British and American Legal English

George Bernard Shaw once stated that Britain and the United States were too nations separated by a common language. Was he correct and how well do us Brits understand our American cousins?

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While US law is largely derived from our common law system, there are now considerable differences in terms of substance and procedure. In terms of vocabulary, words such as lawsuit, subpoena, and attorney are heard frequently in courtrooms across the states but a lawyer would be laughed out of court if he or she tried to use them in a British court.

Our friends at GrammarCheck have designed the infographic that you see below. It is primarily focused on general English language but should still prove useful to lawyers and law students. It shows that in some cases, the difference is merely one of spelling while in others the words change completely. By way of example, football in the US is very different to football in the UK. A yard in the UK is more industrial than in the US where you will find it behind your home.

British Legal English
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