Thursday, 30 August 2007

"I Fought the Law" - Bobby Fuller Four, 1965

I heard something on BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast again this morning that's worth a blog entry.

Many union prison guards in England staged a one-day strike yesterday. This morning on the show, one of the topics of discussion was the impact of that strike.

A legal expert was asked whether the strike was illegal. He said that it wasn't illegal but was unlawful. So what, asked Nicky Campbell, is the difference? (I was wondering precisely the same thing, so I appreciated Nicky's having asked the question.)

Illegal, according the guy being interviewed, means a criminal act. Unlawful is something that goes against a contractual obligation, etc., but isn't a criminal act.

Do we have any US legal experts out there? Would you say that the American definitions of those terms would be the same...or is this a British thing?

Words...don't they just drive you crazy sometimes? But how we love them all the same!



At 30 August, 2007 16:33 , Anonymous Bronx Boy said...

Random House College dictionary does not mention a criminal act for either unlawful or illegal. Illiegal is contrary to existing regulations (one of the definitions) and unlawful is defined as contrary to law or illegal. So, basically the same meaning.

At 01 September, 2007 09:42 , Anonymous KathyF said...

What struck me about this situation was in an interview yesterday I discovered that prison officers make about the same salary as university professors.


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