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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 13 August, 2002, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
R.I.P. Courtroom Latin
COURTROOM LATIN has been taken to a place of execution and publicly hanged.

Handing down the death sentence, Lord Chief Justice Woolf said the extreme measure was "pro bono publico" - for the public good.

Latin legalese came to the UK with Emperor Claudius's legions and stuck around even when the toga wearers returned home.

Following the Norman conquest, Latin was joined by French to share a virtual duopoly in our courts.

Frankie Howerd in Up Pompeii
"Must you habeas so much of your corpus?"
There have been previous attempts to rid English law of Latin's pernicious influence.

In 1730, Parliament passed a decree outlawing courtroom Latin - only to concede a few years later that there were no suitable English words to replace the banned lingua franca.

While at the Lord Chancellor's department in 1998, Geoff Hoon MP accused Latin of contributing to "the mystification of the law which we are trying to get away from".

Lord Woolf then decreed that such phrases as in camera (in private), ex parte (without notice of the hearing) and subpoena (witness summons) would be banned.

Though mortally wounded, Latin grimly clung on for a few years as lawmakers struggled to find a suitable replacement.

To this end, Lord Woolf has been presiding over a competition to find the best English equivalent to "pro bono publico" - which describes lawyers offering their services for free.

Courtroom Latin is survived by its more sprightly relative, Everyday Latin, with words and phrases such as memento, vendor and, indeed, RIP (an abbreviation of requiescat in pace - may he rest in peace) common in today's English language.

No flowers, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.


Some of your comments so far:

I prefer that old Geordie/Latin expression, "En Loco Parentis" (Me Fatha's an Engine Driver).
Kenneth, Scotland

Any attempt to get rid of Status Quo is fine by me.
Naas Tipeesuvwerk, UK

Even though this move might seem a bit avant garde, most people weren't au fait with legal Latin anyway. It's typical of the laissez faire attitude which is so de rigeur. Oh well, c'est la vie.
Jon Cooper, UK

So what will LL.B stand for now?
Vincent Blacklock, UK

A nervous young lawyer named Rex,
Was sadly deficient in sex.
When arraigned for exposure,
He said with composure:
"De minimis non curat lex."
Neil Murray, UK

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