There are certain symbols that we may come across in some documents. The most common places we will see things we’re not familiar with are anything to do with maths, and anything to do with law.
One symbol that might really confuse you is §, but don’t worry. That symbol, and most others, are not quite as complex as you think. In fact, the whole idea of symbols is to make things less complicated.
What does the § symbol mean?
§ is a symbol used in legal code to refer to a particular section. So if you read “As stated in § 104”, you will know you need to read section 104. Legal documents are often split into sections which are divided into paragraphs. This makes finding useful information easier than having to read through whole blocks of writing.
Why are legal documents so long?
Most laws will be several pages long. And there is a good reason for this. If any law were to be too short, it would be easier to find loopholes, and people could get away with committing more crimes. So having a lot of text will avoid any chances of people following the letter of the law, just not the spirit of the law.
It can also be long because of exceptions. For example, with littering, accidentally dropping something which is then blown away by the wind won’t be punished, but purposefully dropping something will.
When will knowing about §, and other legal jargon be of any use?
This might never be of any use to you. However, you never know when knowing the law could be useful.
If you run your own business, it may be helpful to have an understanding of basic trading laws. This can help you if you ever get falsely accused of acting in a way that does not respect the customer’s rights.
And if you produce content such as writing or media, knowing about copyright law can help you avoid trouble. Copyright law is becoming far more complicated than it used to be. So it can be useful to know your way around it.
If you get falsely accused of stealing someone’s work, knowing about copyright law can be hugely beneficial.
What does §§ mean?
In some situations, you might see the section symbol doubled. If you read “§§”, this is referring to more than one section.
So if you see “§§ 1,2,3” you need to look at sections one, two and three.
“§§ 1,2,4-7″, you need to look at sections one and two, but also sections four through seven.
What does ¶ mean?
Another symbol you might find in documents related to law is the pilcrow. This looks a little bit like a P written by someone who has never seen a P but has had it described to them.
¶ is used to represent paragraphs. This will help you even more than just knowing the section. When there is specific information that you need to know, knowing what paragraph to read can prevent you from having to read through an entire section to get the information you need.
If you see “§ 104 ¶ 7”, you will need to read section 104 and go to the 7th paragraph.
Why do we use § and other legal code?
Legal code is used because law documents are often very long, and we’ve discussed why earlier in this article.
Using legal code can help us to find the relevant information quicker. Rather than having to read through everything, we can simply take a look at what section and paragraph we need, and only read what we need to.
It’s similar to how instead of saying ” the British pound sterling, the official currency of the United Kingdom, the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia, the South Sandwich Islands, and British Antarctic Territory and the U.K. crown dependencies the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands”, we just say “pound”.
Other examples of legal code beyond §
Of course, § and ¶ aren’t the only pieces of legal code that you may need to know about.
When dealing with copyright issues, many symbols are used.
© is to show that a piece of content is copyrighted, and cannot be stolen.
™ is to show that a name has been trademarked. Nobody can give their company the same name.
In court cases, you might also see the plaintiff being referred to as Π, and the defendant being referred to as Δ.
§ used in a sentence
To help you better understand what § means and how it can be useful, let’s take a look at an example sentence.
” Δ has stated that he has no legal obligation to disclose that information to his customers. However, according to the housing and duck hunting act 1998, §203, ¶ 48, it’s clear that this information must be disclosed if it meets the terms stated in §7, ¶¶ 1-4.”
Let’s translate that into regular talk.
“The person being taken to court claims that he does not have to tell anyone that information. However, according to section 203, paragraph 48, of the ‘housing and duck hunting act 1998’, he does.
This is because of what it says in section 7, paragraphs 1-4 of the same law.
Why does § look like that?
Now we know we the § exists, we need to ask ourselves why out of all the symbols they could have chosen, they decided to go for §.
§ is just 2 Ss, one of them overlapping the other. It comes from the Latin “Signum Sectionis”, which translated into English means “Password Section”. A lot of legal jargon comes from Latin.
§ just means section. It’s a piece of legal code that stops you from having to read an entire law to find the information relevant to your particular case.
Hopefully, you will never be taken to court, and therefore won’t ever have to know about legal jargon. However, sometimes, things that we don’t expect happen.
And when you’re contacting your lawyer, it can be helpful to have a good understanding of the symbols he (or she) may be using.
Laws are often several pages long. So they’re broken down into sections, which are broken down into paragraphs. With this information in mind, I hope you now have a better understanding of how legal jargon works.