Update on the "metric martyr" case
I've just had some further detail on the Janet Devers prosecution by Hackney Council from colleagues on the council executive, which I thought would be of interest given the number of responses to my post earlier this week.
It turns out there were two sets of different charges, selling by the bowl and not using metric weights.
Selling by the bowl
The argument against Hackney on this is that everyone does it, the customer can see what is being bought and can therefore judge whether what they are getting is fair. As part of the investigation, Hackney officers bought a series of goods sold in bowls from a number of different stalls to find out if this was true. By weighing the amounts and then working out the price per kg, they found that when grapes were being sold for example, the price varied from 94p per kilo to a staggering £2.30 per kg. So customers can't see what they're getting when compared to other bowls and that is why the legislation is clear that you can't sell certain goods by the bowl.
Not using metric
Customers and traders can ask to buy, and sell goods, in Imperial. If you ask for a pound of apples, you can be sold a pound of apples. The law only requires that the trader uses metric scales. In the cases that have gone to court, the traders refused to do so. This isn't about stopping people buying using measurements and weights that they're used to, it's about creating an even playing ground. Most traders have complied with the legislation - so why should a minority who refuse to comply be allowed to get away with it?
Hackney's officers are there to enforce the law as it stands. The public wouldn't be comfortable with individual officers deciding what laws they would or not would enforce. Weights & measures work is a tiny fraction of the work of our trading standards and they do a huge amount of good work e.g. clamping down on unhygienic premises. They have been issuing guidance on these matters to traders since 1994 - it is regrettable that a prosecution had to take place - a huge amount of effort went into trying not to go down that road.