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, December 16, 2007

Word of the Week

In rem

Latin (literally, "directed at the thing"). The phrase describes the fundamental character of a legal proceeding as focused on a particular piece of property rather than a person. In an "in rem action" the plaintiff generally seeks judgment declaring the status or disposition of certain property. In rem actions are often brought by the government, and you can always spot one from the case name; for example: United States v. Ten Bottles of Scotch Whisky, 48 F.(2d) 545 (C. C. A. 2d. 1931). But be careful: sometimes the property sues back, as in Three Half-Pipes of Brandy vs. United States (1858).