In general, those abbreviations which refer to an entity, such as UK, USA, NATO should be capitalised without dots between the letters.
Those abbreviations which are used as grammatical shorthand, such as e.g. and i.e., are usually written in lowercase letters with dots between the letters. There are also certain terms which are referred to in speech as a single word but which are capitalised in writing. For example, NATO = North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
The following are a number of abbreviations commonly used in English.
a.k.a. = also known as
AOB = any other business
B2B = business to business
B2C = business to consumer
CEO = chief executive officer
CGT – capital gains tax
Enc = enclosure
HR = human resources
c.o.d. = cash on delivery
ibid – ibidem (in the same source)
MBI – management buy-in
MBO = management buy-out
NB = nota bene
p.a. = per annum
PA = personal assistant
Viz – videlicit (namely; in other words)
WIP – work in progress
The following abbreviations are NOT used in English
o.a./a.o./i.a. = these three abbreviations are not used in English to express the idea of onder andere.
f.i. / f.e. = these are not abbreviations for for instance and for example.
Nr. = number is abbreviated as no.; plural: nos.
Resp. = respectively is not abbreviated in English.
c.s. = the Latin expression cum suis will not be understood.
c.q. = the Latin expression casu quo will not be understood.
q.q. = the Latin expression qualitate qua will not be understood.
The verb is “to advise”, not “to advice”.
We advice you to ….
We advise you to ….
The noun is “advice”, not “advise”.
You have asked for our advise.
You have asked for our advice.
You can never say “an advice”.
We will send you an advice on this matter shortly.
We will send you an opinion on this matter shortly.
We will send you advice on this matter shortly.
You can never say “advices”.
Since our last invoice we have sent two advices on this matter.
Since our last invoice we have sent two opinions on this matter.
Since our last invoice we have advised you twice on this matter.
If you use the term adviezen to refer to specific opinions or opinion letters, then you should use the term “opinions” or “opinion letters”.
There is no English word that is an exact translation of advocaat. When working in English it is recommended that Dutch lawyers use “lawyer” or “advocaat”, depending on the context.
NOVA uses the term “advocate” for advocaat in its unofficial translation of the Advocatenwet. However, the term “advocate” is not used by practising lawyers in England or the US to describe themselves professionally.
affect = make a difference to; have an effect on
effect = cause something to happen; bring about
“And”, “or” and “and/or” are called conjunctions in English. In English legal style, it is important to expressly clearly whether “and’, “or” or “and/or” is meant.
E.g. This system ensures that property will be transferred to the purchaser free of mortgages or attachments. [“And” should have been used in this sentence.]
E.g. The employer and the employee are able to terminate the lease by giving written notice that is in compliance with the statutory notice period. [“Or” should have been used in this sentence.]
Lawyers are taught to avoid using “and/or”. It is almost always possible to use either “and” or “or”. You wont see “and/or” used in statutes, for example.
With experience, you’ll find you don’t need and/or. But more than that, you’ll find that and/or can be positively dangerous. About half the time, and/or really means or; about half the time, it means and. All you have to do is examine the sentence closely and decide what you really mean. …. The danger lurking behind and/or is that the adversarial reader can often give it a skewed reading …. Courts, by the way, have routinely had extremely unkind words for those who use and/or. Bryan Garner in Legal Writing in Plain English.
Behoudens is often translated as “subject to”.
A werkt morgen, behoudens het geval de treinen staken.
A is working tomorrow, subject to the train strike.
A is working tomorrow, but it depends on the train strike.
“Notwithstanding” is not the same thing as behoudens.
A werkt morgen, niettegenstaande de treinstaking.
A is working tomorrow, notwithstanding the train strike.
A is working tomorrow, despite the train strike.
Behoudens het bepaalde in de wet can be translated as “unless provided otherwise in Dutch law”.
Most dictionaries and books written in English on Dutch law use “attachment’ as the translation of beslag. It is useful if you are using the term attachment, to also explain the Dutch process in some detail.
For example, in the situation of a conservatoire beslag, the translation “Notice of Obligation not to Dispose of Property” may be of more assistance to an international reader than “Conservatory Attachment” or “Prejudgment Attachment”. This will explain to your reader that the beslag is more of the nature of a notice than a court order.
When you use the word “attachment”, be aware that your reader may think that you mean “seizure” or a court order of some kind.
In the UK, “attachment” is only really used in the sense of “attachment of earnings”. “Attachment of earnings” is called “garnishment” in the US.
In the Anglo-American world, applications or motions for preliminary judgment or interim remedy are generally made once litigation has commenced. There are specific terms for the equivalent of a kort geding (motion; application, etc), but there is no specific term for the equivalent of a bodemprocedure. This is usually translated as the “action”, “claim”, “proceedings” or some similar term. To refer to a bodemprocedure specifically in the context of an interlocutory or preliminary motion or application, terms such as “the main action”, “principal proceedings” or “proceedings on the merits”.
It is common for Dutch lawyers to insert brackets into the middle of words and phrases. For example:
The (granting of the) right …..
.. (an)other object(s) …
.. (some of) the documents
This is prone to misinterpretation and should not be used in English legal writing. English speakers are not used to seeing brackets used this way in formal writing, and are not sure what it means. They tend to think that the information has been put in brackets as an aside or as a matter of informal interest, and not because it is important. For example, an English speaker will think that a (law) firm is a law firm, and you’ve added “law” to help explain what you’re referring to.
Verkoper zal aansprakelijk zijn voor het niet (tijdig) leveren van de produkten.
The Seller shall be liable for the failure to deliver the products (on time).
The Seller shall be liable for the failure to deliver the products or the late delivery of the products.
Shareholdings in foreign (real estate) companies do not qualify for the participation exemption if they are considered passive investments.
Shareholdings in foreign companies, including real estate companies, do not qualify for the participation exemption if they are considered passive investments
A simple construction such as “contract(s)” may be used, in the sense of “contact” or “contracts”. However, instead of writing “(some of) the documents”, an English speaker would write “all or some of the documents”.
Business buzzwords are typical phrases used by English-speaking lawyers and business people in the course of daily working life. It is a difficult area of English usage to master, and there are two reasons for this.
The first is that the buzzwords or phrases are often extremely euphemistic and may not appear at first sight to have any connection with what they are supposed to mean or describe.
The second is that they are constantly changing. New words and phrases are constantly appearing and old ones dropping out of use.
Here are a few common ones:
Adminispere – upper levels of management that are known for making stupid or impractical suggestions.
Blamestorming – a meeting to agree who should be blamed for something that has gone wrong. This is of course a pun on the long-established phrase for brainstorming.
Bleeding edge – something extremely new, more so than if it where merely cutting edge.
Bobbleheading – group head-nodding when the boss talks.
Carbon-based error – a mistake made by a human being.
Little ‘r’ me – send me a personal answer to an e-mail.
Offline – to discuss something in person or on the phone, rather than via e-mail, or to deal with something after a meeting.
Plutoed – a project relegated to lower status.
Stickiness – a web page quality that captures people’s interest. Hence sticky content.
Thought grenade – an explosive good idea.
There is no ‘l’ in team – individual interests must be sacrificed to the needs of the team.
Thinking outside the box – roughly, this involves not thinking like you normally do but pretending to be someone much smarter.
Viral marketing – a marketing campaign that spreads very quickly.
Dutch speakers working in English often use “can” in situations where “may” would be more appropriate.
“Can” expresses the idea of “ability”. In legal English, “can” is best reserved for use in the sense of “is able to” or “is capable of”.
“May” is used to express entitlement or possibility.
Expressions such as “can be capable” and “could be able” are not proper English because you are repeating the idea of “can” twice.
A few capitalization examples:
days, months, holidays Monday; November; Christmas
decades the Nineties
names of organizations Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment
titles of laws Wages and Salaries Tax Act
titles of books, films, etc “Bond Markets: Law and Regulation
establishments Amstel Hotel; Tuschinski Theatre; Weena Tower
place names (official) North Holland; The Hague
place names (unofficial) Randstad; Western Europe; Middle East
languages I speak Dutch; a German translator
nationalities a Russian company
religions a Jewish holiday
ethnic groups He is a Celt
If someone’s title goes before or after the name, then it is capitalized.
Mr R. West, Attorney at Law, is the plaintiff’s attorney.
Prime Minister Balkenende has made public statements about this issue.
But in other situations, a title is not normally capitalized.
Ms Karin Smit has been managing director since 1997.
Mr Gaven is the chief executive of BBC Worldwide.
a claim against [defendant]: “Administration Claim” means any claim, action or demand against any Group Company, …..
a claim arising out of [reason]: “Administration Claim” means any claim, action or demand arising out of or in connection with the making of the Administrative Order.
a claim for [reason]: Any claim against the Vendor for any breach of the Warranties …
a claim under [provision]: Any person who elects to proceed under the CCFAA is barred from bringing a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
amount payable in respect of a claim: Unless the amount payable in respect of the relevant claims has been agreed by the Vendor within 14 days of the date of such written notice …
claim is unenforceable: The Vendor shall have no liability in respect of any claim under the Warranties and any such claim shall be wholly barred and unenforceable unless …
details of a claim: Unless written notice of the claim setting out such details of the relevant claim as are available have been served …
liability for a claim: The liability of the Vendor for any claims specified in any such notice shall …
liability in respect of a claim: The Vendor shall have no liability in respect of any claim under the Warranties…
notice of a claim: Unless written notice of the claim setting out such details of the relevant claims as are available have been served…
to allow a claim: ABC hereby undertakes that it shall use all reasonable endeavours to procure that such claims are allowed in full by the Inland Revenue …
to bar a claim: The Vendor shall have no liability in respect of any claim under the Warranties and any such claim shall be wholly barred and unenforceable unless…
to base a claim on the grounds of: The grounds on which a claim is based …
to claim pursuant to [provision]: For the purposes of this paragraph, “Group Relief” means any relief surrendered or claimed pursuant too Chapter IV of Part X of the Taxes Act 1988.
to claim to be payable: The grounds on which a claim is based and the maximum aggregate amount claims pursuant to Chapter IV of Part X of the Taxes Act 1988.
to give full effect to a claim: ABC hereby undertakes that it shall use all reasonable endeavours to procure that full effect is given to the claims to be made under paragraph 6.1 and that such claims are allowed in full by the Inland Revenue.
to have a claim to: With few exceptions, a person born in the United States has a claim to United States citizenship.
to have no claim: If his Agreement is terminated in accordance with this Clause 4.4.2, then no party shall have any claim against any other under it ...
to lay claim to: Four people laid claim to medical knowledge.
to lay claim to: She has never laid claim to medical knowledge.
to limit a claim: ABC shall procure that the Company shall join with the Vendor in making a claim or claims under section 152 of the Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992 by virtue of Section 175 of that Act, provided that such claims are limited to €135.6 million.
to make a claim: Save in the case of fraud or fraudulent concealment, the Vendor undertakes to the Purchaser not to make or pursue any claim against any Group Company or its respective officers, employees or agents …
to make a claim in relation to [subject]: If claims are only made in relation to assets of the Company which are not depreciating assets and which have not been disposed of by the Company on or before Completion …
to pursue a claim: Save in the case of fraud or fraudulent concealment, the Vendor undertakes to the Purchaser not to make or pursue any claim against any Group Company or its respective officers, employees or agents.
The plaintiff has a claim towards the defendant.
The plaintiff has a claim against the defendant.
“Claim” is a word that is used in several quite different ways in English. Lawyers use the term “claim” in ways that one does not find in ordinary English. “Claim” is not always used in the same ways as its Dutch equivalents vordering, aanspraak maken and claimen.
Claim = state something in dispute (ordinary English)
In its lawsuit against Siemens, Sonus is claiming breach of contract.
Not every employee is eligible to claim unfair dismissal.
Claim = assert or demand as one’s right (ordinary English)
He has not yet submitted his claim for reimbursement of his travel expenses.
Upon arrival, he submitted a claim for asylum.
Claim = request under an insurance policy (ordinary English)
He could have claimed the cost through his insurance.
The premiums are reduced by 50% if you don’t claim on the policy.
Claim = assert as one’s own (ordinary English)
His supporters claimed victory in the elections.
Hamas claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing.
Claim = right (legal English)
A person born in the United States has a claim to United States citizenship.
They have first claim on the assets of the trust.
Claim = right to a judicial remedy (legal English)
A plaintiff stated a claim against a seller of applesauce when she alleged that her children ate the applesauce and were then so discomforted that they had to have their stomachs pumped.
Non-disclosure does not as such give rise to a claim in damages.
Claim = request for a judicial remedy (legal English)
We’ve brought a claim against the defendants in district court.
We filed your claim on Thursday.
It is common in Europe when speaking of power or authority, whether it be a court or other body, to use the word competence. This sounds odd to English ears, because competence applies to persons and refers to their basic ability to do their jobs and manage their lives.
In law, competence is an individual’s qualification to do something, i.e. a competent witness. A defendant is also referred to as being competent to stand trial.
Instead of using the term competent court, consider using jurisdiction, authority, appropriate or leaving it out all together.
There are a number of ways to express conditions in English:
in the event that
on condition that
In contracts and other formal legal writing, use “if” to express conditions.
Use “when” if the condition is something that may occur with regularity.
Use “in the event of” if you wish to express the condition without a subject or verb.
Never use “in case” to express a condition.
Avoid provisos starting with “provided” or “provided that”.
Be careful of conditions that involve an English translation of the “overleg”. Make sure that it is clear whether agreement is required or not.
If possible, avoid sentences that contain more than one condition.
“Cost” is usually in the singular when referring to a single expense. “Costs” is quite common in English, but should be used in situations involving multiple payments.
It is usually “cost of”, not “costs for”.
If the costs for renting equipment exceed the contribution of € 7,000, ABC is willing to pay these extra costs up to a maximum of € 7,000.
If the costs of renting equipment exceeds the contribution of € 7,000, ABC is willing to pay for the extra cost, but only up to a maximum of an additional € 7,000.
“Fee” is usually the term used in English to describe the amount charged by a lawyer for his or her legal services. Payment made by a lawyer to a third party and then claimed back by the lawyer from the client is called a “disbursement”.
“Costs” is a term in litigation meaning the legal expenses of a party. When a court or tribunal says that “costs” have been “awarded to” or “ordered against” one of the parties, it is referring to one party paying the other’s legal expenses.
Counsel = raadsman, raadslieden (counsel is both singular and plural)
Council = raad (council’s is the plural)
Works council = ondernemingsraad
“Damage” should not be confused with “damages”.
“Damage” is used in 3 ways:
physical harm to a thing (damage to a car)
any unwanted detrimental effect (damage to his reputation)
loss or harm (damage to the plaintiff)
The term damages has a technical legal meaning: compensation awarded by the court.
Often compensation is a better translation for schadevergoeding than damages, because schadevergoeding does not necessarily include court-awarded compensation.
Avoid using the word damages to mean financial loss, because technically it means the compensation awarded by the court for the financial loss.
Be aware of the translation problems with immateriële schade and materiële schade.
Suggested translation for materiële schade: property damage. You may wish to explain further or add the Dutch term to make sure it is clear.
Suggested translations for immateriële schade: non-pecuniary loss, emotional damage, psychological damage or pain and suffering.
Types of damages in English law:
substantial damages = awarded when there was actual damage
nominal damages = may be awarded when there was no real damage
liquidated damages = sum fixed in advance by contractual parties as payment for a breach
special damages = losses that have been specifically proved (such as out-of-pocket expenses, lost earnings, etc)
general damages = losses that are not proved, but are presumed to be the natural and probable consequence of a wrong (such as pain and suffering).
There is a curious historical tendency in legal English to string together two or three words to convey what is usually a single legal concept. Examples of this include null and void, fit and proper, perform and discharge, dispute, controversy or claim, and promise, agree and covenant. These are often call doublets or triplets.
They should be treated with caution, since sometimes the words used mean, for practical purposes, exactly the same thing (null and void) and sometimes not quite the same thing (dispute, controversy or claim).
Modern practice is to avoid such constructions where possible and use single word equivalents instead. For example, the phrase give, devise and bequeath could be replaced by the single word give without serious loss of meaning.
However, it is still quite common to see certain typical doublets and triplets in certain legal documents. Some of the most common are listed below (with suggested equivalents in brackets).
Able and willing (=able)
Agree and covenant (=agree)
All and sundry (=all)
Authorise and direct (=authorise)
Cancelled and set aside (=cancelled)
Custom and usage (=custom)
Deem and consider (=deem)
Do and perform (=perform)
Due and owing (=owing)
Fit and proper (=fit)
Full and complete (=complete)
Goods and chattels (=goods)
Keep and maintain (=maintain)
Known and described as (=known as)
Legal and valid (=valid)
Null and void (=void)
Object and purpose (=object or purpose)
Order and direct (=order)
Over and above (=exceeding)
Part and parcel (=part)
Perform and discharge (=perform or discharge)
Repair and make good (=repair)
Sole and exclusive (=sole or exclusive)
Terms and conditions (=terms)
Touch and concern (=concern)
Uphold and support (=uphold)
The Burgerlijk Wetboek is referred to as the Dutch Civil Code or the Netherlands Civil Code.
The Dutch Civil Code is broken down into Books, Titles, Articles, paragraphs and subparagraphs.
The following style is ordinarily used when referring to the Dutch Civil Code:
Article 7:21, paragraph 1, subparagraph a, of the Dutch Civil Code
Other formats include:
Article 21, paragraph 1, subparagraph a, of Book 7 of the Dutch Civil Code
Article 7:21(1)(a) of the Dutch Civil Code
Article 24 of Book 2 of the Dutch Civil Code
As referred to in Title 5A of Book 1 of the Dutch Civil Code
Pursuant to article 21, paragraph 1, subparagraphs b and c, of Book 7 of the Dutch Civil Code
In general, the English translation of the name of a Dutch statute should be that listed by MBZ at europa.eu.int/eurodicautom.
Only if the year is formally a part of the name of the Dutch statute, should it be included in the English translation of the name.
At the first mention of the English name of a Dutch statute, the Dutch name is set in italics and within brackets.
The parties have complied with all relevant requirements under the 2000 Merger Code of the Social and Economic Council (SER-besluit Fusiegedragsregels 2000), the Works Councils Act (Wet op de ondernemingsraden)…
Do not use the § sign when referring to Dutch legislation in English.
A useful style to use when referring to Dutch statutes:
Article 21, paragraph 1, subparagraph a, of the Bankruptcy Act (Faillissementswet)
Here are a few English words that are often used incorrectly.
Dutch word Dutchism real meaning of Dutchism correct English word
ad ad reklame re
agenda agenda agenda van vergardering diary; calendar
balans balance balans (weegschaal) balance sheet
bezig met busy with druk aan working on; engaged in
boekjaar book year - financial year
concept concept conceptie draft
consequent consequent voortvloeiend consistent
consignatie consignation - consignment
convenant convenant - covenant
criterium criterium - criterion
eventueel eventual uiteindelijk possible; any
globaal global mondiaal roughly
hoge Raad High Court rechtbank in Engeland Supreme Court
informeren naar inform about - inquire about; ask about
map map kaart folder
procedure procedure procedure (method) proceeding
restitueren restitute herstellen refund; repay; reimburse
solvabilitiet solvability oplosbaarheid solvency; financial strength
statuten statutes wetten articles of association
statutair statutory wettelijk under the articles of association
uiterlijk ultimately uiteindelijk no later than
In the Dutch legal system, the distinction between a dwangsom and a boete is an important one.
The term fine is roughly equivalent to a boete, but penalty or periodic payment do not express the idea of dwangsom. One option is an explanatory phrase such as, “penalty paid for each day of non-compliance”.
The following are all expressions that can be used to describe when something is in effect from a specific date.
be effective from The amendment is effective from 1 May 2007.
be effective since The amendment has been effective since 1 May 2007.
be in effect from A moratorium has been in effect from 1 September.
be in effect since A moratorium has been in effect since 1 September.
become effective from His resignation on 12 May 2007 becomes effective from 1 July 2007
become effective on His resignation on 12 May 2007 became effective on 1 July 2007
become effective since His resignation on 12 May 2007 has been effective since 1 July 2007
enters into effect on The new law enters into effect on Wednesday of next week.
go into effect from The new law went into effect from Wednesday of last week.
go into effect in The new law goes into effect in six months
go into effect on The new law goes into effect on Wednesday of next week.
go into effect since The new law went into effect since Wednesday of last week.
take effect from The ban takes effect from 1 September 2007.
take effect on The ban takes effect on 1 September 2007.
take effect since The manual covers all the changes that have taken effect since 1995.
take effect [date] The ban takes effect 1 September 2007.
with effect He resigned on 12 February 2007 with effect 1 June 2007.
with effect from He resigned on 12 February 2007 with effect from 1 June 2007.
with effect on He resigned on 12 February 2007 with effect on 1 June 2007.
with effect since He resigned on 12 February 2007 with effect since 1 June 2007.
The following are used to describe a situation where something goes into effect sometime in or during a certain period.
go into effect The new law goes into effect next week.
become effective The new tax system becomes effective next year.
become effective in His resignation on 12 May 2007 becomes effective in July 2007.
take effect in The ban is to take effect in six months.
These terms are used to describe a situation of ongoing effect:
remain in effect The changes from the earlier amendment will remain in effect.
continue in effect The changes from the earlier amendment will continue in effect.
If you want to describe something that is in effect from a limited period:
be in effect only on The parking restrictions are in effect only on Saturday and Sunday.
be only in effect The parking restrictions are only in effect Saturday and Sunday.
be in effect only in The reduced hours are in effect only in July and August.
only effective on The parking restrictions are only effective on Saturday and Sunday.
It is always a good idea to refer to Europa.int.eu to see how a law or document is properly referred to in English.
In brief, EU law should be cited as follows:
Article 99(3) of the Treaty establishing the European Community
Regulation (EC) No ####/yr
Avoid abbreviating Article to Art. wherever possible.
Official Journal L 118 of4 May 1973
Bulletin and General Report
Bulletin 9-1980, point 1.3.4
Supplement 5/79 – Bulletin
1994 General Report, point 12
Court and cases
European Court of Justice = ECJ
Court of First Instance = CFI
Cases from before establishment of CFI in 1988:
Case 13/72 Netherlands v. Commission  ECR 27
Cases since the establishment of the CFI in 1988:
ECJ cases: Case C-287/87 Commission v. Greece  ECR I-125
White papers & Green papers
In the White Paper Growth, Competitiveness, Employment: The challenges and ways forward into the twenty-first century, the Commission set out a strategy …
The Green Paper Towards Fair and Efficient Pricing in Transport: Policy options for internalizing the external costs of transport in the European Union …
Other policy statements and other communications
…the communication An Industrial Competitiveness Policy for the European Union [published as Bull. Suppl. 3/94]…