Unconventional Russian-English Dictionary of Legal Terms

Lawyers use thousands of specialist words. The task of their translation is not exclusively lexical, in many ways it is cultural: a Russian limited liability company is not the same as an American LLC, arbitration is not ’arbitrazh’ and trial, arguably, does not translate into Russian at all. Trance/Literator is an experiment in creating an unconventional English-Russian dictionary of legal terms.


Forfeit — depending on context «конфискация» or «лишение» — to lose property, privilege or right involuntary as a penalty for violation of law. For instance, section 104.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation provides a forfeiture regime for property arising from the commission of designated offences subsequent to conviction.


Foreseeability — «способность предвидеть» — is the ability to reasonably anticipate the results that can ensue from an act or omission. In tort law foreseeability limits liability to consequences that can reasonably be foreseen (the proximate cause). Otherwise, liability could be unlimited in scope, as causes never truly cease having effects far removed in time and space.

Yet, in Russian delict law foreseeability, arguably, does not play a noticeable role. Although Russian lawyers are familiar with the cause-in-fact and the proximate cause theories of civil liability for harm, the concept of foreseeability does not seem to occupy their minds very much. The murky subject of what foreseeability is, where it begins and where it ends, has not even been touched by Russian scholars and legal practitioners.

As the Russian law stands, the plaintiff must prove the causal link between the defendant’s acts or omissions and the harm. The defendant, on the other hand, can avoid liability if he/she proves that he/she acted lawfully or that the harm was caused not by his/her fault (article 1064 of the Civil Code). The law is mute on the matter of restricting liability depending on how far remote the cause is and, in theory, the butterfly effect is possible. In practice judges consider only the nearest causes. If, however, the harm has been caused by several persons, the court would either find them jointly liable (and determine the share of liability for each party) or put all the weight on one party leaving it with the right to claim compensation from the other parties (the right of subrogation).

In contract law, a party can be liable for consequential damages if those damages were foreseeable at the time of making the contract. In Russia, a breaching party must pay consequential damages even if it couldn’t anticipate them.


Foreclosure — «обращение взыскания на заложенное имущество» — is a generic term for the processes used by mortgage holders to take mortgaged property from borrowers who failed to pay the debt secured by this property.

Foreclosure can be judicial and non-judicial. As a general rule, foreclosure in Russia is judicial: in most cases the creditor must go to court for a court order (art. 349 of the Civil Code) and prove the existence of the mortgage arrangement and his right to foreclose on it.

Foreclosure can be refused if «the violation committed by the debtor of the obligation secured by the mortgage is insignificant and the amount of the claims of the mortgagee as the result of this is manifestly disproportionate to the value of the mortgaged property» (art. 348 the Civil Code).