Legal English: Peter’s Pills – Lesson 3 – Sign legibly

Legal English for Notaries - By Federnotizie

Sign legibly



There are many ways for Italians to confuse English speaking people if they want to. For example, tell me that Giovanni didn’t come to your meeting last night and that he “threw a package at you” (ti ha tirato il pacco). I’ll be very concerned about your health, but probably not so concerned about the fact that Giovanni didn’t come to the meeting. Or, continue by saying that it was a good thing that Giovanni didn’t come to your meeting because there were only “two cats” (due gatti) at your meeting. Now I’d be (sarei) very, very worried about the types of meetings that you’re having in your office.

Another way to really confuse the English is to tell them to “sign legibly”. We have no idea what you mean. It’s like asking us to draw a “legible triangle” or to draw a “legible square”.

Our signature is our mark, and when we’re young we spend hours and hours and hours trying to create what we believe is the perfect mark that represents us, and we use this mark on documents to leave a trace that we were there and that we signed it. Now suddenly you have this really important, international entrepreneur or business person in your office, who signs documents all over the world, in various jurisdictions and you are telling them that their signature is not good enough for the document they need to sign in your office and that they need to “sign legibly”.

Donald Trump Signature

If you have a few minutes, try and look at Donald Trump’s signature online. Do an image search for Donald Trump’s signature and see what it looks like. Now try and imagine having Donald Trump in your office, ready to sign a document, and you tell him that his signature is not good enough for your document and that he needs to “sign legibly”.

The best way to get the result you want is to say to the person to please write (not sign!) their name and surname in cursive (in corsivo). If you want, you can tell them that Italian law requires them to not write their name and surname at the end of the document in block letters (in stampatello), but that the Italian law requires them to write their name and surname in cursive. Everyone will understand exactly what you mean and be very happy to write their name and surname in cursive for you. You’ll have the desired result, you’ll have the document signed in the way you want it, and everyone will leave your office in a very happy way.

Thank you, and see you next time for more Peter’s Pills to improve your legal English.

For your interest. The guidelines given by the UK government on their website for signing deeds (atti) are as follows: “To be validly executed as a deed, each individual must sign the document. Making one’s mark on a document is treated as signing it. The signature must be on the document itself in the space provided and the words of execution must name the signatory or otherwise make clear who has signed the document. For obvious reasons, the signature ought to be in ink or some other indelible medium.

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