Lawyers silenced by plain talking

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The Independent Online
FOR YEARS lawyers have enjoyed bamboozling the public in the courtroom with a host of arcane Latin terms but now the legal doublespeak is to be phased out under new rules published by the Lord Chancellor's Department yesterday.

The Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine of Lairg, has concluded that too many ordinary folk are confused by hearings in camera with solicitors working pro bono publico.

Instead, lawyers will be encouraged to use simple, plain English to try to improve access and understanding of the civil courts. Favourite legal stalwarts such as writ, plaintiff and in camera will instead be replaced by the somewhat less exclusive "claim form", "claimant" and "in private".

Similar fates are outlined for ex parte, Mareva and minor which will now be termed "without notice", "freezing injunction" and "child".

The changes are outlined in the 800-page Civil Procedure Rules, a pounds 250 book published yesterday, which sets out rules and protocols of the courts.

It is hoped that removing arcane terms from written procedure will eventually feed through to daily usage by lawyers, making it easier for clients to understand their cases and to give greater access to litigation for those bringing their own actions in person through the civil courts.

Last night the Lord Chancellor's Department said lawyers would be "encouraged" to use the new terms whenever possible but stopped short of issuing an outright ban.