Objection! Confusing courtroom jargon made clear

Origin: BBC Radio 4

Are you confounded by courtroom communication and longing to learn some legal lingo?

All professions, industries and many other specialist groupings have their own codes, languages and acronyms which can exclude outsiders – intentionally or otherwise. Lucy Read is a family law barrister and chair of The Transparency Project. She joined Michael Rosen and Dr Laura Wright on Radio 4’s Word of Mouth to discuss the language of the courtroom.

Here’s Lucy’s guide to some basic terms…

1. Barristers and solicitors

All barristers and solicitors are lawyers, but a lawyer can’t be both – they are either one or the other.

2. Counsel / Queen’s Counsel (QC)

Counsel is another name for a barrister. When the judge asks for “counsel only” it means she wants to see only the lawyers without their clients. Queen’s Counsel (QC) is a senior barrister who has been given the rank of “QC” as a mark of excellence. Also called a silk (they “take silk” – something to do with the special garments worn by QCs). Any barrister who isn’t a QC is a “junior barrister” no matter how senior they are. Barristers who are experienced but not senior enough to be a QC are called a “senior junior”. Yes, daft isn’t it?

3. Chambers

Chambers are what the rest of the world call offices. Mainly different because barristers don’t (generally) work in a “firm” or company, but are independent sole traders who club together to pay for a room in chambers and share clerks (employed staff who receive enquiries, get in work and allocate it).


4. Skeleton

No, it’s probably not what you’re thinking. Skeleton is a written legal argument in outline form.


5. Submissions

Submissions are the lawyers’ speeches at the end of the case (this is sometimes done in writing).

6. Issue

A phrase used by lawyers to mean the things that are in dispute – but only the ones that actually need to be decided for the judge to make a decision. (Cue affronted client when told that something that is very important to them is “not an issue” and hurried explanation that what is important to the client is not always relevant for the judge…).

7. Ex parte

This Latin phrase means “in the absence of a party” and applies in family cases mainly when one party goes to court to get a domestic violence injunction in place before the other party is told (because if warned in advance they might take unwanted action). An “ex parte” hearing also includes a hearing that the other party is aware of but excluded from, such as in a national security context.

8. Without prejudice

This relates to private correspondence and negotiation that the judge should not be told about until after they have decided the case.

9. Prima facie

More Latin. Prima facie means “on the face of it”. Someone who has a “prima facie case” is someone who has presented enough evidence for a case to be looked at, but doesn’t mean the case will necessarily be heard in full once the details have been thoroughly scrutinised.

10. Housekeeping

Housekeeping refers to the administrative tasks that need to be sorted out at the start of a hearing, such as which order are the witnesses going in and checking everyone has the appropriate documentation.


11. Part-heard

Part-heard is when a hearing breaks off to a later date half way through the evidence. When the case is part-heard the same advocates and judge have to continue the case until the evidence is finished and the judgment given – which means lots of diary juggling.

12. My learned friend

“My learned friend” is what barristers call one another in court when they have forgotten the other one’s name.

13. My friend

Simply “My friend” is what barristers call solicitors when they are in pompous git mode (making the point that the solicitor isn’t a barrister).

14. Disguised compliance

Disguised compliance is a complicated term social workers use when they think parents are lying but can’t prove it (i.e. when parents disguise the fact they disagree there is anything wrong with their parenting by superficially doing what they are asked to in order to get social workers off their back). “Putting on a show” or “game playing” would work just as well.

15. Paramountcy principle

Paramountcy principle means that a child’s welfare trumps everything else.

16. Paginated bundle

The world “paginated” refers to numbering the pages of a document, and a “bundle” is what lawyers call the files of court papers, put in order and separated into numbered sections so that the judge, lawyers and witnesses can all find the same documents in the same place (in theory). A “paginated bundle” is therefore simply the files of court papers, with page numbers, and separated into numbered sections.

To learn more about the language of the courtroom see Lucy Read’s website, Pink Tape.

Translation: The Biggest Challenge for Regulators That No One’s Talking About

Regulators have long been concerned with the safety, efficacy and quality of the products they regulate. Now they have a new concern to think about: language. South Korea’s healthcare products regulator is learning that lesson this week after being called out by The Korea Times for failing to keep its English-language website up to date. But as a review by Regulatory Focus shows, it’s hardly the only regulator struggling to translate its documents in a timely manner.

Website Problems

In a report, the paper discovered that the English-language website of the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) still featured its former minister nearly a month after Kim Seung-hee took over as minister. MFDS has since partially corrected the issue, placing a photograph of Seung-hee, the agency’s first female minister, on its “Minister’s Message” page. Other parts of the website, including the minister’s biography, still mention the former minister, Chung Seung. – See more at: http://www.raps.org/Regulatory-Focus/News/2015/05/04/22094/The-Biggest-Challenge-for-Regulators-That-No-Ones-Talking-About-Translation/#sthash.bi4wwkgK.dpuf   The Biggest Challenge for Regulators That No One’s Talking About: Translation | RAPS.

Business Case Law Update: Personal Guaranty…a “Special Kind of Contract”


En USA el contrato de fianza (personal guaranty) puede suscitar ambigüedades, como ocurrió en este caso en que el fiador se obligó por USD 39.000 y estuvo a punto de tener que responder por varios millones de dólares. En Argentina a diferencia de USA, el contrato de fianza está tipificado y acotado en sus efectos, sentido y alcances (código civil Título X). Al traducir un contrato de fianza es importantísimo tener en cuenta esta sustancial diferencia entre los sitemas jurídicos de ambos paises y no dar nada por sobreentendido.

Jeshua Lauka's Business and Real Estate Law Blog

Over the last few years I’ve posted a few articles on Personal Guarantees in a business transaction. I’ve noticed recently people coming across my articles while searching for “enforceability of a personal guarantee” – so this article, and the new case law I just reviewed is timely.

To summarize – 

Yes – a personal guaranty is enforceable

No –  a personal guaranty is not enforceable in EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE.

The case:

Stone Crest Building Co v Chicago Title (Unpublished) Michigan Court of Appeals, No. 319842

I. Facts: 

  • Stone Crest (General Contractor) contracted to build several condo projects.
  • Stone Creek  hired Stock Building (Subcontractor) to provide labor and material to the projects under an Agreement.
  • Stone Creek rain into financial problems, so it couldn’t pay its Subcontractor.
  • Stone Creek entered a new agreement (Note) with Subcontractor which included a Personal Guaranty from its President, Richard Sable.
  • The Personal Guaranty 

Ver la entrada original 369 palabras más

El Traductor Público en Argentina

El traductor público es el profesional universitario cuya incumbencia, de conformidad con la Ley 20.305, es la traducción de todo documento que se presente en idioma extranjero ante reparticiones, entidades u organismos públicos.

Es el único profesional habilitado para actuar como intérprete y traductor en sede judicial.

Además, sus servicios son solicitados por el área privada para la traducción de todo material escrito que requiera responsabilidad profesional y un alto grado de capacitación y de especialización.

Texto completo, web del Colegio de Traductores Públicos de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires: C.T.P.C.B.A. – El Traductor P�blico.

La traducción jurídica es una especialización // Legal translation as a special area of translation


La traducción jurídica es una especialización de la actividad de traducción. Esto se debe al hecho de que la traducción jurídica involucra el derecho, y puede producir un impacto y consecuencias tanto lingüísticas como legales, y también se debe a la naturaleza especial del derecho y el vocabulario jurídico. Además, la traducción de textos jurídicos de cualquier tipo, desde leyes a contratos o declaraciones ante la justicia, es una práctica en la que convergen la teoría del derecho, la teoría del lenguaje y la teoría de la traducción. Por lo tanto, resulta esencial que el traductor jurídico posea un entendimiento de la naturaleza del derecho y la jerga legal, y del impacto que ejerce sobre la traducción jurídica.


Legal translation is a special and specialized area of translational activity. This is due to the fact that legal translation involves law, and such translation can and often does produce not just linguistic but also legal impact and consequence, and because of the special nature of law and legal language. Moreover, as is noted, the translation of legal texts of any kind, from statute laws to contracts to courtroom testimony, is a practice that stands at the crossroads of legal theory, language theory and translation theory (Joseph 1995: 14). Therefore, it is essential that the legal translator have a basic understanding of the nature of law and legal language and the impact it has on legal translation. (Cao 2007: 19)

Cada sector, negocio, o especialidad tiene su traductor especializado.


Cada sector, negocio, o especialidad tiene su traductor especializado. Los mejores traductores serán aquéllos que dominen mejor el tema y su vocabulario. No es lo mismo traducir una ficha de producto que un contrato. Hable con sus traductores, con aquéllas personas que trabajarán con sus textos.

  • Ud. conoce su especialidad, una breve conversación con el traductor será suficiente para saber si él la conoce también. De no ser así, piense en la posibilidad de cambiar de traductor.