In-house lawyers give us lots of laughs

Central Station | Nury Vittachi 15 Apr 2019

Company lawyers flew into Hong Kong for an international "corporate counsel" conference in recent days. I love "in-house" legal eagles because they stick warnings and disclaimers all over the place - providing much mirth for columns like this one.

Invited to address them, this columnist shared my file labelled "instructions for idiots".

1) Some years ago, company lawyers gave a printed warning to people who buy Honda cars: "If you crash, you may be injured." (Do Honda drivers need to be told this? Maybe they do.)

2) On a jar of peanut butter, in-house lawyers added: "May contain peanuts". (Just "may?")

3) On a toddler's birthday badge saying "I AM TWO" legal eagles added a tag saying: "Not suitable for children under four." (Or over four, if you think about it.)

4) On a Hong Kong brand of mineral water called Jetmate, a warning was added: "Caution: For drinking purpose only." (In other words, the stuff is fine to feed to your baby, but if you want to wash the toilet, get something better.)

One company lawyer told me: "We're happy to fill up your columns for you. Now let's discuss payment."

It was time to leave.

* * *

Real disclaimer I saw in a Hong Kong car park: "The owners of this car park take no liability whatsoever for any theft or damage or any other occurrence concerning your car, whether caused directly or indirectly by us."

If you think about it, this disclaimer gives car park staff full permission to do anything, including break into your wife's car and sneer at her Hello Kitty seat covers - or steal them.

(If staff are reading this, it's a small grey Prius.)

* * *

The Hong Kong government has terrible timing. Some people are jittery and Sinophobic just now, but officials chose this weekend to officially launch the Smart Lamppost, a new invention that provides light and uses it to spy on citizens, sending data back to the authorities.

When will the anti-smart-object backlash begin? We want stupid lampposts! We want stupid lampposts!

* * *

Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu reported on Saturday that Hong Kong's crime rate had plummeted to its lowest level in 49 years. We employ 35,000 police officers, who are going to have to start arresting each other just to have something to do. Now lampposts are stealing their jobs.

* * *

Reader John Campbell noticed that whoever made the pictured letter boxes in these Hong Kong flats included a big sign saying "No Junk Mail" - and a special box labeled "Junk Mail".

* * *

At the Hong Kong ScienceFest on Saturday, a professor of statistics gave a presentation on how to win at board games.

"Monopoly can be a pleasant way to spend time with friends or a lesson in cut-throat capitalism as you force your opponents into bankruptcy," said Dr John Wright. "Either way, a beautiful mathematical object called a Markov Chain can help you win."

Now that's how to teach math in Hong Kong.

* * *

There were hundreds of angry comments from vegans on a Facebook post last night in which City University of Hong Kong celebrated its new veterinary science center - and included pictures of a traditional roast pig ceremony.

Oops. Reminded me of the time I proposed an Animal Rights Barbecue.

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