Legal Humour Blog


June 2017

The Law is an Ass? Not anymore!

Jun 22, 2017 10:00 PM
Marcel Strigberger

     There is reason to celebrate. At last, there is going to be a massive awaited change in legislation.  But, it’s not what you think. I am not talking about amendments to the Draconian provisions of the Insurance Act or the like.  This stuff is huge.

    Parliament this week tabled a bill removing certain offenses from the Criminal Code.

    One such revision is repeal of section 365 dealing with witchcraft.  As matters stand now, it is a crime to “pretend to exercise or to use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration”.

    Actually I would rather this one does not get repealed.  You see, I have a neighbour who I am sure is a sorcerer.  I have admonished him several times to wear a helmet when he cycles but he insists on whizzing along my street donning his conical hat with the stars and moons on it.  I do not like cyclists to start with and I am especially stressed about a biker who can potentially turn me into a frog.

    His wife Hazel is not better. She totally disregards my pleas not to use my driveway as a landing strip for her broom.

    I am considering ratting on both of them before the revisions come into play.  It’s not conjuration. But I say burn them both at the stake in any event.

    Another revision will be to section 71 which bans challenging another person to a duel.  I for one  have often been riled up after a confrontation with some adjustor or defense lawyer.  I can think of numerous times while in practice, where I wanted to go over to his office and slap his face with a glove, challenging the culprit to a duel.  However my only deterrent was this stupid section 71.  Actually I did have another deterrent.  There is no way I can ever get out of bed at dawn.  I am a late riser and a night owl.  Who ever heard of pistols after the eleven o’clock news?

    Under the circumstances those greedy and vexatious adjustors and defense lawyers should consider themselves lucky.

    Another good one is the repeal of section 404, which creates an offence for anyone impersonating someone at a university exam.  I shall confess, I almost got nailed by that one once. Back during my undergrad years at McGill, I attended a physics exam wearing a fake wig and mustache making me a perfect ringer for Albert Einstein.  I believed if I would look and feel like Einstein, I would perform like him. Fortunately the invigilator was not the sharpest tool in the shed. He just said to me, “Good luck Groucho.”

    Isn’t it great to see our Parliament address these crucial areas of the law, while other legislative bodies elsewhere spend their good time yapping about jejune issues such as climate change, terrorism and our neighbour’s president. Oh Canada!


I am now retired from the practice of law after almost 43 years in the profession. I now have time and leisure to laugh even more. I would be delighted to speak about using humour, avoiding trouble or otherwise amuse you at your next event. Please email me at marcel@striglaw.com.




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I’ts OK; It’s Art

Jun 4, 2017 11:00 AM
Marcel Strigberger

     Kathy Griffin, is a comedian. She gets paid big bucks to make people laugh.  Her career is now in hot water after posting a photo of her holding a mock bloodied severed head of President Trump.  CNN immediately disavowed, her cancelling her New Years Eve Time Square gig. Others have also followed suit cancelling some of her future performances. She pleads that this act was really an expression of art so it was OK. However when an avalanche of  criticism rained down on Griffin, she did not take long to apologize.  She noted that she may have crossed the line and tweeted, “OBVIOUSLY I do not condone ANY violence.”  Spoken like a true flower child.  Lovely.

    There seems to be an alarming frequency of outrageous and offensive acts perpetrated all in the name of art.

    I can readily see in the near future this argument becoming a defense in law.  It will join the M'Naghten rule test for criminal insanity. Under the M'Naghten rule, a criminal defendant is not guilty by reason of insanity if, at the time of the alleged criminal act, the defendant was so deranged that he did not know the nature or quality of her actions or, if he knew the nature and quality of his actions, he was so deranged that he did not know that what he was doing was wrong.

    I can just visualize some guy robbing a bank. He is arrested and comes to court. The judge asks, “How do you plead? Guilty or not guilty”  

    His lawyer responds, “Your Honour, my client relies on the Picasso rule.  He pleads not guilty by reason of having committed art.  At the time of the alleged criminal act, he was so absorbed by his artistic talents that taking money from the bank was not his object at all. He certainly did not know he was doing anything wrong. This was all a staged installation.  To my client, the bank was his canvas.  His 44 Magnum was his brush. His bullets were his paints.  And even the disguise he wore was a vintage Renaissance Venetian mask.”

    After the trial, the judge agrees with the defense and he pronounces judgment:”I find you not guilty by reason of having committed art. You will be confined to the Royal Ontario Museum, for an indefinite period of time, at the pleasure of the Crown. Your case will be reviewed from time to time as necessary by a panel of artists.  I now call for a recess.”


I am now retired from the practice of law after almost 43 years in the profession. I now have time and leisure to laugh even more. I would be delighted to speak about using humour, avoiding trouble or otherwise amuse you at your next event. My content does not cross the line. Please email me at marcel@striglaw.com.

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May 2017

Your Feedback is Important to us and Other Myths

May 18, 2017 11:00 AM
Marcel Strigberger

It is becoming increasingly difficult in dealing with large corporations to speak to live people or more so, live people who actually listen and help.

    I bought a case of Alexander Keith’s Ale a while back. I left it somewhere in the house and about a year later came across it again.  I wondered if it was still drinkable. I called some number in Halifax (ie Nova Scotia’s legendary beer, since 1820) expecting to speak to a descendant of Alexander Keith himself, maybe some guy called Fergus.  I hit a customer relations gentleman called Jeremy. After giving him the bottle codes he suggested that though drinkable, I would be wise not to test my body’s immune system with the product.  He took my contact info.

    Two weeks later I received an email from a brewery in St Louis, Missouri.  The email contained a survey, the RE line reading, “Is my beer still good?”.  I was shocked. It seems Alexander Keith’s is actually a brand of this mega brewery. There is no Fergus Keith at all. If there ever was, he or his family sold out.  Shame.

    The survey read something like, “We are never satisfied with our results. We want to make sure you have a positive experience with us.”

    I thought about it and responded, giving an overall comment in the allowable 255 characters, saying, “ A positive experience would be for you guys to send me a certificate for a free case of Keith’s.”  Why not?

    I did not hear from them.  A couple of weeks later I called Halifax again, complaining that I never got a response to my survey comments, and asking about some of that positive experience.

    One Trevor, said he would pass my comments on.

    Two weeks later I received another email from St. Louis, the RE line reading, “I never got a response to my survey comments.” The survey again wanted to know how they could make my experience better as they was never satisfied unless I was.

    I called Halifax again and this time, one Cameron risked all, by giving me an 800 number directly to the St. Louis team associates who should be able to assist me.

    With much anticipation, I called the 800 number.  A voice told me my call was important to them and that they were never satisfied unless I had a positive experience.  A Lee Ann, with a quaint southern drawl, came on the line.  She asked if she could refer to me as Marcel.  I said sure, following which she went to call me, ”Y’all”.

    Lee Ann asked how she could enhance my experience with her brewery.  I told her given that I took my time to respond to the survey, it would be nice for them to offer me a replacement for my aborted case of beer.  I also asked if there was really ever an Alexander Keith in Halifax. She asked, “Where is Halifax?”  We were on a roll.

    She told me very sympathetically, “I am sorry for your less than excellent experience. We are definitely not satisfied. I shall pass this on.

    This time for sure I expected a certificate for a nice case of beer. Then again Hillary Clinton expected to win the presidential election.

    Yesterday, I received another email from the “we are not satisfied til you are “ team.  The RE line read, “Customer queries if there was really ever an Alexander Keith in Halifax?”

    I give up.  I have gone back to Sleemans.  I don’t give a damn whether or not there was ever a Sidney Sleeman.  I just hope that at least this brand is still Canadian and not owned by say, Miller.

I am now retired from the practice of law after almost 43 years in the profession. I now have time and leisure to laugh even more. I would be delighted to speak about using humour, avoiding trouble or otherwise amuse you at your next event. Please email me at marcel@striglaw.com.

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April 2017

United...You Fall

Apr 24, 2017 7:00 PM
Marcel Strigberger

     I come to bury United Airlines, not praise them. Actually United has done a great job of burying itself in a morass of PR and financial quagmires.  The forceful and brutal removal by United Air, or perhaps by thugs at the friendly airline’s request, evokes several areas of the law.

    Firstly, there is employment law.  I see United's CEO is saying nobody is getting fired.  The inference is that nobody at United did anything too wrong. I suppose the mandarins in the boardroom had a conference:

                 “This incident by aircraft staff caused the company shares to plummet one hundred million dollars.  The entire world is ridiculing us and the passenger is suing us for gazillions.  We have to stay united.  As CEO, I move that the staff involved each get a hefty bonus.....all yeas? Oh, there's a nay....security!"

    Then there are contract law issues.  The good passenger paid for his seat. He was comfortably seated.  There is an offer, acceptance and consideration.  And part performance to boot. Which part of a valid contract eluded United?  I can just imagine the legendary late British judge Lord Denning being the trial judge in this one:

                "It was a beautiful spring morning.  The Toronto Maple leafs were just celebrating their first entry into the playoffs in 13 years. Meanwhile the good doctor Dao headed to the Chicago airport with a view of flying from Chicago to Louisville where he was to see patients the next morning.  Traffic en route was moderate.  The seagulls were flocking at the airport car park.

                 Dr Dao liked his aisle seat and had no complaints.  He did not request more legroom or a special meal.  When he purchased his ticket the defendant never told him that there may be airline staff who might covet his seat and that he would have to deplane, graciously and with a smile.  Nor did they tell him in the unlikely event that he should refuse any such request to volunteer his seat, he would be subject to be pummelled. United disputes this fact, saying all passengers know or are deemed to know they should do as they are told failing which airline staff may invoke the nuclear behaviour policy and proceed to have such unruly passengers pummelled..."

    And perhaps, this case even visits the law of torts.  Perhaps.  Actually from the looks of it this case brings into play an entire edition of Salmond on Torts. I suppose the airline will argue contributory negligence and volenti. After all wasn’t Dr Dao just asking for it when he was requested to take a hike and he likely responded, "What?"  And their CEO did initially say that the passenger was “belligerent”.

    I wish the good doctor a super recovery of his injuries and the best of luck in his legal action.  As for the Leafs, It seems now they celebrated a bit prematurely.  Better luck next year.

I am now retired from the practice of law after almost 43 years in the profession. I now have time and leisure to laugh even more. I would be delighted to speak about using humour and avoiding trouble at your next event. Please email me at marcel@striglaw.com.

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March 2017

Pssst…Need a Lawyer?

Mar 19, 2017 11:00 PM
Marcel Strigberger

I just returned from a trip in Florida.  What caught my eye most is not the great weather, nor the kilometres of super beaches, nor the cultural scenes.  What really hit me was lawyer advertising.  You cannot open your television or walk around the block without getting slapped by yet another personal injury lawyer ad.

In fact you don''t even have to open your television to get smitten by these ads.  When I checked into my hotel room I opened my night table drawer and I noticed a yellow pages directory.  On the front cover there was an ad that listed a law firm's name and info, including "Injured in an accident? Call us first.  You can check out the Gideon bible later".

They even have easy to remember phone numbers.  You will see some that read like, 1-800-111-1111.  In our jurisdiction that number will more likely get you a pizza.  I even saw one that read something like, "Injured?  Just call 1-800-not-pain." I am sure some in your face high profile outfit that is rougher than the roughest will soon come up with the ultimate contact: "Injured? Call any phone number.  You will reach us".

            I even saw a bus or rather a number of municipal buses in Fort Lauderdale bearing a full bus ad for a personal injury firm.  These lawyers take ambulance chasing to a new dimension. They use buses to chase ambulances! 

And many of them boast about having offices throughout Florida.  Just call us.  If there is no office near where you live, we'll open one for you.

And then they have the sub-specialists. While driving on the highway I-95 I saw a billboard that read, "Motorcycle accident?  Call the lawyer who rides a Harley."

Another ad reads, "Chosen by Super Lawyers Magazine".  I have heard of great lawyers but what in the world is a super lawyer?  He puts on his robe in a phone booth?

The phone book ads appear not under "lawyers" but rather under "attorneys".  After gazing through these ads for a few minutes, I needed a break and so I flipped back a few pages and just before attorneys I came across "asphalt ."  I saw an ad for a "Dr Asphalt".  This was rather refreshing. At least he did not boast, "as seen on TV", "want a second opinion" or "chosen by Super Asphalt Magazine."

I have recently retired from the practice of law, choosing now to amuse rather than litigate.  If you like my stuff, and want a speaker/humourist to entertain and enchant your group, please email me at marcel@striglaw.com.

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The Midwest Book Review has referred to Marcel Strigberger as "an irrepressible humorist with a story teller’s flair for spinning a yarn with true (and hysterically funny) insights into the basics of human nature".

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