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Judges are wise, but they need to be savvy too

Lord Neuberger's recent comments show how important it is for the judiciary to be PR aware, says David Kirwan

2 September 2014

For those so skilled at choosing words wisely, some judges have an unfortunate knack of putting their foot in it. There is a naivety with regard to the media, especially in these modern times when there are few hiding places. Every word has potential to grab a headline.

Our judges may be honest, earnest and wise - but they are not always savvy.

Skeleton arguments

Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court, addressed the annual conference of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, perhaps not expecting his words to carry to these shores.

While referring to the onerous burden of reading papers in preparation for a hearing, he divided judges into two categories: Pre-Raphaelites and Impressionists.

Pre-Raphaelites read everything and are better prepared to ask relevant questions, whereas Impressionists read very little, often just "skimming the skeleton arguments", Lord Neuberger asserted.

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