Mea Culpa: A heartfelt appeal against American legalese

John Rentoul on questions of style and usage in last week’s Independent

Sunday 01 March 2020 00:26
Grant Shapps is not appealing
Grant Shapps is not appealing

The English language is changing before our eyes. Conventional British English has long been that you “appeal against” a court’s verdict, but the American usage of simply “appealing” a verdict is gaining ground over here.

We used both forms last week. Our news report of the Harvey Weinstein decision said: “The defence team has said it will appeal the verdict.” Whereas our editorial said: “Weinstein’s lawyer immediately announced the intention to appeal against the verdict.”

In a story about Mo Farah’s coach, we said: “Salazar has rejected the findings by US arbitrators and has appealed his four-year ban.” But in another report of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing, we said: “The decision, which is expected months later, is likely to be appealed against by the losing side.”

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