Talking Point May 2019

A succinct discussion of selected topical, legal matters

Dear Friends and Colleagues

I take great pleasure in submitting the May 2019 edition of Talking Point to you.  This is my first introduction to Talking Point, as the new chairman of Walkers.  And it may well be my last, as we are considering “retiring” Talking Point, and replacing it with a new publication.

Ronald Harry Coase (1910 – 2013) was a British economist who lectured in the USA, including as a professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Law School.

Coase became famous mainly due to his paper The Problem of Social Cost, published in 1960.  His theory, known as the “Coase Theorem”, is an important basis for economic analyses of government regulation and resolution of legal disputes.

The “Coase Theorem” is that, in the absence of transaction costs, parties will negotiate to the joint wealth-maximising outcome, regardless of the allocation of legal rights.

The “Coase Theorem” is discussed in Who Must Stay, Who Must Go? in this issue.

Coase is regarded as the father of the academic field of “law and economics”.  He received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1991.  He worked until the end, and his final great work was published in 2012.  In one of his obituaries he was described as “one of the most distinguished economists in the world“.


Some things Coase said:

If you torture the data long enough, it will confess.

In my youth it was said that what was too silly to be said may be sung.  In modern economics it may be put into mathematics.”

We must first note that economic factors are taken into account in a world in which ignorance, prejudice, and mental confusion, encouraged rather than dispelled by the political organization, exert a strong influence on policy making.”

More quotes from Ronald Coase

In this issue:

Am I too loud?

We discuss a recent UK case revealing why musicians in classical orchestras ought to receive danger pay.

Who you gonna call

We discuss an older USA case concerning the very practical problem that arises with respect to the discovery of an averred paranormal phenomenon in a private residence, and that was influenced by the 1984 fantasy comedy film Ghostbusters.

When constitutional rights are in conflict

Constitutional rights are formulated in an uncomplicated manner.  That can be deceiving; it gets complicated when the constitutional right of X is in conflict with the constitutional right of Y.  We discuss a recent Australian case concerning a conflict between abortion rights and freedom of speech.

The ambiguous comma

We discuss a 2017 USA judgment in which the omission of a comma had a USD 10 000 000 affect.

Who Must Stay, Who Must Go?

The famous case in this issue was an England and Wales decision reported in 1879, dealing with the law of nuisance (neighbour law in South Africa).  This case has been a mainstay in law of nuisance courses in many countries for many years, and has been subjected to much academic discussion, including by Ronald Coase – refer to the Introduction in this issue.

I would greatly appreciate your feedback on Talking Point. Please email me at


Gunnar Dahl