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Learning the Language of Law

November 6, 2012

I love studying law… but I don’t love legalese. Sometimes law is more like English Language 2.0: an idiomatic minefield of oxymorons, double negatives and long words. There are always exceptions, exceptions to the exception, and exceptions to those exceptions. No wonder “it depends” is the most common law student answer to a yes or no question.

 

Here are some amusing and, at times, confusing concepts and phrases that you’ve probably encountered during your degree…

 

Not unreasonable – not the same as reasonable, but more reasonable than unreasonable.

 

Not insignificant – not quite as insignificant as insignificant, but not really significant either.  

 

Deregulation law – yes, we have laws on the deregulation of things.

 

Strict liability – even if it isn’t technically your fault, it is your fault.

 

Collateral contracts – the contract you enter into, in which you agree to enter into a contract.

 

Acts Interpretation Act – do I really need to interpret this one?

 

The Neighbour Principle (from the famous snail-in-a-ginger-beer-bottle case Donoghue v Stevenson) – almost everyone is your neighbour, even if they aren’t actually your neighbour.

 

 

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