Even Lord Denning didn’t go this far
The Twittersphere is awash with outrage this afternoon after Supreme Court judge Lord Wilson used an exclamation mark in a judgment.
Jon Baines, the chairman of the National Association of Data Protection Officers, was among the first to spot the screamer in the hotly-anticipated judgment in Evans v Attorney General, sounding a “judicial exclamation mark klaxon”.
*Judicial exclamation mark klaxon* (Lord Wilson in Evans) pic.twitter.com/0lw0AnoUMB
— Jon Baines (@bainesy1969) March 26, 2015
Further inspection reveals that the exclamation mark came at paragraph 168 of the lengthy Supreme Court judgment — which was released today — as part of Lord Wilson’s dissenting speech.
The use of the judicial screamer somewhat overshadowed the content of the ruling — which gives the green light to the publication of letters written by the Prince of Wales to seven government departments between 2004 and 2005 — with many prominent legal figures taking to Twitter to express their shock.
Legal blogging heavyweight Jack of Kent (AKA lawyer and journalist David Allen Green) felt compelled to offer the Supreme Court Justice some drafting advice.
Dear Lord Wilson, and others, if you find yourself using an exclamation mark in a legal document, delete, start again, and re-draft.
— Jack of Kent (@JackofKent) March 26, 2015
Now so enraged that he had to switch to his personal account, Green went on to suggest that not even the often-outspoken law student favourite Lord Denning would stoop so low as to use an exclamation mark.
Not even Lord Denning lowered himself to exclamation marks.
— David Allen Green (@DavidAllenGreen) March 26, 2015
Meanwhile, One Crown Office Row barrister Adam Wagner felt further investigation was required. Is there a precedent for exclamation marks?
Someone needs to do a long, detailed study of the use of judicial exclamation marks
— Adam Wagner (@AdamWagner1) March 26, 2015
But what about the fascinating legal questions arising from the Attorney General’s actions in preventing the letters — dubbed the ‘black spider memos’ — from being published?
Well, nobody seemed concerned with any of that. Instead, the focus turned to forecasts about what could be next for legal judgment punctuation. Emoticons, perhaps?
@JackofKent Are emoticons allowed?
— Nigel Moss (@nigenet) March 26, 2015
Legal Cheek would be more inclined to read them if they were.