Loss of capitals in court names

There’s going to be a ruling today on whether whole-life sentences for murder are acceptable or whether the European Court of Human Rights should prevail.

It’s in poor taste, perhaps, that the capitalization in The Guardian was what caught my eye – Joshua Rozenberg’s article:

One of the most important sentencing cases in many years comes before the court of appeal on Friday. …

At a broader level, the court will have to decide whether to follow English law or human rights law as declared by the European court in Strasbourg. Chris Grayling, the justice secretary, will certainly be taking a close interest in the outcome. …

The lord chief justice is sitting, of course. On either side of Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd will be two judges who will have hoped they might now be occupying his chair: Sir Brian Leveson, president of the Queen’s bench division, and Lady Justice Hallett, vice-president of the court of appeal criminal division. Sitting with them will be Lord Justice Treacy, who succeeded Leveson as chairman of the sentencing council, and Mr Justice Burnett, a well-regarded public lawyer who was counsel to the Princess Diana inquest before he became a judge. …

It was because of a ruling of the European court of human rights delivered last July in a case called Vinter. The court’s grand chamber had found that “there must be both a prospect of release and a possibility of review” for a life sentence to be compatible with article 3 of the human rights convention, which bans “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. … the Council of Europe, which runs the human rights court. … Northampton crown courtthe Human Rights Act, courts in the UK need only “take into account” Strasbourg rulings unless it is possible to interpret them in a way that is compatible with human rights.

Queen’s bench division? Why not queen’s bench division then? Human Rights Act but human rights convention?

I wonder what the Guardian Style Guide (style guide?) would tweet on this?

Guardian, Observer and guardian.co.uk style guide

Telegraph style book on courts and crime

The Economist Style Guide on capitals:

A balance has to be struck between so many capitals that the eyes dance and so few that the reader is diverted more by our style than by our substance. The general rule is to dignify with capital letters organisations and institutions, but not people. More exact rules are laid out below. Even these, however, leave some decisions to individual judgment. If in doubt use lower case unless it looks absurd. And remember that “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

Qaddafi? Benedict? Schröder?

4 thoughts on “Loss of capitals in court names

    • They seem to have gone too far here. I wonder if ‘human rights convention’ is a grauniadism?

  1. If people are not to have capitals, why isn’t it “ralph waldo emerson”? And what gives with the Ralph Waldo, anyway? John Emerson is a fine fellow and member of the same family, but hardly so famous that disambiguating given names are required, especially for a quotation so well-known as this.

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