Leman Legal History: Welcoming In the Hilary Term!

We welcome 2022 with the Hilary legal term, from January to March.

The history of Hilary

This particular period in our legal calendar is so named because the feast day of St Hilary of Poitiers, 14 January, falls during this term, whom some consider to be the patron saint of lawyers. Originating in the legal system during medieval times, the Hilary term is the second academic term of the University of Oxford and the University of Dublin. St Hilary’s name comes from the Latin word for “happy” or cheerful”.

St Hilary, who was elected Bishop of the Christians of Poitiers in 350, is considered to be the pre-eminent Latin writer of the 4th century. St Augustine of Hippo once famously referred to him as “the illustrious doctor of the churches”, and his works continued to be highly influential in later centuries. From his writing, St Hilary’s symbol came to be three books and a quill pen.

Legal year

Ireland inherited its legal year from the system of the United Kingdom, with identical Michaelmas, Hilary, Easter and Trinity terms. While the legal year in the UK begins with a ceremony at Westminster Abbey in October, the Michaelmas term and legal year in Ireland is opened with a service in St Michan’s Church, Dublin, and a breakfast given in the King’s Inns.

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