Questions about the strange language of legalese.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

2
votes
2answers
1k views

Are commas considered superfluous in legal documents?

I'm in the process of purchasing a house and reading through the contract, I can't find a single instance of the comma. (As if legalese wasn't hard enough to read already!) This includes the ...
0
votes
2answers
4k views

Alter vs Modify vs Change (in Legal Documents)

Consider the quote from "What is a Grantor Trust" article. This trust is revocable, which simply means it can be altered, modified, and otherwise changed or even terminated during the life of the ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Difference between “deny doing something” and “deny having done something”

What is the difference between "deny doing something" and "deny having done something"? The context is as follows: While being questioned on the court, the man denied [taking/having taken] the ...
1
vote
2answers
12k views

What does 'provision' exactly mean in a legal document?

Now I'm asked to look at a legal document(here) and answer the question that which provisions apply to a certain case. However, I don't know what the word 'provision' means in a legal context. ...
1
vote
1answer
127 views

Do “operative” and “valid” have the same meaning in legal terms?

I found this question when reading a machine manual. In the part about Guarantee, it said "The guarantee will not be operative if any of the following apply:" My question here is that can operative ...
1
vote
3answers
141 views

Looking for two terms from law vocabulary

I'm looking for two technical words used in law: Someone who accepts the law, they will try to do the best things in any situation. The opposite of number one, they reject any law and at every ...
1
vote
2answers
288 views

How should I fill these blanks on an agreement?

How should I fill these blanks on an agreement? The agreement starts like this; __ legally represented by _, residing at __ on __ hereinafter referred as "Contractor"... 1)Name 2)as the person not ...
3
votes
1answer
361 views

What is the origin of “fine” meaning a legal penalty? [closed]

What is the origin of the word fine meaning a legal penalty involving the payment of a sum of money?
-2
votes
1answer
4k views

confused with “had been sent”, “was sent” and “had sent” [closed]

What will come in the blank made in the sentence "A letter on import regulations...... on 26.6.2013"? Options are 'had been sent' or 'had sent' or 'was sent' ?
0
votes
1answer
1k views

What does RO mean? [closed]

English is not my mother tongue and now I am reading a financial article about the banking industry in Vietnam. In it a line says the following: This Section focuses only on the commercial banks ...
0
votes
1answer
273 views

What is the “material holding” in a company'?

I am working on a text and it confuses my mind. I do understand the meaning and yet can not be sure about it. It says: The arbitrator holds shares, either directly or indirectly, which by reason ...
0
votes
1answer
71 views

Is there a synonym for 'idionymon'?

Other than phrasal descriptions, such as "special illegal act"[1]? [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idionymon
1
vote
2answers
274 views

Can abide be extended to imply enforce or act?

In a legal document, such as a contract or agreement between two parties (where party refers to entities or individuals), what is the exact meaning of the word abide ? The clause in question : I ...
4
votes
3answers
913 views

Payment to be due within three months “of” that meeting

Does the word "of" in the context of an established point in time refer to before or after that established point in time?
2
votes
6answers
551 views

Is the “will” in “can and will” necessary?

Anyone who's ever seen much American film or television has heard some variation of the following sentences countless times: You have the right to remain silent. If you choose to give up that ...
0
votes
2answers
138 views

Should “Have your peer partner send you her plans” be considered a directive?

If you tell a person to have someone do something, is that considered a command? Our boss sent an email which told us to "have your peer partner send you her plans". Should that be considered a ...
1
vote
2answers
645 views

What does “any or any” mean in a legal text?

I have been going through several legal documents lately and have realised that a lot of them use the fragment "any or any" within some sentences. Failing to place a guard or fence or warning ...
1
vote
1answer
13k views

What does 'back-stopping' mean?

We have a tender document, and it lists how the offer should be proposed. Basically this is split into 3 sections: Rationale Strategy Details of Proposal Under section 2., there is this clause: ...
0
votes
1answer
235 views

Difference between “acquittal” and “false accusation” [closed]

I encountered a phrase with a word "acquittal" in a context of criminal law. In Wikipedia, its meaning is described as following: In the common law tradition, an acquittal formally certifies that ...
2
votes
1answer
377 views

Reference request: the pronunciation of Law French?

Would anyone happen to know of a systematic account of the English pronunciation of legal and parliamentary terms and phrases of Anglo-Norman French origin, or more generally, of Law French? When it ...
8
votes
2answers
194 views

Non-union-affiliated shop steward

I'm looking for an English word or short phrase to convey a meaning which is similar to “union representative” or “shop steward”, except that the person in question is not (necessarily) associated ...
-1
votes
2answers
111 views

Is “subordinated” a good translation of the Italian legal term “subordinato”? [closed]

I've found this translation http://www.wordreference.com/iten/subordinato but I am not sure if English legals use subordinate to define a party that is subordinated to another. Any suggestion? EDIT: ...
2
votes
1answer
645 views

What do “take ground” and “vested in” mean in this context?

Here is an extract from the headnote of a case [1] I am trying to understand: The defendants, who were wharfingers, agreed with the plaintiff for a consideration to allow his vessel to discharge ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

“In contemplation of”

I came across this phrase in an legal case relating to an ante-nuptial agreement, and was wondering what it meant exactly. The sentence is: Agreement concluded prior to and in contemplation of ...
2
votes
2answers
182 views

Help in demystifying the meaning of 2 sentences from an academic journal article!

1.) This is basically an english translation of a section of a Hittite Law code: "If someone wounds a man and makes him ill, he shall nurse him. He shall give a man in his place who will work in his ...
2
votes
1answer
807 views

Did English use to have capitalization rules similar to German's current rules? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Capitalisation of nouns in English in the 17th and 18th centuries I was looking up an article of the constitution of the United States of America, and I noticed in the ...
6
votes
2answers
303 views

Official term for “at large” or “on the loose”

When a convict is illegally out of prison – either escaped, or didn't get to the prison after his conviction – what is the right expression to describe this? I want the term that is used in ...
0
votes
2answers
148 views

Difference between “testified” and “stated” in a legal context

If you're working in a law firm, do the words "testified" and "stated" have two different meanings? For example, The witness testified that... The witness stated that... And is it acceptable ...
2
votes
2answers
736 views

Reason for Subject-Verb Inversion: Only in cases where A is B, shall the Company do X [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Sentences using: [something] + have + they subject-auxiliary inversions not associated with questions In the following, why does subject-verb inversion occur? Is it ...
8
votes
5answers
11k views

What's the equivalent phrase in the UK for “I plead the fifth”?

In the United States, a person under examination on the witness stand may "plead the fifth" to avoid self-incrimination. In other words, a person asserts his or her Fifth Amendment right. Citizens of ...
6
votes
2answers
772 views

Indian legal documents

I am a resident of India. I have never been able to understand the language used in the legal documents here. Below is an example from an agreement to sell an apartment. Herein after referred to ...
6
votes
2answers
94 views

What is the word for the kind of thing that legal laws can apply to?

I know this question title is awkward, so let me explain by example: The word "law" means different things in different contexts. You have the "laws of natural science" (e.g. the law of energy ...
10
votes
6answers
867 views

Why does legal English sometimes repeat the antecedent noun after “which”?

Here's a standard English sentence: The folder which is missing from the principal's office contained the answers to today's exam. (Separate question, discussed elsewhere I'm sure, whether it ...
3
votes
3answers
342 views

Clear way of saying that one set of rules overrides another, if contradicts [closed]

I'm working on updating a constitution, but as it is for a non-incorporated entity it doesn't have to be legally perfect. I'm much more interested in clarity. Here is what I have at the moment: ...
3
votes
1answer
314 views

Situation when a sentence can't be appealed

After a specific period, or if the appeal is found invalid for any reason, or was issued at the final instance court, a sentence becomes valid and is to be executed. I found the translation of the ...
51
votes
7answers
4k views

Why does legal English continue to remain archaic?

Perhaps this is a question for Law.SE if one exists, but I am asking here as there are other nice questions on English history. There is some historical development account presented in Wikipedia, ...
5
votes
5answers
20k views

What word describes a person who signs an official document?

For example, I have a document that has the signatures of three people, all public servants: a tax collector,an inspector, and a school principal. How could I collectively describe these three people? ...
8
votes
7answers
103k views

What is the proper usage of the phrase “due diligence”?

I have encountered the phrase "due diligence" in the business world. The usage examples I have seen (mostly emails) cannot exactly be considered grammatical canon. An internet search produces ...
11
votes
2answers
319 views

What's the most pedantically correct way to reference sectioned and numbered rules aloud?

I am a roller derby announcer. An important part of my job is to explain the rules of roller derby to the fans. The rules of modern roller derby are promulgated by the Women's Flat Track Derby ...
1
vote
1answer
791 views

Meaning of “to fail at one's peril” in a legal document from the Elizabethan period [closed]

I do not know what "to fail at one's peril" means. The phrase appears in legal documents until the 19th century (at least this is what Google suggests). I cannot deduce its meaning no matter how hard ...
-2
votes
1answer
1k views

In Legal English (law) is there an authoritative meaning to “over the age of ‘X’”? [closed]

[This is a question about Legal English, that is, English language used in legal writing, not about strict usage of English outside of legal writing. —DN] In Legal English what does “over the age of ...
0
votes
2answers
242 views

An expression for law students using “tuppence”

Has anyone heard of an expression, from the Renaissance or older, containing the word "tuppence" which describes a student of the law or someone without a great deal of experience or training in it?
2
votes
2answers
4k views

“In all events” as opposite of “in no event”

I was recently trying to explain to a non-native English speaking colleague the meaning of the phrase "in no event" which often appears in legal documents. This produced the question: "Can you say 'in ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

“Oldest son or oldest daughter”

Contract states Upon the death of the stockholder his interest shall pass to the oldest son or oldest daughter. I am the oldest daughter and have a younger brother. Who gets the interest?
11
votes
8answers
5k views

What is the word for something that is punishable by law, but is not a crime?

What is the legal term in English for something that is punishable by law, but is not a crime (i.e. does not affect your criminal record)? I mean all the lesser (than crime) violations of the law, ...
1
vote
3answers
6k views

John Smith Esquire v. John Smith Attorney v. John Smith Attorney at Law

Which is the most proper way to sign a letter? John Smith Esquire, John Smith Attorney or John Smith Attorney at Law. Besides, does each of those categories denote different levels of engagement in ...
6
votes
5answers
12k views

Why do courts use “What say you?”

... instead of "What do you say?" I am not sure if "What say you?" is even grammatically correct.
3
votes
4answers
4k views

Your signature vs your mark

Is there a difference between your 'signature' and your 'mark'? One of the comments on this post on Bruce Schneier's blog claims there is: This might be out of date in these days of 100% literacy ...
4
votes
1answer
336 views

Is there such a thing as “Injective Relief” (as a legal term)?

I was recently given a nondisclosure agreement to sign. On the form it stated that the company may seek "injective relief" as needed in order to enforce the agreement. Now, I'm quite familiar with ...
11
votes
6answers
1k views

Does “oath” have an implied religious connotation?

In Singapore you don't have to swear an oath in court if you are of certain religions. Instead you affirm that you're speaking the truth: Circumstances under which affirmation may be made 16.   ...