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While English for Law tends to be quite formal, there are many phrasal verbs that can be used both in official documents as well as letters to clients and counterparts. This is a list of some of the most commonly found phrasal verbs in Legal English.
Abide by: means to accept and obey a decision or law. For example: ‘the parties must agree to abide by the terms of the agreement’.
Accede to: means to agree to or allow something that someone has asked for after you have opposed it. For example, ‘the company eventually acceded to the request'.
Account for means: (1) to explain why something happened. For example, ‘how do you account for the fact that you were not where you said you would be?’ (2) To be a particular part of something. For example, ‘B2B sales account for 80% of the profits’. (3) To keep a record of how the money in your care has been spent. For example, ‘every penny in the fund has been accounted for’. (4) To consider particular facts or circumstances when you are making a decision about something. For example, ‘the costs of a potential lawsuit were accounted for when calculating the amount of money to be placed into the contingency fund'.
Adhere to means: to act in the way that a particular law, rule or set of instructions says that you should. For example, ‘the parties must strictly adhere to the terms of this agreement’.
Amount to means: (1) to add up to something or result in a final total of something. For example, ‘the overall costs amounted to well over £75,000’. (2) To be equal to or the same as something. For example, ‘what they did amounted to a gross breach of contract’.
Break down means: (1) to separate something into different parts to make it easier to deal with. For example, ‘Let me break this down into more understandable figures.’ (2) To fail. For example, ‘negotiations between the various factions have broken down’.
Break off means: to stop speaking or to stop doing something before you have finished. For example, ‘we had to break off the meeting’.
Break up means: (1) the splitting up of a company or an organisation into smaller parts. For example, ‘the company was broken up into smaller concerns’. (2) The splitting up of a group of people. For example, ‘the conference broke up into discussion groups’.
Call in means: (1) to request the return of something. For example, ‘the bank has decided to call in all our loans’. (2) To visit a place or person for a short time. For example, ‘he called in before going to court this morning’.
Carry on means: to continue something. For example, ‘the company intends to carry on as a going concern’.
Carry out means: to do something that you said you would do or that you have been asked to do. For example, ‘the solicitor carried out his client’s instructions to the tee’.
Consist of means: to be formed from the people or objects mentioned. For example, ‘the team consists of a number of footballers who have played for top teams.’
Cover up means: to try hard to stop people finding out about a mistake or a crime. For example, ‘the president tried to cover up the indiscretions, but was found out in the end’.
Deal in means: to do business, how a company makes its' money. For example, ‘the company deals in pet food and other animal products’.
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