Language And The Law – Simple Doesn’t Mean Stupid
Whether you take the view that legal jargon is an integral part of the culture inside the justice system, or offers an efficient labeling tool for the speedy processing of information, law is no longer a selective world but a communal one; and everyone wants to speak the language.
Blame the internet and a growing social conscience online, but simplifying language in law has been one of the defining phenomena for the UK justice system in the twenty-first century. For Family Courts at least, coming into contact with parents, children and extended family members who are not trained to deal in family law jargon, pressure to change the way we use language has contributed to wide-scale reform.
The most notable to date, Mr Justice Ryder’s recommendations for modernizing the family justice system, included looking at the way terms and phrases were being used and seeing how we could break those down and make them easier to understand. Despite this, much of the language still used in court and by lawyers and other professionals inside the justice system remains unnecessarily complex.
Litigants in Person (LIP) continue to struggle with terminology inside the courts, with judges reporting delays inside their courtrooms as a result, and more time spent explaining phrases and processes. Sadly, the current guidelines seem to have done very little to address this problem, perhaps in large part due to the fact that legal jargon exists before and after the court process, with very little help for LIPs during those in-between moments when they are effectively without support.
Book review – Children Act Private Law Proceedings: A Handbook by Judge John Mitchell >
Researching Reform: Will the new government be the final nail in the coffin for child welfare? >
A day in the life of … Natasha Phillips (Legal Researcher) >
- Researching Reform For Jordans: Language And The Law – Simple Doesn’t Mean Stupid (childrensrightsflorida.wordpress.com)
This month for our column over at Jordans, we chose to write about the power of words within the family justice system, from the jargon used by lawyers, to the terms employed within children’s care homes and beyond onto the nation’s child abuse inquiry. In our article we look at the impact of using complex words that work to exclude rather than include families, children and relatives.
Does jargon really serve a purpose, or does it put up unnecessary barriers, when the sole purpose of language in the law should be, arguably, to pull barriers down?