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palm tree justice



According to the Chambers Dictionary (Edinburgh: Chambers Harrap, 1998) the phrase is “from the old Arabic or Jewish idea of a wise man dispensing justice under a palm tree.” Thus: “And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.” (Judges 4:5)


palm tree justice (uncountable)

  1. (law, pejorative) A pragmatic approach to justice that is entirely discretionary and transcends legal rights or precedent, enabling the court to make such order as it thinks fair and just in the circumstances of the case.
    • 1965, National Provincial Bank v. Hastings Car Mart, [1965] 8. W.L.R. 1 at p. 11, per Lord Hodson:
      [] vary agreed or established rights to property in an endeavor to achieve a kind of palm tree justice []