In defense of defence…

One of the most interesting – and somewhat unanticipated – consequences of studying for an advanced legal degree at a top Scottish university is dealing with the difference in terminology, particularly the subtle differences between British English and American English (for example, I am in a programme, not a program). I was reminded of this when fellow Americans mocked my use of “defence” – a correct British term that my phone auto-corrected to – versus “defense,” claiming I was clearly incompetent because I didn’t know how to spell “defense.” While I try to be more cognizant in my legal writings than in my Facebook posts, my professors are more cognizant of and tolerant of the differences between global forms of English (at least so far!).

I recently did a search and found that there doesn’t appear to be a good comprehensive guide that compares the difference between common English words. It has been particularly challenging as the UK and EU courts seem to rely far more on Latin terminology than the US courts do. It strikes me that it might be useful for law students and lawyers who are engaged in similar studies or global practices. I did find the following posts:

Perhaps I will keep track of interesting terminology I encounter in my studies in this final school year and will make that the subject of a future blog post. In the meantime, here are a few American-to-British translations that come to mind:

American Term British Equivalent
Defense Defence
Offense Offence
Honor Honour
Color Colour
Dicta Obiter
Trademark Trade mark
Antitrust Law Competition Law