Legal English: Peter’s Pills – Lesson 5 – Escrow

Legal English for Notaries - By Federnotizie

Excuse me, what is a “dedicated account”?



Notaries in Italy use what we call “il conto dedicato” and translating this in English could present some problems.

First of all, don’t use the words “dedicated account”. This is not clear to your clients and they won’t understand the importance of what you’re speaking of. We need to find another concept to express this and in order to do that we need to look at two types of laws which are common in Common Law jurisdictions. These two types of laws are “Common Law” and “Statutory Law”.

Common Law is defined as law which has been developed on the basis of preceding rulings (decisioni giudiziali precedenti) by judges, while Statutory Laws are written laws passed by legislature or government of a country.

So, Common Law has different types of names: we call it Common Law, we call it judicial precedent, we call it judge-made law, and we call it case law. It’s all the same thing. While Statutory Law is sometimes called legislation or sometimes called written law.

To understand better, a judge makes Case Law, while the government or legislature produces Statutory Law.

Another term we need to look at in order to get a good translation is the term “Escrow” (“deposito in garanzia per conto terzi”). Escrow means that an independent third party holds funds from one party for another party, or even for the state. This third party, or escrow agent, will transfer the funds when certain conditions are met or when a certain moment in time arrives.

Considering all of these terms, we can come up with (arrivare a/offrire) the best translation for “conto dedicato” in English. I believe the best translation for “conto dedicato” in English is the Notary’s “Statutory Escrow Account”.

By calling it the Statutory Escrow Account, I’m saying three things: I’m saying:

  • number 1, it’s statutory, so the law requires it;
  • number 2, I’m saying that it’s an escrow account, and so, it (= the money; singular in English. The money IS here – I soldi SONO qui.) is being held by the Notary for the state, or for someone else, or for another party in some way;
  • and 3rd, it’s an account – it’s a bank account.

So Statutory Escrow Account would appear to be the best possible translation to convey (trasmettere) the meaning of this word to your clients.

Thank you very much, and I hope you’ll join me next week for another edition of Peter’s Pills.

For a longer comparative explanation on Statutory Law, read this analysis: “Oxford Constitutional Law – Statutory Law“.

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