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capitalization: legal usage

In legal usage, some common nouns referring to parties in an action, to judicial bodies or to the names of documents are capitalized:

  • Counsel for the Plaintiff
  • the said Notary
  • The Court (meaning the judge) sustained the objection.
  • the aforementioned Agreement


  • The court was in session.

Capitalize the official names of treaties, agreements, legal codes, pieces of legislation and other official documents, as well as their official short forms:

  • the Treaty of Versailles
  • the Financial Administration Act
  • the White Paper on Taxation
  • Order-in-Council P.C. 1354

Do not capitalize general references to pending and defeated legislation:

  • Parliament is discussing a new privacy act.

Unofficial short forms

Unofficial short forms are normally capitalized only when they constitute proper nouns or refer to a document of great significance:

  • An appeal was launched under the Charter (full name: Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms).

Do not capitalize short forms when they are used in a general sense, as adjectives or plurals, or with modifiers:

  • Farmers objected to some of the treaty provisions.
  • Parliament discussed the new white papers before it adjourned.
  • Under this act, a subsidy was offered to transportation companies.

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