1737: 11 George 2 c.6: An Act that all Proceedings in Courts of Justice within this Kingdom shall be in the English Language.
[4 G. 2. 26. Eng. 6 G. 2. 14. Eng.]
WHEREAS many and great mischiefs do frequently happen to the subjects of this kingdom from the proceedings in courts of justice being in an unknown language; those who are summoned and impleaded having no knowledge or understanding of what is alledged for or against them in the pleadings of their lawyers and attorneys, who use a character not legible to any but persons practising the law: to remedy those great mischiefs, and to protect the lives and fortunes of the subjects of this kingdom more effectually than heretofore from the peril of being ensnared, and brought into danger, by forms and proceedings in courts of justice in an unknown language, be it enacted by the King’s most excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and. consent of the lords spiritual and temporal and commons in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same,
[All proceedings in courts of justice, patents, charters, pardons, commissions, &c. shall be in English,]
That from and after the first day of January one thousand seven hundred and thirty eight all writs, process, and returns thereof, and proceedings thereon, and all pleadings, rules, orders, indictments, informations, inquisitions, presentments, verdicts, prohibitions, certificates, and all patents, charters, pardons, commissions, records, judgments, statutes, recognizances, bonds, rolls, entries, fines, and recoveries, and all proceedings relating thereunto, and all proceedings of courts-leet, courts-baron, and customary-courts, and all copies thereof, and all proceedings whatsoever in any courts of justice within this kingdom, and which concern the law and administration of justice, shall be in the English tongue and language, and not in Latin or French, or any other tongue or language whatsoever,
[and in legible character, not in court-hand,]
and shall be written or printed in a common legible hand and character, and not in any hand commonly called Court-hand, with the like way of writing or printing, and with such abbreviations, as are now commonly used in the English language,
[and with usual abbreviations in English, and figures.]
and with the like manner of expressing numbers by figures as have been heretofore or are now commonly used in the said courts respectively; any law, custom, or usage, heretofore to the contrary thereof notwithstanding;
[Penalty 20l. to prosecutor.]
and all and every person and persons, who shall write or print any of the proceedings, or other the matters or things above mentioned, in any hand commonly called Court-hand, or in any language except the English language, shall for every such offence forfeit and pay the sum of twenty pounds to any person, who shall sue for the same by action of debt, bill, plaint, or information, in any of his Majesty’s courts of record in the Four-courts Dublin; wherein no essoign, protection, or wager of law, or more than one imparlance shall be allowed.
[6 G. 2. 14. Eng.]
II. Provided nevertheless, and be it enacted by the authority aforesaid,
[But names of writs, process or technical words, may be expressed as commonly used,]
That such penalty shall not be extended to the expressing the proper or known names of writs, or other process, or technical words, in the same language as hath been commonly used, so as the same be written or printed in a common legible hand and character,
[so as not in court-hand.]
and not in any hand commonly called Court-hand;
[Prosecutions to be in three months.]
and that all prosecutions for offences against this act shall be commenced within three calendar months, after the same shall be committed.
[Schedules of debts to the crown before 1 January 1738, may be issued as formerly, by remembrancers, &c. if the process annexed in English and legible hand.]
III. Provided also, That the several officers in the several offices of the King’s and the lord-treasurer’s remembrancer, otherwise called in this kingdom the offices of the first and second remembrancer, and the offices of the clerk of the pipe, and the clerk of the estreats in his Majesty’s court of Exchequer, shall and may write and send out in process for his Majesty’s service rolls or schedules of all such debts, as have been forfeited and became due- and owing to his said Majesty before the said first day of January one thousand seven hundred and thirty eight, in the same manner they used to do: provided the writ or process, to be annexed to the said rolls or schedules, shall be in the English tongue, and in a common legible hand, and according to the direction of this act; any thing herein contained to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding.
[4 G. 2. 26. Eng.]
IV. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid,
[mistranslation, errors in form, mistakes in clerkship, may at any time be amended, paying reasonable costs.]
That mistranslation, variation in form by reason of translation, mispelling or mistake in clerkship, or pleadings, or proceedings begun or to be begun before the said first day of January one thousand seven hundred and thirty eight, being part in Latin and part in English, shall be no error, nor make void any proceedings by reason thereof: but that all manner of mistranslation, errors in form, mispelling, mistakes in clerkship, may at any time be amended, whether in paper or on record or otherwise, before or after judgment upon payment of reasonable costs only.
[Commissions and proceedings in admiralty may be certified in Latin.]
V. Provided always, and be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That nothing in this act contained shall extend to certifying beyond the seas any case or proceedings in the court of admiralty; but that in such cases the commissions and proceedings may be certified in Latin, as formerly they have been.
[Statutes of jeofails, except in criminal cases, shall extend to the proceedings in English,]
VI. And whereas several good and profitable laws have been enacted, to the intent that the parties in all manner of actions and demands might not be delayed and hindred from obtaining the effect of their suites, after issue tried and judgment given, by reason of any subtle, ignorant, or defective pleadings, nor for any defect in form, commonly called jeofails: be it enacted and declared by the authority aforesaid, That all and every statute and statutes for the reformation and amending the delays, arising from any jeofails whatsoever, shall and may extend to all and every form and forms, and to all proceedings in courts of justice, except in criminal cases, when the forms and proceedings are in English; and that all and every error and mistake whatsoever, which would or might be amended and remedied by any statutes of jeofails, if the proceedings had been in Latin, all such errors and mistakes of the same and like nature, when the forms are in English, shall be deemed, and are hereby declared, to be amended and remedied by the statutes now in force for the amendment of any jeofails;
[construed most beneficially to prevent delays.]
and this clause shall be taken and construed in all courts of justice in the most ample and beneficial manner for the case and benefit of the parties, and to prevent frivolous and vexatious delays.
[Not to extend to the court of receipt of Exchequer.]
VII. And be it further declared and enacted by the authority aforesaid, That this act, or any thing herein contained, shall not extend, or be construed, deemed, or taken to extend, to the court of the receipt of his Majesty’s Exchequer, or to any proceedings therein, or to any members or branches thereof.
[Officers whereof shall business as formerly. altered 17 G. 2. 8.]
VIII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said court of receipt, and the several members thereof, and their under-officers, deputies, and clerks, shall carry on the business to them severally and respectively belonging and appertaining according to the usual course and antient method and practice, and in like manner, as if this act had never been made; any thing herein to the contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding.
Act as it is in force today: Legislation.gov.uk.
Further reading: Wikipedia.