the European Convention on Human Rights (which has absolutely fuck all to do with the EU or EU law, and was written by English and Scots lawyers based on the freedoms and rights granted by English and Scots law) could be interpreted to suggest that judges were not impartial if they were members of the legislature – and so removing the highest court of appeal from the legislature ensures that no decision made by that court could be challenged by the European Court of Human Rights on those grounds. However, they didn’t make us do it, and that wasn’t the main reason the government did it.

  16. My previous comment appears to have vanished into the ether (Oh noes! It’s a CONSPIRACY!), so I’ll try again:

    I have never been employed by any EU body, agency, representative or employee, either directly or indirectly (unless you count the two weeks’ unpaid work experience I did at the Commission when I was a 16-year-old raving eurosceptic). I have also never received any payment to write any articles on my blog – on the contrary, I’ve turned down a number of offers to do just that.

    That you believe otherwise based on nothing more than a hunch makes you a conspiracy theorist. Which is really rather sad, as I used to think you were one of the sensible anti-EU bloggers. Now it seems I’ll have to lump you in with the nutters who think it’s all a plot by the Illuminati / Bilderburg Group / Freemasons / Lizardmen.

    It’s also more than a little sad that the best you can come up with is an ad hominem attack and schoolboy-level “he’s wrong, I’m right” nonsense, with not a jot of evidence to back up your entirely false assertion.

    You used to be better than this. A lot better. Shame.

    Tim adds: Fair enough, I withdraw the late night beery allegation. Apologies.

  17. “it’s all a plot by the Illuminati / Bilderburg Group / Freemasons / Lizardmen.”

    My God. You mean they’ve teamed up now? This is exactly what I feared would happen.

  18. John B said: “If a member state fails to incorporate the EU legislation into its domestic law, then the European Commission can raise the case with the ECJ, which has the power to fine non-compliant member states.”

    Which puts pressure on EU members to be good and compliant EU members. Our lot seem to pride themselves on being good Europeans.

    If we were not members of the EU much of the legislation that is problematic such as that surrounding the surveillance state would still probably arise by our politicians cribbing ideas from other legislatures. Our politicians can use the EU as the perfect foil to deflect blame onto *and* as a source of ideas. It is no wonder they love it.

    I have an intense dislike for the European project but whichever way you slice it the problem has never really been in Brussels. It is in Westminster.

  19. @Left Outside ” There’s nothing intrinsically better about imperial, in fact its intrinsically worse because they don’t make any bloody sense.”

    Basing on 12 can be very convenient.

    12 is divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6.
    10 is divisible by 1,2, 5.

    12 is also used for that strange thing called…time.

    So having inches, hours and shillings divisible by 12 can make alot of sense indeed.

  20. “the Napoleonic codes of Quebec “: how the bugger did that happen? Did the Highlanders climb up to the Plains of Abraham in vain?

  21. Fine, I agree, if thousands of years ago we agreed on a base 12 system of counting it would be better.

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 @ * 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 [email protected] 1* 20.

    It would be better. But we’re stuck with base 10. Hence Metric.

  22. @ Roger Thornhill

    “Basing on 12 can be very convenient.

    12 is divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6.
    10 is divisible by 1,2, 5.”

    True, but multiples are a lot easier in base 10. How many eggs in 378 dozen?

    Then throw in 14 pounds in a stone and 16 ounces in a pound…

  23. How many feet in a yard? How many yards in a mile?

    Hmm…. Imperial is rubbish, oour grandchildren will wonder why we ever bothered.You’re used to it and that’s fine, but you’ve had decades to get used to it. Man up.

  24. “True, but multiples are a lot easier in base 10. How many eggs in 378 dozen?”

    Not true, in base 12 that would be 378 times 10

    i.e. 3780.

    Easy.

  25. Fine, I agree, if thousands of years ago we agreed on a base 12 system of counting it would be better.

    Sadly, most of us don’t have 12 fingers…

  26. Pingback: Best anti-EU comment ever? | Nosemonkey's EUtopia

  27. john b.

    We also have eight knuckles and four fingertips on which to count on each hand.

    This allows you to count to twelve one handed using your thumb as pointer. (That’s a Bangladeshi trick).

    There’s nothing inherently logical about base 10 and if I were designing a society (Mwahahahaha!) then I reckon I’d use base 12 (and women would have 9 tits).

    Interesting where comment threads can go.

  28. @Left Outside

    maybe it would take decades for you or others now in the tender mercies of our current education system, but I managed to get on top of it early in primary school…

    As for “man up”…”man up”? Sliding from a more complex to a less complex system “manning up”? Wimping out more like.

    Mental arithmetic is good for the brain and the ability to divide evenly is useful. Base12 is a red herring as 12 is better under bass 10 already.

    As for counting, I like the Korean system which means you can count to 99 just using the finger tips.

  29. The while thing about imposition of weights ad measures was thrown into sharp relief by reading ‘1984’, and the old man complaing about why he couldn’t have a pint of beer instead of a litre. Hair stood up on the back of the neck with that one.

    And before Nosemonkey or any other wise rationalist cranks on about ‘Bilderburg’ (sic), I would suggest they visit its website –

    http://www.bilderbergmeetings.org/index.php

    And not a 12 foot tall lizard in sight.

  30. So Much For Subtlety

    Left Outside – “Jesus, the EU spends some people looney.”

    I agree.

    “Weights and measures aren’t something that the EU are forcing on us, the UK govt would do the same eventually.”

    Yes they are and that our own rulers are twats doesn’t make the fact the EU rulers are twats any better. And I doubt they would.

    “And you can buy a dozen bananas if you like, just as for 12 (do you have a problem with arabic numerals). You can buy things by the pound, the metric will just also be displayed.”

    Well it looks like they are trying with the dozen thing:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/7857087/EU-to-ban-selling-eggs-by-dozen.html

    “This isn’t so much an EU thing as a rational weight and measure thing, it will make us all slightly better off in the long run.”

    No it won’t. Because we will be less free. There is no rational case for forcing everyone to buy anything in the way that our Lords and Masters please. What is more, once we have conceded the principle we are in trouble.

    “This is idiotis. I assume you’re talking about Learco Chindamo.”

    No I am not. I am referring to actual terrorists wanted in Italy for terrorism related offenses – who the Courts would not allow to be sent to Italy. We have also been forbidden to send them to France.

    “This isn’t about us not being able to deport him, we can. The point is that this man was bred in this country, the fact he spent 3 years in italy is pretty much irrelevant (as the court decided).”

    Sorry but if he was “bred” in this country we can’t deport him can we? Except to Britain perhaps. Which is kind of stupid. I don’t give a damn where he spent his life – he is not British and should go home. But that is another argument.

    “Don’t know much about this; I know they’ve moved, but I just thought it was improving the set up, did the EU force it? Explain if you would.”

    The EU does not understand the Separation of Powers in the Anglo-saxon tradition. It is not best practice to have the Law Lords sitting in the Legislature. So we had to remove them.

    Despite the fact that we ought to be teaching them how to run a liberal democratic society and they have nothing to teach us.

  31. “The while thing about imposition of weights ad measures was thrown into sharp relief by reading ‘1984?, and the old man complaining about why he couldn’t have a pint of beer instead of a litre. Hair stood up on the back of the neck with that one.”

    That is scary. Why don’t you take your copy of 1984 down to the local and read it over a pint or two? And if you like Orwell, you should really read his essay “Toward European Unity.”

    There’s a great line in it: “Therefore a Socialist United States of Europe seems to me the only worth-while political objective today.”

    I actually disagree with Orwell here. I’m not a socialist, and I’m not interested in a United States of Europe. But Orwell is definitely not a poster-boy for the anti-EU brigade.

  32. I can’t believe you’re quoting the story saying that the EU are banning eggs being sold by number.

    That is the whole reason this thread has begun.

    The EU are not doing that, but anti EU buffoons, among whose number I must now count you, made up a pack of lies pretending that they were banning a dozen eggs. Jeez, like I said the EU makes people mad.

    Weights and Measures need to be regulated, it is one of the original tasks of the state! Go back to when state building was occurring originally in Europe, for example pre revolution France, and you will see uniform weights and measures being imposed, its the basis for a capitalist economy.

    You like imperial. Fine, you’re used to it, its natural. But it objectively isn’t as good a system as metric. It also isn’t a natural system it was one forced on us, just forced on us before you were born.

    I don’t know about the Terrorist thing, I’d appreciate some links if you wouldn’t mind so I can look into it.

    “I don’t give a damn where he spent his life – he is not British and should go home. ”

    Define British then! He has no family and no connections with Italy other than passing through a vagina which happened to be there 20 years ago. Its a nonsense the idea he should be deported, tabloid nonsense.

  33. Just adding to LeftOutside’s comment on historical weights and measures – alternatively, you could read my extract upthread from Magna Carta (did she die in vain?).

    On the terrorism thing, I think SMSF is confused. There have been no cases where the courts have stopped the UK government from deporting alleged terrorists to Italy or France.

    There *have* been cases where the UK government has been stopped from deporting alleged terrorists to Pakistan and Tunisia, on the grounds that their regimes are somewhat torture-happy and not very fair-trial-happy, and hence somewhat alien to British values. Similarly, the Italian and French governments have also been stopped from deporting alleged terrorists to similar unsavoury places. But there are no obstacles to deporting them *within* the EU.

  34. On Chindamo, you could take the position that he wasn’t born in the UK, doesn’t have a British parent, and doesn’t have a British passport (because his mum, unwisely, didn’t sort him out with one when he was a kid). Hence, his adoption of UK nationality is subject to being ‘of good character’, which you can probably make a fair claim that he isn’t.

    (my take is that he’s culturally British, whatever went wrong in his upbringing took place here, and hence he’s our problem. But I can see the logic behind the other side’s argument…)

  35. Some Imperial measurement facts:

    1) In the UK, a shift to metric was first set out as the preferred option in the Hodgson Report in 1950 (seven years before the EEC came into existence, more than two decades before Britain joined).

    2) Imperial weights and measures have been defined exclusively by metric ones since 1959 (more than a decade before the UK joined the EU).

    3) This was a decision agreed by, erm… the Commonwealth…

    4) Numerous former British posessions are now fully metric – including ones thousands and thousands of miles away from those evil Brussels bureaucrats.

    5) The US variant of Imperial is also pegged to metric.

    6) Metric has been the official preferred system of weights and measures in the US since the time of that well-known federalist Ronald Reagan.

    7) None of this has anything *whatsoever* to do with the EU.

  36. Nosemonkey says: “Focussing on a project run jointly by the European Commission, Stanford University and polling company TNS, within two days of landing the job I was in Brussels attending the launch of the Tomorrow’s Europe deliberative poll…”

    http://www.jcm.org.uk/?p=248

    Is the EU Commission not an EU body?

    Please retract the retraction, Tim.

  37. @39 – Engage brain, dear. I was reporting on something jointly run by the European Commission, not employed by the European Commission. By the same logic, all political journalists are working for the government.

    Well done, though – that’s one of the more pathetic attempts to suggest I’m part of some grand conspiracy I’ve seen in a while.

    Christ – the EU really does bring the fuckwits out of the woodwork, doesn’t it?

  38. Clue: the key word – if you’ve missed it – is “focussing” (sic – NM, you’re an editor! WTF?)

    Writing about the Commission is not the same thing as working for it.

  39. Cheers, Eurogoblin – it seems the reply I left last night didn’t turn up (again – conspiracy!)

    Re: that comment @39 – by the same logic, all political journalists who write about Westminster are working for the government.

    How is it possible to be that dense? I mean, really? The sentence before that quoted even explicitly states that I was working for openDemocracy.

    And more to the point, does the anonymous comment-writer @39 *seriously* have nothing better to do than try to find contradictions in my CV? What a sad little life they must lead…

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