Obiter applauds efforts from the judiciary to reduce the length of judgments.
As we enter the paperless era, the problem of 100-page rulings is going to become ever more difficult, so attempts to ease the burden are welcome.
The national media were particularly excited this week at the prospect of bite-size decision, leaping on the comments of Lady Justice Rafferty who said she and her colleagues had the ‘encouragement’ of the master of the rolls to produce short form judgments.
Rafferty obviously adhered to the request and wrote fewer than 1,200 words in 24 paragraphs.
The Telegraph described it as marking a ‘departure from the long-standing tradition of long, wordy rulings’, while the Times proclaimed that judges had ‘struck a blow for brevity’
Far be it for Obiter to cast doubt on this brave new world, but could the party poppers be a trifle premature?
A quick look at other Court of Appeal judgments on Bailii suggest there is work to do: Antonio, R v The Secretary of State for the Home Department is a weighty 89 paragraphs, while Norman v Norman edges it with 92.
Khrapunov v JSC BTA Bank, meanwhile, is an insomnia-curing 14,790 words long.
Could it simply be, as Rafferty acknowledges, that her case raised ‘no issue of law, precedent, or other matters of general significance’ and could be easily sliced and diced? It may well have struck a blow for brevity, but long-winded, arduous judgments are going nowhere fast.