The (peculiar) language of lawyers

Dear all,

you can write below, as prof. Conte suggested, examples of the peculiar style used by lawyers, expressions that you wouldn’t use outside the legal community (like “porre in essere”). Of course you can give examples in Italian or whatever language you prefer.

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18 thoughts on “The (peculiar) language of lawyers

  1. Jéssica Costa says:

    Lawyers, in the exercise of their profession, are known for the peculiar use they make of the language and the legal jargons. In Brazil, for instance, this practice can be seen both orally and in writing. Some of these practices involve the adoption of excessive flourishing. In that aspects, words such as “Egrégio”, “Meretíssimo” and “Carta Magna” are used when talking about Tribunals, magistrates and legal documents, respectively. There is also a heavy and unnecessary use of latin expressions, indirect speech and an abuse of gerund, making the language difficult to understand and, sometimes, unnaccessible, not only for the public in general, but also for the legal community itself.

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  2. Alessandra D'Urso says:

    -negozio giuridico;
    -su istanza di parte;
    -diritto fatto valere;
    -esercizio dell’azione penale;
    -istituto;
    -capacità di stare in giudizio;
    -legittimazione ad agire;
    -si computano;
    -danno ingiusto;
    – servitù;
    -obbligazione solidale;
    -risarcimento in forma specifica/per equivalente;
    – cose fungibili.

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  3. Giorgia Castelli says:

    – ”si computano” ;
    – ”salvi i casi espressamente determinati dalla legge” , ”salvo che la legge disponga altrimenti” ; ”salvo quanto disposto in relazione a …”;
    – ”su istanza di parte” ;
    – ”cagionare il danno ingiusto’ ;
    – costruzione negativa della frase (ex 13 Cost.) ”Non è ammessa forma alcuna di detenzione, di ispezione o perquisizione personale, né qualsiasi altra restrizione della libertà personale,SE NON per atto motivato dell’autorità giudiziaria e nei soli casi e modi previsti dalla legge .”
    – ”negozio giuridico”;

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  4. Veronica Fortino says:

    – Cease and decease letter
    – Vicarious infringement
    – Mettere agli atti
    – Coatto
    – Capo di imputazione
    – Legato
    – Pendente
    – Chiamata di correo

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  5. Ginevra Guacci says:

    – legato
    – fedecommesso assistenziale
    – fideiussione (perchè non “garanzia”?)
    – beneficio di inventario
    – avallo (ancora, perchè non “garanzia”?)
    – “tutto quello e proprio quello che avrai diritto di conseguire alla stregua del diritto sostanziale”
    – rescindere (perchè non “sciogliere”?)
    – pertinenza

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  6. Rachele Ramellini says:

    – ovvero (as ”instead of”, but in common language it is used as ”that is”)
    – locazione (that is used to express the rent of a house, but in common language is used “affitto”, a word that in legal language is used to define the rent of commercial spaces)
    – negozio giuridico
    – istanza di parte
    -credito liquido ed esigibile
    – salvo che la legge disponga altrimenti
    – nocumento (it is really rare in common language!!)
    – reo (in common langauge is used “colpevole”)
    – sinallagma
    – vizio (this word in common language is used as “vice”, in legal environment it is used to define an irregular act or an irregular procceeding)

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  7. Francesca Mazzini says:

    -Ricorso in cassazione
    – Adire al giudice
    – Annullamento e abrogazione
    – Contumax
    – Conditio sine qua non
    – art.5 c.p Ignoranza della legge penale
    – Rigetto delle sentenze
    – Promulgare leggi

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  8. PAOLA DE CINTIO says:

    1.ACTIO/QUERELA NULLITATIS- It’s an action used for ascertaining if a sentence is none or not.
    2.ACCORDO TRA LE PARTI- It’s when two individuals agree on something.
    3.POTERE DI INDAGARE E/O SANZIONARE – It’s when a juridical organ has the capacity to investigate on someone or to punish someone.
    4.IMPUTABILITA’-LIABILITY TO INDICTEMENT- It’s when someone is can be accused or blamed for committing a criminal offence.
    5.ESTINZIONE DEL REATO- It’s the extinction of an offence, it’s when that crime has no more effect.
    6.FLAGRANZA DI REATO- Its when someone is caught in the act of committing an offence.
    7.QUERELA – It’s when an individual takes a legal action against someone, who has committed an offence against him.

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  9. Michela Zala says:

    -oneri
    -gravami
    -escussione
    -fauna ittica
    -a pena di
    -in sede
    -diligenza del buon padre di famiglia
    -si conviene
    -si stipula
    -animus possidendi
    -a quo
    -pactum sceleris
    -ruolo

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  10. Giulia Loi says:

    Whereas my colleagues have given many examples of the most typical and technical legal terms, I am going to write some legal words, that heard by a “non-lawyer”, could be understood differently.
    – MORA (it is not a fruit, but the legal delay in the obligation)
    – ATTORE (it is not who acts Shakespeare, but the plaintiff or complainant)
    – TESTE (it is not referred to two or more heads, but to the witnesses)
    – BUON PADRE DI FAMIGLIA (it is not a lovely dad, but a standard for an average diligence)
    – ACCOLLO (it is not the slang used among the roman guys, but the contract by which the debtor and a third provide that the latter may assume the other’s debt to the creditor)
    – PAGARE GLI ALIMENTI (it does not mean to pay food, but to pay maintenance or alimony to an ex-wife or husband)
    – S.P.A. (it is not a place to relax but a particular type of company)
    – ACCESSORIO (it is not a decorative object but an adjective which describes an element of a contract that can be included by the parties, but it is not essential for its validity)
    – LA PERSONA OFFESA (it is not referred to a snappish person, but to whom has suffered an injury)
    – ALIENO (it is not an alien, but a verb that means to transfer property or other rights through sale, donation..)

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  11. Giulia Loi says:

    Whereas my colleagues have given many examples of the most typical and technical legal terms, I will write some legal words, that heard by a “non-lawyer”, could be understood in a different way.
    – MORA (it is not a fruit, but the legal delay in the obligation)
    – ATTORE (it is not who acts Shakespeare, but the plaintiff or complainant)
    – TESTE (it is not referred to two or more heads, but to the witnesses)
    – BUON PADRE DI FAMIGLIA (it is not a lovely dad, but a standard for an average diligence)
    – ACCOLLO (it is not the slang used among the roman guys, but the contract by which the debtor and a third provide that the latter may assume the other’s debt to the creditor)
    – PAGARE GLI ALIMENTI (it does not mean to pay food, but to pay maintenance or alimony to an ex-wife or husband)
    – S.P.A. (it is not a place to relax but a particular type of company)
    – ACCESSORIO (it is not a decorative object but an adjective which describes an element of a contract that can be included by the parties, but it is not essential for its validity)
    – LA PERSONA OFFESA (it is not referred to a snappish person, but to whom has suffered an injury)
    – ALIENO (it is not an alien, but a verb that means to transfer property or other rights through sale, donation..)

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  12. Alicia Newman says:

    The English language has a lot of peculiarities which stem from the specificity of the development of the English language, something that we touched upon with Professor Best. Due to the English language’s peculiar evolution, the legal English uses a very technical terminology. For instance, there are specific words that are unique to law, such as ‘tort’, ‘fee simple’ – we will not find these words outside of the legal context. Secondly, there are also words that have a different everyday meaning to the one in law; ‘consideration’ is one of the most common examples of this phenomenon. As an ordinary term, consideration means to take something into account, however as a legal term consideration signifies a support for a promise.

    Also, in legal English we can observe the employment of archaic words, which today mainly exist in law/legal documents, such as ‘herein’, ‘hereto’ etc. Finally, legal English makes use of a multitude of French and Latin borrowed words. ‘Estoppel’ – is one of the terms derived from French and expressions such as ‘prima facie’, ‘inter alia’, ‘mens rea’ are taken from Latin. To recapitulate, this peculiar terminology tends to make the legal English writing formal and simultaneously creates this peculiar language of lawyers, that a layperson would not comprehend without having studied Law.

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  13. Clemens Daniel Pucher says:

    In the German speaking world there is also used a special language and style in the legal field. However there are not so many complex words, which have another meaning in a legal context. There are complex words and a special style to the used language, but those words keep in the most cases their original meaning. There is a reference to Latin, not used much in the codifications, but used in the legal world.

    The Austrian codification of the civil right is compared to other European codification one of the eldest ones. The ABGB, its original title is „Allgemeines bürgerliches Gesetzbuch für die gesammten deutschen Erbländer der Oesterreichischen Monarchie“ entered in force in 1812. The language used in it seems nowadays a bit archaic. However the authors of it and especially Karl Freiherr von Martini and Franz Edler von Zeiller, the two main authors tried to use a clear language without technical terms and without obscuring words. They tried to establish a civil code, which is short, written in a language, which could be understood by the educated class of the bourgeoisie. The concept was to buy this Code read it and be informed. However around this shortness of the civil code there was the need of interpretation. Even one of the main authors, Franz von Zeiller published a famous commentary of the ABGB. So the interpretation of mainly every word became very important. For example in § 285 ABGB there is a legal definition of what is a “thing”. This definition includes not only tangible things what many would propose; it also contains the legal definition of intangible “things”, like an assignment. A thing in this meaning is everything used by humans; in §286 ABGB defines that everything which is different from humans is a thing in that meaning. So the legal definition of a thing is wider than in everyday used language. Compared to the German civil code a thing is only a tangible object. (§ 90 BGB). And to add this fact the legal language of Austrians and Germans is not always the same. For example the language of civil law knows some differences; like Schadenersatz in Austria and Schadensersatz in Germany. However the legal terms referring to Union law are the same, and the commentaries used in that field of law, are German ones.

    The constitutional law of Austria, there is no “Charta” like in Italy or other European countries, is composed of different laws with the quality of a constitutional law. There is also the very old bill of Rights called “Staatsgrundgesetz 1867” written in a clear style, in too short sentences without the use of obscuring words. However on this part of the constitutional law there are many interpretations existing, it is not possible only by reading the Staatsgrundgesetz to get every point of view referring to it, because of its shortness. And in addition to this interpretations; they may not be part of the Staatsgrundgesetz 1867 in sense of the lawgiver.

    To conclude there may be more words which might have in legal language another meaning; however there are less ones existing only in the legal field, without being used in other contexts. Compared to other legal languages there is a certain kind of style used in the text, but less words without being used in other fields of the language.

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  14. Sevina Metodieva says:

    ABROGARE: put an end to the legal validity of a rule of law
    NON LIQUET: “it is not clear”. There’s no possibility to apply the law
    ATTORE: He is someone who decided to sue in court
    BONA FIDES- BUONA FEDE: to act in good faith and honesty
    CITAZIONE: it’s not a “quote” but a formal call
    ABERRATIO: the divergence between the will and the act
    DOLO- COLPA: The first one is the conscious will to committee a crime, the second one, instead, is the committed crime moved by negligence
    RATIO LEGIS: the reason of law
    FAVOR REI: no one can be punished for something that is no longer considered as a crime.
    ANALOGIA IURIS- ANALOGIA LEGIS: some interpretative instruments of law
    ILLECITO- ILLEGALE: The first one is something not legally permitted. The second noun means that some act is against the law.
    ALIBI: elsewhere
    PIEDE LIBERO
    NESSO DI CAUSALITA’: a strictly connection between an act and the event that derives from it
    SINALLAGMA: a contract which includes mutual performances
    PUBBLICO MINISTERO: department / Procuratore- someone who practice the power of this department
    IGNORANTIA LEGIS NON EXCUSAT: art. 5 c.p the ignorance of law excuses no one

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  15. Alessandro C. says:

    AMMENDA- MULTA: they are different terms with specific meaning. In the common language, we are used to say mostly “multa”. They are different for what concerned the background and the crime.
    CAUSA: synonym of legal trial
    COMMA: part of a legal article, clause etc…
    DOLO- COLPA: The first one is the conscious will to committee a crime, the second one, instead,  is the committed crime moved by negligence
    EFFICACIA ERGA OMNES: rules of law are for everyone.
    FERMO: It does not mean “to stop” but it is a deprivation of personal freedom.
    NE BIS IN IDEM: no one can be punished for the same crime twice.
    PRESCRIZIONE
    RECIDIVA
    VACATIO LEGIS: period between the promulgation of law and its coming into force
    VIZIO
    RETROATTIVITA’: some rule of law has an effect back in the past
    NULLUM CRIMEN NULLA POENA SINE LEGE: no crime, no punishment without a rule of law
    ANIMUS: the conscious will of doing something
    EXTREMA RATIO: extreme remedy
    AD PROBATIONEM- AD SUBSTANTIAM: some kind of  established forms of a legal act
    EX NUNC- EX TUNC : terms that can be found especially in contract law. “From the outset” and “from now on”
    TRUST: an English term used in contract law

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