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What judges say Vs. what judges mean

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“I consider this application, in accordance with the Overriding Objective” = “Eeeny-meeny-miney-mo”

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The language of the courtroom can be archaic, convoluted and sometimes simply baffling.

For example, why should the break for lunch be routinely referred to as “the short adjournment”? And what does it mean when the judge draws his finger across his throat while you’re making your closing submissions?

Find the answers to these questions, and many others, in the latest instalment to the ever-helpful and entirely unreliable Wiagapedia guides to court etiquette …

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1. “Mr Snooks, in his very able and cogent submissions said … “

“Mr Snooks has lost”

2. “Yes, I can see the force in that argument”

“I reject that argument as being utter tripe”

3. “I’ve had a quick look at your skeletons”

“You mean you’ve sent in skeletons?”

4. “I’ve read the skeletons”

“I vaguely recall seeing them in this pile of papers somewhere”

5. “I’ve read the papers”

“I’ve not read the papers”

6. “Is that your best point?”

“Sit down now”

7. To witness: “Would you say, Mr Smith, that the situation is as follows … “

“Because if you do, that’d really help me with my judgment”

8. “I haven’t heard the evidence or come to any firm conclusions at this point but … “

“You’ve lost, so save your breath and just give in now”

9. “I’m going to reserve my judgment”

“I’m going to find someone who knows more about this than I do and ask him to write my judgment”

10. “Is that a convenient moment, Mr Snooks?”

“It’s jam roly-poly for lunch in Hall today and the other judges will have had most of it by now … “

11. “Is there any prospect of this matter being resolved?”

“I’m due on the golf course at 4pm”

12. “I do wonder if the time estimate for this matter is adequate … “

“I’m due on the golf course at 2pm”

13. “What’s your authority for that proposition?”

“Did you ever actually go to bar school, let alone pass any exam?”

14. “I prefer the evidence of Mr Smith where it is in conflict with that of Mr Brown”

“Mr Brown is a congenital liar — if that’s even his real name”

15. “I find as a fact that … “

“I’m trying to avoid the Court of Appeal … “

16. “Doing the best I can … “

“The coin came up ‘heads'”

17. “I am grateful to counsel for their able submissions and helpful skeletons”

“This is an area of law that I have no idea what anyone is talking about”

18. “I have considered carefully the Court of Appeal’s decision on this issue and respectfully adopt their guidance and reasoning”

“Any chance of a promotion? Must be about time by now, surely?”

19. “I consider this application, in accordance with the Overriding Objective”

“Eeeny-meeny-miney-mo … “

20. “In his novel and attractive submissions, Mr Snooks said …”

“Mr Snooks is an idiot and his advocacy is a narcoleptic hazard. I reject his nonsense arguments utterly”


Wigapedia (aka Colm Nugent) is a barrister at Hardwicke.

PREVIOUSLY FROM WIGAPEDIA:

What your Instructions say Vs. what they mean [Legal Cheek]

The language of the legal directory: decoded — 2014 edition [Legal Cheek]

The full collection of articles from Wigapedia are here.