Legal rulings judged 'overlong'
Created on Thursday, 09 February 2017 15:18
For many years we’ve struggled to influence the language of the courts. Legal language is still very much how it’s always been – largely archaic, Latin-heavy and pretty much impenetrable to non-experts.
There’s never been a justifiable excuse for this – just as there’s absolutely no reason why barristers and solicitors don’t use plain English rather than language very few can understand. But perhaps changes are finally afoot.
At the end of last year, we awarded Mr Justice Peter Jackson for his unprecedented, much-shortened plain-English summary, featuring emojis, for a case
involving children. This was widely applauded, largely due to nobody having seen anything quite like it.
In truth, Mr Jackson’s admirable example was overdue, and we were hoping his efforts, and the overwhelmingly positive coverage his summary received, might lead to more examples.
Lady Justice Rafferty, with significant backing from Sir Terence Etherton, has provided a significant one. She has called for judges to, where appropriate, provide ‘short form judgements’ when delivering their verdicts.
So, rather than case verdicts running on for dozens of pages (one last week ran for more than 20000 words, or 40 single-spaced pages), judges have now been urged to keep things short and snappy.
We’re obviously very much behind any such moves to put an end to overlong, unreadable legal documents. The burden is now on judges to keep things short and simple, which should result in verdicts more easy to understand for everyone involved. We'll be interested to see how many take up Lady Rafferty's recommendation.
For more on this story please look on our Facebook
pages, or read the story we contributed to in the Telegraph