Tagged Questions

Questions about the strange language of legalese.

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6
votes
2answers
268 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
138 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
606 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
6k 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
606 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
89 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
5answers
717 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
265 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
265 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 ...
48
votes
7answers
3k 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, ...
3
votes
5answers
11k 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? ...
6
votes
7answers
59k 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
281 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
581 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
666 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
224 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
3k 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?
10
votes
8answers
3k 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, ...
2
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
9k 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
3k 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
304 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 ...
10
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.   ...
4
votes
4answers
204 views

Is the usage of the idiom “Move Over” in this passage clear on what side to move over to?

Consider this passage in the Georgia DDS 2010 Driver’s Manual: on page 40: The Georgia Move-Over Law requires drivers to move over one lane when possible if an emergency vehicle with ...
56
votes
8answers
13k views

What's the difference between “null” and “void” in legal language?

In the legal term "null and void," what is the difference between null and void? Why not just use one of the two terms? And can either term be used without the other?
4
votes
2answers
165 views

Referring to “the assertion made in the US Supreme Court's majority opinion”

I want to refer to an assertion that is part of the written majority opinion in a particular case, put forth by the US Supreme Court's majority for that case. Question spurred by my attempts to do ...
5
votes
4answers
13k views

Does 'should' imply an unquestionable command?

My question is prompted by a question on the programmers.stackexchange: This may be a duplicate of another question here on english.stackechange, but the answers given to that question did not ...
4
votes
1answer
873 views

What are the differences among ‘Rules’, ‘Standing Rules’, and ‘Bylaw’?

Recently I was given a document titled Standing Rules of an English speaking club of a local community, which was written in English, and asked to study the contents. I wondered what difference ...
2
votes
4answers
585 views

How is an “assault” different from “battery” in everyday English?

In legal parlance, the word "assault" historically means an attempted battery (battery being defined as below) or an intentional frightening of another person. No contact is necessary. On the other ...
6
votes
3answers
13k views

What's the word Copyright and `(C)' mean?

In the lines: Copyright (C) 1994 Tom Copyright (C) 1995, 1996 Cruise Copyright (C) 1997, 1998 Louis Here, what's the original meaning of "Copyright"? And why the mark "(C)"? And, what is ...
16
votes
4answers
459 views

Can this convoluted bit of “tax speak” be deciphered into plain English?

I am trying to understand a paragraph from a tax manual, and for the life of me I can't seem to understand what they are saying. The paragraph in question is from page 4 of publication 4681 The ...
6
votes
4answers
4k views

“Shall” and “will” in legal requirements

What is the implication of using shall versus will in writing a specification document? For instance, lets say I have the paragraph, "upon by all parties involved." All information between ...
15
votes
4answers
4k views

Why are numbers usually written twice in contracts?

In contracts numbers are usually written twice: in numerical and literal form. I understand the vast majority of text in a typical contract can be safely deleted without impacting the core message ...
22
votes
9answers
6k views

Do the words “jail” and “prison” refer to different things?

In everyday speech, the terms jail and prison are used interchangeably in many situations. However, my understanding is that, at least in the US, they actually refer to slightly different things. For ...