Scanning practice

17.6.1. Read the questions. Be sure you've got them in mind.

1. What is a barrister according to Mr Staughton?

2. What does the phrase With respect really mean?

3. What does the judge want?

4. What does the judge say about some words?

17.6.2. Start scanning the text. Don't fail to note your time.

Judge's respectful plea for plainer English

A barrister is a man born with a silver spoon in his mouth in place of a tongue. Or so it would appear to Mr Justice Staughton, a judge in the Commercial Court.

The learned judge has become irritated at the linguistic duplicity of counsel, and the way in which they use archaic words to camouflage what is at bottom, an insult.

Writing in the current edition of the quarterly legal journal Counsel, a learned magazine read by upper echelons of the legal profession, the judge tells about barristers who preface a statement to him with the phrase With respect. What that really means, says the judge, is you are wrong.

A statement prefaced with the words With great respect means you are utterly wrong. And if a barrister produces the ultimate weapon of With utmost respect he is really saying to the court, Send for the men in white coats.

The judge wants more plain English used in courts, and less of the legal language of the obscure past, some of which he says has been obsolete in ordinary speech almost since the Bible.

Words like humbly and respectfully are not only unnecessary in written legal documents, they are generally untruthful in oral argument, says the judge with utmost respect.

Judges themselves are, of course, not entirely free of guilt in the matter of exchanges which are not very understandable.

As the courtroom clock moves towards 1 pm, counsel might say: It might be of value to your Lordship if I were to inform you at this juncture that I have several more questions to ask of to this witness which would take some little while. The judge will reply: This seems a useful time to adjourn. What they really mean is lunch.

17.6.3. Answer the questions in 17.6.1. (Books closed.)


  1. Control Engineering Practice
  2. Conversational Practice
  3. Conversational Practice
  4. Conversational Practice
  5. Conversational Practice
  6. Conversational Practice
  7. Conversational Practice
  8. Conversational Practice
  9. Conversational Practice
  10. Conversational Practice
  11. II. Listen to the following words and practice their pronunciation
  12. II. Listen to the following words and practice their pronunciation

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