Legal Writing in English.

Legal Writing in English.

Полезно знать всем, кто регулярно ведет деловую переписку на английском языке!!!

The word please should never be followed by a comma in English: “Please note that...”

* Указ, имеющий силу закона - decree having the force of a law

Russian uses a dash in constructions where two different cases are contrasted, but English does not:
* Земли передаются отечественным инвесторам на праве постоянного пользования и иностранным инвесторам - во временное пользование - Land shall be transferred to Kazakhstani investors for permanent use, and to foreign investors for temporary use.

As a general rule, do not capitalise words that are not capitalised in the original (except as explained in the point above). For example, “Tenge” is spelt with a capital “t” in agreements drafted by B&M because it is a defined term. In general, however, it should be written “tenge”.

Many words are hyphenated in Russian but not in English:
* Премьер-министр - Prime Minister
* вице-президент - vice president
* бизнес-план - business plan
* форс-мажор - force majeure
* пресс-конференция, пресс-релиз - press conference, press release

п. 6 ст. 7 is best rendered Article 7.6 (not “paragraph 6 of Article 7”).

When leaving a space for dates, no inverted commas are used in English:
“ “ 199 г. - 199

The first name or initials must always go before the surname. Note that there should be a space between the last initial and the surname.
* Джепко Леонид - Leonid Dzhepko
* Минаков А.В. - A.V. Minakov (not A.V.Minakov)

The abbreviation for “street” is St. (“Str.” is German).

If speaking of a Western company, Russian uses the words фирма or компания before the name, but English does not, since it is understood that a company is meant:
* фирма “Бейкер и Макензи” - Baker & McKenzie (without the word “firm”)

* АО “Карагандаулоль” - JSC Karagandaugol

Check names of organisations. It is polite to call them whatever they wish to call themselves. For example, for reasons best known to them, Национальный банк Республики Казахстан in English is the National Bank of Kazakhstan, without the word “Republic” (see their headed paper).

Прилагается - use the word attach (attachment) if it is a fax and enclose (enclosure) if a letter.
* Приложение: копия Приложения 6 на 2-х листах - Enclosure: copy of Schedule 6 (2 pages)

Common false friends:
орган - agency (госорган); body (of a company)
контроль - (usually) monitoring (except quality control and passport control)
экспертиза - expert examination (“expertise” means skill or knowledge)
ознакомиться (с документами) - review (not “get acquainted with”, which refers to making friends with people)
национальность - ethnic origin (nationality = гражданство)
перспективный - long-term; promising; having prospects
ликвидация - remedy, elimination (of defects); clearing up after accidents; abandonment (of oil wells); liquidation or winding-up (of companies)
реализация - sale; implementation (the word “realisation” does have these meanings, but is now rarely used in any sense other than “осознание”, and interestingly this meaning is now beginning to pollute the French language from which we presumably borrowed the word)
кредитор - can be translated creditor if a person or company, but more often lender if a bank or financial institution
остальная часть - remainder (not “remaining part”)

If cобственность means the concept, it should be translated ownership. It should be translated property if it refers to a tangible thing or things.
* форма собственности - form of ownership
* государственная собственность - state property (i.e. all the assets owned by the state)
Имущество can be translated property or assets.

Владение must be translated possession, not “ownership”, to distinguish it from “собственность” - which to lawyers is a very important distinction.

Состав can sometimes be translated “membership” or “composition”; but often it should be left out:
* входящий в состав системы - within the system
* состав комитет - members of the committee

Срок should be translated term if it means the term of an agreement or loan. Otherwise, “term” is best avoided because it also means “condition” and this may cause confusion. Frequently period, sometimes duration, is best. Deadline, time limit or due date can be used if the word срок refers to a date rather than a period of time. Sometimes it can be left out altogether.
* на срок до трех лет - a period of up to three years
* в течение шестидесятидневного срока - within 60 days (or a period of 60 days or a 60-day period)
* ГКО со сроком обращением 6 месяцев - 6-month state treasury bills
* ноты со сроком погашения в 1999 году - notes due 1999

The word наличие does not always mean availability (which implies that a thing is at one’s disposal). Usually sentences containing this word need to be rephrased:
* Необходимо наличие не менее трех специалистов в штате общества - The company must have at least three specialists on its staff.

Отсутствовать: a person can be absent, but not a thing. The words lack and missing have a negative connotation:
* Сведения по ... отсутствуют. - There is no information on... (neutral)
* Из-за отсутствия сведений - due to the lack of information (implication: we need it)

Решение: decision is the usual, everyday meaning;
resolution of a company body, of legal import;
court ruling (or award if an arbitration court).
Принимать решение - adopt a resolution (e.g. at the general meeting of shareholders); take a decision; but in most cases simply decide.

В том числе should be translated comprising if what follows comprises ALL of the items under discussion, and including if what follows is a part of it Смайлик «smile» включая):
* 10 000 акций, в т.ч. простых именных 10 000 экземпляров - 10,000 shares comprising 10,000 ordinary registered shares
* 10 000 акций, в т.ч. простых именных 9 000 экземпляров - 10,000 shares including 9,000 ordinary registered shares

Республиканский should not be translated “Republican”, as this is a US political party (or in the UK, a person who wants to abolish the monarchy). Either Republic or national (before the noun) or of the Republic (after the noun) may be used.

Различный should usually be translated various rather than “different”.
* Неодинаково трактуется понятие морального вреда - there are various interpretations of the concept of moral damage (not “the concept ... is interpreted differently”. In the text from which this example was taken, the previous sentence had mentioned “foreign states”, and the word “different” would be understood by the English-speaking reader to mean “different from the foreign interpretation”, rather than “interpretations which are different from each other”).

Разовый means one-off, or lump-sum if it refers to a payment, not “one-time” (which generally means бывший).

The word дополнительно is more widely used than the English word “additionally”. Generally it is best translated also, in addition; but it can also have the meaning “позже”:
* О дате судебного заседания будет сообщено дополнительно - The date of the court hearing will be announced in due course.

Взымать may be rendered to charge/levy, but is often better turned round and translated to be payable:
* Сбор возлагается на сторону, проигравшую дело - The fee is payable by the party which loses the case.

Texts written here are by their nature “Kazakhstan-centric” to a certain extent, while your readers may not be. Some points may need explaining:
* в стране - in Kazakhstan
* отечественные инвесторы - Kazakhstani investors

Different ways of translating the word по:
* по закону - according to the law
* по заявлению - as per the/your application
* по указанию - as instructed (by...)
* предложение по приватизации X - proposal with regard to (or as to) the privatisation of X

За счет can rarely be translated “at the expense of”, which has somewhat negative connotations, implying that the financing party has lost out in some way. Better possibilities are using, funded by, financed by:
* проекты, предлагаемые к финансированию за счет привлечения займов - projects to be financed by borrowing (not “to be financed at the expense of”).

* в связи с - due to, in view of
* относительно, по вопросу, в отношении, в части - regarding, concerning, with regard to, with respect to
* учитывая, что / принимая во внимание то, что - given that
* поскольку, т.к. - since (clearer than “as”, which is also possible)
* Можно предполагать, что - Presumably...
* По мнению г-на X - In Mr X’s view...

Do not forget the useful words (t)hereof, (t)hereunder, (t)herein, etc., but do not overuse them either...
* земельный участок или его часть - the land plot or part thereof (not “its part”)

The word quite is best avoided as it is ambiguous. Alternatives are:
совсем - entirely, completely
достаточно - fairly, rather

Some useful phrases:
производить платеж MAKE a payment
внести изменения MAKE amendments
создать фонд, и т.п. ESTABLISH/SET UP a fund (not “create”)
проводить политику PURSUE a policy
дополнить “X” словами “Y” insert/add “Y” after the words “X”
предоставить кредит ADVANCE a loan/facility
привлечь средства RAISE funds
привлечь специалистов recruit/hire/engage/retain specialists
иметь лицензию/свидетельство HOLD a licence/certificate


Articles are generally not used in lists, tables, maps, plans, drawings or signature blocks, and are used more sparingly in informal notes, forms and section headings.
* HEADING IN A TABLE OR LIST: Наименование предприятия - name of enterprise (not “name of the enterprise”)
* IN A FORM: ФИО представителя: - Full name of representative:

When an article is used, it is generally not repeated before subsequent nouns in a list or in brackets:
* Договор (соглашение) - The contract (agreement)
not “The contract (the agreement)”

The same is true of prepositions; often, where Russian requires that they be repeated, English doesn’t bother:
* На лицензии сделаны ссылки во всех договорах, а не только в контракте на недропользование - The licences are referred to in all the agreements, not just the subsoil use contract. (Also note that the word а is not translated here.)

Articles are not important words. They are not usually underlined in the middle of sentences or placed within inverted commas:
(“Налоговый кодекс”) - (the “Tax Code”), not “the Tax Code”

When a noun is qualified by a number, there can be no article:
* Letter No. 238
* Article 29

There are some cases where the definite article must always be used:
* the environment Смайлик «smile» окружающая среда; but you can say, for example, “the office is a stressful environment”)
* the atmosphere
* adjectival nouns: the undersigned, the accused, etc.
* the economy, where it means the national economy of a country (приоритетные секторы экономики - priority sectors of the economy)

Cases where the definite article is always used except in lists, tables, headings, etc:
* the Republic of Kazakhstan (except if used as an adjective, as in “Republic of Kazakhstan treasury bills”)
* the Karaganda Region, the City of Almaty

Cases where an article is never used:
* state property
* space Смайлик «smile» космос)

Since Russian does not have a definite article, it makes more use of words such as указанный, тот, такой, etc. Often a definite article is enough to translate them:
* восстановить те документы, для которых еще не пропущены сроки - reinstate the documents for which the deadlines have not yet expired (not “those”)

Obviously, if a specific item has already been mentioned earlier in a document, the definite article should be used in all subsequent references to it. However, in correspondence this extends beyond the document itself, and sometimes depends purely on the matter and parties concerned. Consider the following fax consisting of one sentence:
* I attach the law for translation (we have already discussed the matter and you have agreed to translate this law).
* I attach a law for translation (I am giving an instruction about which you previously knew nothing).

Это should be translated it only if a new idea is being introduced. When it refers back to the previous sentence, this should be used (not “that”):
* Объем валового дохода отсутствует. Это объясняется тем, что - There is no figure for gross income. This is because... (or The reason for this is...) - not “it”
* Имеется в виду, что... - This means that...

70 In a list of items or tasks, the last two words or phrases must always be joined by and, which is frequently not used in Russian. Otherwise, the text is unclear to the English reader. This is especially important if the list is long.
* статьи 5, 6 - Articles 5 and 6
* обсуждение с Гульарной, Самирой, Андрью - discussion with Gulnara, Samira and Andrew
* Компания осуществляет свою деятельность на основе принципов самофинансирования и самоуправления, является юридическим лицом, имеет самостоятельный баланс, а также расчетные и другие счета. - The Company shall operate on the basis of the principles of self-financing and self-management, shall be a legal entity, and shall have an independent balance sheet and clearing and other accounts.
* утверждение перспективных, годичных планов и программ - approval of long-term and annual plans and programmes

А также is commonly translated “as well as”, but this is clumsy and much more emphatic than а также. A simple and (or and also) is better.

If a sentence is negative, and becomes or.
* не несет ответственности за какие-либо обязательства и действия - shall not be liable for any obligations or actions
* Нам не хватает статистической карточки, а также инвентарного дела - We do not have the statistical card or the inventory file.


Some useful prepositions with verbs/adjectives:
сообщить о inform (+ Object) OF (not on)*
включать в include IN (not into)
вложить в invest IN (not into)
противоречить чему-н. contradict (not contradict to)
возражать против object TO (not against)
соответствовать correspond TO correspond with = переписываться)
приемлемый для acceptable TO (not for)
обязательный для
исполнения чему-н. binding ON (not for)

* Он своевременно сообщает об этом Продавцу - He shall promptly notify the Seller accordingly/to that effect.

Some useful prepositions with nouns:
причина чего-нибудь reason FOR something
порядок чего-нибудь procedure FOR (doing) something
информация о information ON (not about)
уведомление о notice OF (not about)
замечания к comments ON (not to)
требование к requirement FOR (not to)
потребность чего-нибудь demand FOR something
ответственность перед liability TO (not before)
налог с tax ON (not from)
членство в membership OF (not in)
возражение против objection TO (not against)
акции компании shares IN a company (not of)
на рынке ON the market (not in)
на бирже ON an exchange (not in)

Use at, not “in”, for organisations and companies:
* встреча в Госгортехнадзоре - meeting at Gosgortechnadzor
* дополнительную информацию можно получить в Госкоминвесте - further information can be obtained at the State Investment Committee
* для работы в зарубежных филиалах - to work at branches overseas

A bank account is always at (or with) a bank, not “in” it:
* расчетный счет в Казкоммерцбанке - clearing account at Kazkommertsbank

Вопросы (+ Genitive) - issues/matters relating to (not “issues of”).

The word per is used alone, without any other word except the noun it qualifies:
за 1 тонну - per tonne (not “per one tonne”)
за каждые сутки - per day, or for each day (not “per each day”)

The verbs tell, inform and notify must always be followed by an object:
* сообщить о - inform him (her, you, etc.) of/that
* Если другая сторона уведомляет о согласии, то выходящая сторона передает... - Should the other party notify the withdrawing party of its consent, the latter shall transfer...
* He told me / He said

However, the verb advise may be used without an object and in formal English often has the sense of “inform”:
* Сообщаем, что - Please be advised that... (in letters; or this phrase may be left out altogether)
* Сообщаем необходимые сведение - Please find below the information required.

The verbs enable and allow, unlike позволить, must also be followed by an object. The following type of construction is best turned around with a passive verb in English:
* Это позволило значительно сократить расходы - This has enabled costs to be significantly reduced.
Or: This has enabled us to reduce costs significantly.
Or: This has made it possible to reduce costs.

The verb demand also requires an object:
* Прокуратора потребовала ликвидировать АО - the Procurator’s Office demanded the liquidation of the JSC; or that the JSC be liquidated (not “to liquidate the JSC”).
Note the word order, with the object closest to the verb:
* Ни одна из сторон не имеет права требовать у другой стороны возмещения убытков - Neither of the parties may claim reimbursement of losses from the other party.

The verbs recommend and suggest must be followed by a gerund (or new phrase), not an infinitive:
* He recommended signing/that we sign...
* He suggested signing/that we sign (not “he suggested to sign”).

The word possibility must also be followed by of + gerund, not an infinitive:
* возможность делать - the possibility of doing sth. or opportunity to do sth;
* возможность регистрации устава - the possibility of registering the charter (not “registration of the charter”).

The word timely looks like an adverb because it ends in “ly”, but it can only be used as an adjective.
* ADJECTIVE: своевременная оплата - timely/prompt payment
* ADVERB: своевременно оплачивать услуги - to pay for services in a timely manner, in good time, promptly or on time (NOT “to timely pay”)
The same goes for the word monthly:
* месячный - monthly; месячно - every month.

Обязательно: English does not have a one-word adverb like this one.
* Заключение подлежат обязательному включению в контракт - The opinion must be included in the contract (not “is to be obligatorily included”).

Проект протокола should be translated draft protocol, not “draft of protocol”. Likewise, заместители председателя - deputy chairmen, not “deputies of the chairman”.

Nouns which may be plural in Russian but are nearly always singular (collective) in English:
* деньги - money
* проценты - interest (always)
* земли - land
* воды - water
* отходы - waste
* работы - work
* доходы - income

The singular is mostly used after the word type:
* тип депозитов - type of deposit

Words such as data, media, etc. have lost their plural sense in English and should be followed by the 3rd person singular.

The word respectively in English, unlike Russian соответственно, goes at the end of the phrase.

If there are two parties to a contract (as is usually the case), the words either/neither must be used to refer to them; if three or more, any/none are used.
* Ни одна из Сторон не будет - Neither Party shall...

English does not often join two related nouns together with a hyphen, as Russian often does. There are various ways round this:
* предприятие-заявитель - applicant
* физические лица - нерезиденты - non-resident individuals
* банк-кредитор - lending bank
* хозяйственные субъекты - естественные монополисты - entities which are natural monopolists
In some cases where Russian has joined two related nouns with a dash, English would use two dashes to fulfil the functions of parentheses (brackets). In the following type of sentence, leaving out the second dash makes it much more difficult for the English reader to understand:
* Источник выплаты - узбекское СП освобождается от налогообложения.
The source of payment - the Uzbek JV - is exempt from taxation.

The word however begins a new sentence; the word but, on the other hand, cannot begin a new sentence - it joins two phrases together. Some native speakers get this wrong: ignore them.
* We requested the information, but...
* We requested the information. However...


Usually in legal texts до 15 августа means by 15 August. This means that something has to be done by that date - it is the deadline. Until (not “till”, which is colloquial) means that something will not be done until that date.

The phrase not... until is useful to translate только as a condition for a subsequent event:
* Он вернется только в четверг - He will not be back until Thursday.
* Сделки в отношении недвижимости считаются совершенными только после их регистрации - Real estate transactions are not considered completed until they have been registered.

в ближайшем будущем - in the near future
в ближайшие дни - in the next few days

В течение can be translated within or for; you need to decide which it refers to:
(1) an action which must be completed within a certain deadline:
Он согласился осуществить налоговую проверку в течение 3 дней - He agreed to carry out the tax inspection within 3 days [i.e. finish it]
инвестиции в течение 5 лет - investment within 5 years [e.g. one of the conditions for a tender]
(2) a state of affairs which will continue for a certain period of time:
Доверенность действительна в течение двух месяцев - this power of attorney is valid for two months [i.e. at every moment during that period]
производить платежи в течение всего срока действия настоящего Договора - to make payments for the duration of this Agreement

Note: Within one month OF (not “from”).


In general, verbs in laws, contracts etc. are in the form “shall...” However, when lawyers later refer to them in memos or letters, the present tense should be used (because you are describing the current state of affairs):
* The Seller shall be liable for... [in a contract]
* According to the contract, the Seller is liable for... [memo or letter]

Remember, the word if and similar phrases are very rarely followed by the future tense, as would seem logical.
* Тарифы будут приемлимы для компании, если в размер тарифов будут включены определенные расходы - The tariffs will be acceptable to the company if certain costs are included therein.
* при условии, что качество товаров будет не ниже качества товаров, производимых Лицензиаром - provided that the quality of the goods is not lower than the quality of goods manufactured by the Licensor.
* Как только мы получим документы - As soon as we receive (or have received) the documents... (not “will receive”).

This is also the case with the word after followed by an event that is to happen in the future:
* После того, как будут предоставлены все документы... - After all the documents have been submitted, (we will...)

The simple past tense must be used in sentences where the time/date of the action is mentioned:
* Your trademark applications have been filed.
* Your trademark applications were filed on 4 April 1997.

Compare these two sentences which both appeared in the tax inspector’s report on our office dated 12 May 1997:
* Срок продлен до 1 июня 1996 г. - The deadline was extended to 1 June 1996. (Describing something which happened in the past.)
* Срок продлен до 30 мая 1997 г. - The deadline has been extended until 30 May 1997. (Referring to a date which is still in the future.)

In British English at least, the present perfect tense is always used in constructions with not yet, still not and already. American English may permit exceptions, but it is better to observe the rule to be safe.
* До сих пор это обязательство не выполнено - This obligation has still not been fulfilled.

The present tense is mostly used in newspaper headlines, even if the event is in the past:
(also note no article)


Remember that Russian uses more nouns than English. It is often a good idea to translate осуществлять or производить + noun by a single verb:
* На месторождении производится строительство железной дороги - A railway is being constructed at the deposit.
(not “The construction of a railway is being carried out”)
* осуществляет регистрацию и мониторинг договоров - shall register and monitor agreements

A common construction is a list of objectives or obligations to be fulfilled by a person or company. These are best translated by infinitive verbs rather than nouns:
* разработка и осуществление программ -
to develop and implement programmes
(not “the elaboration and implementation of programmes”)

Such constructions as неиспользование are best rendered failure to use rather than “non-use”:
* Неприменение судом ставки рефинансирования является незаконным - The court’s failure to apply the refinancing rate is illegal.

Talking of negatives, не имеет право should be translated does not have the right, not “has no right”. When people say “He has no right to do that!” they are usually angry or indignant.

English uses word order in the absence of endings to indicate which words belong together. In the following types of construction where two or more nouns relating to the same thing are separated in Russian, they should be placed next to each other in English for clarity:
* наименование заявителя, его адрес - name and address of applicant
* привлечение их к ответственности или освобождение от таковой - institution or withdrawal of proceedings against them
* с конфискацией имущества или без таковой - with or without confiscation of property

If в случае Смайлик «smile» if) is followed by a fairly long construction in Russian, it should be turned into a verbal phrase beginning If..., In the event that... or Should...:
* В случае получения по наследству или приобретения дома - If a house is inherited or acquired...
* В случае возникновения разногласий - Should any differences arise...

If в случае Смайлик «smile» if) is followed by a simple construction (e.g. just one noun), it may be translated in the event of (not “in case of”):
* в случае просрочки платежа - in the event of late payment

Remember: in the event THAT (or if) + VERB
in the event OF + NOUN

In case of is used for emergencies, indicating that the possibility is unlikely (e.g. “in case of fire”).

In the case of means “with regard to”:
* В случае патента его бы не выдали, если бы не были уплачены пошлины. В случае заявок... - In the case of the patent, it would not have been issued unless the fees had been paid. In the case of the applications, however,...

Note also:
* в случае необходимости - if necessary
* в случаях, предусмотренных законодательством - in cases specified by the law [note no comma in English]
* в случаях, когда - in cases where

As we have seen, English often prefers verbs where Russian favours nouns. Here are more examples:
* в целях/для создания условий - in order to create conditions
* право на получение лицензии - the right to obtain a licence (not right of obtaining)
* отказ в регистрации товарных знаков - refusal to register the trademarks
* номер счета, дата его открытия - number of account and date opened

Examples where English is more concise than Russian:
* просьба о предоставлении возможности - our request for an opportunity to...
* заявление на выдачу лицензии - application for a licence, licence application

The following constructions are typical of Russian style, but not English:
* Как заявил министр,... - The Minister stated that...
* Насколько мы поняли, .... - We understand that...

Words such as name, translate, entitle, etc., which in Russian should be followed by как, are not followed by the word “as” in English:
* переименовать название статьи как “Договор банковского займа” - to rename the Article “Bank Loan Agreement”

English cannot pile up phrases in front of a noun in the way that Russian, thanks to its endings, can. Up to 3-4 adjectives may be placed before a noun, but entire phrases must go after it:
* 23 апреля состоялось первое после весенних каникул заседание - On 23 April the first meeting since the spring holidays was held.

Note the word order in the following type of construction:
* Юнит, хотя и принадлежит Геодате, тем не менее, был ввезен в Казахстан не Геодатой, а Просагом - although the Unit belongs to Geodata, it was imported into Kazakhstan by Preussag, not Geodata

There are various ways of translating constructions using the word при; here are a few suggestions:
* при этом - can often be left out altogether or translated in this respect or however, depending on the context
* При изменении адресов - If the addresses are changed...
* При наличии - If there are any...
* При равных условиях - All things being equal...
* При работе над проектом - During the drafting process...
* При учреждении АО - When the JSC was founded...
* При устранении причин, вызвавших приостановление действия Контракта, он немедленно возобновляется. - Once the reasons for suspension of the Contract have been remedied, it shall be renewed forthwith.
• При возникновении форс-мажорных обстоятельств Стороны незамедлительно проводят совещание - Upon the onset of force majeure circumstances, the Parties shall immediately meet together.

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