Legal text structure characteristics with examples
The legal text is that communicative act -generally carried out in writing– that has a legal character and that uses the language and formats of the field of law. In turn, the law refers to the particular set of norms by which the different human societies are governed and whose compliance is required by their members.
Thus, any text produced by people related to the area of legal norms (legislators, judges, or officials legally empowered as lawyers) can be considered a legal text. Laws, country constitutions, decrees, judgments, contracts, wills, and others are clear examples of this type of text.
For a communicative situation to be considered as a legal text, it must be produced in a legislative context. You must also follow all the formalities that each company requires for this purpose. Thus, for example, a contract signed between individuals (without the mediation of a lawyer) can be taken as a legal text.
On the other hand, this class of texts belongs to a higher category called specialized texts. Among its most relevant characteristics is the use of language. In general, the vocabulary used by each of the specialized communities is quite particular and of restricted meaning.
Characteristics of legal texts
Within the legal text, formulaic expressions are very common – sequences of fixed and memorized words. These are repeated quite frequently without variation, or with very little variation.
In the legal text, it is necessary that the vocabulary is precise and clear and that, in addition, it is free of ambiguities. For this reason, the terminology used is quite specific. In general, the meaning of the terms used is far from that used in ordinary language. Legal text structure characteristics
Use of Latinisms
The use of Latinisms – words that come from Latin – is very frequent in texts related to law. Latin has played an important role in the history of the development of legal systems in Western civilization.
In this sense, its importance as a legal language dates back to 450-451 BC. C., when the Twelve Tables were created, which form the basis of the later development of Roman law.
The most prominent works on jurisprudence and legal philosophy were written in Latin, including the famous treatises of Cicero, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and many others.
In general, a legal text has as its main function the formulation, preservation, clarification and implementation of the rules according to which relations between members of society must be regulated.
On the other hand, those that are related to the laws usually cover the aspects of codification, clarification, exemplification and application of the laws.
From there arise legal codes, explicit and normative explanations of the laws, compilations of legal precedents and texts related to lawsuits and legal procedures.
Structure of a legal text
The structure (organizational plan, arrangement and relationship between the different parts and elements) of a legal text depends on its particular function.
Most genres of legal texts – such as laws, contracts, judgments, powers of attorney – have a standard format. This depends on the specific formalities of each society.
These formats also include items such as spacing, paragraph settings, and the use of punctuation marks. In the case of some legal genres, the typographic characteristics (capital letters, typeface, bold and italics) are also taken into account.
Many of the legal texts are quite elaborate in terms of structure. This, especially that of routine legal documents, tends to be repetitive and change very little over time.
For example, a contract usually has premises, operational provisions, definitions, representation and warranties, applicable law, clause, signatures, and dates.
For its part, a judicial sentence commonly begins with an introduction in which the parties and the problem are identified and the legal relationship between the parties is defined, among other elements. Legal text structure characteristics
Examples of legal texts
Example 1- contract
This sales contract, effective as of [DATE], is made and concluded between [BUYER’S NAME], a company organized and existing in [STATE], with offices located at [ADDRESS] (hereinafter the “Buyer”), and [NAME OF SELLER], a company [STATE], with a registered address located at [ADDRESS] (hereinafter, the “Seller”). Considering that, the Seller is the manufacturer and / or distributor of [PRODUCT DESCRIPTION], and considering that, the Buyer wishes to buy from the Seller, and the Seller wishes to sell said products to the Buyer only under the terms and conditions contained in this Contract of sale…
Therefore, in consideration of the previous premises, and of the promises and mutual agreements contained herein, the parties, with the intention of being legally bound, agree as follows …
Example 2- verdict of a court
The defendant pleaded guilty before this court on October 19, 2000 for the first degree murders of Rosa Pérez and Luis Pérez, as well as the charge of armed robbery of a home and kidnapping.
On that same date, the defendant waived his right to a sentence phase jury and the court allowed the sentence phase to begin in a non-jury hearing on January 8, 2001. The parties presented matters of aggravation and mitigation during the trial. hearing of the penalty phase.
A Spencer hearing was scheduled for February 6, 2001, and additional tests were taken. Victims’ impact statements were submitted, but the court has not considered them when reaching the sentence to be imposed. The accused had the opportunity to be heard regarding the sentences to be imposed …
The parties agreed to present final written arguments and sentencing memoranda and the court has read and considered them. Having seen all the allegations, the court declares the following …
Example 3- testament
I, [NAME], a resident of [ADDRESS] declare that this is my will and I revoke each and every one of the wills and codicils that I previously made. I order my executors to pay my debts and obligatory funeral expenses, the expenses of my last illness and the expenses of administration of my estate.
I give all my tangible personal property and all policies and insurance proceeds covering such property to my husband, [NAME]. If he does not survive me, I give that property to those of my children who survive me, in equal parts, to be divided among them by my executors at their absolute discretion after consulting with my children … Legal text structure characteristics