A new legal principle? No – a transcription error.

When reading a legal case and the judge appears to have formulated an entirely new legal principle from, as it were, whole cloth, do not panic. It may simply be a transcription or OCR error: Consider the ‘new’ legal concept of ‘atrophies acquit’ in Connelly v DPP [1964] A.C. 1254autrefois acquit, anyone?

On the other hand, if it’s Lord Denning, it probably is a new legal principle and you should sit back and enjoy the ride.



  1. “atrophies acquit” – oh, lovely. About ten years ago I was clerking the Commons standing committee on one of the annual (or even six-monthly) Criminal Justice Bills when one of the Members started talking about the principle of “autrefois acquit” and pronounced as modern French. I passed a note to the draftsman to the effect that when I was a kid reading law I was taught to pronounce it “oterfoyz akwit”, to which he responded, “I just try never to say it at all”!

    1. Excellent! ๐Ÿ™‚ (And now I know how to pronounce it – as I, too, would have given it the modern French pronunciation.)

      Law has such lovely words. “Certiorari” is another nice one, which conjures up images of Roman soldiers coming to put a stop to things in an official and orderly fashion. A “quashing order” just seems to go ‘splat’ in comparison.

      I think the clerk was missing out by chickening out… ๐Ÿ™‚

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