A meticulous collector of amusing and curious anecdotes from the world of law, Professor Gary Slapper's Case Notes column has long been a staple of The Times' Law section. His collection of legal oddities is on display in a new column, Weird Cases. As a taster, we asked him to select 20 of his favourite bizarre disputes, prosecutions and lawsuits from the archive.
Read the whole list here, but here are a few of my favourites:
8. In 2006, a young man from Jiaxing, near Shanghai, found himself in legal trouble after failing to take advice before putting his soul up for sale on an online auction site. The posting was eventually removed by the auctioneer and the seller was told that the advert would be reinstated only if he could produce written permission to sell his soul from “a higher authority”.
10. A Las Vegas law prohibiting strippers from fondling customers during lap dances was ruled by the Nevada Supreme Court in 2006 to be valid. The issue was whether the local law was unconstitutionally vague and therefore unenforceable. The law states that “no attendant or server shall fondle or caress any patron” with intent to arouse him. Lawyers discussed at length whether grinding (of dancers’ bottoms into men’s laps) amounted to a fondle or caress, and whether the brushing of breast into patrons’ faces was prohibited conduct. The local law was declared valid because the court thought enforcers would be able to know a fondle or caress if they saw one.
19. A father from Zhengzhou, in China, was refused legal permission to name his son “@” after the keyboard character. Permission was declined on the legal basis that all names must be capable of being translated into Mandarin.