Legal English: “legal” meanings of “award”

Common Words with Uncommon Legal Meanings

Everyone with a minimal knowledge of English will recognize “award” as a synonym of “prize” (the Academy Awards; The Best Fifa Football Awards). But there are several legal meanings of “award” that might not be so obvious. In the context of court rulings, a judge may “award damages” to the successful party in a civil suit. But ¡ojo! In Spanish this is expressed from the perspective of the losing party who is condenado al pago de daños y perjuicios (literally, “ordered to pay damages”) to the successful party.

Likewise, a court may “award costs” to the successful party in litigation, which (once again) in Spanish is expressed from the perspective of the losing party who is condenado en costas (“ordered to pay costs”). In that regard, condena en costas is a “costs award” or “award of costs,” but is also often expressed in English as a “costs order” or “order for costs.”

In arbitration, an arbitrator’s decision is not a judgment, but rather an “award” (in Spanish, laudo arbitral). So, “award” in this context must always be translated as laudo.

And, as a final example, in English a contract is “awarded” to the winning bidder. Thus, adjudicar un contrato is “to award a contract” (never “adjudicate,” a false friend explained here).

4 thoughts on “Legal English: “legal” meanings of “award”

  1. Hi, I just stumbled into this site when doing some terminology research for the translation of a book on employment law from Portuguese to English. I was looking for a correct translation of “autotutela” and found one here that fits the bill. Obrigado.


    • Hi, Mark. Thanks for your kind comment. Sorry to have taken so long to respond. Lockdown and preparing my online Legal English classes kept me away from the blog for quite a long time.


  2. This is an interesting blog. Thanks
    Also can you add the subscription feature so that we will get an email on every new post. And recommend few blogs, websites, books to enhance an improve legal english.


    • Hi, Marthin. Thanks for your kind comment. Just this week I added a blog entry on how legal translators can learn law. There are lots of resources there for learning Legal English.


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