Prestigious Oxford University college drops gavel-shaped clanger

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By Thomas Connelly on

Auctioneer’s hammer makes unwelcome return


English courts do not use gavels.

But in spite of this simple fact, law schools, the media and, on the odd occasion, representative bodies who should know better continue to use them as a crude and inaccurate illustration of the law.

Step forward Oxford University’s Hertford College. Established in 1282 — originally as Hart Hall — the prestigious educational institution sits adjacent to the university’s historic Bodleian Library and is home to the iconic Bridge of Sighs.

And (pun completely intended) it was sighs all round at Legal Cheek HQ when 9-12 Bell Yard barrister Mike Newbold pointed out the good folk at Hertford had used a gavel in their latest alumni newsletter.

But even the fine minds at Legal Cheek can fall foul to the occasional gavel-shaped clanger. Keen-eyed viewers of our latest Facebook live broadcast may have spotted a small wooden hammer on our office desk. Our bad.