20 JANUARY 1950, Page 18

Ignorantia Juris

SIN—Janus, in the Spectator of January 13th, delivers himself of a very odd dictum. He says: " Every Englishman is expected to know the law, and to order his actions accordingly." This, with all respect to your very distinguished and readable contributor, is so much clotted nonsense. You have only to read the daily Press to discover that, in many aspects, the law is not merely (as Bumble so sapiently declared a century or so ago) "a hats," but a triply-adjectival hass! Wasn't it Mr. Justice Derring who stated a short while ago that " the law should take into account the elements of common sense " (or words to that effect)?

Many laymen have developed, in consequence of these outrageous anomalies, a profound contempt for the law, which they regard—often as the result of exceedingly painful personal experiences—as a kind of private game, peculiar to lawyers, and played by them to the mortification

of the ordinary public.—Yours, &c., SYDNEY HORLER. 10 The Beacon, EA-mouth, Devon.

[Janus writes: The dictum "Ignorantia juris neminem excusat " is an established principle of English law. I meant no more than that.]