The 12,000 member Law Society of Scotland has advised solicitors to use inclusive phrases after a row over how a prominent QC spoke to jurors during a high court hearing. As a result the society would like to see ‘Men and women’ ditched from Scots courts.
The move, which has support from many gender rights groups, will change how people have been referred to in the courts for many centuries. In particular the society would like to see solicitors stop addressing jurors as “ladies and gentleman” as they would the dropping of the terms “sir and madam” when communicating with the public.
More than 20,000 people in Scotland define themselves as neither male nor female.
Whilst the advice will not go down well in all quarters and particularly amongst those who feel that tradition should be respected, many top solicitors have come out in support of the move.
Brian McConnachie QC said ““it is a sign of the times. No doubt in 10 years’ time, nobody will remember that we used to say, ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ or ‘ladies and gentlemen’ or whatever it may be. “It’s the way things are going and I suppose the Law Society and the courts have to get on board with the way things are these days.”
Lawyer Aamer Anwar agrees saying “It’s another step towards bringing the legal profession into the 21st century.”
A Law Society spokesperson said: that we have “advised our members to use inclusive language, whether in court, the office or in written communication.”
The advice risks staying into compelled speech according Marion Calder, Director of women’s rights charity For Women Scotland, who said: “This is absolute madness and could cause unnecessary offence.”
Whether the terms ‘Men and women’ are ditched from Scots courts will make a difference or not, only time will tell.
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