Which UK legal case produced the most paper?

Legal cases produce paper, as we all know.  Even simple county court cases involving a claim for an unpaid bill can generate 20 or 30 sheets.  When it comes to the 100 or so cases heard in a year by the Supreme Court in the UK and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, we are into forest loads.

Which led me to ponder, as one might, which single legal case used up more paper than any other?

Sadly I don’t know the answer, but I can take a guess that it might have been the McLibel case. This started in 1990, when McDonald’s took Helen Steel and Dave Morris to court over the distribution of the leaflet “What’s Wrong with McDonald’s?”

The proceedings lasted seven and a half years, which made it the longest in English legal history, and on this basis quite possibly the case which produced the most paper – all of which is, I presume, stored somewhere.

If you remember that case you will know that the High Court ruled in favour of the fast food chain, but I would also imagine McDonald’s wished by the end they had never started the case, because in fighting the case they had to reveal quite a lot about their working practices, and this didn’t do them much good in terms of newspaper and TV coverage.

(Incidentally if we included the amount of newsprint used on the case over the seven and a half years, then certainly this case must have been the biggest consumer of paper ever.)

What I do remember of this case is that it cost the firm over £10m, and yet despite this input of cash it did result in the court ruling that McDonald’s were involved at least to some degree in the exploitation of children, and that it indirectly exploited and caused suffering to animals.

As a result of the £10m or so spent McDonald’s got an award of £40,000 after yet more paper was used up with a hearing in the Court of Appeal.

What was strange in this case was that I think everyone knew that the defendants could not pay – or at least would not pay – and at the end the plaintiffs said they would not be doing anything to try to get the money.

The defendants then went to the European Court of Human Rights pointing out that they had not been able to claim legal aid in their case and that the way in which libel cases were run in the UK was both a breach of the right to a fair trial and a breach of the basic right to freedom of expression.

This case was won and the government then changed the UK’s defamation laws.

So that’s my case – put that lot together and you get a lot of legal paper, all stored somewhere.

Unfortunately for me, it’s not stored in our warehouses – we mostly store smaller amounts – but if we had been asked to put it all in store, we would have been delighted.

Meanwhile, if you have paper you want stored, do call.  We’re here to serve.

There’s more details on our website or give us a call on 0800 783 9516.

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