Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Friday, September 27, 2013

Laughter in the court

“According to the Oxford English Dictionary (‘the OED’) the word eleemosynary, which is largely used to frighten law students, made its debut in English in around 1640 and is derived from the medieval Latin word eleēmosynārius which means ‘alms’. The OED defines eleemosynary to mean: ‘Of or pertaining to alms or almsgiving; charitable’.
Its utilisation by trust lawyers as a replacement for the word ‘charitable’ was made necessary because the effect of the law of charities is that the word ‘charitable’ in law bears little resemblance to the concept it bears in ordinary English. It might perhaps have promoted clarity for lawyers to have used the word ‘eleemosynary’ to refer to the technical sense of the concept and to have left the word ‘charitable’ with its ordinary meaning, but it is too late now to rescue the language from this misfortune.”

Mr. Justice Perram, The Hunger Project Australia v Commissioner of Taxation [2013] 

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