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81

Because every attempt to change it makes the law more complex and more expensive. The archaic terms, like 'plaintiff' and 'writ' had clear definitions, partly because they had been hammered out over generations. A well-intentioned attempt to make it easier for the layman to understand (which every new Government tries to bring in) replacing them with ...


52

I don't remember how I learned this, and I can't find a reference just now, but the peculiar custom of redundancy in our legal documents dates back to medieval England. The Norman conquest of 1066 put a French-speaking king and nobility in charge of an English-speaking people. The English courts at the time were extremely sensitive to detail and would throw ...


34

I consider "jail" to mean a temporary, local facility where suspects are held until and during trial. In general, you can get out of jail by paying a bail bond. "Prison" is where convicted felons are sent to serve their sentence. Thus, there aren't a lot of federal jails--there's not much point to the local and federal governments having two jails in the ...


29

Curious to learn more about Ms. Hess' answer, I undertook a little more research* today... The history begins, as with so many curiosities in the English language, with the Norman invasion in 1066. At that time, English was the language of the ordinary people, and the law. At first, William the Conqueror interfered little with use of English in official ...


27

F'x's answer is completely correct with regards to the usage of the legal term "null and void": Both refer to the same meaning of invalidity. As best as I can tell, "void" is the most appropriate of the two to use if you want to trim your word count. For everything else, however, the terms do have different meanings. Null means "empty" or "insignificant" ...


21

In the United States, jails are operated by cities and counties (or equivalent). Prisons are operated by states and the federal government. Jails are generally thought of as for short-term incarceration, such as before or during trial, or for minor crimes that result in a sentence of incarceration, usually of less than one year. Prisons are for long-term ...


21

In law, void and null both mean invalid; not legally binding. “Null and void”, though tautological, is an established expression meaning the same as null or void.


17

The definition of infraction seems to fit: the violation of an administrative regulation, an ordinance, a municipal code, and, in some jurisdictions, a state or local traffic rule.


15

Hoo boy. The amount of nonrecourse debt in excess of the FMV of the property subject to the nonrecourse debt to the extent nonrecourse debt in excess of the FMV of the property subject to the debt is forgiven. Some substitutions: X = nonrecourse debt X' = debt Y = the FMV of the property Z = Y subject to the X Z' = Y subject to the X' This gives ...


14

Since it appears that you're referring to requirements analysis or contracts specifications, the governing body or contracting agency should specify what the language requirements will be. In some instances I've been involved with, anything not specifically using shall (which would include should) is not considered to be a true requirement (that is, failure ...


14

So, to be clear, this isn't so much a question about English as it is about legal jargon. English is spoken in a wide variety of places with varying legal systems and the exact terms vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, as do the details of how they're different. Now that I've established that, commonly, there are 3 rough "levels" of law violations. ...


13

Jail is a municipal level, prison is on a state/federal/provincial/territory level. You will not serve life in a jail, but you will in a prison, which is more for serious crimes.


13

This, like much legal language, is archaic. This particular case is a Non-Restrictive Relative Clause, which in ordinary English would just be The folder, which is missing from the principal's office, ... As Tim says, it's the extra folder that's the unnecessary padding, not the which. Which is utterly standard for non-restrictive relatives. In this ...


11

Wikipedia describes it in some detail: Copyright are exclusive statutory rights to exercise control over copying and other exploitation of the works for a specific period of time. The copyright owner is given two sets of rights: an exclusive, positive right to copy and exploit the copyrighted work, or license others to do so, and a negative right to ...


11

As TimLymington and others have pointed out, the old, archaic words have strictly-defined meanings that a "more common" word does not have. I'd like to also point out that legal documents must be unambiguous to an extent not required of most writing. Suppose in a novel the author writes, "Bob dropped by the office where his wife was waiting with her boss. ...


10

Having found the publication you referenced, I noticed two words that you left out that clear up the sentence a bit. Liabilities include: • The amount of nonrecourse debt in excess of the FMV of the property subject to the nonrecourse debt to the extent nonrecourse debt in excess of the FMV of the property subject to the debt is forgiven. ...


10

In the U.S., the distinction is made between civil and criminal offenses or infractions. An explanation can be found here, and states The differences between a civil offense and a criminal offense are usually defined by the nature of the offense and the punishment assessed. ... Civil offenses involve violations of administrative matters. ... ...


10

This is so called "legalese". A dialect used only in contracts, law documents and other court and law related sources. Not only it's valid English, it's written in such a way as to not leave any ambiguities, or room for interpretation, using phrases that don't occur in everyday English, but have specific properties of describing places, moments, locations ...


10

It's grammatical. Subject-verb inversion is required when preposing a negative adverbial of time, place, or circumstance. At no time did he say that. ~ *At no time he said that. Under no circumstances may she enter. ~ *Under no circumstances she may enter. It is not allowed, however, when preposing other adverbials. *With no hesitation did he speak ...


9

In the UK, one is unlawfully at large.  5. Unlawfully at large from prison 5.1. A prisoner is unlawfully at large when absent from prison, young offenders institute or remand centre as a result of: * escaping or absconding from the prison establishment; * failing to return to the prison establishment after a period of ...


8

Its done to make any tempering with the document difficult. Maybe one can change the number in one place but it wont be easy reflecting the change in the other representation


8

I'm not sure if this exactly answers your question, but I read a lot of legalese as part of my day job, and I've never seen a reference to any court's "claim." Plaintiffs and defendants make many "claims," but courts' opinions contain findings and conclusions. "Claims" has an aura of advocacy -- something the courts don't engage in (not officially, at ...


8

The UK distinguishes between illegal and unlawful. Illegal means there is a specific law prescribed by the state and if contravened then a criminal offence has been committed / the law has been broken (eg murder, blackmail etc). Unlawful is defined as "contrary to, prohibited, or unauthorized by law...while necessarily not implying the element of ...


8

For specific legal language used in a given locale, you should consult a lawyer. That said, I think the typical phrase is in any event. (Also common is the structure in the event of X.) This is used not just in legal documents, but also in ordinary speech meaning in any case or as a transition meaning anyway.


8

I believe that the word you're looking for is jurisprudence which is defined as: The philosophy, science, and study of law and decisions based on the interpretation thereof. Quoting from "Natural Law And Laws of Nature in Early Modern Europe: Jurisprudence, Theology, Moral And Natural Philosophy": From then on, the basic underlying differences ...


7

It is common in legal terminology to throw in extra words in an attempt to cover as many cases as possible. For example, you always hear heirs and assigns in contracts concerning real estate: An occupancy agreement must provide that it's binding on heirs, assigns, executors, administrators, and successors. This is the legalese way of making sure all ...


7

I would say yes. There is, at very least, a tacit religious appeal. The idea of a secular promise is a very recent idea in human history. Almost all promises of a certain importance were attached to an appeal the deity. Taking an oath or swearing to something or other does have a religious connotation. Now, some may choose not to see it that way, and ...


7

See this question for some discussion of ambiguity in legal documents and why they beat some subjects to death: Why does legal English continue to remain archaic? In your one-sentence example, sure, it doesn't appear to add anything. But imagine a slightly more complex example. Say: Upon delivery, funds will be deposited by Acme Company into the account ...


7

You are looking at "such as" as if it were a two-word phrase that has (or should have) a particular meaning. It often is, but in this case it is not; "such" and "as" are independent actors on this stage, or, rather, semi-independent actors. An equivalent alternative reading would be [...] 'a perception through the broadcast of selective images ...


7

The technical term for this construction is Pied-Piping.   (I don't make up these names, honest; this one, like many others, is due to Haj Ross) Here's how it works: Relative clauses modify nouns; these nouns are called antecedents (because they "go before"). Every relative clause contains an anaphor of its antecedent, which becomes a relative ...



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