Last Updated on May 11, 2022 by Fair Punishment Team
In most legal documents, the term “et al” appears at least more than once. The reasons for this odd term may seem unclear for those who aren’t aware of it.
In fact, the majority of people who know of this term are only aware of it thanks to referencing in assignments during their time at university or college.
For those who aren’t aware of what “et al” means, it can make a legal document look even more complicated.
Legal documents such as real estate property or contracts are confusing at the best of times without adding in complicated Latin phrases.
If you’re in the midst of sorting through a legal document and you’re wondering “what does et al mean?”, you’ve come to the right place.
Here is a complete definition of et al, and why it is used in legal documents.
What Does Et Al Mean?
To put it simply, et al is the shortened version of saying “and others”. The term et al is typically used to reference a list of people involved in the sides of a legal document.
Et al is an abbreviated version of the Latin term “et alia”, which directly translates to “and others”.
As legal documents and academia will often refer to multiple people at a time, to shorten the word count and fit within the page(s) of the documents, the term et al is used to reference a group of people.
An example of the use of et al would be in a real estate legal document. Property deeds involve a lot of people on both sides (sellers and buyers), all of whom must be referenced within the document for clarity.
Everyone involved in the legal document must be referenced at first by their first and last names at least once at the beginning of the document.
After this, any other references to a group of people can allow for the term et al.
For example, a legal document or piece of academic work could be using the names “Smith”, “Jones”, and “Taylor” within the same group of people.
Instead of using their full names whenever necessary, the document can simply read “Smith, et al.” to reference all people involved in that group.
What Does Et Al Mean On A Deed?
A deed is typically a legal document regarding the ownership of property. Deeds must be signed by all parties involved in the transaction, which includes the buyers and sellers, for the ownership to be legally binding.
Multiple people can be involved in the transaction of a property. These people must all be referenced by their full names (forename and surname) at least once at the beginning of the deed to clarify who is involved in the transaction.
Once all names have been clarified, they do not all need to be repeated throughout the legal document, which can be multiple times.
The reason why the names of all parties don’t need to be repeated is because of the handy Latin abbreviation “et al”.
Et al translates to “and others”, which is an official way of referencing a group of people rather than wasting time on reciting everyone’s name over and over again.
So, if you see your name once on a property deed and it doesn’t come up again, this doesn’t mean that your name has been left out of certain sections.
Instead, your name is probably referred to by the term et al after one surname (for example, “Jones, et al.”).
Every name that was once mentioned in the property deed but doesn’t appear again will come under et al, which ultimately refers to everyone involved in the ownership investment.
To clear any confusion, the reason why only one name is referenced before et al is used is simply to summarize a group of people.
For example, “Jones, et al.” refers to the new property owner (being Mr or Mrs Jones) and the other new property owners, such as the partner and any kids.
The same applies to the people selling the property, which would be referenced as “Smith, et al.”.
The reason the groups in the legal document aren’t referred to as “Jones v. Smith” is because this is not a criminal case.
Instead, when the groups are referred to as “Jones, et al.” and “Smith, et al.”, lawyers don’t see this as two competing sides.
This is because, again, a legal document like property deeds aren’t a criminal case – they just need an easy and convenient way to differentiate the two “sides”.
Et Al, Et Ux, And Et Vir
Here’s where it gets a little more complicated. So, we have established that “et al” refers to a group of more than one person, as the Latin abbreviation translates to “and others”.
However, if the legal document only refers to two people on one side, such as a married couple, then another term is used.
“Et ux” is the Latin abbreviation of “et uxor”, which means “and wife”. On the flip side, “et vir” translates to “and husband”.
The reason why a legal document will use et ux or et vir instead of et al is because there are only two people involved in one side of the legal process, whereas et al is a plural term that references multiple people.
If you’re wondering why legal documents use et ux or et vir instead of both names in a married couple, this is mostly because the two people involved will share the same surname, which can make the document somewhat complicated (as people are mostly referred to by their surname in a legal document).
Instead, using et ux or et vir is a faster and more official way of referencing a wife or husband.
What Does Et Al Mean On A Contract?
Et al means the same thing on any official document – from legal documents to academic papers to contracts.
This means that if you are going through the process of curating or signing a contract for whatever reason, you’re likely to see the term et al pop up when more than one person is involved in the contract.
When multiple people in the same group are referred to in a contract, they are often referred to as et al.
This is because the term has been officially used for so long that lawyers will immediately recognize the term to mean “and others” within a certain group.
It’s most common for the term et al to be used when there are more than six people referred to in a contract if they all fall under the same group, but in some cases, et al can refer to as few as three people.