I see this a lot in legal writing.

"The defendant will be required to pay $1000 in restitution."


"Defendant will be required to pay $1000 in restitution."


Upon arrival, police noticed a foul smell in the air.


Upon arrival, the police noticed a foul smell in the air.

Similarly, sometimes the article "a/an" is dropped.

Does this have a name? Lots of lawyers write this way, but I don't know if its a legitimate style or just bad form. I'm not referring to one line confirmations, as mentioned in a previous question.

  • There is another question about dropping articles in short confirmation responses. I added the additional information about where I normally see this phenomenon in order to distinguish this question from that question. My question ends with a question mark, the rest is just context.
    – Devil07
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 21:31

1 Answer 1


I am not sure whether there is a technical term, but legal writing is filled with specially defined terms. (Many legal writings have limits on length so there is a premium on eliminating excess words.) So "Defendant" with a capital letter may have been previously defined as "Ms. Maria J Smith residing at 343 Hill Street, Mobile, AL (hereafter the "Defendant.") In effect, "Defendant" with a capital now substitutes for "Maria J. Smith." We would not say " the Maria J. Smith."

  • Thats a good point. I think I've also seen it with works that are not defined terms, although I'm at a loss at the moment to find an example.
    – Devil07
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 20:08
  • 1
    Sometimes those words are legal jargon, and tradition has set in about how they're used.
    – Barmar
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 20:12
  • Same thing happens with Buyer, Seller, Lessor, Lessee, Debtor, Creditor. They are defined as referring to companies or individuals and are then used in the document as proper names that need not take the article to be sufficiently understood.
    – Gustavson
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 22:59
  • While that's true, I think the phenomenon the OP is discussing is more general, even in the context of law. The substitution / term of art hypothesis doesn't explain examples like "holding that a man who deliberately attacked a child on the playground satisfied the proximity element..." becoming "holding man's deliberate attack satisfied proximity element" which may, as the OP suggests, be bad style but, nevertheless, is quite common.
    – MDHunter
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 16:48

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