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Hidden Meanings in Legal Spanish


In an earlier post, we discussed the surprising meanings that certain ordinary words can have in legal English. Today we will begin studying words in legal Spanish whose second and third meanings might be unfamiliar even to a person with a Ph.D. in Spanish literature.

The word for today is "acuerdo."

acuerdo. Most students of Spanish know that acuerdo means "agreement," but it has two other meanings in legal Spanish. The first is "resolution," as in a "shareholders' resolution." So the phrase "los acuerdos de la junta general de accionistas de la sociedad" is synonymous with "las resoluciones de la asamblea general de accionistas de la sociedad" (with the difference being that the former is used in Spain and the latter in certain Latin American countries). Both of them mean "the resolutions of the company's shareholders" (or "the resolutions of the meeting of the company's shareholders" if you prefer to be more literal). Note that "shareholders' agreement" is something else altogether--i.e., an agreement between shareholders to vote their shares a certain way.

A third meaning of acuerdo is "court order," and the related verb acordar can mean "to order" (in addition to "agree" and to "resolve," as explained above). Si el fiscal no pide su ingreso en prisión, el juez no puede acordarlo. If the prosecutor does not request that she be held in jail, the judge cannot order it. In this case "acordar" is a synonym of "decretar" or "disponer" and does not mean "to agree."

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