formal adj1 : relating to or involving outward form, structure, or arrangement rather than content [a defect in the pleadings]
2 : requiring special or established solemnities or formalities esp. in order to be effective or valid under the law [received notice] [a criminal charge]
3 : being such only as a matter of form
: nominal [a party to a lawsuit]
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.