Those of you who have studied law or who are currently working in the legal profession may already be familiar with the Civil Procedures Rules (CPR). For those who are not, the CPR came into effect in 1999 to ensure that justice is obtained when people go to court. They were created to make civil proceedings cheaper, quicker and fairer, as well as providing a system that was easier to understand. The rules are used by the County Courts, Court of Appeal and High Court of Justice during civil cases in England and Wales. Each year the rules are amended in line with changes in law, procedure, and societal shifts. Some years see big updates whilst others are only minor. In the past, many old-fashioned legal terms and procedures were removed. This year, the CPR amendments provide a reduction in length, the further simplification of language and improved clarity, with an emphasis on modernisation. They include a couple of pivotal changes to wording which reflect our current times.
Queen Elizabeth died in September 2022 after reigning Britain for over 70 years and for decades our monarch was referred to as ‘Her Majesty’. Elizabeth’s son Charles was crowned King on 6 May 2023 and became known as ‘His Majesty’. As the Queen was referred to in many legal documents and texts, they had to be updated to show the correct term of our new monarch. In the CPR, the title ‘Queen’ was changed to ‘King’ and ‘Her Majesty’ was changed to ‘His Majesty’ throughout. ILSPA also had to update its English Legal System and Civil Litigation course material accordingly, referring to ‘The King’s Bench Division’ rather than ‘The Queen’s Bench Division’.
Another interesting update to the CPR was the removal of ‘he’, ‘his’ or ‘him’ as the gender pronouns throughout the text. The wording has now been changed to ‘they’, ‘their’s’ or ‘them’ to provide gender neutral language and equality. Not only is this long overdue in terms of masculine language having taken precedence traditionally, but it has also been government policy to write legislation in gender neutral language since 2007! You may be surprised to learn that before the mid-19th century, it was common for legislation to be written in gender neutral terms. An Act was passed in 1850 to change this and specified that masculine language in legislation should be “deemed and taken to include females”. The reason expressed at the time was to shorten the language used in Acts of Parliament. This particular update also reflects our shift in attitude towards gender pronouns in general. Whilst this subject has caused a lot of controversy in recent times, it is also welcomed by many people, especially the younger generation who are bringing more awareness to equality and diversity. Part of ILSPA’s English Legal System unit states: “In order for law to be acceptable by society it must be capable of change, and any change in the law usually reflects changes in social conventions.” So for those of you studying ILSPA’s Legal Secretaries Diploma course at the moment, you are seeing this in action.
You can find a copy of the amended CPR here.