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Top Judge slams telly chef’s Quickie Divorce



I have grumbled from time to time on Twitter about how there only seem to be two sorts of Judges in England according to the Press  – “Top Judge” if they are saying something the newspaper agrees with / are involved in a saucy scandal, and “Out of Touch Judge” if they are saying something the newspaper doesn’t agree with.  I am also pretty regularly driven to ire by the formulation “Quickie Divorce” which newspapers routinely state celebrities are getting, as though there were some special Matrimonial Causes Act which applies only to celebrities and not to mere mortals – those people on television can get their “quickie divorce” whereas you ordinary folk have to make do with divorce at a snails pace, probably with the petition being carefully prepared by Dickensian lawyers with quill pens. For heaven’s sake, the Matrimonial Causes Act which let people divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour without having to prove adultery or wait two years is only forty years old.   It’s hardly some new-fangled initiative.


Having grumbled, I have now stumbled – upon this book which deals with “journalese” the strange mangling of the English language which feels the need to use the expression “innocent victims”  (as opposed to those ones who were asking for it), “slide rule pass” – using a metaphor for a type of mathematical calculating device that hasn’t been used in schools for 40 years, and the curious conceit by which hot temperatures are still expressed in Fahrenheit (which again, left common use thirty to forty years ago) whilst cold ones are expressed in centrigrade


Romps, Tots and Boffins


It is very funny, and a rattlingly good read.

It did get me thinking of “legalese” – not the stuff like “Easements” and “Notwithstanding”, but the expressions that seem to only be used by lawyers, a job which after all is 50% communication (the remainder being paperwork and worrying) and which are fairly impenetrable.  The stock word “draconian” for example, I think only sees usage now in Court rooms and for most non-lawyers who hear it means either next to nothing or “A bit like that blonde nasty lad in Harry Potter”


Here are some of my legalese suggestions – others gladly received


On all fours with  (It’s quite similar to another case in precedent)

At first blush  (I originally thought X, and I bet you did too, but you’re wrong, and here’s why)

Not all my geese are swans (my client turns out to be a liar/wife-beater/back on heroin)

Getting my ducks in a row (I haven’t read much of this yet, and I need to sort things out)

I know not   (I do love this one, it is the only way to say “I don’t know” in a way that sort of makes you sound smart)

This debate has generated more heat than light  (This is a stupid argument, and I’m bored of it)

My client has yet to crystallise their position  (I did steal and use this myself – again, it sounds much better than “We haven’t made up our mind yet”)

My client is entitled to a fair hearing, you know  (I have already decided what I’m spending this brief fee on, so I’m not giving up)

The situation remains somewhat fluid  (Your Honour, if you had been outside court, you would have seen that all hell is breaking loose)

The Court has yet to get under the bonnet of this case (we haven’t so far been in front of a Judge who has read any of the papers)

That is of course, an option (are you mad?)

Perhaps the inherent jurisdiction offers a solution  (I can’t think of an order that will let the Court do what I’m asking for)

I hear what you’re saying  (no)

Let me get back to you on that (no)

Let me just run that past my client (no)

Having taken instructions on that issue (warning, forthcoming no)