The summer holidays are upon us, and no one will be in more need of a holiday than Mr Justice Stuart-Smith. For his judgment in Ocensa Pipeline Group Litigation, Re (2016) is a truly epic work.
The numbers speak for themselves: 135,000 pages in the trial bundle (including 45,000 pages of expert witness evidence), 10 counsel instructed and 62 court days of openings, evidence and closing submissions.
The existence of 74 claims, which we will summarise as relating to possible damage caused by the laying of pipelines in Colombia, led the parties and the court to choose 10 lead cases, which were then whittled down to four.
Stuart-Smith said such an abundance of material would leave no stone unturned, adding ‘so it has sometimes felt’.
The resulting judgment comes to 1,879 paragraphs and 355,000 words – some 60% of the length of Tolstoy’s War and Peace.
As Stuart-Smith concedes: ‘Because I have been unable to make the judgment shorter, I should issue two health warnings for anyone tempted to read it.’
Obiter would be intrigued to know if readers can recall any longer judgments than this – though naturally, we reserve the right not to read them.