I'm in the process of translating an Ecuadorian legal document to English, and the document begins with the verbiage:

Comparecen a fs. 9 de autos los cónyuges [...]

What does the "fs. 9 de autos" mean? Is that perhaps a court docket number or family law regulation code?


1 Answer 1


In Spanish legal language, "fs." means "fojas" (folio). It is not the same as "page", because it includes both sides, front and reverse.

Black's Law Dictionary gives this explanation and definition:

FOLIO. A leaf. In the ancient lawbooks it was the custom to number the leaves, instead of the pages; hence a folio would include both sides of the leaf, or two pages. The references to these books are made by the number of the folio, the letters "a" and "b" being added to show which of the two pages is intended; thus "Bracton, fol. 100a." (In Spanish, we'd say "a fs. 100" and "a fs. 100 vta." ("vta." standing for "vuelta": reverse)

The preposition used with it is "a": "a fojas XXX de ..."

"autos" is generally translated as "the proceedings", in reference to all the documents that are included and all the steps that are taken in the case at issue. In Black's Law Dictionary, "proceeding" in the singular is defined as the prosecution of a case, but inside the definition and within a footnote we can find some reference to its use in the plural:

[...] Sometimes, merely the record history of a case. [...] The proceedings of a suit embrace all matters that occur in its process judicially.

The phrase in question should thus be translated as: "on folio 9 of the proceedings the spouses enter an appearance..."

  • 1
    Legalese in any language is a minefield of anachronisms, technical terms and barroque syntactic gymnastics, since it's domain is basically stretching language and meaning to the point that no one can be sure what a clause Ina contract means, but the lawyer who wrote it. Spanish is particularly rich in it's legalese, since ww have at our disposal a tremendously flexible sintaxis ando a vast vocabulary of synonys
    – hlecuanda
    Apr 10, 2017 at 8:38
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    @hlecuanda I remember reading there was once an attempt to simplify legal terminology, not too many years ago. It failed. The point is that legal documents are based on statutes and codes, and these are of course written in sophisticated legal language. Some changes could be introduced in syntax but, as you say, lawyers will feel their writings lose their peculiar effect - and they, their power. Some phrases have become set to such an extent that changing them would imply creating altogether different phrases where there already exist others understandable by everyone in the world of law.
    – Gustavson
    Apr 10, 2017 at 10:18

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