Most common Legal English errors (Feb. 8, 2021)

In today’s post I’m highlighting some of the most common legal English errors made by non-native speakers. Can you correct them without looking at the answer key below? Give it a try!

1. The Court SENTENCED the defendant (while referring to the Court’s decision in a civil case or a verdict in a criminal case)

2. Court ORDERED damages.

3. The two PARTS of the contract agreed on the terms of the termination clause.

4. Party OF or IN the contract…

5. The Claimant ASKED FOR/REQUESTED damages.

6. The Claimant ASKED THE COURT FOR extension of time.

7. The Defendant DECLARED herself INNOCENT.

8. They reached a MUTUAL AGREEMENT out of court.

9. He TERMINATED / BREACHED his offer.

10. He was ACCUSED by the state of insider dealing.

Most common Legal English errors: Answer Key

1. The Court:

a) CONVICTED the defendant (while referring to the Court’s guilty verdict in a criminal case), or

b) RULED/FOUND FOR the Claimant (while referring to the Court’s decision in a civil case, finding the defendant liable).

2. Court AWARDED damages (or ORDERED the defendant to PAY damages; to be ORDERED to DO something).

3. The two PARTIES to the contract (“parts” refers to different SECTIONS of the contract).

4. Party TO the contract

5. The Claimant SOUGHT damages (to SEEK DAMAGES; with NO preposition after seek; so NEVER to “seek for” something).

6. The Claimant FILED A MOTION for extension of time (whenever you ask the Court to do something for you, you do it through the means of a Motion or, alternatively, a petition).

7. The Defendant PLEADED NOT GUILTY.

8. They reached a SETTLEMENT out of court or an out of court settlement or simply a settlement (the word “agreement” is too general and not the best choice in this particular context).

9. He REVOKED his offer… (only CONTRACTS can be terminated or breached).

10. He was CHARGED by the state WITH insider dealing (“to accuse” someone of something means to state, often without proof, what you personally believe they did).