Legal developments come thick and fast and it is as much as can be expected of any lawyer to keep on top of changes in their own particular field. You can all imagine, then, the sheer magnitude of the task facing our revered Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, who has to keep abreast of every single new law. The mere thought of it is almost too much too bear.
So you will surely all be sympathetic if our great Lord Chancellor suffers the occasional slip. Take last week: while giving evidence to the House of Commons Committee on the Lord Chancellor's Department, the man with a brain as sharp as a razor was asked about conditional fee arrangements and the ongoing litigation between parties and costs.
Throughout, Irvine (also known as 'The Oracle') referred to 'plaintiffs'. Clearly, our learned friend has not yet had time to read the Civil Justice Reforms introduced by his esteemed colleague Lord Woolf around… ohhhh… four years ago now. In those momentous reforms you may possibly recall that the word 'plaintiff' was abandoned, substituted instead for 'claimant'. Then again, perhaps he didn't forget, but prefers to live in a bygone era: when discussing budgets during the same session, he argued that his department's estimates on the costs of making substantive changes in the law had to be converted into “pounds, shillings and pence”.