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You don’t have to call me ‘learned’, top judge tells lawyers

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Lady Justice Rafferty says brevity is best

Lady Justice Rafferty

A Court of Appeal judge has urged lawyers to make their written submissions more concise by doing away with outdated jargon.

Lady Justice Rafferty, chair of the Judicial College, suggested lawyers could ditch common legal phrases such as “learned judge” in an effort to save time and cut word counts. Revealing she could be described as “learned” up to sixty times in a typical skeleton argument, Rafferty said.

“Speaking entirely for myself life will still hold meaning for me if I am referred to as the judge not the learned judge. Similarly, the author’s respect for the judge’s efforts below doesn’t need to be repeated fifteen times let alone made more profound when it becomes ‘with the greatest respect’.”

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Speaking at the recent Criminal Law Review Conference, Rafferty said many written submissions “are too long, rambling, waffling, warbling”. The top judge, who has served as Lady Justice of Appeal of England and Wales since 2011, continued:

“What’s the best control mechanism? Is it tough Criminal Procedure Rule vocabulary? Is it a Court of Appeal Criminal Division judgment or three, from the top, reiterating disapprobation? Is it a Criminal Practice Direction in firm tones? All the above?”

Other phrases including “it is thought”, “it is arguable” and “it is suggested” have also reached the end of their natural life, according to Rafferty.

But it’s not just lawyers who need to cut down on the waffle — it’s judges, too.

Legal Cheek reported last year how a judge in Australia was criticised for spending 17 hours reading aloud his own 138-page in a case. The decision — which involved a complex commercial dispute a spooked horse — was later overturned on appeal.

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17 Comments

Anonymous

Low effort as always, nice one LC team.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Looks like Rafferty is looking for promotion to the Supreme Court.

Making annoying jibes at barristers is not the way to do it.

(9)(3)

Anonymous

Look at her cute little reverse adams apple.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

That’s a jugular notch you fuckwit.

(14)(0)

Dr Frankenstein

fuckwit has reached the end of its natural cycle!

(6)(0)

Anonymous

So can I start calling judges love like what my nan always says?

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Next time I’m in front of a Judge who has wholly missed the point and is off on a frolic of his/her own (eg at a Crown Court in the South West) am I Ok to refer to him/her as “the unlearned Judge?”

(9)(0)

Anonymous

Taunton?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

No you must act British and apologise for not making yourself clear.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

When did she first realise she had authoritarian tendencies?

(12)(0)

Dr Frankenstein

her husband did…when they got married.

(4)(1)

Coiltstkioeyernps

That is making things confusing. So you refer to the judge as learned as Rafferty and her lot strike you down for it. You take a less formal approach, no doubt other judges will strike you down. There should be one uniform way of referring to the judiciary so you can avoid annoying them.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

This is absolutely right. It is just not fair on those appearing before them for LJs to pop up from time to time with comments like this. The reality is that for every judge who favours an informal approach, there will be two more who don’t. Unless you appear before them day in day out (and when it comes to individual LJs, very few will be in that category), then you aren’t going to know. It’s a bit like robing. You’ll get some vain DJ in the middle of nowhere who expects to robe, but then find yourself before a HCJ on an appeal and they won’t.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

If I’ve written that, “with great respect, the learned judge…” I mean “this fuck wit doesn’t know what they are doing”

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Definitely Taunton

(0)(0)

Top barrister

A genuine “top judge.”

(0)(0)

Anonymous

If the dislike the judge then just write “the Court”.

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.

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