Here’s one for the next legal pub quiz: name the only occasion between 1939 and 1945 when the work of the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division was brought to a standstill by reason of the war. The right answer, in every sense of the word, was the VE Day celebration 70 years ago last week.
Lord Merriman, president of what is now the Family Division, observed at the time: ‘The damaged and destroyed courts, the ruins of the Temple, the damaged Law Society’s buildings and the solicitors’ offices in which work was valiantly carried on in the face of imminent danger bear witness to the part played by lawyers and judges alike in warding off the greatest conspiracy of evil in history.’
Merriman, who had begun his career as an articled clerk, said such resilience provided ‘a striking repudiation of the old saying that amid a clash of arms the law was silent, and rightly may be regarded as symbolic of the purpose for which this country had taken up arms’.
Anyone looking for words to carve in stone could do worse than start with those.