More ES-EN Legal False Friends: falta isn’t always “fault”

false friends fridays

In legal contexts there are several instances in which “fault” may be an inappropriate translation for falta. In criminal law, faltas may denote “misdemeanors” (minor criminal offenses), which are now called delitos leves in Spain. Falta may likewise have the meaning of “defect,” as in falta subsanable de un título presentado para su inscripción en el Registro, in reference to a “curable defect in a document presented for entry on the Register.”

In other respects, falta de often denotes a “lack of” something, and is thus rendered in multiple legal expressions such as falta de legitimación (“lack of standing”), falta de competencia (“lack of jurisdiction”), falta de pruebas (“lack of evidence”) or falta de diligencia o cuidado (“lack of diligence or care”).

And, similarly, falta de may also mean “failure to” do something, as in falta de pago de la prima (“failure to pay a premium”); falta de avenencia entre las partes (“parties’ failure to reach a settlement”); falta de personación en el procedimiento (“failure to enter an appearance in the proceedings”) ; falta de presentación de la declaración tributaria (“failure to file a tax return”), or falta de contestación a la demanda (“failure to answer the complaint”).

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