18/08/16 The Use of the Phrase “Books and Records” in Legal English
In the standard phrase books and records, the word books is redundant.
Books could mean corporate books, which Black’s Law Dictionary defines as “written records of a corporation’s activities and business transactions.” Or it could mean books of account, also known as shop books, which Black’s defines as “records of original entry maintained in the usual course of business by a shopkeeper, trader, or other businessperson.”
Black’s doesn’t offer a definition of records – it’s too general a word. But for our purposes, all that matters is that the Black’s definitions in the previous paragraphs lead with the word records – books are an example of records. That’s why in the phrase books and records, the word books is redundant.
If you want to capture the narrower, accounting-related meaning of books, you could use accounting records or financial records. Using a narrower term might spare a contract party an unpleasant surprise when the other party asks to audit many types of records.