Much has changed in our world since I was first admitted as a lawyer in 1991. My studies and my initial work experience, concentrated on learning and applying national law. International law was considered more of an academic curiosity than a pragmatic and necessary tool of trade.
Over the years, international economic trade extrapolated national boundaries, culminating in a globalised world for the sale of goods and the provision of services. This has had an ever-evolving impact on the role of all advisers. By the 1990s, we were truly well on our way to having international markets and inevitably, international professions.
The Covid pandemic of 2020 infected the globe as a whole. The impact was instantaneous and simultaneous. Global business came to a standstill.
Changes were also dawning on the horizon of the European Union. The United Kingdom held a referendum which culminated in Brexit. What impact Brexit will have is still unclear.
The question of whether other European nations will follow, thus causing the disintegration of the European Union, remains to be seen. And whilst it is true – there is much uncertainty in our lives – there is a constant. The attractiveness of common law.
In fact, many commercial parties find England and Wales a very attractive jurisdiction for dispute resolution and often adopt English law as the governing law in their international commercial agreements. This is even so when neither of the parties are British.
It therefore follows, that legal education must also move with the times and respond to the needs of the market. Communicating accurately and effectively with impact can only be achieved if a practitioner possesses solid knowledge, not only of their own domestic legal system, but the counterpart’s legal system. It is often the case, that foreign law is more attractive than one’s own domestic law, and therefore more conducive to the parties’ ultimate commercial aims.
Translating, working, negotiating or resolving problems where commercial consequences hinge on the outcome is particularly challenging if done in a language which is not your native tongue.
English is the lingua franca. It is the official global working language, and many professionals deal with and advise English speaking clients, communicate with colleagues across borders, and negotiate with foreign counterparts. Today, this is the norm rather than the exception in business.
And so, this brings me to this text – Legal English. As you all know, Legal English is not English. Legal English is characterised by long sentences, often written in the passive voice, containing technical and/or Latin terms. And whilst this language is considered archaic and impractical from a commercial or practical point of view, it is worth remembering that Judges will be using this archaic language when resolving disputes, through the application of leading case law precedents. Alternatively, clients expect and demand cost effective solutions to their problems or when negotiating transactions. Clear, effective and high impact language is imperative.
My aim when writing Legal English was to provide our readers with a useful, easy-to-read manual – an outline of essential core legal concepts. I have chosen ten main areas of law, including contracts, torts, intellectual property, criminal law, international commercial transactions, commercial litigation and alternative dispute resolution. Each unit contains four lessons which cover different aspects of the core topics. Each unit also comes with language skills, such as exercises, listenings, pronunciation and writing corners.
As case law is the very heart of common law, I have included ten precedent making or notorious case studies to illustrate their impact on the development of common law. Each exercise has its own answer key, to assist you in verifying your understanding, application and critical analysis of legal concepts.
Finally, in the Annexures part of our textbook, the reader will find a number of Official Forms and Model Agreements. This aim here is to illustrate how concepts discussed in the units are applied to real life professional scenarios and to bridge the gap between theory and practice.
Whatever your professional background – law, accounting, or linguistics, or whether you are an in-house counsel, notary, accountant or translator, I hope this book becomes an invaluable resource in your professional libraries.
And finally, for our future professionals. Your market is changing rapidly. The pressure on future professionals will be even greater than today as business transactions become more and more complex. For your success, being highly skilled and knowledgeable as well as being in possession of a wide range of hard and soft skills, will be imperative. Knowledge of differing legal systems and a solid command and understanding of Legal English will be essential.
I sincerely hope you enjoy your world-wind tour of common law, and that you find the reading enticing enough to stop off and take a more in-depth tour of all the sightseeing trips we have included for you in each of our Legal English units.
Legal English Trainer
Legal English Teacher Trainer