Legal word of the week-Series by Alan M L Jones [Interest]

FICL brings "Legal word of the week" Series by Alan M L Jones, Lawyer, teacher and skills coach based out of London. Creator of the ACE Legal English online courses for lawyers.
Legal word of the week-Series by Alan M L Jones [Interest]


To understand these properly, look at Longman or other good Eng / Eng dictionary

However, here are some of the ways in which a lawyer will use them

At the end, we look briefly at bored / boring, confused / confusing and excited / exciting

1 INTEREST - verb and noun

1.1 Verb

If something interests you, you want to know more about it / you think it's important or both of these things

The opportunity to do more work for X Co interests us a lot

1.2 Noun, both Countable and Uncountable

a) I have a great interest in contract law but not much interest in tax law. I read your article on "Recent developments in contract law"with great interest

b) My interests outside work include playing sport, listening to music and watching films

c) The fact that the two main shareholders have very different views on the topic covered by the resolution will add interest to the AGM

d) He has many business interests in the country but strangely he has no interest in visiting it. He leaves everything to the boss of his local company

e) A lawyer has a duty to protect / look after his client's interests

f) For the first two years of the term of the loan, the borrower ^pays interest on the principal amount outstanding but it only starts repaying principal in the third year

g) The government can prevent a foreign company taking a controlling interest in companies in certain sectors in order to protect the national interest

h) The question of how the country will leave the EU has provoked much interest throughout the land

g) (A Director at a meeting of the Board of X Co which is about to discuss whether to enter into a contract with Y Co.)

I have to declare an interest because I have a substantial interest in Y Co, to be precise the largest equity interest held by any shareholder. I will leave the room until you've finished your discussions

to have a substantial interest in Y Co - this means that the speaker owns a lot of the shares issued by Y Co

For more, see 1.3.1

As you can see, lawyers sometimes use to have an interest in to mean that somebody owns something

It can also be used to refer to an interest other than ownership

e.g. a lender who has a security interest in an asset owned by a borrower

Part of the complexity of land law / the law of real property is that different people can have different interests in the same property

1.3 Conflict of interest

1.3.1 Conflict of interest - directors

David is a director of company A which is considering doing business with company B

David is interested in company B. This could be because David or a related party owns shares in company B, is also a director of company B or both

The sentence below is an extract from the articles of company A and prevents David from taking part in the process of deciding whether company A should do business with company B

(1) If a proposed decision of the directors is concerned with an actual or proposed transaction or arrangement with a company in which a director is interested, that director is not to be counted as participating in the decision-making process for quorum or voting purposes

1.3.2 Conflict of interest - lawyers

As I'm sure you know, in most jurisdictions the rules governing the professional conduct of lawyers say that lawyers have to avoid conflicts of interestsuch as acting for both the seller and buyer in a transaction

A "commercial" conflict of interest describes the situation when a law firm acts for competitors. For example, Coca Cola will never instruct a law firm which acts for Pepsi

Having said that, some law firms specialise in types of work which means that they inevitably act for competitors e.g. law firms which specialise in banking law act for banks which compete with each other. In fact, the experience of acting for different banks enables them to develop sector expertise


2.1 interested - how you feel

a) I'm interested in + noun

I'm interested in the law of tort. I did my dissertation in it and my practice as a litigator includes lots of negligence claims

Going back to 1.2 g), you could say the Director is interested in the potential contract with B Co because of his interest in B Co

b) I'm interested in + ing form of verb

I'm interested in having a look at / buying a new coat

c) I would be interested + infinitive

I would be interested to know / hear / see / find out what happens but I have to leave now

2.2 interesting - what makes you feel interested

That's a very interesting point

I find his approach very interesting

At university I thought that company law was very interesting but after working as a corporate lawyer for two years I've changed my mind


The position is the same as it is with interested / interesting.

- ed : how you feel
- ing : what makes you feel like that

I never get bored when I'm watching an interesting and exciting film

I'm interested in corporate law but I find litigation boring

We're interested in the exciting opportunities for us in X land

We're excited by the interesting opportunities for us in X land

If you don't use Plain English when you write, clients will be confused

It's confusing that "damage" and "damages" are so similar but mean such different things

About Alan M L Jones

Qualified as a solicitor more than 35 years ago and has practised for many years mostly in London but also further afield in Amsterdam, Luxembourg and Tokyo. Alan has been both a lawyer and a communication / language teacher for years and used his experience to create the ACE Legal English online courses for non-native speaker lawyers. The courses are very engaging and relevant and are the first of their kind.

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