The language of the law
Updated: Sep 26, 2022
The strictest law sometimes becomes the severest injustice.
— Benjamin Franklin, American Founding Father
The complicated case bias is a festering wound in the practice of law as is the solution bias. Charles Dickens believed that the great principle of English law is to make business for itself. All said, done and dusted, and truth be told, the law is in commerce, and it is commerce.
Judge Learned Hand famously declared that “the language of the law must not be foreign to the ears of those who are to obey it.” But the rule of lenity in crimes and punishments insist that legislative provisions favour the accused. If lawyers from both sides of the aisle botch it, the criminal walks.
Will Rogers realised that smart people nowadays are letting their lawyers, instead of the conscience, guide them. A smart lawyer knows how to manipulate the written law where an ambiguity should be interpreted in a way that makes it valid rather than invalid — the doctrine of ut magis valeat quam pereat.
Frederic Bastiat warned that “when plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course they create for themselves a legal system that authorises it and a moral code that glorifies it.” This is an ugly truth in today’s politics the world over when moral codes are mercilessly buffeted in written laws and constitutions.
The language of the law is best expressed as an escape clause in a contractual provision that absolves one party to the contract of performance under specific conditions. An escape clause relieves one party of liability for non-performance if certain conditions are met. Insurance policies frequently contain escape clauses.