What is POFP?

Why do lawyers refer to long documents as briefs and
18-year olds as infants? Why do they use so much Latin when so few of their
clients are Ancient Romans? Is it a conspiracy?

Party of the First Part has the answers! Check out the Website for the
Legalese Hall of Shame; a glossary of legal words linked to Adam Freedman's
columns; tips on writing legal documents in plain English; and more!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Word of the Week

Rest, Residue and Remainder

The final blast of legalese in many wills, this phrase emerged from a prolonged struggle among lawyers to find just the right words to describe the leftover bits of one’s estate.

Rest, residue and remainder has been described as a “ritual utterance” – a sort of incantation that lawyers hope will bring good luck. There is no particular technical significance to any of those words, although lawyers do occasionally take a stab at creating bogus pedigrees for them. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, some courts followed the English case of Hogan v. Jackson, in which the court decided that “remainder” referred to real estate, while “residue” referred to personal property.

The phrase does evoke English law's fascination with poetic rhythm, as heard in such formulations as "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." Anglo-Saxon law, you see, emerged from an oral tradition in which legal phrases were memorized as semi-poetic verses.


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