Legal Meanings of informe

legal words
In his 1963 work “The Language of the Law,” the eminent legal linguist David Mellinkoff observed that legal discourse often uses “common words with uncommon meanings.” Indeed, in both Spanish and English, common words and expressions often take on unexpected meanings when used in legal contexts, and there are many simple, seemingly inoffensive everyday words and expressions that can prompt translation mistakes if their special legal meanings are ignored.  In this section I include some of the presumably simple legal English expressions that my students and translation clients have found most puzzling, along with a selection of legal Spanish terms that may stump translators when initially entering the legal translation field.


In many legal contexts informe has its usual meaning of “report,” as in informe de gestión (management report), informe de auditoría (audit report), informe comercial (commercial report), informe de búsqueda (search report), informe sobre el estado de la técnica (prior art report) or informe (or dictamen) pericial (expert witness report).

But informe has a very special meaning in Spanish criminal procedure, referring to the closing statements or final oral argument offered at the end of certain criminal proceedings by the prosecutor (fiscal), defense attorneys (defensor del procesado, defensor del acusador particular y defensor del actor civil*) and the attorneys for the parties deemed to have incurred civil liability (personas civilmente responsables) during the commission of the offense. As provided for in article 734** of the Criminal Procedure Act (Ley de Enjuiciamiento Criminal), these closing statements should include, among others, a summation of the facts as found, a legal assessment of those facts to ascertain the offense committed and the extent of the accused’s participation (whether as principal or accomplice), mitigating or aggravating circumstances, if any, and a determination of any possible civil liability. Thus, in the context of criminal proceedings informe may be translated as “closing statements,” “final oral argument” or with a similar expression.

*For an explanation of the role of the actor civil in Spanish criminal proceedings see the previous post at

**En sus informes expondrán éstos los hechos que consideren probados en el juicio, su calificación legal, la participación que en ellos hayan tenido los procesados y la responsabilidad civil que hayan contraído los mismos u otras personas, así como las cosas que sean su objeto, o la cantidad en que deban ser reguladas cuando los informantes o sus representados ejerciten también la acción civil.

2 thoughts on “Legal Meanings of informe

  1. Hi, Rebecca,
    I have been one your fans 🙂 for several years, and I always read and learn from your posts in this blog.
    Regarding the “Legal meanings of informe”, I thought you might be interested in comparing the “Requests for Admission” defined in Rule 36 of the U.S. Federal Rules of Procedure with the “Prueba de informes” of Venezuelan procedural law:

    Artículo 431 Los documentos privados emanados de terceros que no son parte en el juicio ni causantes de las mismas, deberán ser ratificados por el tercero mediante la prueba testimonial.
    Artículo 433 Cuando se trate de hechos que consten en documentos, libros, archivos u otros papeles que se hallen en oficinas públicas, Bancos, Asociaciones gremiales, Sociedades civiles o mercantiles, e instituciones similares, aunque éstas no sean parte en el juicio, el Tribunal, a solicitud de parte, requerirá de ellas informes sobre los hechos litigiosos que aparezcan de dichos instrumentos, o copia de los mismos.
    [Código de Procedimiento Civil de Venezuela:
    ————- END OF QUOTATIONS———
    Best regards, and thank you for your excellent blog,


    • Thanks for your comment, Manuel. This is indeed a use of “informe” in an additional context (civil procedure) and is likewise provided for in Art. 433 of the Spanish “Ley de Enjuiciamiento Civil.”


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