Questions about the strange language of legalese.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

6
votes
7answers
32k 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 ...
2
votes
6answers
192 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
22 views

Capitalizing processes in a law suit

When writing about a trial, should four-year Statute of Limitations have the four-year spelled out or as 4 year Statute of Limitations? Also, should Preliminary Hearing, Mediation, Discovery, ...
1
vote
2answers
83 views

Is there a grammar rule that defines the properties of a legally accepted word [closed]

I would like to know if there is a grammar rule(s) that defines whether a word is gramatically legal or not. I understand a word is given meaning by a human and anyone can give meaning to anything. ...
2
votes
2answers
490 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
32 views

Is this shorter phrase awkward?

In legalese, while describing a party which loses the capacity to perform certain obligation, is it awkward to say "During the course of the calamity, the performance incapacitated (or disabled) party ...
-1
votes
1answer
20 views

Which phrase is better?

"In cases where either party is unable to perform the contracted obligation" or "in the event either party is unable to perform the contracted obligation"? I prefer the second but having used "in the ...
2
votes
4answers
543 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 ...
22
votes
9answers
5k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
64 views

noun-modifier word order in 'date certain'

One will occasionally hear the term date certain (meaning 'a fixed, definite date') in legal or business contexts. e.g., The Courts have continually emphasized that the Act demands primary NAAQS ...
0
votes
2answers
193 views

“In” or “At” sole discretion

We're drafting some legal stuff, and our lawyer used this phrasing... ...whether any particular enhancement is to be categorized as such shall be made in the sole reasonable discretion of ...
1
vote
2answers
483 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
votes
1answer
25 views

' when we hold': usage

The daily judge assignments are posted on the Clerk of Court site – see side bar. I have an attorney going tomorrow to research the records for the name of the judge responsible on February 5 ...
6
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
10k 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
92 views

“Accepted” not correct for legal document [closed]

Could someone suggest a good word to use in the sentence given below? It is for use in a legal operational protocol manual and should fit within context. I'm currently using "accepted", due to a lack ...
0
votes
2answers
787 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. ...
2
votes
2answers
212 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
426 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
244 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?
1
vote
1answer
65 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
2answers
131 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
110 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
100 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
1k 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
245 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
140 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
94 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
61 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
102 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 ...
46
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, ...
0
votes
2answers
103 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
249 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 ...
55
votes
8answers
9k 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?
1
vote
1answer
5k 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 the below ...
6
votes
2answers
84 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
131 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
227 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
-1
votes
2answers
93 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: ...
7
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
224 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
1k 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
75 views

Terminology for the sub-structures of laws & legislations [closed]

I am working on a paper for Russian history class that deals with emancipation reform of 1861. Basically reform was accomplished through legislature, made of 17 acts, and each act was made of ...
1
vote
2answers
167 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
506 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 ...
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.   ...
6
votes
2answers
244 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
129 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...