No Justice for You Today, You Used the Wrong Size of Paper!

Notaries prepare documents for use all over the World. What should it matter, what size the paper is?

In England we used to use various paper sizes you can’t buy nowadays in ordinary shops. Are you old enough to remember? – Foolscap, Judicature, Quarto, Sixmo. How about Crown, Demy and Pott?

If the wrong size paper was submitted to the Court it would have been rejected. That all seems very historical now, because we in England and Europe all use the European sizes, A4 usually. The very idea that justice would be denied, because the pleadings were written on the wrong sized paper seems at first glance to be wrong-headed, an obsession with form above substance.

Usually, our clients’ first reactions are the same – that an Indian request for the use of green coloured paper in a size we cannot easily buy – or a Caribbean request for “Foolscap” or “American legal Brief” Size – is indicative of a small minded obsession with niceties and blindness to the bigger picture.

It is either amusing, or frustrating beyond endurance, depending upon your viewpoint, that in the Highest Court of the Largest Country in the World, the requirements of the USA Supreme Court Rule 33 are that all motions to be accepted shall be filed in forty [yes 40] originals on “paper that is opaque, un-glazed, 6 1/8 by 9 1/4 inches in size, and not less than 60 pounds in weight, and shall have margins of at least three fourths of an inch on all sides” Amusingly, there seems to be no way that this paper can be purchased anywhere in the world. You have to instruct a professional publisher, [who will want thousands rather than hundreds of dollars] or get a paper guillotine! Also, it is a different size from the requirements of any of the other States of the USA. Apparently, you can blame the British for this, the Supreme Court paper dimensions are an English size called “Royal Octavo” from the eighteenth Century – long disused here in England.

Interestingly the ambit of rule 33 excludes “paupers”. Paupers can file any size of document! The catch 22 is that in order to be ruled a pauper and outside the rule 33 (so that you can use ordinary paper from a shop when you petition the Supreme Court) you have to apply for the court to accept you as such. Guess what size of paper your application has to be! Only “unrepresented persons confined to Institutions” can use any old paper as of right.

BUT should there be outrage or ridicule – I wonder. Whilst it is easy to get hot under the collar we need to keep a perspective. The Supreme Court, and all Courts in all countries, are under pressure of time. They are manned by highly trained persons whose time is extremely valuable. In some countries the systems are drowning under the weight of new work. Surely they have the right to require that the paperwork they are asked to read should be in a consistent format of their choosing.

It is of course the job of your Notary to get the substance of your paperwork right first time, I will also make sure that the form of it is right first time. Please do contact me whenever you need Notarial certification or Legalisation – at or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)

For an amusing albeit lengthy tirade about rule 33, try this