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Legal English
Rupert Haigh
First published in Great Britain 2004 by
Cavendish Publishing Limited, The Glass House,
Wharton Street, London WC1X 9PX, United Kingdom
Telephone: + 44 (0)20 7278 8000 Facsimile: + 44 (0)20 7278 8080
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© Haigh, R 2004
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British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
Haigh, Rupert
Legal English
1 Law – Terminology 2 Law – Language
3 English language – Usage 4 English language – Business English
I Title
Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication Data
Data available
ISBN 1-85941-950-X
ISBN 978-185941-950-2
1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
Printed and bound in Great Britain
The aim of this chapter is not to cover all the aspects of English grammar, but to
deal with those areas which cause the most problems in legal writing.
1.1 Parts of speech
Articles in English include the , a and an .
A few simple rules clarify the way in which these articles should be used.
A is used when mentioning something for the first time (‘a client walked
into the office’). An is used in the same circumstances but only where the
following word begins with a vowel (‘an attorney walked into the office’).
The is used when referring to something already mentioned before (‘the
client then sat down’), or when referring to something that is the only one of its
kind (‘the sun’) or when referring to something in a general rather than specific
way (‘the internet has changed our way of life’).
In some circumstances, articles should be omitted. For example, when a
sentence links two parallel adjectival phrases, the article should be omitted from
the second phrase. Here is an example:
The judge ruled that Cloakus Ltd was a validly registered and an existing
In addition, when using certain abstract nouns in a general, conceptual sense, it
is not necessary to use an article to precede the noun. For example:
In the event of conflict between the definitions given in appendix 1 and the
definitions given in the contract, the contract shall prevail.
There is no need here to precede conflict with a , since conflict is used in a general
conceptual sense. However, when referring to a specific conflict, articles should
be used, as in the opposing factions took part in the conflict .
Legal English
Prepositions are words used with a noun or pronoun which show place,
position, time or method.
Prepositions such as to, in, from, between, after, before , etc, normally come
before a noun or pronoun and give information about how, when or where
something has happened (‘she arrived before lunch’, ‘I travelled to London’).
The preposition between should be followed by an object pronoun like me ,
him or us instead of a subject pronoun such as I , she and we . It is therefore
correct to say ‘this matter is between you and me’ and wrong to say ‘this matter
is between you and I’.
The main problem for the non-native speaker is remembering which
preposition to use. There are no clear rules to follow in this respect, but some
examples of common usages are set out below:
The parties to this agreement …
The goods must be delivered to the purchaser.
The commencement/termination of this agreement …
The price list set out in Schedule 1 …
Royalties will be paid in accordance with this agreement for a period of five
The goods must be delivered within 14 days.
The Company agrees to provide training for service personnel.
The agreement may be terminated by notice.
An arrangement between the Seller and the Buyer …
It is agreed that the goods will be collected from the Seller’s warehouse at 21
Redwoods Road.
Interest will be charged on any unpaid instalments after the expiration of a
period of 28 days from the date hereof.
He was charged with murder.
The property at 2 Parker Street is sold with vacant possession.
It is important to note that in certain circumstances it may be possible to use
more than one preposition, and that there may be small but important
differences in meaning between them. For example, the sentence:
The goods must be delivered within 7 days.
is subtly different from:
Zgłoś jeśli naruszono regulamin