Sometimes it’s not the ‘big picture’ but a mere detail that lingers in the mind.
Take the Lord Woolf ‘access to justice’ reforms of 1999. They had a profound effect on civil justice, but it was Woolf’s refinement of legal terminology that still rankles with some. Veteran QC Lord Lester of Herne Hill is one such malcontent, if his remarks to a Westminster Legal Forum event on judicial review last week are any guide.
Lester chided co-panelist Woolf (pictured) that his decision to abolish the word ‘writ’ still gets under his skin. ‘When I appear in court I use the word “writ” in defiance,’ he said.
Obiter – who declares a personal interest in historic legal language – doubts that his lordship is alone in this. Are there any other redoubts of pre-Woolf terminology out there? A prize for the best yarn – especially if it names names.