The other two “S’s”: Such and the Said

Earlier we had a look at the use and misuse of shall. Today we turn to the other two of the “three S’s”: such and the said (with its close cousins, the aforesaid and the aforementioned).


“Such” is often used in legal writing in the place of determiners such as “the”, “this” or “these”. For example,

The client acquired the land at auction in 2005. Such auction was conducted by the tax authorities of the province pursuant to Sec. 345 of the Code.
This use of such is no more precise than an ordinary determiner and merely adds a stuffy tone. So reserve such for situations where you mean “of this kind.” Note the use of an article with this meaning.

Such an auction is permitted under Sec. 345.

Said / aforesaid / aforementioned
Lawyerisms like these are best avoided. As Richard Wydick puts it in Plain English for Lawyers, they give writing “a legal smell” but add nothing to clarity or precision.  For example, if you’ve only mentioned one property then “the property” is as specific as “the property aforesaid”.  If you’ve mentioned more than one property, “the said property” doesn’t help to identify which one you are talking about now.

I can’t think of a situation where these expressions would be good choices. If you can, or if you have any questions or comments, please speak up.

See you next time!



Bill Lawrence worked in US law firms and multinational companies until 2001. For the past 15 years Bill has been a writing coach at the Polytechnic University’s Centre for Business and Professional English. He has also presented seminars to law firms on coaching lawyers on effective writing.

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