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Collins Dictionary of Law

Most work has gone towards meeting the original mission, which was to have a modern contemporary work that would be useful in the ordinary working life of most users. The introduction of European human rights law and devolution within the UK has spawned a considerable addition to the lexicon. I have also tried to ensure that other legislative and judicial developments over the last five years have been reflected in the text. While the dictionary is not intended to state the law, in defining legal concepts this is inevitable, and when these concepts are changed by decision or legislation, the definitions have had to change too. I have taken the opportunity to add some words omitted from the last edition where I have seen that they still appear in current materials or in materials people are still required to read. Notwithstanding a recent judicial pronouncement that Latin should not be used, it still is. All the law’s ‘hard words’ remain in the texts of the law, which live as long as the law itself. One technical issue has arisen.

That is the matter of the use of the letter ‘J’ in Latin words. Here we encounter the well-known division between Latin as a language and Latin as a legal language. Even the classical periods of Latin and Roman law do not coincide. The medieval epoch spawned some curious Latin and much legal Latin. ‘J’ is used as a consonant and ‘i’ for the vowel. The vast improvement in the content of the Internet has allowed me to read very many more legal texts from abroad, so permitting some enhancement to entries and the presence of some new ones. The downside is that I had no excuse with this edition for a trip to the Bodelian, as I did the last time.

Not everything about progress is good. Finally, thanks to Professor Rebecca Wallace of the School of Law at Napier University, Cowan Ervine at Dundee University and P. B. Mathews of Withers, Solicitors, London, for reading the text and proposed amendments and saving me from many errors and omissions. I am solely responsible for those that remain.

W. J. Stewart, Tollcross, March 2001

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