Lawyers and Latin

13 September 2014

A bit of a stir has been created at Moray Council where officials have apparently been using 'Harry Potter language' (otherwise or perhaps more properly known as Latin) to unsuspecting members of the public.

Legal Cheek picked up on this story with an article: In defence of 'Avizandum': The most magical sounding legal phrase of them all. For that article Sylvia MacLennan from Inksters' Wick office provided Legal Cheek with her thoughts on Lawyers using Latin:-

“Of course the point about plain English is that technical jargon is used for a shortcut between experts on that subject. All the Latin terms have extremely precise meanings, established by years of legal authority and thus would mean something different if expressed in different terms, or are much shorter than the plain English equivalent. The skill for lawyers is to use these compressed forms of communication between themselves, but to unpack this into plain English, easy to understand language for their clients.”

And that is precisely what we do at Inksters. We won't baffle our clients with Latin but we will use it when appropriate and sensible to do so with our fellow lawyers.

In addition to Avizandum (to consider - which a Judge will say at the end of a hearing if he wants time to consider his Judgement) we might well use some of the following phrases with our learned friends:-

Brevitatas causa  - for the sake of brevity.
ex delicto – arising from a delict.
Nobile Officium – The power of the Court of Session or the High Court of Justiciary to modify the rigorous application of the common law or to give proper relief in a situation for which the law has made no provision.
condictio indebiti – a claim under the principles of unjustified enrichment.
conditio si institutus sine liberis decesserit – an implied condition in a will that where a bequest is made to a group of the testator’s family, and a named beneficiary in that group dies before the testator, the issue of that beneficiary takes the beneficiary’s share in preference to other legatees and heirs.
cibditio si testator sube kuberus decesserit -  a rebuttable presumption applicable where a parent who makes a will without provision for a child then has a child and dies without altering it – presumption that the will has been revoked as the deceased testator would want to have made provision for the child
jus quaesitum tertio – a doctrine which gives rights to a third party who is not party to the contract to obtain and enforce rights under the contract.
Quoad as in quoad ultra denied – everything else is denied.
Anent as in regarding.
Et separatim - and separately. 
Esto when pleading an alternative case.
Rei interventus - things intervening; that is, things done by one of the parties to a contract, in the faith of its validity. and with the assent of the other party, and which have so affected his situation that the other will not be allowed to repudiate his obligation, although originally it was imperfect, and he might have renounced it.
qua (such as "qua Executor", much shorter than "in the capacity of Executor")

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