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One of the world’s longest running cases was settle out of court 67 years after it started in 1941.

The case, known as Re Jahre, concerned a dispute over the recovery of assets alleged to belong to the shipping magnate Anders Jahre. Jahre died aged 90 before the main trial started in 1983. Although the case was being heard in the Cayman Islands no less than fifteen English barristers and 10 UK law firms have been involved and it is frightening to think about the size of their legal bills.

The case was only settled when the Judge who was hearing the case was arrested on suspicion of misconduct while in public office. At this point the parties decided to settle rather than have to present their evidence all over again to a new Judge.

No-one is really sure which is the world’s longest running legal case but despite lasting 67 years this case wasn’t as long-running as that of Jarndyce and Jarndyce a fictional court case in the novel Bleak House by Charles Dickens.

Jarndyce and Jarndyce concerned the fate of a large inheritance. It had dragged on for many generations prior to the action of the novel, so that, by the time it is resolved late in the narrative, legal costs have devoured nearly the entire estate. The case is thus a byword for an interminable legal proceeding. Dickens used it to attack the chancery court system as being near totally worthless, as any “honourable man among its [Chancery’s] practitioners” says, “Suffer any wrong that can be done you rather than come here!”

Indeed – it is clear if you go to court the only real winners are the lawyers!

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