letter of the law


Also found in: Legal.

the letter of the law

The law exactly as it is written, as opposed to a more liberal interpretation. I know he's the mayor's cousin, but we need to stick to the letter of the law so as to not get accused of giving him preferential treatment.
See also: law, letter, of

letter of the law

The precise wording rather than the spirit or intent. For example, Since it was the first time he'd broken the rules, the school decided to ignore the letter of the law and just give him a warning . [Late 1500s]
See also: law, letter, of

the letter of the law

COMMON The letter of the law is the law's exact meaning rather than the general and more important principles on which it is based. The Home Office stuck to the letter of the law over the definition of dependants. Michael Brower says such transactions violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the law. Note: You usually use this expression to show disapproval.
See also: law, letter, of

the letter of the law

the precise literal interpretation of a rule or instruction (as opposed to its broad intention).
See also: law, letter, of

the ˌletter of the ˈlaw

(often disapproving) the exact words of a law or rule rather than its general meaning: They insist on sticking to the letter of the law.
See also: law, letter, of
References in periodicals archive ?
"What I will say in terms of the letter of the law, an eagle-eyed official probably notices the encroachment of two Man City players but you don't often get that these days."
"You don't often get those these days, but if we are talking about the letter of the law"
If we want an independent and meritocratic public service all links between public employees and the parties must be severed by law and the letter of the law would have to be enforced not just with strictness, but ruthlessly.
The Ugly deftly employs the absurd to challenge exclusive, dogmatic clinging to logic and the letter of the law.
The letter of the law protects every American citizen from being deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process, including a fair hearing before an impartial judge or jury; yet the court systems and even (especially!) the President of the United States disregarded the law in letter and spirit.
Indeed, they are usually concerned to keep to the letter of the law, due to the nature of the disability.
In a blog post, Mr Sonderby wrote: "We scrutinise every government request we receive for legal sufficiency under our terms and the strict letter of the law, and push back hard when we find defi-ciencies or are served with overly broad requests."
If those in Congress want the respect and support of their constituents, they must also give the same and allow us to defend ourselves in times of grave danger according to the letter of the law (and the Constitution).
"If you go by the letter of the law it is a sending-off, but if you do letter of the law every single game then you will get six or seven sendings-off a game," Monk said.
Jesus himself directed one of His strongest condemnations to lawyers who failed to look beyond the letter of the law. He reminded the lawyers of his time of God's high expectations of them, and the diminishing likelihood that such expectations would be fulfilled because the experts have replaced the essence of the law (which is love) by their almost mechanical and literal observance of the letter of the law.
Washington, March 9 ( ANI ): A few days after the Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts issued a letter-of-the-law ruling which allowed a man accused of taking "upskirt" photos to avoid prosecution, the legislature changed the letter of the law.
The letter of the law; literature, justice and the other.
Tri-C President Jerry Sue Thornton told the newspaper the dispute is over "meeting the letter of the law on their rules and regs." More than 93 percent of the program's students passed the 2012 state nursing board exam, above the state average.
But the police are entitled to uphold the letter of the law if they so wish, so be warned drivers and keep to the limits at all times.
Nevertheless, the council in justifying its action in imposing a penalty continues to hide behind the letter of the law.