Questions tagged [legalese]

Questions about the strange language of legalese. Consider asking on law.stackexchange.com if your question focuses on the legal interpretation of some term or phrase.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
3
votes
3answers
654 views

What kind of structure with a relative pronoun is this?

As Lord Esher once noted, ‘Any proposition the result of which would be to show that the common law of England is wholly unreasonable and unjust cannot be part of the common law of England.’ Would ...
12
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
74
votes
8answers
32k 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?
61
votes
8answers
6k 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, ...
8
votes
4answers
28k 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
4k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
13
votes
7answers
229k 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
3answers
304 views

Placing the object of an infinitive before it instead of after it

At the beginning of 1807, based on information gathered from Burr’s correspondence allegedly showing that he had begun preparations for a large-scale military expedition, the former vice president ...
32
votes
12answers
17k 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 ...
6
votes
5answers
92k 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? ...
5
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
879 views

Pluralizing Numbered Items

In US legal practice, we often refer to numbered items: Interrogatory No. 1, Request for Admission No. 3, U.S. Patent No. 5,555,555. What part of the item should be pluralized? That is, should one ...
0
votes
2answers
208 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 ...
27
votes
19answers
24k views

A verb that means “to prove someone is guilty of a crime”

Preface: I don't think there is a single-word (verb) that expresses the concept I am asking for, in which case I'd settle for the least ambiguous and most common phrase or idiom that describes the ...
18
votes
7answers
41k views

Is there a difference between “innocent” and “not guilty”?

I have always thought the antonym of "guilty" is "innocent", but apparently it's just "not guilty". Even juries seem to agree. But why? Aren't they antonyms? Or is there a subtlety I'm missing here?
14
votes
6answers
39k 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
3k views

Is there a specific word describing black boxes covering confidential data on papers being prepared for public access?

Is there a specific word in English describing black boxes covering confidential data on papers being prepared for public access? Here is an example of such a paper
11
votes
8answers
54k 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
787 views

Does the word “and” always mean a logical (boolean) operation?

For a simple phrase like "macaroni and cheese" it's clear you want both macaroni and cheese, not one or the other. But as more and more words are added, I've noticed a tendency to begin to read "and" ...
11
votes
6answers
2k 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
3answers
693 views

Word to describe a company that pretends to do the right thing? [closed]

What word(s) would you use to describe a business or company that pretends to do the legal/right thing regarding employees, but in reality the company does not care. This issue pertains to legalities ...
2
votes
1answer
673 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
288 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
281 views

How to best describe: all law, primary/secondary legislation, etc - with “laws”, “acts”, “statutes”, “ordinances”, etc? [closed]

I'm writing software that needs to have the following categories of law for a non-English speaking country: (a) all laws (b) primary country-wide legislation (passed by parliament) (c) secondary ...
4
votes
4answers
357 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 flashing ...
3
votes
3answers
279 views

Word for property damage

I am currently working on a fictitious legal system and am looking for a single word for property damage. I could not find a legal term that fits, though you may know of better resources than I. It ...
3
votes
4answers
11k 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 (...
3
votes
2answers
7k 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
329 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
3answers
525 views

Figurative meaning of 'suit' - 1615 UK?

Source: p 105, The Law of Contract, 5 ed (2012), by O’Sullivan and Hilliard It is encapsulated in the difficult seventeenth-century language of Lampleigh v Braithwait (1615): A mere ...
2
votes
2answers
9k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

Why do legal documents use “at” before names of cities?

I was looking at a proof of loss form, and below my signature there is a section for another affiant's signature which reads: Declared severally before me at ______________________ From examples ...
1
vote
1answer
255 views

Term for organization being sponsored — “sponsee”? [duplicate]

I have seen a few sponsorship agreements and in one of them the term "sponsee" was used to define the organization being sponsored. The context was a company who sponsors a local team. The agreement ...
0
votes
3answers
2k views

'The Constitution Is Not A Suicide Pact'

Would someone please explain why this means: that civil liberties only go so far, and at extremes, security must take precedence ? I tried to reference a suicide pact and more context here, but ...
0
votes
1answer
155 views

Archaic meaning of 'procure' - 1615 UK

Source: p 105, The Law of Contract, 5 ed (2012), by O’Sullivan and Hilliard It is encapsulated in the difficult seventeenth-century language of Lampleigh v Braithwait (1615): A mere ...
-1
votes
4answers
77k views

Correct use of “hereby”

Does the following sentence make correct use of hereby? The total amount specified in "Appendix 3 Price Breakdown and Payment Plan" attached to hereby Sub-Contract. Should I say attached to the ...