An A to Z of legal clerihews

cler·i·hew  n 

A humorous verse consisting of two rhymed couplets in lines of irregular length, usually about a person whose name serves as one of the rhymes. [After Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956), British writer.] – The Free Dictionary

(Available at https://www.thefreedictionary.com/clerihew)

These rhymes are intended to be a friendly guide to commonly employed legal terms, arranged alphabetically (with X and Z exempted).

 

A

Abuse of Process

Is meant for the Press

And anyone who fights

For Human Rights.

 

B

Breach of Contract

Is an unlawful act.

But to read the fine print

You have to squint.

 

C

Consumer action

Is the result of faction

With crooks who play hard

With your warranty card.

 

D

Defamation is slander

Spoken to pander

To prime-time slaves

Of television knaves.

 

E

‘Executor’: the sordid name

Of the person you blame

If you fetch up nil

On the testator’s will.

 

F

‘Final Judgement’ slams the door

On hearing the case any more.

Like it or lump it:

It’s writ when it’s writ.

 

G

Grievous Bodily Harm

Can be inflicted without qualm

By keepers of the peace.

May their lathis increase!

 

H

Habeas Corpus

Is meant to help us

If we’re sent to jail

For reasons that fail.

 

I

‘Inter se’ is one of those phrases

That frequently appear in legal cases.

It’s Latin, I think,

And will make you blink.

 

J

‘Justice’, per Joseph Heller

(I mean the Catch-22 feller),

‘Is a knee in the gut.’

Tut, tut.

 

K

‘Know-How’ is a blight

Disguised as a right

To steal you blind

With patents that bind.

 

L

Labour Laws

Are full of flaws.

Hence the boss’s rage

Over the Minimum Wage.

 

M

Matricide

Is the use of cyanide

To transform your Mummy

Into a regular mummy.

 

N

‘Nolle Prosequi’ is the Latin way

For judges to pronounce, or say:

‘It’s taking up space,

So I’m dismissing your case.’

 

O

Official Secrets Acts

Are for punishing bureaucrats

Who fail to suppress

Their bosses’ mess.

 

P

Public Interest Litigation

Is like forest vegetation.

Nip it in the bud

Before it overwhelms Me Lud.

 

 

Q

‘Quid Pro Quo’

Is what a so-and-so

Is paid as bribes.

It gives him good vibes.

 

R

‘Recusal’ is an excuse

(And often a ruse)

For a judge to bunk

For reasons of funk.

 

S

‘Sine Die’ is ‘later’,

But without any data

On precisely when.

It could be tomorrow, or two years, or ten.

 

 

T

Tortfeasors are guys

Who are rather like lice:

They cause harm

And lack charm.

 

 

U

‘Ultra Vires’ is Latin

For someone who’s actin’

Beyond their power.

It’s unlawful behaviour.

 

V

Vexatious Litigants

Are no mitigants

Of a judge’s fury.

(Nor that of the jury.)

 

W

Writs of Mandamus

Can well land on us

If we play hooky

With the rule booky.

 

Y

Young Offenders are punks

And under-aged skunks

Who get the judge’s goat

Before they can vote.

First published in The Leaflet.