Exclamation mark in Supreme Court judgment

Thank goodness the Supreme Court has ruled that Prince Charles’s ‘black spider memo’ letters to parliament can be disclosed:
full judgment and press summary as PDFs on the Supreme Court site.

Judgment read out on youtube:
R (on the application of Evans) and another v Attorney General

This relates to letters predating the coalition legislation under which the royal family are exempt from freedom of information law: see 37 here (PDF).

But attention quickly concentrated on the use of an exclamation mark in the judgment (fortunately in a dissenting opinion):

LORD WILSON: (dissenting)
168. I would have allowed the appeal. How tempting it must have been for the Court of Appeal (indeed how tempting it has proved even for the majority in this court) to seek to maintain the supremacy of the astonishingly detailed, and inevitably unappealed, decision of the Upper Tribunal in favour of disclosure of the Prince’s correspondence!

Jack of Kent on Twitter:

Jack of Kent @JackofKent

So Lord Wilson has brought a long distinguished judicial career to an end by using an exclamation mark in a judgment pic.twitter.com/s8KF8QgMEJ

2 thoughts on “Exclamation mark in Supreme Court judgment

  1. Maybe I’m not English enough to get the obvious, but: what is the big deal here? The exclamation mark doesn’t strike me as ungrammatical or otherwise erroneuous.

  2. They are not normally used in formal writing. I think they’re more common in German.
    I admit to using the equivalent of the interrobang ?! in online messages, but those aren’t formal.
    I tried to search the caselaw database at bailii.org for exclamation marks, but the search didn’t work. It might be used when quoting direct speech, though.

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