The case of the fishwife's chopping block is typical of the routine day-to-day business of the courts, but it may turn out to have a greater resonance than expected. A woman with a tiny shop is summonsed for making 'material deviations' to the approved plan of the premises, thereby breaching the by-laws - she had moved a table and chopping board on to the pavement. This hardly sounds like a case to throw jurisprudence into chaos, but that may be the outcome of her appeal. In line with urgings to hasten use of Chinese in courts, the judge looked carefully at the law in both languages, and discovered a discrepancy. The appeal was upheld; justice was done. Now, how many other examples will arise out of a gap between English and Chinese? Every tongue is rich in different areas. Differences may be a matter of translation, or of linguistic incompatibility. This case emphasises the minefield ahead if changes are made too suddenly in the courts. Experts have long warned that introducing Chinese was a more complex process than might appear, involving fundamental concepts of common law. The integrity of the law is key to Hong Kong's future. The process cannot be speeded up, nor fudged. This case suggests the need to examine the direction in which we are moving, and what our priorities should be. It is obviously desirable that people are tried in their mother tongue. But, above that, they must all have the same protection and justice of the common law.