In an ever-evolving legal landscape, adapting to societal changes is paramount for the justice system to remain just and inclusive. The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) in the United Kingdom have taken a significant step towards achieving this goal by embracing gender-neutral language. This change is a reflection of the legal community’s commitment to creating a more equitable and inclusive environment for all. In this blog post, we will explore the significance of the extension of gender-neutral language to the CPR and its implications.


The Evolution of Gender-Neutral Language


Gender-neutral language, or gender-inclusive language, is a linguistic shift that aims to remove gender bias from written and spoken communication. It acknowledges that language can shape our perceptions and attitudes, and as such, it plays a crucial role in promoting equality. In the legal context, the use of gender-neutral language is a progressive step towards fostering a more inclusive and accessible justice system.


Historically, legal documents, including the CPR, have been riddled with gender-specific language. Terms like “he” and “him” were often used as generic pronouns, inadvertently excluding individuals who do not identify as male. This practice has perpetuated a perception of the legal system as inherently patriarchal. However, times have changed, and the legal profession is adapting to ensure that justice is not only blind but also free from gender bias.


The Extension of Gender-Neutral Language to the CPR


The extension of gender-neutral language to the CPR represents a significant and progressive change in the legal landscape. The CPR sets out the rules and procedures for civil litigation in England and Wales, and as such, it is a foundational document for lawyers, judges, and litigants. By adopting gender-neutral language, the CPR acknowledges the diverse identities and experiences of individuals involved in the legal system.


Key Changes in the CPR


  1. Pronoun Usage: The most noticeable change is the replacement of gender-specific pronouns like “he” and “him” with gender-neutral alternatives such as “they” and “them.” This simple linguistic shift is a symbolic gesture that emphasizes inclusivity within the legal community.


  1. Titles and Designations: The CPR also revises various titles and designations, removing gender-specific honorifics like “Mr.” or “Mrs.” and replacing them with gender-neutral alternatives such as “Mx.” or omitting titles altogether. This change recognizes that a person’s gender identity should not affect their legal rights and responsibilities.


  1. Party Names: The CPR now allows parties to be identified by non-gendered terms or initials, ensuring that legal proceedings do not inadvertently reinforce gender stereotypes.


The Implications


The extension of gender-neutral language to the CPR has several important implications for the legal community and society at large:


  1. Inclusivity: Gender-neutral language promotes inclusivity by acknowledging and respecting the diverse gender identities of individuals involved in legal proceedings.


  1. Eliminating Gender Bias: By removing gender-specific language, the CPR takes a vital step in eliminating unconscious gender bias from the legal system.


  1. Symbolic Change: The adoption of gender-neutral language in the CPR sends a clear message that the legal profession is committed to adapting to societal changes and promoting equity.


  1. Reflecting the Times: As language evolves, the legal profession must evolve with it. This change in the CPR reflects the changing norms and values of society.




The extension of gender-neutral language to the CPR is a positive and progressive step towards a more inclusive and equitable legal system in the United Kingdom. By removing gender-specific language and recognizing the diverse identities of those involved in legal proceedings, the legal profession reaffirms its commitment to justice for all. This linguistic shift is not just a matter of words; it’s a testament to the evolving and inclusive nature of the legal community, where equality under the law is a fundamental principle.