I caught up with Jim Rickards this week in the Artillery Arms, a cosy old pub across the road from the Honourable Artillery Company in Moorgate.
As always when you go for a drink with Jim, the chat moved quickly over lots of topics. We covered Thomas Bayes (who’s buried at Bunhill Fields, next door to the pub), the next Fed chairman, and the Justinian legal code.
Of course we talked about Brexit. Jim has an interesting idea — he thinks European culture, specifically European legal culture, was always a bad fit for the UK.
I’ll let him explain in his own words.
One of the big eye-openers for me, when I said to myself “they really are going to vote for Brexit”, was when I was in a café in Zurich.
And my drink comes to me, a wine glass. And I has a line on it. The line goes all the way around the glass. And it has a government seal printed on it too.
And I looked at it and I asked, what is that?
Remember, I’m American. We don’t have lines on our glasses in America.
I looked at it and I realised, the line shows exactly three ounces of wine. The line on the glass is there to tell you if you’re being cheated; if you got a little bit less than three ounces. It’s like a disclosure document.
But I like a tall pour. I like a bar that says, “I’ll give you four ounces or five ounces”. Because I’ll go back to that bar. And I’ll tip that bartender.
And that is the difference between the Napoleonic Code and Common Law.
Europe has always had code-based law. Starting with the Code of Justinian. Then the Napoleonic Code. And then modern versions that are coming out of Brussels.
Code based law works like this: if you have a question, write a rule.
And if you still have a question, write another rule.
And if you still have a question, write another rule. And so on. You never stop writing rules until you’ve answered all the questions.
The Common Law system is different. Yeah we’ve got rules and regulations. But Common Law has a branch called equity.
And equity is the ability of a judge to, kinda do what’s fair, no matter what the rule says.
So you have an egregious case, and there’s real hardship, and the rule says “the old lady should be thrown out in the snow.” But the judge can find an equitable remedy.
So England and the US have that common law perspective. They don’t want the line on the glass.
Another thing about code based law: it’s dense, and complicated. That’s why extracting Britain from it is such a mess.
But it’s also why an opportunity has been created. The opportunity I’ve been talking about non-stop for the last week – Brexit severance cheques.
Basically there’s an overlooked scheme which allows Brits to take advantage of the Brexit process to make a bit of regular cash. Good money too – several thousand pounds per year.