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English judges scrap use of ‘sir’ and ‘madam’
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05 Dec 2022 / global news Print

English judges scrap use of ‘sir’ and ‘madam’

District judges in England and Wales will no longer be addressed as ‘sir’ or ‘madam’, according to the Law Society Gazette of England and Wales.

The Gazette says that the move is part of an attempt by the judiciary to modernise the language of the courtroom.

In a notice published on 1 December, the senior judiciary said judges should be addressed in court or tribunal hearings simply as ‘judge’.

The new direction will apply to masters, Upper Tribunal judges, employment and Employment Appeal Tribunal judges, district judges, and First-Tier Tribunal judges.

Titles not affected

Lord chief justice Lord Burnett of Maldon and senior president of tribunals Sir Keith Lindblom said: “The move away from ‘sir or madam’ involves modern and simple terminology, reflecting the important judicial role, while maintaining the necessary degree of respect.

“We also hope this change in language will assist litigants in person involved in court and tribunal proceedings.”

They added that the change would not affect judicial titles, which had a basis in statute, nor the way in which judges recorded their decisions.

‘Outdated greeting’

The Gazette says that a number of law firms have removed ‘gendered language’ in correspondence – including the use of ‘Dear Sirs’ in letters.

In 2020, the Law Society of Ireland decided to end the use of ‘Dear Sirs’ as a salutation in formal letters.

After researching the matter, the Society’s Coordination Committee decided to discontinue the use of what then-President Michele O’Boyle described as “this outdated greeting”.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland