Tweets by Lawyer Robert Janes@rjmjanes:
Canada is a modern democracy where we are slowly learning to recognize the rights of all people to be equal and to be represented in our institutions. As part of that we need to abolish the use of My Lord and My Lady in the courts.
This change can be effected by a simple practice direction. Let’s get it done.
Other tweets, including by other lawyers, I roared laughing at many:
Given the changes in the way Counsel are to introduce themselves and their clients in court, it is high time BC abandon the archaic “My Lord and My Lady” vernacular in BCSC and BCCA.
“My Liege” is gender neutral and would preserve the feudal mystique.
Or simply “Your Honour” I find that title equally belittling, especially given how judges intentionally publish lies in rulings. Judges blew the “honour” title. Perhaps some fair judges deserve it, but not all in general. Besides, “honourable” is the title used for our corrupt politicians, so when I hear “your honour,” all I can think of is racist, misogynist, bigot, law-violating, Charter and Canada-hating Steve Harper et al
Alberta is still doing this too, am I right? Yes, it makes me gag.
Added bonus if a move is made to “your honour”… no longer have those awkward interactions in a phone hearing where you didn’t hear the introduction of who is presiding and don’t know whether it is a judge or master.
I once asked a Justice about this question and they said “what’s wrong with ‘Justice x’ or ‘Master x’ That’s most simple and easy for us ordinary citizens to remember. It describes reality, not pretense and superiority. We’re in court rooms in Canada, not castles in the UK or the air! Being in a court room was dreadfully stressful for me to begin with (knowing I was sacrificing everything I have to pay the legal/court costs), never mind being made to feel like a serf every time a lawyer addressed a judge.
Your honour for all. Accessible, applicable to all, least likely to offend.
Agreed. You should pitch this to the CJs.
Not “my Liege” though.
“Your Honour” works best, I reckon.
That’s only a partial remedy. First, that’s not the way people talk. Second, and more importantly, it’s inconsistent to request counsel to observe correct pronoun introductions (which I support) and then ask us to make assumptions about their sex/gender. Also, The courts belong to the public, not lawyers. Thank you Mr. Michi, Wisest and kindest thing I’ve ever heard a lawyer say. In my lawsuit experiences, even though I paid the legal bills (horrific), I never felt/feel I was/am welcome in any court room or hearing. I never felt my lawsuit was mine; I felt that it belonged to my lawyers, the opposing lawyers and the lord and lady judges. They don’t live frac’d with contaminated water; I do. The fact that we have different honourifics and appelations for different levels of judges is “inside baseball” and confusing to the general public, and I’m mindful of self-reps particularly. Let’s just make it all “Your Honour”!
I’m not super swayed by your first point – language adapts and changes and legal language is constructed, to begin with. That flows to your second point, which I agree with – we should try and use plain, simple language. Nobody cares who was appointed by a Queen.
B. Grogu Greenberg@b_greenberg Agreed. I am not opposed to a single term. I don’t like your honour because it sounds too American (I know it was also used in the UK tradition) and it is a title based on an obligatory status and treatment of the position unrelated to the role. That is why I prefer Justice.
Yeah but it’s at least awkward when you have to substitute a proper noun (e.g. Justice X) for a 2nd person pronoun (e.g. Your Lordship) in something like, “If it pleases Your Lordship, I would like to… “
In that sense, it sort of lays bare how weird those traditional phrases sound in the 21st century, where nobody gets to have a castle, serfs and heads of state are no longer selected by strange women handing out swords in lakes.
Honest question, do you have to phrase it that way? It sort of makes the process inaccessible to self-reps. That’s the intent, in my view. Canada’s judicial industry does not want us ordinary lowlifes in it, even when we’ve sacrificed our savings to quitting back-stabbing lawyers that misrepresent the truth and refuse to return case files, never mind as self-reps. As @jaymichi put it “inside baseball.” I like that. What about “Justice Maclaren, with your leave, we would request…”
No. It’s a custom rather than a rule, I guess. But only using proper nouns when addressing judges is not exactly optimal.
We could all adapt, and must. But for those of us who have to jump between provincial and Supreme it’s going to be tough. Your Honour is so versatile n
I agree. I think your solution of your honour is the best I can think of if we’re sticking with 3rd person.
that’s how it is in ontario. your honour for judges, your worship for justices of the peace.
Yukon it Your Honour or Justice
Given the etymological roots of ‘lord’ and ‘lady,’ “My Loaf” should also be an acceptable form of address.
Not gonna lie, every time I read a UK case that addresses the court with “My Lords”, all I can hear in my head is “My dudes!”
Jay Michi@jaymichi And yet I’m routinely expected to address women with whom I’m not familiar as “M’Lady”… in 2021… Not in a role-play scenario… In a real life courtroom!
Any word on whether the Alberta courts will be issuing similar practice notes re: pronouns? @QB_Alberta In KKKlan of the Cave Bear Alberta? You’re kidding right?
It’s the colonial and classist overtones I’d like to eliminate.
Lot’s of reasons to say goodbye to those forms. Access to Justice #A2J is one. The jargon is confusing to non-lawyers and only serves to further mystify legal proceedings. It never mystified me, it just insults me, makes me feel inferior which I think was the original intent, and continues to be the intent. Galling.
How much does any of this matter while we still have a monarch? Let’s just be happy that our colonial forefathers ditched the wigs.
What about “Your Majesty “?
When I was just starting out I called one of the JPs here “Your Majesty” by accident, and I’ve been favoured ever since
David Gill@dtgill From what I’ve heard that’s not an uncommon mistake!
Changes coming in court? Kamloops-led effort to do away with ‘my lord,’ ‘my lady’ in B.C. courtrooms gains momentum by Tim Petruk, Jan 14, 2021, Castanet
A Kamloops lawyer is leading the charge to modernize an archaic tradition in B.C. courtrooms requiring some judges to be addressed as “my lord” or “my lady,” and his campaign is gaining steam — including the support of a former B.C. attorney general.
“I think in 20 years when I tell a young lawyer that in 2021 we walked into court and called judges ‘my lord’ and ‘my lady,’ they will laugh,” Jay Michi told Castanet Kamloops.
“They will not believe it. I truly believe that.”
Michi said his quest began after a move last month by both the B.C. Provincial Court and B.C. Supreme Court directing lawyers to provide preferred pronouns while introducing themselves and their clients in court.
If that’s going to be the case now in courtrooms across the province, he said, why is the B.C. legal profession still holding onto its feudal, gender-based honourifics?
Judges in B.C. Supreme Court and the B.C. Court of Appeal are addressed as “my lord” or “my lady,” while judges in provincial court are called “your honour” — the term Michi and others have said they’d like to see used across the board, as it is in some other provinces.
Michi wrote a letter last week to B.C.’s chief justices outlining his pitch.
“They responded back basically saying, ‘Thank you’ — that it’s a topic that comes up from time to time,” he said.
“I read it to be a polite response to my message but I also read it to mean nothing is going to come of this.”
But hope is not lost for Michi.
A tweet he penned about the issue last week sparked discussion online and Michi’s efforts eventually caught the eye of Geoff Plant, a former B.C. attorney general, who has since voiced his support.
“The [pronoun] directive to the profession correctly reflects the fact the world is no longer as simple as saying he or she or him or her,” Plant told Castanet Kamloops.
“The moment you recognize gender diversity, you have to ask yourself why in supreme court there is a difference between judges who are ‘my lady’ and judges who are ‘my lord.’”
Plant said it’s also good to revisit tradition every once in a while to make sure it’s still worthwhile.
“There’s lots of antiquity in the profession, and some of it is good,” he said.
“But it’s also good from time to time to ask why it’s good and what it’s upholding. If it’s run up against a world that’s changed, then it’s worth changing.”
Plant, who served as attorney general in Gordon Campbell’s BC Liberal government between 2001 and 2005, said he’s hopeful judges in all B.C. courts will soon be called “your honour.”
“I hope the chief justices make this change sooner rather than later,” he said.