Even when you do the right thing, it is still wrong

NH Chan

The other day a friend asked me this question: How is it that some of our judges do not seem to know what is the right thing to do, when all of us know what is right or wrong?

I was flabbergasted by the question. It was such a simple question, yet I couldn’t give her a direct answer immediately. I just looked at her and shrugged. It was only much later when I got home that I remember what I have read (you joined the Inns of Court to read law, not study law) as a law student some half a century ago – the case of Dudley and Stephens.

We know it is wrong to kill a human being for food in order to survive although necessity is a defence to the charge of murder.

I shall recount the saga of Dudley and Stephens from Lord Denning’s at Next in the Law, Butterworths, London, 1982, pp 48, 49: