Law French is an archaic language originally based on Old Norman and Anglo-Norman, but increasingly influenced by Parisian French and, later, English. It was used in the law courts of England, beginning with the Norman Conquest by William the Conqueror. Its use continued for several centuries in the courts of England.
In these works we see an already sophisticated technical language well equipped with its own terminology. This includes many words which are of Latin origin but whose forms have been worn down and distorted in a way which suggests that they already possessed a long history of French usage; examples include avoeson 'right of nominating a parish priest' (Latin advocationem), neife 'female serf' (Latin nativa) and essoyne or essone 'circumstance giving exemption from a royal summons' (Latin sunnis, later replaced by essonia which is simply a reintroduction into Latin from the French form).
Until the early fourteenth century, Law French largely coincided with the French used as an everyday language by the upper classes. As such, it reflected some of the changes undergone by the northern dialects of mainland French during the period. Thus, in the documents mentioned above, 'of the king' is rendered as del rey, whereas by about 1330 it had become du roi (as in modern French) or du roy. During that century, however, this vernacular French suffered a rapid decline; an Act of Parliament of 1363 (36 Edw. III cap. 15) acknowledged this change by ordaining that thenceforward court proceedings should be conducted in English. From that time, Law French lost most of its status as a spoken language. It remained in use for the 'readings' (lectures) and 'moots' (academic debates), held in the Inns of Court as part of the education of young lawyers, but essentially it quickly became a written language alone; it ceased to acquire new words, its grammar degenerated (by about 1500 gender was often neglected, giving rise to such absurdities as une home ('a (female) man') or un feme ('a (male) woman'), and its vocabulary became increasingly English, as it was used solely by English lawyers and judges who often spoke no real French.
In the seventeenth century, the moots and readings fell into neglect, and the rule of Oliver Cromwell, with its emphasis on removing the relics of archaic ritual from legal and governmental processes, struck a further blow at the language. Even before then, in 1628, we find Sir Edward Coke acknowledging in his preface to the First Part of the Institutes of the Law of England that Law French had almost ceased to be a spoken tongue. It was still used for case-reports and legal text-books until almost the end of the century, but only in an extraordinarily debased form. A frequently quoted example of this ultimate degeneracy comes from one of Chief Justice Sir George Treby's marginal notes in an annotated edition of Dyer's Reports, published 1688:
Richardson, C. J. de C. B. at Assizes at Salisbury in Summer 1631, fuit assault per Prisoner la condemne pur Felony; que puis son condemnation ject un Brickbat a le dit Justice, que narrowly mist. Et pur ceo immediately fuit Indictment drawn pur Noy envers le Prisoner, et son dexter manus ampute et fixe al Gibbet, sur que luy mesme immediatement hange in presence de Court.
("Richardson, C(hief) J(ustice) of C(ommon) B(ench). At Assizes at Salisbury in Summer 1631, there was an assault by a prisoner there condemned for felony; who, following his condemnation, threw a brickbat at the said Justice, which narrowly missed. And for this, an indictment for injury was immediately drawn against the prisoner, and his right hand was cut off and fastened to the gibbet, on which he himself was immediately hanged in the presence of the Court.")
New clinical investigation law.(French regulatory news: recent changes to French regulations and an update on new guidance documents)
Sep 01, 2003; The Huriet-Serusclat law on biomedical research in human subjects (including clinical trials) is being amended to transpose the...