Legal translation - Bill of sale/sale and purchase/business sale...
Thread poster: Stéphane Cos

Stéphane Cos
Local time: 22:44
French to Spanish
+ ...
Nov 24, 2009

So I am doing this task in which we must compare the contracts in America, UK, Canada, Autralia, Spain etc... from the word and terms used. While I have no troubles in matching/comparing the general terms such as "whereas" and "witnesseth" to the Spanish "compraventa" contracts, I find difficult to find any major differences between lets say an American sale and purchase agreement and a British one or even to distinguish one from another. Is there a specific British/American term for such contract? Is "sale and purchase" used more in British than in American contracts? Or is it otherwise?

Also while Spanish legislation seems to make clear distinction between a sale and purchase contract for a house and lets say a radio, english contracts seem to have a more general structure, hence confusing me even more.

As you can see my major trouble is to identify one from another -and to find examples of such contracts-, one this done I believe I will have little to no trouble making m analyse.

Any help will be appreciated


Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:44
Turkish to English
+ ...
English common law Nov 25, 2009

The legal systems of virtually all English-speaking countries are rooted in English common law, so that they have a great deal in common. This explains why you can find virtually the same terminology used in legal texts in all of these jurisdictions. I am sure that if you look hard enough you will find a certain amount of variation.


Carla Selyer  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:44
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Bill of sale Nov 25, 2009

I do understand your dilemma because in Spanish and Portuguese we tend to detail that something is being purchased and sold, whereas in English there is a tendency to just mention that an item is being sold, with details of the buyer and seller but at times no specific mention of the fact that '... agrees to sell to ..., who agrees to purchase the item, etc'.
Perhaps you could check online for samples of bills of sale and also check those databases which have got incoterms, as these are becoming increasingly standardised.
In our part of the world, our systems are based on Roman-Dutch law and the use of the term 'bill of sale' is quite common.


Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:44
German to English
+ ...
Google v. Black's Law Dictionary Nov 25, 2009

Let's take a look at the (obviously not very reliable) numbers on usage that Google gives us:

Note: I decided to confine my search to domains ending in ".gov" and ".edu" because the former are more likely to be from the U.S. or a state government and thus somewhat official, while the latter are more likely to stem from American universities.

"sale and purchase agreement" + ".gov" returned 18,600 hits (cf. ).
"sale and purchase agreement" + ".edu" returned 2,010 hits (cf. ).
"sale and purchase contract" + ".gov" returned 7,540 hits (cf. ).
"sale and purchase contract" + ".edu" returned 961 hits (cf. ).

Here is an example of a "sale and purchase agreement" ( ). A small note for Carla: Most agreements I have read do explicitely mention that the one party is committing to sell something and the other party is committing to pay (see, for example, Article II of the agreement I linked above).

Black's Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004) contains definitions neither for "sale and purchase agreement" nor for "sale and purchase contract."

So, let's take a look at what Black's Law Dictionary does contain. For one, it contains a definition for the so-called "sales agreement[, i.e., a] contract in which ownership of property is presently transferred, or will be transferred in the future, from a seller to a buyer for a fixed sum. [See] UCC § 2-106(1)."

Black's also contains a definition for the so-called "purchase agreement[, i.e., a] sales contract." (Black's doesn't actually contain a definition for "sales contract," but it does define "sale" as the "agreement by which [the transfer of property or title for a price] takes place.")

Note that both definitions match not only with each other, but also with the subject matter of the "sale and purchase agreement" I linked above.

Back to Google:

"purchase agreement" + ".gov" returned 163,000 hits (cf. ).
"purchase agreement" + ".edu" returned 22,600 hits (cf. ).
"sales agreement" + ".gov" returned 23,100 hits (cf. ).
"sales agreement" + ".edu" returned 4,620 hits (cf. ).

And what about "bill of sale?" Black's defines "bill" as a "formal document or note; an instrument[, i.e., a] 'bill of sale'" and then continues with this:
"The expression 'bill of sale' includes bills of sale, assignments, transfers, declarations of trust without transfer, inventories of goods with receipts thereto attached, or receipts for purchase-monies of goods, and other assurances of personal chattels, and also powers of attorney, authorities, or licenses to take possession of personal chattels as security for any debt, and also any agreement, whether intended or not to be followed by the execution of any other instrument, by which a right in equity to any personal chattels, or to any charge or security thereon, shall be conferred ..." Joshua Williams, Principles of the Law of Personal Property 60 (11th ed. 1881) (tracking the definition in the [U.K.] Bills of Sale Act of 1878).

"A transfer may be either an absolute assignment by way of gift or sale, or an assignment by way of mortgage or security only; but in either case when a written document of any sort is used to effect the transfer, the document is called technically a 'bill of sale.'" Arthur Weldon & H. Gibson Rivington, Gibson's Conveyancing 302 (14th ed. 1933).

So, what does that all tell me? Well, as far as America is concerned, I would be relatively comfortable in contending that "purchase agreement" is the most common term used to describe what is, in essence, the same thing with many names, i.e., a sales agreement, sales contract, purchase contract, or even a sale and purchase agreement (and I would tend to avoid "bill of sale").

I'm afraid I could not say the same for the situation in the U.K with a comparable amount of certainty (except that the situation is probably similar due to common roots and could be determined much in the same way); perhaps someone else with more experience in English law can shed some light on that. I also cannot comment on the Spanish term to which you are comparing all of this.

Good luck!icon_smile.gif


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