By VOLOCO LLP, Oct 31 2019 12:46PM
All legal contracts including construction ones often use Latin words and phrases to express something. You may come across some of these and it would be good if you understood their meaning.
So here are a few words/phrases that you might encounter, what they mean and where you might see them…
Literal translation: from the beginning
Definition and use: "Commonly used referring to the time a contract, statute, marriage, or deed become legal. e.g. The couple was covered ab initio by her health policy."
Literal translation: in good faith
Definition and use: Implies sincere good intention regardless of outcome.
Literal translation: Let the buyer beware
Definition and use: In addition to the general warning, also refers to a legal doctrine wherein a buyer could not get relief from a seller for defects present on property which rendered it unfit for use.
Literal translation: with other things the same
Definition and use: More commonly rendered in English as "All other things being equal."
Literal translation: against the one bringing forth
Definition and use: Used in contract law to stipulate that an ambiguous term in a contract shall be interpreted against the interests of the party that insisted upon the term's inclusion. Prevents the intentional additions of ambiguous terminology from being exploited by the party who insisted on its inclusion.
Literal translation: about the smallest things
Definition and use: Various legal areas concerning small amounts or small degrees.
Literal translation: therefore
Literal translation: and others
Definition and use: Abbreviation of et alii, meaning "and others".
Literal translation: and other things
Definition and use: Generally used in the sense of "and so forth".
Literal translation: by favor
Definition and use: Something done voluntarily and with no expectation of a legal liability arising therefrom.
Literal translation: in absence
Definition and use: A legal proceeding conducted without the presence of one party is said to be conducted in absentia, e.g., trial in absentia or being sentenced in absentia.
Literal translation: in position
Definition and use: Often used in the context of decisions or rulings about a property or thing "left in place" after the case as it was before.
Literal translation: manner of operation
Definition and use: A person's particular way of doing things. Used when using behavioural analysis while investigating a crime. Often abbreviated "M.O."
non compos mentis
Literal translation: not in possession of [one's] mind
Definition and use: Not having mental capacity to perform some legal act
Literal translation: from the rate
Definition and use: A calculation adjusted based on a proportional value relevant to the calculation. An example would be a tenant being charged a portion of a month's rent based on having lived there less than a full month. The amount charged would be proportional to the time occupied.
Literal translation: how much
Literal translation: as much as it deserves; as much as she or he has earned
Definition and use: In contract law, a quasi-contractual remedy that permits partial reasonable payment for an incomplete piece of work (services and/or materials), assessed proportionately, where no price is established when the request is made.
In contract law, and in particular the requirement for consideration, if no fixed price is agreed upon for the service and/or materials, then one party would request a reasonable price for the said services and/or materials at the end of the job. A common example would be a plumber requested to fix a leak in the middle of the night.
Above are just a few of the more commonly used words/phrases that you come across. Don’t ignore them if you find them in any tender documents or contract. Understand what they mean and take the appropriate action, which might be a tender clarification, pricing a risk, issuing a query et cetera.