The term ultra vires is another example of a Latin phrase that has made its way into Legal English. Literally, ultra vires means ‘beyond or outside the powers’ and the phrase has come to be associated with the actions of companies, directors, public authorities and government bodies. The phrase has a negative association as it is usually used in arguments that someone has done something ….
Hello. Welcome to TransLegal’s Lesson of the Week.
Today we will be talking about the Latin terms supra and infra.
Now infra is the Latin word meaning below, under, beneath or underneath and it is legal shorthand to indicate that a particular reference will be further discussed or cited later in the same document.
Infra is distinguished from supra, which means above in Latin. And it means that the case or point has already been discussed or cited previously in that same document.
Both infra and supra are tools to make a document, letter, brief or any other legal document easier for a reader to comprehend or to follow. Not only do they enable the writer to avoid having to repeatedly write the same citation, but they also signal to the reader that a particular point will be or has been explored elsewhere in the document. So they act as cross-references of all of the citations.
Now, when we write these terms in legal documents we underline them if we are writing by hand or writing with a typewriter, which very few of us do these days. Mostly, we write on computers and then we put these in italics. So it’s not only the Latin term supra or infra which is in italics or underlined but also the signal word like in this case, see, which we underline or put in italics.
Now we hear these words infra and supra all throughout the language, usually as prefixes. So, for instance, we hear infra as the prefix of words like infrastructure, which means an underlying base or foundation especially in the case of an organisation or system. And we see lots of words with supra as a prefix like supranational, which means above the authority of a nation.
So now that I’ve made you aware of these words you will probably see these very often in all the legal documents that you read and you will notice all the many, many words in our English vocabulary which start with supra or infra.
I hope you enjoyed listening to this and we look forward to seeing you again and particularly to seeing your comments in the box below.
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