|Citation||36 Edw. III c. 15|
The Pleading in English Act 1362 (36 Edw. III c. 15), often rendered Statute of Pleading, was an Act of the Parliament of England. The Act complained that because the Norman French language was largely unknown to the common people of England, they had no knowledge of what was being said for or against them in the courts, which used Law French. The Act therefore stipulated that "all Pleas which shall be pleaded in [any] Courts whatsoever, before any of his Justices whatsoever, or in his other Places, or before any of His other Ministers whatsoever, or in the Courts and Places of any other Lords whatsoever within the Realm, shall be pleaded, shewed, defended, answered, debated, and judged in the English language, and that they be entered and inrolled in Latin".
Prior to the Norman conquest of England in 1066, traditional common law in England had been discussed in the vernacular since time immemorial, and had been written in the Germanic vernacular (Old English) since c. 600 following the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain and beginning with the law code of Æthelberht of Kent. Following the Norman conquest, the language of the latest conquerors was used – Anglo-Norman French (which developed into Law French) was used for pleadings, and Latin was used in writing. The fourteenth century saw a decline in Law French, hence the Pleading in English Act, which marked the beginning of modern Legal English.
Notes and references
- Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts, 1539, French legislation mandating use of French in law, in place of Latin
- Sachsenspiegel, c. 1220, first legal document written in German rather than Latin
- Proceedings in Courts of Justice Act 1730
- Legal English
- Law French
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