Legal Meanings of “file” and “to file”

In nonlegal usage, “file” and its verb form “to file” are most often associated with the meanings archivo and archivar. In that sense, expediente is often the term that denotes a court’s (or a lawyer’s) “case file.” But in legal language “filing” is must often be translated as presentación while, as a verb, “to file” is generally rendered as presentar. In that regard, in procedural contexts “filing (or) entering an appearance (in the proceedings)” corresponds to a party’s personación (en la causa/en autos) in Spanish procedure. In civil litigation one may “file a complaint or counterclaim” (presentar una demanda o reconvención), while in criminal contexts one may “file (or) bring charges” (presentar una denuncia/querella). In family proceedings, a spouse may “file for divorce” (presentar demanda de divorcio), and in guardianship cases a potential guardian “files for guardianship” (promueve la constitución de la tutela). As a final example, in tax law contexts, one “files a tax return” (presenta la declaración de la renta).

2 thoughts on “Legal Meanings of “file” and “to file”

  1. Once translators learn that presentación is the word for “filing” they often fail to see that “presentación” in connection with a negotiable instrument is “presentment” in English.
    Thus, “presentación del cheque al pago” is “presentment of the check for payment.”
    “Presentación de una letra de cambio” is “presentment of a bill of exchange.”
    The word “presentment” may sound strange but it is the term used in § 3-501 of the Uniform Commercial Code in this connection.


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