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 ?
In terms of the letter of the law, an eagle-eyed official probably notices the encroachment of two Man City players.
The Ugly deftly employs the absurd to challenge exclusive, dogmatic clinging to logic and the letter of the law.
Topics include the Other before the law, doing gender justice, and textuality and law, with entries on the spirit of literature, the Other as the (purloined) letter of the law, outlaws in William Harrison's Description of England, justice and poetry in faerie land, Judith S.
Tri-C President Jerry Sue Thornton told the newspaper the dispute is over "meeting the letter of the law on their rules and regs.
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.
There could be legal problems for small businesses who do not realise they could be contravening the letter of the law in any of three ways: by the use of specific words, by the use of specific images, and by promoting activities and events on materials that already include brand logos of non-official sponsors.
REFEREES have to stick to the letter of the law, otherwise they get marked down by the dreaded assessors, but I do wish they were allowed a little latitude at times.
According to the Facebook post: "Let me state emphatically, everything has been followed to the letter of the law by myself and the employees of The Farrah Fawcett Foundation.
Perhaps they created those holes on purpose to be able bypass the letter of the law do things their own way.
The two boys sent off are not malicious guys but by the letter of the law the probably had to go.
Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales, said today: "You cannot follow the letter of the law when it comes to immigration because we are dealing with individual human beings not commodities.
Justice Secretary Mr Straw said: "Whether these arrangements are within the letter of the law they are plainly not transparent.
In contrast to the police department's interpretation of Georgia law, which emphasized the spirit and intention of the law, Gwinnet County District Attorney Danny Porter seems to be interpreting the law according to a narrowly defined letter of the law.
Who's got the judge and did she bring trouble on herself by sticking to the letter of the law in refusing to reveal the alleged killer's string of past convictions?
We strongly support robust funding for these programs and are hopeful that the Department of Energy observes the spirit and letter of the law by requesting full funding for these programs as the department submits its budget for the 2007 fiscal year.