sabato 11 agosto 2007

What is "legal English"

What is legal English?

We could attempt to define legal English discourse as a language made up of several kinds of registers ranging from the spoken to the written language


  • Courtroom proceedings eg. - instructions given to jury members, - cross examination:
  • Counsel to witness
  • Counsel to defendant/claimant
  • Arbitration Proceedings
  • Lawyer-client interviews
  • Lawyer to lay person
  • Lawyer to lawyer interactions eg. - advising, negotionating
  • Lectures/seminars on law or legal topics


  • Contracts /Agreements/Covenants
  • Guarantees & Warranties
  • Wills
  • Licences/Permits
  • Visas
  • Treaties
  • Acts/Statutes
  • E.U. Directives
  • Regulations
  • Case reports
  • Writs/Claims
  • Subpoena/Summons
  • Pleadings/Petitions
  • Academic essays/Books about law
  • Exam answers on legal questions
  • Articles about legal issues

If you look up on wikipedia you will find a lot more details, though not exhaustive they will help you have a better understanding of what we mean by legal English.

The author goes from the definition of the word to its historical development, including its features and some information about the legal education.

For those who have a deeper interest in the subject, look at Peter Tiersma's professional web page He is a professor of law at Loyola Law school in Los Angeles with a real passion for language and law and lots of works being published on the subject.. Here you will find not only a well presented history of legal English language with its linguistic features but also a lot of good example of old prescriptive texts, as well as updated information on forensic linguistics which can greatly contribute to enriching knoweledge about this greatly discussed subject area.

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