Glossary

What do legal words actual mean? You can find out on our Legal Glossary.

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  • a

  • Ab initio
    From the start of something. (This phrase is latin.)
  • Abandonment
    Giving up a legal right.
  • Abatement
    Cancelling a writ or action; stopping a nuisance; reducing the payments to creditors in proportion, if there is not enough money to pay them in full; or reducing the bequests in a will, in proportion, when there is not enough money to pay them in full.
  • Abduction
    Taking someone away by force.
  • Abovementioned
    Describing something which has been referred to before in the document.
  • Abscond
    When a person fails to present themselves before the court when required, such as when they have been released on bail and not returned to court.
  • Absolute
    Complete and unconditional.
  • Absolute discharge
    Someone who has been convicted of an offence being released without any penalty. (They may still have to pay compensation though.)
  • Absolute owner
    This is the sole owner of a piece of property, such as a building, vehicle or piece of equipment.
  • Absolute privilege
    A defence which can be used in a case of defamation if the statement from which the defamation arose was: made in parliament; in fair and accurate news reporting of court proceedings; or made during court proceedings.
  • Abstract of title
    A document, drawn up by the seller, summarising the title deeds to a property (such as a house).
  • Abuse of process
    When criminal proceedings are brought against a person without there being any good reason and with malice.
  • Abuttals
    The parts of the boundaries of a piece of land which touch pieces of land alongside.
  • Acceptance
    When an offer is accepted unconditionally and a legally binding agreement is created.
  • Acceptance of service
    When a solicitor accepts a writ on behalf of a client.
  • Acceptor
    The organisation (such as a bank) which will pay the cheque or bill of exchange it has accepted.
  • Accessory
    Someone who encourages or helps another person to commit a crime.
  • Accomplice
    Someone who helps another person to commit a crime.
  • Accordingly
    A word used in legal documents which means therefore or so.
  • Accounting date
    Organisations prepare their annual accounts covering a period of 12 months. The last day of the period is called the accounting date.
  • Accounts
    The record of an organisation's income, spending and financial situation.
  • Accrual rate
    This is the rate by which a pension from an earnings-related occupational pension scheme builds up from one year to another. The rate is shown as a fraction or a percentage of the member's final yearly salary.
  • Accrue
    If something is accruing, it is building up day by day. If an organisation owes money for goods and services but has not received a bill up to the date it prepares its accounts, it will estimate what it owes. It will then include the debt in its accounts. This estimated liability is called an accrual.
  • Accrued income security
    This is a security (investment) which pays interest at regular intervals. When it is sold, interest may have built up and this interest will be paid to the new owner. Interest built up like this is called accrued interest.
  • Accumulation
    Reinvesting income generated by a fund back into the fund.
  • Accumulation date
    This is the date when income will be credited to a unit trust which reinvests its income (an accumulation unit), instead of paying the income out to the investors.
  • Accumulation unit
    The type of unit trust which reinvests the income it earns, instead of paying it out immediately to the investors, is called an accumulation unit.
  • Accused
    The person charged with a criminal offence.
  • Acknowledgement
    Admitting that someone has a claim or admitting that a debt exists.
  • Acknowledgement of Service
    When a defendant agrees that a writ or originating summons ('claim form' since april 1999) has been received. The defendant fills in, signs and sends back the acknowledgement of service to confirm in writing that the documents were received.
  • Acquit
    When a court lets a person go without any penalty. If a court decides that a person is not guilty of a crime, or the case has not been proved, it will acquit the person.
  • Acquittal
    The court's decision that a person is innocent of the crime they were charged with.
  • Act of bankruptcy
    An act which, if carried out by a person with debts, could have led to bankruptcy proceedings against that person.
  • Act of God
    An extreme naturally occurring event (such as an earthquake, avalanche or flood) that could not have been anticipated.
  • Action
    Using the law to make a claim.
  • Active trust
    A trust where the trustees have other responsibilities rather than to just let the beneficiaries have the trust's assets when they ask for them.
  • Actual bodily harm
    Hurting another person but less severely than would amount to grievous bodily harm.
  • Actual loss
    An insurance term which means that the insured item no longer exists.
  • Actuary
    An expert on pension scheme assets and liabilities, life expectancy and probabilities (the likelihood of things happening) for insurance purposes. An actuary works out whether enough money is being paid into a pension scheme to pay the pensions when they are due.
  • Actus reus
    An act which is illegal, such as theft. (This term is latin.)
  • Ad hoc
    For a particular purpose. For example, a committee set up to deal with a particular situation is an ad hoc committee. (This term is latin.)
  • Ad idem
    In agreement. (This term is latin.)
  • Ad infinitum
    Endlessly or forever. (This term is latin.)
  • Ad valorem
    If a duty is ad valorem the duty varies with the price of the asset which is being transferred.
  • Additional voluntary contribution
    People in occupational pension schemes can pay in extra money to increase their pension benefits. The extra money they pay in is an additional voluntary contribution.
  • Additional voluntary contribution (AVC)
    Extra money people in occupational pension schemes can pay in to increase their pension benefits.
  • Ademption
    When a gift in a will cannot be made because the item no longer exists.
  • Adjourned sine die
    When a court case has no date fixed for it to continue.
  • Adjournment
    Postponing a court hearing.
  • Adjudge/adjudicate
    To give an official judgement about something. For example, if someone cannot pay their debts a court may adjudge them bankrupt.
  • Adjudication order
    The former name for a court order which made someone bankrupt. It has now been replaced with the term bankruptcy order.
  • Administration order
    An order made by a county court when a person or a company cannot pay their debts. Normally the court orders that the debts are repaid by instalments and as long as the debtor keeps to the order the creditors cannot do anything else to recover their money.
  • Administrator
    Someone who has been appointed: to manage the affairs of a bankrupt business; or to manage the estate of someone who has died without leaving a will.
  • Admissibility of Evidence
    Which evidence can be presented in court. Evidence must be relevant to the case but even some relevant evidence cannot be presented, such as hearsay or evidence of little value. The judge decides whether or not evidence can be used in the case.
  • Admission
    One side in a case agreeing that something the other side has alleged is true.
  • Admonition
    Reprimanding of a defendant by a judge even though the case against the defendant has been discharged (dropped).
  • Adoption
    The system which people use to become parents, even though they are not the child's natural parents.
  • Adoptive child
    A child who has been legally adopted.
  • Adoptive parent
    A person who has legally adopted a child.
  • Advance corporation tax
    Until 1999 this tax was paid by companies on the dividends they paid. The advance corporation tax paid could usually be offset against the corporation tax due on the company's profits.
  • Adverse possession
    Intentionally occupying land to prevent the rightful owner or tenant using it.
  • Adverse witness
    A witness who gives evidence which damages the case of the side which asked the witness to testify for them.
  • Advocate
    is: the lawyer who speaks in court for a client; or a scottish lawyer who is the equivalent of a barrister in england and wales.
  • AER
    This stands for annual equivalent rate. It is quoted by financial institutions, such as banks, to show how much the interest rate would be if the interest was worked out just once a year. It is intended to make it easier for people to judge how much interest they pay (or receive) when it is being worked out more than once a year. It is also intended to make it easier to compare different financial products.
  • Affidavit
    An affidavit is a written statement which is sworn to be true by the person signing it. It is sworn before someone authorised by the court.
  • Affirm
    To: solemnly promise to tell the truth in court; solemnly promise to tell the truth in an affidavit; confirm a decision made by a lower court; or allow a contract to continue even though it could have been cancelled because it was fundamentally breached.
  • Affirmation
    Solemnly promising to tell the truth when giving evidence. It is an alternative to swearing an oath when the person giving evidence does not wish to.
  • Affray
    Fighting unlawfully. It is a criminal offence.
  • Aforementioned
    Describing something referred to previously in the document.
  • Aforesaid
    Describing something which has been said or referred to before in the document.
  • Age of consent
    The age when a person can consent to have sexual intercourse. In the uk it is 16.
  • Agency
    The relationship between a principal and an agent.
  • Agent
    Someone appointed to act for a principal.
  • Aggravated assault
    A more serious type of assault such as one leading to actual bodily harm.
  • Aggravated burglary
    Entering premises armed with a weapon, intending to steal goods.
  • Aggravated damages
    Extra damages awarded because the defendant has caused the victim anguish, loss of self-respect or shame.
  • Aggravated vehicle taking
    Stealing a vehicle, driving it dangerously and as a result injuring someone or damaging property.
  • Agricultural holding
    A type of tenancy agreement for someone doing agricultural work. The tenant has special rights including, when the tenancy finishes, the right to compensation for improvements to the land. If the land has deteriorated the tenant must compensate the landlord.
  • Aiding and abetting
    Helping someone to commit a crime.
  • Airspace
    The space in the atmosphere directly above a piece of land. If you own a piece of land you also own the airspace above the land.
  • Alias
    A false name.
  • Alibi
    A claim that a person was elsewhere when a crime was committed. If someone is accused of a crime their alibi is: evidence that the person was somewhere else when the crime was committed; or an attempt to prove that the person was somewhere else when the crime was committed.
  • Alien
    Someone from a foreign country.
  • Alienation
    Transferring the ownership of property from one person to another.
  • All and sundry
    Everybody.
  • All that
    Words used in a conveyance to introduce the description of the property which is being conveyed.
  • Allegation
    An unproved statement declaring that something has happened.
  • Alleviate
    To lessen or reduce.
  • Allocation rate
    The proportion of money left to be invested after charges have been taken off when money is paid into a fund (such as a pension fund). For example, if the charges were 2%, the allocation rate would be 98%.
  • Allotment
    An allotment of shares in a company gives the owner (of the allotment) an unconditional right to buy the shares at a fixed price.
  • Alternate director
    A person appointed by a director to take the director's place.
  • Alternative verdict
    A person being found guilty of a less serious crime than the one they were charged with. If a more serious charge has not been proved and the defendant has been found not guilty, the defendant may be found guilty of a less serious crime instead. For example, there may not be enough evidence to convict someone of a murder but there may still be enough for a manslaughter conviction. This is known as an alternative verdict.
  • Amalgamation
    Two or more companies combining.
  • Ambiguity
    Capability of more than one meaning. When a statement's meaning is not clear because it is capable of more than one meaning, it contains an ambiguity.
  • Ambulatory will
    A will which can be revoked or changed while the person who made it is still living.
  • Amnesty
    Not punishing a person for an offence they have committed and removing details of the offence from the court's records is giving the person an amnesty.
  • Ancient lights
    The right not to have the light you receive from a neighbour's land blocked.
  • Annual accounts
    The summary of an organisation's financial transactions during the year covered by their accounts, and a 'snapshot' of the assets and liabilities at the end of the year.
  • Annual general Meeting
    The yearly meeting of the members of an organisation which must be held to meet legal conditions. The annual accounts are presented for approval at this meeting.
  • Annual general meeting (AGM)
    This is the yearly meeting of the members of an organisation which must be held to meet legal conditions. The annual accounts are presented for approval at this meeting.
  • Annual management charge
    This is a yearly charge made by the managers of unit trusts or investment trusts. It is usually a percentage of the value of the funds being managed.
  • Annual payment
    An annual payment is an amount paid out every year, such as an annuity. It may be split up into smaller amounts and be paid out more frequently than once a year.
  • Annual return
    A return which must be sent by companies to the registrar of companies. Each year the officers of a company have to fill in an annual return with details
  • Annuitant
    The person who gets paid an annuity.
  • Annuity
    An amount paid out every year to someone. The money usually comes from an insurance policy. It can be split up into smaller amounts and be paid out more frequently, such as monthly. It is usually paid for the rest of the beneficiary's life.
  • Annul
    To cancel: an invalid marriage; or a bankruptcy order.
  • Ante
    Before. (This is a latin word.)
  • Antecedents
    Details about the past of a defendant or a person found guilty of a crime. The information about previous crimes, background and bad behaviour is given to the court before the sentence is given.
  • Antenuptial agreement
    A legal agreement between two people who are about to get married. The agreement sets out how the couple's assets will be divided between them if they later divorce.
  • Anton Piller order
    An order by the high court. It gives the applicant permission to search the defendant's premises for evidence, inspect it and take it away. It is intended to prevent evidence being destroyed or hidden which would be relevant to the case. (since april 1999, this has been known as a 'search order'.)
  • Appeal
    Asking a court to overturn a lower court's decision. If the decision of a court is disputed it may be possible to ask a higher court to consider the case again by lodging an appeal.
  • Appellant
    The person who is appealing to a court against a decision of a lower court.
  • Appellate jurisdiction
    The authority a court has to hear an appeal against a decision made by a lower court.
  • Appertaining to Applicant
    The person asking a court to do something.
  • Appointee
    The person who gets the benefit of the use of a power of appointment.
  • Appointor
    The person who uses a power of appointment.
  • Appurtenances
    Minor rights in land such as a right to do something on the land.
  • APR
    This stands for annual percentage rate. It is intended to give people a more accurate idea of how much they are being charged when they borrow money.
  • Arbitrage
    Borrowing money at a low rate of interest to lend out again at a higher rate; or buying and selling in different markets to make profits out of the price differences.
  • Arbitration
    Settling a dispute by using a referee. If a dispute goes to arbitration it is settled by an independent referee. It avoids having to use the courts to settle the dispute.
  • Arbitrator
    The independent referee who settles a dispute without the need to use the courts.
  • Arraignment
    A procedure at the start of a trial when details of the offences are read out and the defendants are asked whether they will plead guilty or not guilty.
  • Arrangement fee
    This is the fee that banks charge their customers for arranging an overdraft facility.
  • Arrest
    To seize someone, usually because they are suspected of committing a crime, and take them into custody.
  • Arrestable offence
    A crime for which a person may be arrested without a warrant being needed.
  • Arson
    Setting fire to something to cause damage to it.
  • Articles
    The clauses in a document. A company's articles set out its rules. The articles form part of the memorandum and articles of association.
  • Articles of association
    Documents which set out a company's rules.
  • Assault
    When someone threatens another person with physical harm. Words on their own do not amount to assault but threatening gestures do, even if the person threatened is not touched.
  • Assent
    A document used by personal representatives to transfer property to a beneficiary.
  • Asset
    Something owned such as a building, a vehicle or money in the bank.
  • Assets
    These are things which are owned such as buildings, vehicles, stock and money in the bank.
  • Assign
    To formally transfer something, such as when ownership of property is transferred from one person to another.
  • Assignment
    The formal transfer of the rights to something. An example would be a bank customer assigning to the bank the right to receive the benefits from a life insurance policy to give the bank security for a loan.
  • Assurance
    Insurance cover for an event which will definitely happen, such as death.
  • Assure
    To transfer the ownership of something.
  • Assured
    The person whose life is insured or who is entitled to receive the benefit from the assurance cover.
  • Assured shorthold Tenancy
    A type of tenancy agreement under which the landlord has the right to take the property back at the end of the tenancy agreement.
  • Attachment of earnings
    A court order that deductions be made from a person's earnings. The employer pays the money collected to the court and the court pays the money to the people it is owed to.
  • Attest
    To sign to witness a signature on a document.
  • Attorney
    A person appointed to act for another person (such as when someone cannot look after their own affairs). A formal document called a power of attorney is used to appoint the attorney.
  • Attorney General
    The chief legal adviser to the government. He or she must be a member of parliament (or have a seat in the house of lords) and must be a barrister.
  • Audit
    An independent examination of an organisation's records and financial statements (report and accounts) to make sure that: the financial statements show a fair reflection of the financial position at the accounting date; the income and spending is shown accurately; the financial statements meet any legal conditions; and the financial statements are drawn up clearly.
  • Auditing standards
    The organisations which regulate auditors, such as the institute of chartered accountants in england and wales, set standards which have to be followed during an audit. These are called auditing standards.
  • Auditor's report
    A report and opinion, by an independent person or firm, on an organisation's financial records.
  • Authorised Investments
    Investments in which a trustee is permitted to invest trust money, under an act of parliament.
  • Authorised share Capital
    The highest amount of share capital that a company can issue. The amount is set out in the company's memorandum of association.
  • Autopsy
    An examination of a dead body to find the cause of death.
  • b

  • BACS payment
    Bacs stands for bankers automated clearing system which is a system for sending money electronically between banks. A bacs payment happens when money is sent electronically from one bank account to another.
  • Bail
    To pay, or promise to pay, an amount of money so that an accused person is not put in prison before the trial. If the accused person does not appear at the trial, the court can keep the money put up for bail.
  • Bail hostel
    Accommodation found for people charged with offences and released on bail, but who do not have a permanent address so that the police know where to find them.
  • Bailee
    A person or organisation looking after valuable items to keep them safe for the owner.
  • Bailiff
    An officer of the court who carries out the court's orders, such as taking a debtor's goods and selling them to get money to pay the debtor's debts. A bailiff can also personally deliver (serve) documents on people.
  • Bailiwick
    The area over which a bailiff has jurisdiction.
  • Bailment
    Transferring possession of goods from the owner to someone else. The ownership of the goods is not transferred. A practical example of bailment is that someone who hires a television has possession of it, but the rental company still owns the television.
  • Bailor
    The owner of valuable items which are in the possession of another person or organisation for safekeeping.
  • Balance sheet
    A summary of an organisation's financial position. It lists the values, in the books of account on a particular date, of all the organisation's assets and liabilities. The assets and liabilities are grouped in categories and paint a picture of the organisation's strengths and weaknesses.
  • Balloon payment
    Some loan and finance agreements have lower repayments than normal in return for a high final payment. This is called a balloon payment.
  • Banker's draft
    A cheque drawn by a bank on itself. It is used when there must be certainty that a cheque will be paid.
  • Bankrupt
    Someone who has had a bankruptcy order.
  • Bankruptcy order
    An order that a court may issue against someone if they cannot pay their debts when they are due to be paid. This order takes ownership of the debtor's property away from the debtor and allows much of the property to be sold. The money raised is divided between the creditors following strict rules.
  • Bankruptcy search
    A document which says whether or not someone is bankrupt.
  • Bar
    The collective term for barristers. When a lawyer becomes a barrister, it is called 'being called to the bar'.
  • Bare trust
    A trust which holds property on behalf of a person until they ask for it back.
  • Bare trustee
    Someone who holds property on behalf of another person until asked to return the property.
  • Bargain and sale
    A contract to sell any property or investment in land that a person owns.
  • Barrister
    A lawyer who can speak in the higher courts, which a solicitor is not allowed to do.
  • Barter
    A way of paying for things by exchanging goods instead of using money.
  • Basic state pension
    This is the retirement pension the government pays to people who have paid enough national insurance contributions. Some people may receive a reduced basic state pension because they have not paid enough contributions.
  • Basic-rate tax
    Once you have used up all your tax allowances and all your lower-rate tax band, you pay basic-rate tax. The basic rate is 22% at the moment (2000).
  • Battery
    Using physical force on someone either intentionally or carelessly and without their agreement. It would not be battery if two boxers took part in a boxing match, even though they hurt each other during the match, because they would have agreed to fight each other.
  • Bear
    A bear is someone who expects share prices to fall in the future and sells shares now so that they can buy them back later at a lower price.
  • Bearer
    The person who has a document in their possession.
  • Bench
    The name for the judges or magistrates in a court.
  • Bench warrant
    A warrant issued by a court for the arrest of an accused person who has failed to attend court. It is also issued when someone has committed contempt of court and can't be traced.
  • Beneficial interest
    Belonging to a person even though someone else is the legal owner. If something really belongs to someone, even if that person does not legally own it, they have a beneficial interest in it. If, for instance, parents hold an investment on behalf of their child they are the legal owners, but the child is the beneficial owner of the investment.
  • Beneficial owner
    The owner of a piece of land (and the buildings on it). Beneficial owners have the right: to the income their land generates; or to use the land for their own purposes. It can also be a person who really owns something even though it is held in someone else's name.
  • Beneficiary
    Someone who benefits from a will, a trust or a life insurance policy.
  • Benefit statement
    If employees are in an occupational pension scheme, they receive regular benefit statements which explain how much pension benefit they have earned.
  • Benefits in kind
    If an employee or a director gets benefits (perks) from their work, such as a company car, the benefits are called benefits in kind. They may have to pay tax on the value of the benefit in kind.
  • Bequeath
    To leave something (such as possessions or money) to someone in your will. You cannot bequeath land or real property but you can devise them instead.
  • Bequest
    Something given in a will, other than land or real property.
  • Bid price
    If you are a member of a unit trust, this is the price you will get for each unit if you cash them in.
  • Bid/offer spread
    This is the difference between the bid price and the offer price.
  • Bigamy
    The offence committed by someone who is already married but still goes through a marriage ceremony with someone else.
  • Bill of costs
    The invoice the solicitor sends to a client giving details of any disbursements the solicitor has paid on behalf of the client, the fee the solicitor is charging and any expenses.
  • Bill of exchange
    A signed written order, instructing the person it is addressed to to pay an amount of money to someone. A cheque is a type of bill of exchange.
  • Bill of lading
    A document recording the goods a ship carries and the terms the goods are carried under.
  • Bill of sale
    A document which transfers ownership of goods from one person to another.
  • Binding effect
    the fact that an agreement must be kept to by law.
  • Binding over
    An order by a court in a criminal case. If someone has misbehaved or broken the peace, magistrates can bind them over. The magistrates can order them to pay a bond. This will be forfeited (won't be repaid) if the binding over terms are broken.
  • Binding precedent
    Following the decisions made by higher courts. Lower courts must follow the precedents set by the decisions of higher courts and this is called binding precedent.
  • Blackmail
    Demanding payment from a person in return for not revealing something shameful about them.
  • Bodily harm
    Physical injury or pain.
  • Bona fide
    Genuine, sincere or in good faith. (This term is latin.)
  • Bona vacantia
    Goods or an estate belonging to nobody. (This term is latin.)
  • Bond
    A written promise to repay a debt at an agreed time and to pay an agreed rate of interest on the debt.
  • Bonded goods
    Goods for which a bond has been paid to hm customs and excise as security for the duty owed on the goods.
  • Bonded warehouse
    A warehouse approved by hm customs and excise for storing goods imported into the uk until the duty on them has been paid or the goods have been exported to another country.
  • Bonus issue
    If a company offers free shares to its shareholders in proportion to their existing shareholdings, it is called a bonus issue (or a scrip issue). The company accounts for it in its books by transferring the face value of the shares from the reserves to issued share capital.
  • Bonus shares
    Free shares that a company offers to its shareholders, in proportion to their existing shareholdings.
  • Book debts
    Book debts are the debts owed to a business, as recorded in the business's accounting records
  • Book value
    The value of a fixed asset, such as a building or machine, as recorded in an organisation's books. It is usually the amount paid for the asset less an amount for depreciation.
  • Books of account
    These are the books which a business must keep to record its financial transactions accurately.
  • Bought note
    A document showing details of a purchase by someone for a third party. Stockbrokers produce bought notes for their clients. The bought note shows details of the investments the broker has bought for the client, including the price paid and any commission and duty charged.
  • Breach of contract
    Failing to carry out a duty under a contract.
  • Breach of duty
    Failing to carry out something which is required by law, or doing something the law forbids.
  • Breach of the peace (or breaking the peace)
    When harm is done to someone, or harm is threatened.
  • Breach of trust
    When a trustee does something which is against the trust's rules or fails to do something required by the trust's rules.
  • Break clause
    A clause in a contract which allows it to be ended.
  • Bridle way
    A path or road which is a right of way for people walking and people leading or riding horses. Cyclists can use it as well but must give way to pedestrians and horses.
  • Brief
    A document prepared by a solicitor which contains the instructions for the barrister to follow when acting for the solicitor in court.
  • Brokerage
    Brokerage is the commission earned by brokers.
  • Budget
    Each year, the chancellor of the exchequer presents to the uk parliament estimates of the government's income and spending for the following year. The budget also sets out the financial policies the government will follow.
  • Building preservation Notice
    A notice that a building is listed. If a building is in danger of being altered or demolished, but the local planning authority thinks it should be preserved, the authority can issue a notice that the building is listed.
  • Bull
    A bull is someone who buys shares now because they expect the price to rise in the future. After the price has risen they may sell the shares at a profit.
  • Burglary
    Entering a building without permission with the intention of stealing or doing damage.
  • Buying charge
    This is the charge made when you first invest in a fund such as an isa, oeic or unit trust.
  • Bye-law or bylaw
    A law made by a local authority. It only applies within the local authority's boundaries.
  • c

  • Called-up capital
    All the shares called by a company when it issues shares. When calls have been made for the whole of the share price and the shareholders have paid, the shares become paid-up share capital.
  • Called-up share capital
    When a company issues shares it asks the buyers to pay for part or all of the share price. The name for this request is a call and all the shares called are the company's called-up share capital. When calls have been made for the whole of the share price and the shareholders have paid, the shares become paid-up share capital.
  • Cancelled from inception (CFI)
    This phrase refers to a contract for an investment product (such as a personal pension) which has been cancelled within the 'cooling-off' period.
  • Canon law
    The name for the rules used for running a christian church.
  • Capacity
    Someone's ability to enter into a legal agreement. For example, a minor would not be able to buy something on credit.
  • Capital adequacy requirement
    Banks and some other financial organisations have to have a certain amount of capital to make sure that there is enough money to support their business. It is called the capital adequacy requirement.
  • Capital allowances
    Allowances that you can sometimes claim when you buy long-term assets, such as machines, to use in your business. You claim part of the cost against your profits before your tax is worked out for the year.
  • Capital charge
    If a unit trust manager takes the management charges out of the fund's capital instead of the income it has generated, it is called a capital charge.
  • Capital commitment
    If, before the end of its financial year, an organisation has agreed to spend money after the end of its accounting period on buying fixed assets, it is called a capital commitment. This is shown in the financial statements.
  • Capital expenditure
    If you spend money buying or improving fixed assets, it is called capital expenditure.
  • Capital gain
    The profit you make if you sell or dispose of a longterm asset (such as a building) for more than it cost you.
  • Capital gains tax
    A tax charged on certain capital gains.
  • Capital punishment
    Punishing someone for a crime by killing them.
  • Capital receipt
    This is money received from selling fixed assets, such as buildings or machines.
  • Capital redemption policy
    A capital redemption policy is a life insurance policy which is linked to an investment such as a unit trust.
  • Capital redemption reserve
    A company has to have this reserve in its financial records and in its accounts if any of the shares it has issued are cancelled. The reserve cannot be paid out to the members until the company is liquidated and so it prevents the company's capital being reduced.
  • Capital Transfer Tax (CTT)
    This was introduced in the 1970s to tax money and assets given away by people during their lifetime, as well as on the estates of people who died. Its name was later changed to inheritance tax.
  • Card
    This is the plastic credit card or cash card which banks give their customers to use.
  • Cardholder
    This is a bank customer who has been given a credit card or cash card.
  • Care order
    An order by a court instructing the local authority to care for a child.
  • Careless driving
    Driving a car without consideration for other people using the road.
  • Cartel
    An agreement between businesses to restrict competition and keep prices high.
  • Case law
    Law that is based on the results of previous court cases.
  • Case stated
    The written statement setting out the facts of a case. It is produced by a magistrates' court when asking the high court for an opinion on the law.
  • Cash card
    A cash card can be used to draw money from automated teller machines (cash machines).
  • Cash ISA
    You can invest money in a cash isa to earn tax-free interest.
  • Cash option
    If you are in a pension scheme and take this option, you will receive a lump sum straightaway. However, you will then get a lower pension than if you had not had the lump sum.
  • CAT standard
    The government has created a system to show which isas meet stated standards for charges, access and terms. The isas which meet these will have reached the cat standard.
  • Causation
    One thing being done causing something else to happen.
  • Cause of action
    The reason someone is entitled to sue someone else.
  • Causing death by careless and inconsiderate driving
    An offence committed by someone who is unfit to drive because of drink or drugs, but nevertheless drives a vehicle and kills another person. The punishment for careless and inconsiderate driving is less severe than for dangerous driving.
  • Caution
    A warning given by the police to a suspected criminal when the suspect is arrested; a warning given by the police when they release a suspect without prosecution that, if there are any more offences committed by the suspect, the first possible offence may be taken into account; or a document sent to the land registry by someone who may have a right over land, which demands that no dealings in the land are registered until the person with the right has been told.
  • Caveat
    A warning. (This is a latin term.)
  • Caveat emptor
    buyer beware'. It is used to warn people buying goods that they may not be able to get compensation if the goods they buy are faulty. (This is a latin term.)
  • Central Criminal Court
    The most senior court covering the centre of london.
  • Certificate of Incorporation
    A certificate stating that a company has been incorporated (that is, it has a separate existence from its members). The registrar of companies issues the certificate of incorporation once a company has been formed.
  • Certificate of origin
    A certificate stating in which country the goods being imported were made.
  • Certiorari
    An order by the high court that a case should be reviewed. If the high court considers that a case heard in a lower court is flawed it may order that it be reviewed by the high court. (This word is latin.)
  • Challenge for cause
    When the defence objects to a juror and says why it objects.
  • Challenge to a jury
    When either side in a case objects to the people who have been selected to serve on the jury before they are sworn in.
  • Challenge to the array
    When the defence objects to all the jurors.
  • Challenge without Cause
    Happens when the defence objects to a juror but does not say why.
  • Chambers
    The offices used by barristers and the judge's private office.
  • Chancellor of the Exchequer
    The chancellor of the exchequer is a government minister responsible for raising money for the government, mainly through taxes, and for controlling money spent by the government.
  • Chancery Division
    A section of the high court. It deals with cases involving trusts, land, company law, patents and so on.
  • CHAPS
    This stands for clearing house automated payments system. It is a computer system which allows payments to be made electronically. The payment goes from the paying bank to the receiving bank on the same day.
  • Charge
    Means: to formally accuse someone of committing a crime; to use property as security for a debt (such as a mortgage); or a direction given by a judge to tell the jury what they must do.
  • Charge card
    A charge card is a type of credit card. It is often issued by a store to its customers so that the customers can buy goods from the store on credit.
  • Charge certificate
    A certificate which the land registry issues to the legal mortgagee (the lender) who has lent money on the security of registered land. It is proof of the legal mortgagee's right to the security.
  • Charge sheet
    The document on which a police officer records details of the accusation against a suspect.
  • Chargeable asset
    This is an asset on which capital gains tax may have to be paid, if it is sold or disposed of.
  • Chargeable event
    An event that may create a tax liability (tax bill).
  • Chargeable gain
    A gain on which capital gains tax is payable. If a capital asset such as a building is sold or disposed of at a profit, tax on the gain has to be worked out unless the capital asset is one exempted by law.
  • Charges clause
    A clause which appears in some contracts and sets out who should pay for certain items.
  • Charges register
    Part of the certificate which is evidence of someone's title. The register shows details of any mortgages, restrictions on the use of the land or rights someone else may have over the land such as a right of way.
  • Charging clause
    Trustees can charge the trust for their services if there is a charging clause.
  • Charging order
    A court judgement which a creditor may get against the person or organisation which owes the money, giving the creditor security over the debtor's property for repayment of the debt.
  • Charity
    An organisation set up to do good for the community, such as help poor people, educate people and protect animals. Most charities are registered with the charity commission.
  • Charity Commission
    An organisation responsible for checking that charities are run properly. It also decides whether proposed charities can be placed on the register of charities.
  • Chattel
    Any property except freehold land.
  • Chattels personal
    The name for tangible goods (goods which can be touched) such as watches, clothes, furniture and so on.
  • Chattels real
    Another name for leasehold land.
  • Cheat
    A person who fails to send tax returns to the tax authorities or fails to pay the tax owing, such as income tax or value added tax.
  • Cheque
    A written order, addressed to a bank, instructing the bank to pay an amount of money to the person or organisation named on the cheque. The bank takes the money out of the relevant customer's account.
  • Cheque card
    A card issued by a bank to a customer. It guarantees
  • Chief rent
    That a cheque used with the card will be paid if the person issuing the cheque has kept to all the conditions.
  • Child abuse
    Money charged regularly on freehold land. Despite its name it is not rent. Molestation or ill-treatment suffered by a child.
  • Child assessment Order
    An order which a local authority may apply to a court for to assess a child's situation if there are concerns about the child's welfare.
  • Child Support Agency
    Part of the department of social security. It supervises the assessment and payment of maintenance for children.
  • Child Support Maintenance
    The amount of maintenance the parent not living with their child must pay.
  • Children in care
    Children looked after by a local authority. The local authority takes on the responsibility for the children as if it was a parent.
  • Chose
    An item of property (anything which can be owned).
  • Chose in action
    A right such as a patent, or a right to recover a debt. A chose in action does not physically exist. For example, you cannot touch patents or rights because they have no physical existence.
  • Chose in possession
    An object which physically exists, such as furniture.
  • Circuit
    Any of the six legal regions into which the united kingdom is divided up. Each circuit has its own system to administer the courts within the circuit.
  • Circuit judge
    A judge who presides over (is in charge of) cases in the crown court and county courts.
  • Circumstantial evidence
    Evidence which suggests a fact but does not prove the fact is true.
  • Citation
    Is: a summons to appear in court; quoting from a completed case to support an argument; or a notice sent out by someone wanting grant of probate or letters of administration, asking people to come forward if they object to it.
  • Citizen's arrest
    An arrest by someone who is not a police officer. The offence must be being committed or have already been committed when the arrest is done.
  • Civil court
    A court which does not hear criminal cases. It deals with people's rights such as collection of debts.
  • Claim
    Means: to apply for a right; to demand a remedy; or an application for something such as a right.
  • Claimant
    The person making a claim.
  • Clause
    A section in a contract.
  • Clearing bank
    One of several major banks which work together to exchange and pay for cheques which their customers have written.
  • Clerk to the Justices
    A solicitor or barrister who helps in court by advising the magistrates.
  • Close company
    A company controlled by five people or fewer, or by its directors.
  • Closing order
    An order prohibiting the use of a house because the house is not fit for humans to live in.
  • Codicil
    Extra pages to change a valid will which needs a minor alteration. The codicil must be signed and witnessed and then be attached to the will.
  • Codifying statute
    A statute used to bring together all the strands of the law on a particular subject.
  • Coercion
    A defence that a crime was committed because the person accused was forced to do it.
  • Collateral
    Extra security for a debt. If there is a main security for a debt, such as a house being security for a mortgage, any extra security supplied is called collateral.
  • Collector of taxes
    After the inspector of taxes has worked out how much tax is owed, the collector of taxes sends tax demands for the money and collects it from the taxpayer.
  • Commercial paper
    Large organisations which are regarded as soundly based financially can borrow money for the short term without giving any security. The document which confirms the debt is known as commercial paper.
  • Commissioner for Oaths
    A person appointed by the lord chancellor to administer (manage) the swearing of oaths.
  • Committal for sentence
    Happens when magistrates have found someone guilty of a crime but they think their sentencing powers are not enough. The magistrates transfer the case to the crown court where a higher sentence can be imposed.
  • Committal for trial
    When magistrates look at the evidence in a case and then send the case to be heard in the crown court.
  • Committal order
    An order used to send someone to prison for contempt of court.
  • Committal proceedings
    A hearing where magistrates work out if there is enough evidence of a serious crime to justify a trial by jury.
  • Committee of Inspection
    A committee appointed from the creditors of a company in liquidation to oversee the liquidator's work.
  • Common assault
    When someone threatens another person with physical harm, even if they are not touched. This is a less serious type of assault (compare with aggravated assault). Threatening someone with a weapon such as a knife or gun is common assault.
  • Common duty of care
    The duty of the occupier of premises or land to take reasonable care of visitors to make sure that they are kept safe.
  • Common seal
    The seal companies use to authenticate (validate) important company documents. The company's name is engraved on the seal.
  • Commorientes
    Closely related people who die at the same time, and it is unclear which of them died first. (This term is latin.)
  • Community service order
    An order to do work in the community without pay. If someone has been convicted of a crime they may be given a community service order as an alternative to being sent to prison.
  • Companies House
    The office which stores company information such as annual accounts, directors' names and addresses and the registered office address. People who are interested in a company can inspect some of the information stored.
  • Company pension scheme
    This is a pension scheme organised by the employer to provide pension benefits for the employees.
  • Company secretary
    A person appointed by the directors of a company who is responsible for making sure that the company complies with the companies acts.
  • Compensation
    Money paid to make up for damage or loss caused.
  • Compensation for loss of office
    Lump-sum compensation a company pays to an employee whose contract has been ended.
  • Compensation order
    An order by a court to a criminal to compensate the victim of the crime.
  • Completion
    Transferring property in exchange for payment. When there is a contract to sell land, there will be an initial payment to confirm the contract. Completion happens when the ownership of the land is transferred to the person buying it, in return for the seller receiving the rest of the purchase price.
  • Composition with Creditors
    An arrangement between a debtor and the creditors. The creditors agree to accept a proportion of what is owed to them in full settlement.
  • Compound interest
    Compound interest is interest on the money lent, plus interest on any interest already added to the loan.
  • Compulsory purchase
    Taking land and giving compensation for it. When land is needed for a project, such as a road, local authorities and other public bodies can take the land off the landowner. Compensation has to be paid to the landowner.
  • Compulsory winding up
    The liquidation of a company by order of the court. It usually happens because the company has not been able to pay its bills on time and a creditor has presented to the court a petition for winding up the company.
  • Concealment
    Failure by one side negotiating a contract to disclose (reveal) information which the other side would need to consider when deciding whether or not to go ahead.
  • Concealment of securities
    Hiding or destroying a document such as a will to gain benefit for yourself or cause other people loss of benefit.
  • Conclusive evidence
    Evidence which by law cannot be disputed.
  • Concurrent sentence
    When someone is sentenced for different crimes and the sentences are to be served at the same time.
  • Condition
    A fundamental part of an agreement. The agreement or contract may collapse if a condition is broken.
  • Condition precedent
    Something which must happen before a contract starts.
  • Condition subsequent
    Something which may happen in the future and, if it does, will affect a contract.
  • Conditional agreement
    An agreement which depends on a certain thing happening in the future. If the event does not happen the agreement will not start to operate.
  • Conditional discharge
    A court may decide not to punish a criminal immediately for an offence and may conditionally discharge the criminal instead. If the criminal reoffends the court may impose a punishment for the original offence as well as the later ones.
  • Conditional sale agreement
    An agreement by which the seller remains the owner of the goods until all the instalments have been paid and all other conditions have been met.
  • Confiscation order
    If someone has been convicted of a crime the court may order the person convicted to pay the court a sum of money. This is called a confiscation order.
  • Consecutive sentence
    When someone is sentenced for different crimes and the sentences have to be served one after another.
  • Consent
    To agree to something. A contract would not be valid unless all the parties consented to it.
  • Consideration
    The price you pay for something.
  • Consignee
    The person goods have been sent to.
  • Consignor
    The person who sent the goods.
  • Consistory Court
    A court for the clergy. There is one in each diocese.
  • Conspiracy
    is: an agreement by two or more people to commit a crime; or some people acting together and harming a third party.
  • Constructive
    Describing something which may not be set out in the law but will nevertheless be considered to exist.
  • Constructive dismissal
    Because the employer has broken fundamental terms of the contract of employment the employee has been forced to resign. The employee can apply for a hearing before an industrial tribunal.
  • Constructive notice
    Presuming something is known. The law sometimes presumes that a person knows something even though they do not.
  • Contempt of court
    The offence of: disobeying a court order; abusing a judge during a court case; or interfering in the administration of justice.
  • Contemptuous damages
    Tiny damages. Sometimes, even though a case has been won, the court may consider that it should not have been brought to court and will only award tiny damages.
  • Contingency fee
    The claimant's lawyer gets paid the fee only if the case is won by the claimant. The fee is often a proportion of the damages won.
  • Contingent annuity
    This is an annuity which is paid to someone when someone else dies.
  • Contingent legacy
    A gift in a will which will only be made if certain conditions are met.
  • Contingent liability
    This is money which might be owed if a particular event happens.
  • Contract
    An agreement between two or more people (or groups) to do (or not to do) something. The agreement can be enforced by law.
  • Contract for services
    A contract under which materials and services are provided by a contractor.
  • Contract in
    Members of occupational pension schemes can contract in to the state earnings related pension scheme (serps) by paying full national insurance contributions. When they retire they will be able to draw their occupational pension as well as their state earnings related pension.
  • Contract of exchange
    A contract to exchange goods without money being involved (barter).
  • Contract of service
    The contract between employer and employee.
  • Contract out
    If someone contracts out of the state earnings related pension scheme (serps), they pay less national insurance. Instead they pay into a private pension scheme which has to meet certain conditions.
  • Contributory negligence
    Your own carelessness contributing to the damage done to you or your property. When someone suffers damage or injury their claim for damages may be limited if they have contributed to the harm done through their own carelessness.
  • Conversion
    is: exchanging one sort of property for another (such as exchanging money for goods); or acting unlawfully to deprive someone of their ownership of goods.
  • Convey
    To transfer the ownership of something.
  • Conveyance
    The name of the document which transfers the ownership of land.
  • Conveyancing
    The name for carrying out all the actions needed to transfer the ownership of a piece of land.
  • Conviction
    Being found guilty of a criminal offence.
  • Copyright
    A legal right which stops things being copied without permission. If you have the copyright over something (such as a book or music), nobody can copy it or reproduce it without your permission.
  • Coroner
    A person who investigates the cause of death when a person has suffered a sudden, violent or suspicious death.
  • Corporate body
    This is a group of people acting together. The group has a separate legal identity to the individual members' identities. A company is an example of a corporate body.
  • Corporate body(or corporation)
    A group of people acting together, such as a club. The group has a separate legal identity from the individual members' identities. A company is another example of a corporate body.
  • Corporation tax
    A tax which companies pay on their profits.
  • Corpus
    The name for a body (usually dead). (This word is latin.)
  • Corpus delicti
    is: the body of a person who has been killed unlawfully; or the facts which make up an offence.(this phrase is latin.)
  • Council Tax
    This is a tax charged locally on private houses. It provides some of the money to run local councils.
  • Counsel
    A barrister or group of barristers.
  • Counterclaim
    Making a claim in court against someone who has already made a claim in court against you.
  • Counterfeit
    Something that is forged or copied with the intention of deceiving.
  • Counterpart
    An exact copy of a document.
  • County court
    A court which deals with civil cases such as disputes over unpaid debts and negligence claims. It does not deal with criminal cases.
  • County court judge
    A judge who presides over (is in charge of) cases in the county courts.
  • Coupon
    A dated piece of paper attached to a bond. The coupon has to be surrendered (given back) to get the interest or dividend on the bond.
  • Court of Appeal
    A court which hears appeals against the decisions of other courts.
  • Court of Protection
    A court which administers (manages) the assets and affairs of people who cannot look after themselves, such as people who are mentally ill.
  • Covenant
    A contract or legally binding promise.
  • Credit
    A credit is: money received; income from selling goods or services; or an entry on the right-hand side in a double-entry bookkeeping system.
  • Credit agreement
    This is a written contract between a bank or other lender and a customer. The bank allows the customer to borrow money under the terms and conditions in the agreement.
  • Credit card
    A credit card is an identity card issued by a lender, such as a bank, to a customer. The card allows the customer to buy on credit.
  • Credit limit
    This is the most a customer is allowed to borrow on their account.
  • Credit reference agency
    This is an organisation which keeps records of people's credit agreements and how well they keep to them. Banks and other organisations use these agencies to check on people before lending them money.
  • Credit scoring
    This is a way of working out the risk of not being repaid if money is lent. Points are awarded for the answers given by the potential borrower to a series of questions. A high score means that the risk of them not being able to repay is low.
  • Credit transfer
    A credit transfer involves transferring money from one bank to another.
  • Creditor
    A person you owe money to.
  • Creditors' voluntary winding up.
    If a company is insolvent (cannot pay its debts when they are due for payment) the members can pass a special resolution to have the company wound up (liquidated). This is called a creditors' voluntary winding up.
  • Criminal damage
    The criminal offence of causing damage to someone else's property either recklessly or intentionally.
  • Criminal responsibility
    When someone reaches the age when the law says they are able to commit a criminal offence they have reached the age of criminal responsibility.
  • Critical illness cover
    This is a type of insurance cover which pays out if the policyholder gets a serious illness such as heart disease or cancer.
  • Cross-examine
    To question a witness for the other side in a case.
  • Crown Court
    The court where people indicted of criminal offences are tried.
  • Culpa
    Blameworthiness or a fault. (This word is latin.)
  • Cum dividend
    With dividend. If a share is sold cum dividend, the buyer will receive the dividend that was declared just before the share was bought.
  • Cum-dividend
    If a share is sold cum-dividend, the buyer will receive the dividend declared just before they bought the share.
  • Cumulative market capitalisation
    This is the total market capitalisation of all the companies in the sector under review.
  • Cumulative preference shares
    Shares which carry forward unpaid dividends. If dividends on these shares have not been paid in previous years the arrears must be paid before a dividend can be paid on the ordinary shares.
  • Curfew
    A court ordering someone to stay at a named place at stated times of the day.
  • Current assets
    These are short-term assets which are constantly changing in value, such as stocks, debtors and bank balances.
  • Current liabilities
    These are short-term liabilities which are due to be paid in less than one year, such as bank overdrafts, money owed to suppliers and employees' paye.
  • Customs duties
    Duties which are charged on imports of goods into the uk and on some exports.
  • d

  • Damages
    The name for money awarded by a court as compensation.
  • Dangerous driving
    A standard of driving which falls far below that of a careful, competent driver and it would be obvious to such a driver that it was dangerous to drive that way. A driver found guilty of dangerous driving would be disqualified from driving by the court.
  • Data Protection Act 1984
    This act sets out the rules which an organisation has to follow when they store personal information about people.
  • De facto
    In fact or in reality. (This term is latin.)
  • De jure
    Rightfully. (This term is latin.)
  • De minimis non curat lex
    The law will not take account of trifling matters. (This phrase is latin.)
  • Debenture
    A document issued by a company which acknowledges that some or all of the company's assets are security for a debt (usually to a bank). It is also the name for certain long-term loans to companies.
  • Debit
    A debit is:a payment (such as out of a bank account); the cost of buying goods or services; or an entry on the left-hand side in a double-entry bookkeeping system.
  • Debit card
    A debit card is an identity card issued by a bank to a customer which the customer can use to buy goods. The price of the goods is charged to the customer's bank account.
  • Debt
    Money owed.
  • Debt securities
    Debts which can be bought and sold, such as debentures.
  • Debtor
    Someone who owes you money.
  • Deceit
    When one person deliberately misleads a second person with a statement which causes the second person to do something that causes them damage.
  • Decree
    An order by a court.
  • Decree absolute
    The final court order which ends a marriage.
  • Decree nisi
    A provisional court order which orders that a marriage should be dissolved.
  • Deed
    A legal document which commits the person signing it to something.
  • Deed of arrangement
    A written agreement which can be made, when a debtor is in financial trouble, between the debtor and the creditors. It is intended to benefit the creditors and avoid the bankruptcy of the debtor. The creditors get a proportion of the money owing to them.
  • Defamation
    Making a statement, either orally or in writing, which damages someone's reputation.
  • Default
    Failing to do something which had been agreed to.
  • Defence
    The name for the team of people (lawyers and so on) against proceedings brought against someone. It is also in a civil case a written statement (pleading) by the defendant setting out the facts that the defence will rely on.
  • Defendant
    A person defending a court action which has been taken against them.
  • Deferred taxation
    This is tax which is expected to be paid at some time in the future but is not due in the short term. Payment has usually been postponed because of tax relief.
  • Defined contribution pension scheme
    In this type of pension scheme the amount of the pension which will be paid out depends on how much has been invested and how well the fund has performed.
  • Dependant
    Someone who depends on someone else for financial support.
  • Deponent
    A person who swears on oath that a statement is correct.
  • Deposit account
    This is a bank account in which money is saved. It normally pays interest on the money invested.
  • Deposit rate
    This is the rate of interest customers earn on money they keep in a bank deposit account.
  • Deposition
    A statement, by a witness, made under oath.
  • Depreciation
    The drop in value of an asset due to wear and tear, age and obsolescence (going out of date), as recorded in an organisation's financial records.
  • Depreciation provision
    This is money set aside (or provided) in a set of accounts to reflect the drop in value of fixed assets caused by wear and tear, age and obsolescence (going out of date).
  • Derogation
    Damaging someone's rights or entitlements.
  • Determination
    Ending an agreement.
  • Devise
    To leave land in a will.
  • Devisee
    The person who is left freehold property or land in a will.
  • Diminished responsibility
    A defence sometimes used for someone charged with murder, that they suffered lowered powers of reasoning and judgement because of their unusual state of mind. If their defence succeeds they will be convicted of manslaughter.
  • Diocese
    The area covered by a bishop's authority.
  • Diplomatic immunity
    Immunity given to certain members of foreign embassies, such as ambassadors, for crimes they may have committed.
  • Direct debit
    This is a payment out of a bank account which is arranged by the organisation which receives the money.
  • Direction/directing
    Judges must give juries instructions on points of law. This is called directing the jury.
  • Director
    A person appointed to help manage a company's affairs.
  • Directors' report
    Every year, company directors have to prepare a report for the company's members, to explain what the company has been doing and their plans for the future.
  • Disbursement
    A payment made by a professional person, such as a solicitor or accountant, on behalf of a client. The money is claimed back by including it on the bill for professional services which is sent to the client.
  • Discharge
    Release from: a commitment such as a debt; a contract because it has finished or the parties agree to end it; or a punishment for a crime.
  • Disclaim/disclaimer
    To give up a claim or a right or refuse to take over an onerous (having more obligations than advantages) contract. A disclaimer can also be a notice to limit responsibility.
  • Discovery
    One party in a civil case revealing to the other party the documents relevant to the case under the first party's control and allowing them to be inspected.
  • Discretionary trust
    A trust in which the trustees can decide who will benefit from the trust and how much they will get.
  • Disposal
    This happens when something is sold, transferred or given away.
  • Disposal (dispose of)
    Selling, transferring or giving away something.
  • Distrain/distress
    To seize goods as security for an unpaid debt.
  • Distribution
    If a company pays money (or other assets) to its shareholders, it is making a distribution. When a company pays a dividend it is making a distribution.
  • Dividend
    If a company has profits to share out, it can pay a dividend. The shareholders get so much dividend for each share they own.
  • Dividend warrant
    When companies pay a dividend they send each shareholder a dividend warrant which gives information about the dividend such as the class of share, the amount of the dividend and the tax credit.
  • Division
    Part of the high court. Its main function is to deal with civil cases.
  • Divorce
    The legal end to a marriage.
  • Divorce petition
    An application for the legal ending of a marriage.
  • Domicile
    The country where your permanent home is, even if you are living somewhere else for now.
  • Domicile of choice
    The country in which you make your home, intending it to be permanent.
  • Domicile of origin
    The domicile a newborn child has. This is usually its father's domicile or, if the father is dead, its mother's.
  • Domiciled
    Permanently based in a country.
  • Drawee
    The organisation which will pay a bill of exchange (such as a cheque). In the case of a cheque, this is the bank that the cheque is drawn on.
  • Drawer
    The person or organisation that has written a bill of exchange, such as a person who has written a cheque.
  • Duress
    Threatening or pressurising someone to do something.
  • Duty
    A levy charged by the government, usually when things are bought, such as shares or buildings.
  • e

  • Earnings-related
    If something, such as a pension contribution, goes up in line with increases in earnings, it is described as earnings-related.
  • Easement
    A right to use someone else's land, such as a right of way.
  • Effects not cleared
    When cheques have been paid into a bank account, but the money for them has not yet been received from the banks they are drawn on, they are called uncleared effects.
  • Emoluments
    These are your earnings and they include benefits in kind (such as company cars).
  • Employer's liability
    Employers have to take out insurance cover, called employer's liability insurance, to cover claims by employees against the employer for damage caused to them while they are at work.
  • Enabling legislation
    Legislation which authorises government ministers or bodies to create detailed rules to accomplish general principles set out in the legislation. For example it may allow a minister to create rules or laws for a particular body, such as the police, to follow.
  • Endorsement
    A change to the original terms of a contract, such as an insurance policy.
  • Endowment policy
    A type of insurance policy which will pay out a lump sum on a fixed date in the future, or when you die if this happens earlier.
  • Enduring power of Attorney (in England and Wales)
    A power of attorney which takes effect in the future. If a person is capable of dealing with their own affairs at present, they can sign an enduring power of attorney. It will only come into effect when they are no longer capable of looking after their own affairs. It gives authority to the person appointed to act for the person who signed the power of attorney. (enduring power of attorney (epa) was replaced by lasting powers of attorney (lpa) on 1 october 2007. an epa made before this(...)
  • Enduring power of attorney
    If a person is capable of dealing with their own affairs at present, they can sign an enduring power of attorney. It will only come into effect when they are no longer capable of looking after their own affairs. It gives authority to the person appointed to act for the person who signed the power of attorney.
  • Engrossment
    Preparing the final version of a legal document ready for it to be executed (made valid such as with a signature).
  • Equitable mortgage
    The type of mortgage where the purchaser owns the property which is security for the mortgage.
  • Equity
    Equity is the value of something (such as a house) less money owing on it.
  • Escrow
    A deed which has been supplied but cannot become effective until a future date, or until a particular event happens.
  • Estate
    is: all a person owns at the date of their death; or the right to use land for a period of time.
  • Estimate
    An offer to do stated work for a set price.
  • Estoppel
    A rule of law that a person cannot deny something they previously said, if someone else acted on what was said and their position was changed, possibly for the worse, as a result.
  • Et seq
    and in the following pages'. It is sometimes written in books and documents. (This phrase is abbreviated from the latin 'et sequeus'.)
  • Eurocheques
    These are cheques issued by banks in europe which are used with a eurocheque card.
  • Euthanasia
    Killing someone to end their suffering.
  • Ex dividend
    Without dividend. If a share is sold ex dividend, the seller will receive the dividend declared just before it was sold.
  • Ex gratia
    Describing something done or given as a favour rather than a legal obligation. (This term is latin.)
  • Ex parte
    Done by one side only in a case. (This term is latin. Since april 1999, it is often replaced with 'without notice'.)
  • Ex post facto
    Describing a law which is retrospective (it affects past acts as well as future ones). (This term is latin.)
  • Ex works
    Available from the factory. When something is sold ex works the buyer can collect it from the place it was manufactured or from some other place agreed by the buyer and seller.
  • Ex-dividend
    If a share is sold ex-dividend the seller will receive the dividend declared just before it was sold.
  • Excess
    This is the amount by which someone has gone over their agreed overdraft facility. It is also the first amount of any claim an insurance policyholder has agreed to pay.
  • Excess of jurisdiction
    Someone such as a judge acting without authority.
  • Exchange control
    The bank of england controls the flow of currencies in and out of the uk. It buys and sells our currency in to try and keep the exchange rate with other currencies within certain limits.
  • Exchange equalisation account
    This is an account kept by the bank of england. It holds the united kingdom's foreign exchange and gold reserves.
  • Exchange of contract
    Swapping identical contracts. When land is sold, the person selling and the person buying both sign identical copies of the contract and exchange them. The contract is then binding on both of them.
  • Exchange rate
    The exchange rate is the value of one currency compared to another. For example, one pound sterling might buy 300 portuguese escudos.
  • Excise duty
    A type of tax levied on certain goods such as petrol. It is also levied on some activities such as gambling and on certain licences for activities (such as driving a car on the public roads).
  • Exclusion
    If an insurance policy does not provide cover for certain things, it will list them and call them exclusions.
  • Exclusions
    The things an insurance policy does not provide cover for. They will be listed in the insurance policy.
  • Exclusive licence
    A licence under which only the licence holder has any rights.
  • Execute
    To carry out a contract.
  • Executed
    Describing a document which is made valid (in the eyes of the law) such as by being signed or sealed.
  • Executive director
    A director who usually works full time as a director of the company.
  • Executor
    A man appointed in a will to deal with the estate, according to the wishes set out in the will. Today it is often used to refer to a woman as well.
  • Executory
    Describing something, such as a contract, which has not been started yet.
  • Executrix
    A woman appointed in a will to deal with the estate, according to the wishes set out in the will.
  • Exemplary damages
    Damages given as a punishment for the defendant.
  • Exempt
    If something is exempt from tax, no tax can be charged on it unless the law is changed. zero-rate is not the same as exempt. The tax on something zero-rated is 0% at the moment. However, the government could change it to another rate, such as 2% or 7%, without having to change the law.
  • Expert witness
    An expert in a particular field who is called to give an opinion in a court case.
  • Extradition
    The handing over of a criminal to the country the crime was committed in.
  • Extraordinary general Meeting
    A general meeting of the members of a company which is not the annual general meeting.
  • Extraordinary Resolution
    A resolution for consideration by the members of a company at a general meeting of the members.
  • f

  • Facility
    This is the agreed amount that a bank will allow a customer to borrow up to.
  • Factor
    is: someone buying or selling for a commission; or an organisation which provides finance for a business by advancing money on the value of the invoices the business sends out.
  • False imprisonment
    Wrongfully keeping someone in custody (for example in prison).
  • False pretence
    Misleading someone by deliberately making a false statement.
  • False representation
    Lying in a statement to persuade someone to enter a contract.
  • Family Division
    The part of the high court dealing with marriage breakdowns and probate.
  • Felony
    The former term used for serious crimes such as rape or murder. It is still in use in the usa.
  • Feme covert
    A woman who is married.
  • Feme sole
    A woman who is not married or no longer married.
  • Feu
    A lease which lasts for ever.
  • Feu duty
    A yearly charge on a feu (which only applies in scotland.)
  • Fiduciary
    In a position of trust. This includes people such as trustees looking after trust assets for the beneficiaries and company directors running a company for the shareholders' benefit.
  • Final dividend
    Once a company has drawn up its annual accounts the directors can work out and declare, or recommend to the shareholders, the amount of the final dividend.
  • Final judgement
    The court's final decision in a civil case.
  • Finance lease
    Under this type of lease the organisation leasing the goods is treated as if it owns the goods. It gains the profits that would come with ownership but it also suffers the losses.
  • Financial statement
    This is a statement which includes the annual accounts, directors' report and so on.
  • Financial year
    This is the year covered by a set of annual financial statements.
  • Fiscal
    This word is used to describe finances controlled by the government.
  • Fitness to plead
    Whether or not the person charged is capable of making an informed decision. If, because of mental illness, a person charged with an offence is unable to understand what is going on the person may not be fit to plead guilty or not guilty.
  • Fixed asset
    A fixed asset is one which is intended to be used for several years. Examples are buildings, machinery and vehicles.
  • Fixed charge
    A charge which provides security for money lent. The charge is over a specific property.
  • Fixed interest rate
    This is an interest rate which does not change during the life of a loan.
  • Floating charge
    A charge used to provide security for money lent to a company. The charge is over the company's liquid assets (such as stocks and debtors) but it is only triggered by an event such as liquidation.
  • Floating exchange rates
    These are exchange rates between currencies which are allowed to go up and down in line with supply and demand. The countries concerned do not attempt to maintain a particular exchange rate.
  • Forbearance
    When one party to an agreement does not pursue rights under the agreement even though the other party has not kept to its terms. An example would be someone not suing to recover an overdue debt.
  • Force majeure
    An event which cannot be controlled and which stops duties under an agreement from being carried out. (This phrase is french.)
  • Foreclosure
    Repossessing property. If a mortgagor (the borrower) has failed to keep up the repayments on a mortgage, the mortgagee (the lender) may apply to the high court for an order that the debt be repaid by a particular date. If the debt is not repaid the property will be repossessed. This procedure is called foreclosure.
  • Foreign exchange
    This is the term for foreign currencies which are bought and sold. The markets for buying and selling the foreign currencies are called foreign exchange markets.
  • Forfeiture
    The loss of possession of a property because the tenancy conditions have not been met by the tenant.
  • Fostering
    Looking after other people's children. Sometimes children are looked after by people who are not their parents (natural or adopted). It usually happens because the parents cannot look after the children properly because of changed circumstances such as illness.
  • Franked investment income
    This is a company's investment income which has tax credits relating to it.
  • Fraud
    Lying or deceiving to make a profit or gain an advantage, or to cause someone else to make a loss or suffer a disadvantage.
  • Fraudulent conveyance
    Ownership of land being transferred without consideration and with the intention of defrauding someone.
  • Fraudulent preference
    Someone who is insolvent paying one of their creditors while knowing there is not enough money to pay the others.
  • Fraudulent trading
    Running a business with the intention of defrauding its creditors or other people.
  • Free of encumbrances
    No one else having any rights over something. When property is owned by someone and nobody else has any rights over it, it is owned free of encumbrances.
  • Free-standing AVC
    This stands for free-standingadditional voluntary contribution. If someone is in an employer's scheme, which is not contracted out of serps, they can contract out themselves and pay into a free-standing additional voluntary contribution scheme (fsavc).
  • Freehold
    Describing land that only the owner has any rights over.
  • Frustration
    Stopping a contract. Sometimes a contract cannot be carried out because something has happened which makes it impossible. This is called frustration of contract.
  • Fully paid share
    A share becomes fully paid when the company issuing it has received all the money due for the share.
  • Fund management charge
    The managers of funds (such as investment trusts and unit trusts) make charges which are a percentage of the value of the investments they are managing.
  • Futures contract
    A binding contract to buy or sell something on a date in the future at a fixed price.
  • g

  • Garnishee order
    A court order to a third party who owes money to a judgement debtor to pay the money to the judgement creditor.
  • General damages
    Damages a court will give to compensate for a wrong done without needing specific proof that damage has been done to the claimant ('plaintiff' before april 1999). The court presumes that losses or damage exist such as in a libel case.
  • General meeting
    A meeting of the members of a company to make decisions about the company.
  • Gift
    A gift is a transfer of goods or property which is free of charge.
  • Gilt-edged securities
    These are first-class securities such as government stocks or local authority stocks.
  • Grant of probate
    A certificate proving that the executors of a will are entitled to deal with the estate. When a person dies the executors fill in various forms for the probate registry. The forms are then sent to the registry together with the will and the death certificate. A registrar examines all the documents and, once satisfied with everything, issues the grant of probate.
  • Grievous bodily harm
    Intentionally causing serious physical harm to someone. This is more serious than actual bodily harm.
  • Gross domestic product
    This is the value of goods and services produced by an economy over a particular time period.
  • Gross interest
    This is interest which has not had any income tax taken out of it.
  • Gross profit
    Gross profit is the difference between the selling price of goods and what they cost to buy.
  • Ground rent
    A ground rent is a rent created by a long-term lease of land.
  • Guarantee
    A promise by a person (the guarantor) to repay a debt owed by a second person if the second person fails to repay it. For example, a guarantee is sometimes required by a bank before it will lend money to a customer.
  • Guarantee company
    A company whose members only have to pay the amount they have agreed to contribute, if the company has to be wound up. They do not have to pay in extra money if there is not enough to pay all the company's debts.
  • Guaranteed minimum pension
    This is the lowest level of pension which must be paid to a pensioner, as a condition of contracting out of serps.
  • Guarantor
    A person or organisation that promises to pay a debt owed by a second person, if the second person fails to repay it.
  • Guardian
    A person appointed formally to look after the interests of a child, or of someone who is not capable of looking after their own affairs.
  • Guilty
    A court's verdict that the person charged with a crime committed it.
  • h

  • Habeas corpus
    A writ which can be applied for to order a person's release if they have been imprisoned unlawfully.
  • Harassment of debtors
    The illegal act of attempting to collect a debt by threatening, or habitually acting in a way that humiliates or distresses, a debtor.
  • Harassment of Occupiers
    The illegal act by a landlord of using, or threatening to use, violence, or interfering with the tenant's enjoyment of the property, in an attempt to repossess the property.
  • Headline rate
    This term refers to information which is easy to publish but which may be over-simplified and, as a result, possibly inaccurate.
  • Hearsay evidence
    Evidence given in court of something said to the witness by another person.
  • Hereditament
    Any property which is capable of being inherited.
  • Hire
    To pay to borrow something for a period.
  • Hire purchase
    A form of credit which allows the purchaser to have possession of the goods shown in the hire purchase agreement. Ownership passes to the purchaser when the fee and all the instalments have been paid.
  • HM Customs and Excise
    A government department responsible for administering (managing) value added tax, customs duties and excise duties.
  • HM Land Registry
    A registry with offices in towns and cities throughout the uk which keep records of registered land.
  • Holding company
    A company which controls another company, usually by owning more than half of its shares.
  • Hostile witness
    A witness who: refuses to testify in support of the people who called them; or testifies in a way which differs from their previous statement.
  • House of Lords
    The highest court in the uk.
  • Housing associations
    Organisations run to provide housing for people. They are not intended to make a profit.
  • Hypothecation
    A person giving a bank authority to sell goods which have been pledged to the bank as security for a loan.
  • i

  • Incapacity benefit
    Incapacity benefit is paid to people who are too ill to work.
  • Income and expenditure account
    This account records an organisation's income and spending and shows the surplus or shortfall.
  • Income drawdown
    Under this system, people with personal pensions can take money from their personal pension fund instead of using the fund to buy an annuity.
  • Income tax
    You pay this tax according to how much income you have under various categories.
  • Income unit
    This is a unit trust which pays out the income it earns to the investors, instead of reinvesting it.
  • Incorporated
    If a company is formed which has its own identity separate from the identities of its members, it is incorporated.
  • Incorporation
    This means forming a company. Some companies have limited liability. In other words, the members of the company are not personally liable for debts which the company runs up, as long as the company is run properly.
  • Indemnity
    If someone promises to compensate someone else for loss or damage, it is called an indemnity.
  • Independent financial adviser (IFA)
    This is a qualified person or firm that can give people independent advice on life insurance and pensions and is not tied to a particular company.
  • Indexation
    This means making adjustments to allow for the effects of inflation.
  • Indict
    Using legal means, to officially accuse someone of committing an offence.
  • Indictable offence
    An offence which can be tried by jury in the crown court.
  • Indictment
    A document setting out the details of the offence a defendant is accused of.
  • Individual Savings Account (ISA)
    This is a savings account which was introduced 6 april 1999. The income earned by the money invested will be free of tax. In each tax year you can invest in: up to three different types of mini isas; or one maxi isa.
  • Inflation
    This is the name for general price increases.
  • Inheritance tax
    This tax is charged on certain gifts, and on the value of the estate left by someone who has died.
  • Input tax
    This is the value added tax you pay when you buy goods and services.
  • Insolvent
    If debts cannot be paid when they are due for payment, the person or organisation owing the money is insolvent. Inspector of taxes this is a person who works for the inland revenue, dealing with tax returns and tax assessments. Tax inspectors check how much tax the taxpayers owe.
  • Insurance
    When policyholders pay premiums to buy insurance cover, the company receiving the premium agrees to pay for the policyholder's loss if a certain event happens.
  • Intangible assets
    Intangible assets cannot be touched. Examples are goodwill and patent rights.
  • Intangible property
    Property which does not physically exist, such as a right or a patent.
  • Intellectual property rights
    This is the general name for rights such as copyrights and patents.
  • Interest
    A legal right to use property.
  • Interest rate swaps
    If you are earning variable interest on money you have deposited at your bank, but you are worried that interest rates will drop in the future, you can change your investment to earn a fixed rate of interest. This will protect you from falling interest rates and it is called an interest-rate swap.
  • Interim dividend
    The directors of a company can review the company's performance part way through the financial year and declare a dividend. This is called an interim dividend.
  • Interlocutory Judgement
    A provisional judgement. (since april 1999, this had been replaced with the phrase 'judgment for an amount and costs to be decided by the court').
  • Interlocutory Proceedings
    The first things to be done before a civil case comes to trial. They include pleading (preparing the formal written statement) and discovery (stating the documents, under one party's control, which are relevant to the case and making them available to the other party) so that there are no surprises when the trial starts.
  • Interrogatories
    In a civil case, formal questions from one side which the other side must answer under oath.
  • Intestacy
    This happens when someone dies without leaving a will. Their estate is divided up between their relatives following the rules set by law.
  • Intestacy/intestate
    When someone dies without leaving a will. Their estate is divided up between their relatives following the rules set by law.
  • Intimidation
    Threatening or frightening someone into doing something.
  • Investment grade issuers
    These are soundly based companies of the highest quality.
  • Investment trust
    This is a company which is quoted on the stock exchange and which invests in other companies.
  • Involuntary manslaughter
    Death caused by a person who thought they might cause physical but not fatal harm and there was no lawful excuse.
  • ISA
    This is an individual savings account. The interest earned from an isa is free of tax.
  • Issue
    The legal word for: children; or the matter to be decided by a court action.
  • Issued share capital
    Share capital which has been allocated to shareholders who have subscribed for (asked for) shares.
  • j

  • Joint and several liability
    Two or more people responsible for repaying a debt. They are each responsible individually to repay all the debt as well as being responsible as a group.
  • Joint lives
    Some life insurance policies cover two people's lives and pay out on the first death.
  • Joint lives last survivor
    This sort of life insurance is on two people's lives and pays out on the second death.
  • Joint lives policy
    A life assurance policy on more than one person's life. The policy pays out on the first death.
  • Joint tenancy
    Two or more people having identical shares in land.
  • Joint will
    A single will which two or more people make to cover all their estates. Probate has to be obtained on each death.
  • Joyriding
    Taking a vehicle without permission and using or allowing it to be used without authority.
  • Judge
    A person whose job is to adjudicate in court cases. The crown and the prime minister appoint judges. Most are barristers but some are solicitors.
  • Judge advocate
    A lawyer who advises a military court which is trying an offence.
  • Judge Advocate General
    A lawyer who is in charge of military justice in the british army and the royal air force.
  • Judge Advocate General's Department
    A government department which appoints barristers to advise army and air force courts.
  • Judge Advocate of the Fleet
    A lawyer who is in charge of military justice in the british navy.
  • Judge in chambers
    Describes a hearing in front of a judge which is not held in court.
  • Judgement
    A decision by a court.
  • Judgement creditor
    A person who is owed money and who has been to court and obtained a judgement for the money owed.
  • Judgement debtor
    A person who owes the money a court judgement says is owed.
  • Judgement in default
    Getting a judgement against you because youfailed to do something. If a civil case has gone to court but the defendant does not do something required by the court (such as turn up), judgement for the claimant ('plaintiff' before april 1999) may be given.
  • Judgement summons
    A summons to appear in court to disclose (reveal) income and assets under oath because a judgement debtor has failed to pay the judgement debt.
  • Judicial discretion
    A degree of flexibility about the way courts do things.
  • Judicial immunity
    Immunity that a judge normally has from being sued for damages when acting as a judge.
  • Judicial precedent
    Lower courts have to follow the decisions of higher courts. This is called judicial precedent, binding precedent or precedent.
  • Judicial separation
    A court order that two married people should live apart.
  • Junior barrister
    A barrister who is not a queen's counsel.
  • Jurisdiction
    Is: the territory in which a court can operate; the power it has to deal with particular cases; or the power it has to issue orders.
  • Juror
    One of the people who are acting as a jury.
  • Jury
    A group of people (usually 12) who review all the evidence in a court case and then come to a verdict.
  • Jury service
    Serving on a jury. Most people between the ages of 18 and 70 can be required to serve on a jury.
  • Just and equitable winding up
    A winding up ordered because fairness cannot be achieved for all the members of a company.
  • Justice of the Peace (JP)
    A person appointed by the crown to act as a magistrate.
  • Justification
    Claiming that a defamatory statement is true. In a defamation case a defendant may admit that the claimant ('plaintiff' before april 1999)'s allegations are true but plead that the statement which defamed was true.
  • Justifying bail
    Proving to the court that the person giving the surety has the assets to pay the bail.
  • Juvenile offender
    A person aged between 10 and 17 who has committed a criminal offence.
  • k

  • Kerb crawling
    The offence committed in a street or public place by a man in a motor vehicle (or near a vehicle he has just got out of) who approaches a woman for sexual services in return for money.
  • Kidnap
    To take someone away by force against their will.
  • Knock for knock
    An agreement between insurance companies that they will pay for their own policyholders' losses regardless of who was to blame.
  • Know-how
    The expertise in an organisation which may be protected by a patent.
  • l

  • Land
    Includes: the buildings built on the land; the subsoil; the airspace above the land necessary for ordinary use of the land; and property fixed to the land.
  • LAPR
    This stands for life assurance premium relief. Before 14 march 1984 there was tax relief on life insurance premiums paid by policyholders for policies which qualified for tax relief. Policies which started before 14 march 1984 still qualified for tax relief on the premiums paid since 14 march 1984.
  • Lapse
    If a policy becomes void because conditions have not been kept to (such as failing to pay premiums), it has lapsed.
  • Lasting powers of attorney
    In england and wales. there are two types of lasting powers of attorney (lpa): health and welfare; and property and financial affairs. If a person is capable of dealing with their own affairs at present they can make either or both types of lpa. A finance lpa can be used as soon as the office for the public guardian has registered it. But, a health and welfare lpa can only be used when the person can no longer look after their own affairs. A lasting power of attorney gives another person(...)
  • Lawsuit
    A claim made in a court of law.
  • Leading question
    A question which: suggests the answer to be given; or assumes things to be true which in fact are disputed.
  • Lease
    A contract between the owner of a property and a tenant, giving the tenant sole use of the property for an agreed time.
  • Leasehold
    Property held by a tenant with a lease.
  • Legacy
    A gift left to someone in a will, but not including land.
  • Legal aid scheme
    A scheme for paying legal costs out of public funds for people who cannot afford to pay for them.
  • Legal mortgage
    When a person takes out this type of mortgage the lender owns the property which is mortgaged, until the mortgage has been repaid.
  • Legatee
    The person who receives a legacy.
  • Lessee
    The person a property has been leased to.
  • Lessor
    The person who lets a property by lease.
  • Letter of credit
    A letter one bank sends to a second bank asking them to pay money to a named person.
  • Letters of administration
    An authority the courts give to a person to deal with a dead person's estate. It is given when someone dies intestate.
  • Liabilities
    The debts that a person or organisation owes.
  • Liability
    A debt or obligation.
  • Libel
    A false statement made in writing or in some other permanent record (such as a film).
  • Licence
    An authority to do something.
  • Licensed conveyancer
    A person authorised to do conveyancing (but not including solicitors).
  • Licensed conveyancers
    These are the only people, other than solicitors, who are allowed to do conveyancing and charge a fee for it.
  • Licensee
    The holder of a licence to do something.
  • Lien
    The right to keep possession of something owned by someone who owes a debt, until the debt has been settled.
  • Life assurance (or insurance) policy
    This type of policy is a contract between the policyholder and the insurance company. The insurance company will normally pay out if the policyholder dies.
  • Life assurance policy
    A contract between the policyholder and the insurance company. The insurance company pays out if the policyholder dies.
  • Life assured
    The person whose life is assured by a life assurance policy.
  • Life imprisonment
    A sentence given to a criminal to be imprisoned for the rest of their life (though the home secretary may release them early on parole).
  • life insurance policy
    A contract between the policyholder and the insurance company. The insurance company pays out if the policyholder dies.
  • Life interest
    An interest which will pass to someone else when the present owner dies.
  • Life of another
    If you take out assurance cover on another person's life, you have taken it out on the life of another.
  • Life tenant
    Someone entitled to use property for the rest of their life.
  • Limited company
    A company which limits how much its members will have to pay if the company is wound up. The members of most limited companies will only have to pay any money unpaid on their shares. If a company limited by guarantee is wound up, the money its members have to pay is limited to the amount shown in the memorandum of association.
  • Limited liability
    If a company is set up with limited liability for its members, a limit is put on how much the members would have to pay if the company was wound up.
  • Liquidated damages
    Damages agreed beforehand by the parties to a contract in case one of them should later break the terms of the contract.
  • Liquidation
    The process of winding up a company by disposing of its assets, paying its creditors in a strict order of priority and distributing any money left among the members.
  • Liquidator
    The person appointed to wind up a company.
  • Litigant
    A person involved in a lawsuit.
  • Litigation
    Taking legal action through the courts.
  • Loan capital
    Money borrowed by an organisation.
  • Loan creditor
    A person or organisation which has lent money to an organisation.
  • Lower earnings limit
    If you earn below this limit, you do not pay national insurance contributions.
  • m

  • Magistrate
    A justice of the peace who presides over (is in charge of) minor cases heard in the magistrates' court.
  • Magistrates' court
    The lowest court. The things it deals with include minor criminal cases, most criminal cases involving 10- to 17-year-olds, issuing alcoholic drink licences and hearing child welfare cases.
  • Maintenance
    Money paid (and things paid for) to support a partner (husband or wife) and children when a marriage has failed.
  • Majority
    The age when a person gains full legal rights and responsibilities. In the uk it is when a person becomes 18 years old.
  • Male issue
    Male descendants (sons only) of men.
  • Malfeasance
    An unlawful act.
  • Malice
    Intending to do something which is against the law.
  • Malice aforethought
    Planning to kill someone or intending to do something which is likely to kill.
  • Malicious falsehood
    A written or spoken lie told to harm somebody and which does do harm.
  • Malicious prosecution
    A prosecution which is brought unreasonably.
  • Mandate
    An authority to act given by one party to another. An example is when a bank's customer writes instructions on the mandate for the bank to follow when operating the customer's account.
  • Manslaughter
    Killing someone illegally but by accident. (see also involuntary manslaughter and voluntary manslaughter
  • Market capitalisation
    If you multiply the number of ordinary shares a company has issued by their market price, you get the market capitalisation value of the company.
  • Market overt
    A lawful market in which, as long as someone buying goods is not aware that they do not belong to the seller, the buyer will get a good title to the goods.
  • Martial law
    Government of a country by the military.
  • Master of the Rolls
    The person in charge of: the civil division of the appeal court; and admitting solicitors to the roll of solicitors in practice.
  • Material facts
    Facts which are a key part of a defence or a claim.
  • Matricide
    The killing of a mother by her son or daughter.
  • Matrimonial causes
    The court proceedings: to divorce people; to separate a married couple; or to dissolve a marriage.
  • Matrimonial home
    The house that a husband and wife live in as a married couple.
  • Mature/maturity
    If an investment policy comes to the end of its life, it has reached maturity.
  • Median
    In statistics the median is the point where half the items in a series are on one side and half on the other side. For example, a series of numbers might be 1, 3, 5, 7, 11. Five is at the median point. Median is not the same as average.
  • Mediation
    Help from an independent person (a mediator) to solve differences between a husband and wife whose marriage has broken down. The mediator helps them to agree what should be done about their children, money and so on.
  • Member
    The shareholders of a company are its members.
  • Memorandum and articles of association
    The memorandum gives details of a company's name, objects (purposes) and share capital. It also sets out the limits of the shareholders' liability if the company has to be wound up. The articles set out the members' rights and the directors' powers.
  • Mens rea
    The intent to commit a crime and also the knowledge that an act is wrong. (This term is latin.)
  • Mercantile law
    The branch of the law dealing with commerce.
  • Merchant bank
    This is a specialist bank which deals in foreign exchange and advises large companies on mergers, takeovers, raising capital and so on.
  • Merchantable quality
    The assumption in the law that goods sold by a business will be fit for their purpose.
  • Mesne profits
    Income lost by a landlord because the property is occupied without the landlord's permission. An example would be a tenant failing to leave the property when the tenancy finished. It is also the profits lost by a landowner when wrongly deprived of the use of his or her land.
  • Messuage
    A house together with its land and outbuildings.
  • Middle-band earnings
    These are earnings between lower-band earnings and upper-band earnings.
  • Mini ISA
    There are three types of mini isa you can invest in, these being cash, life assurance and stocks and shares. The income earned will be free of tax.
  • Minor
    Someone who has not yet reached the age when they get full legal rights and responsibilities. In the uk this is a person under 18 years old.
  • Minority
    Being under the age of full legal rights and responsibilities.
  • Minority interest
    If more than 50% of the shares in a company are held by a holding company, the remaining shares are the minority interest.
  • Minutes
    A record of the meetings held by members and directors of companies.
  • MIRAS
    This stands for mortgage interest tax relief at source. It was income tax relief on mortgage interest paid (up to the limit allowed), and the mortgage repayments were reduced to allow for it.
  • Misadventure
    An unexpected accident which happens while lawfully doing something.
  • Miscarriage of justice
    The court system failing to give justice to someone.
  • Misconduct
    Deliberately doing something which is against the law or which is wrong.
  • Misdirection
    A judge instructing a jury wrongly.
  • Misrepresentation
    A lie told to persuade someone to enter into a contract.
  • Mistrial
    A trial that has been made invalid.
  • Mitigation
    Putting facts to a judge, after someone has been found guilty, to justify a lower sentence.
  • Molest/Molestation
    Behaviour by a person which annoys or greatly troubles their children or spouse. The behaviour can include violence, verbal threats and written threats.
  • Money laundering
    Making money from crime and then passing it through a business to make it appear legitimate.
  • Moratorium
    An agreement not to take action to recover a debt for an agreed period of time.
  • Mortgage
    Using property as security for a debt. It is also the name for the contract which is signed by the borrower and lender when money is lent using property as security for a loan.
  • Mortgagee
    The lender of the money which is secured by a mortgage.
  • Mortgagor
    The person who borrows the money to buy a property. The lending is secured with a mortgage of the property.
  • Motive
    A reason for a person doing something.
  • Muniments
    Documents which are evidence of a right to something.
  • n

  • Naked trust
    A trust which holds property for a person until they ask the trustee to return it.
  • National insurance contributions
    Most employees, employers and the self-employed pay national insurance contributions. The national insurance fund pays out benefits such as jobseeker's allowance, retirement pensions and widow's benefit.
  • Naturalisation
    Giving a citizen of one country citizenship of another.
  • Negligence
    Lack of proper care to do a duty properly.
  • Negligent
    Lacking proper care to do a duty properly.
  • Negotiable instrument
    Negotiable instrument a document which: is signed; is an instruction to pay an amount of money; can have its ownership changed by changing the name it is paid to; and can have its ownership changed simply by being delivered to its next owner.
  • Net book value
    This is what an asset cost, as recorded in the books of account, less all the depreciation taken off the asset for age and wear.
  • Net interest
    This is interest which has had income tax taken off it.
  • Net profit
    This is the profit left after all overheads have been taken off.
  • Net relevant earnings
    These are the earnings of self-employed people or earnings of people who are not in an employer's pension scheme. Net relevant earnings are used to work out the highest amount which can be invested in a pension scheme and qualify for tax relief.
  • Next of kin
    A person's closest blood relatives.
  • Nominal damages
    When token damages are awarded because little damage has been done, they are called nominal damages.
  • Non-exclusive licence
    An agreement giving someone the right to use something but which does not prevent other people being given similar agreements.
  • Non-profit
    A non-profit organisation is one which is not intended to make a profit, such as a credit union.
  • Nondisclosure
    The failure by one side to a contract to disclose (reveal) a fact to the other side that would influence their decision to go ahead with the contract.
  • Not guilty
    A court's verdict that the person charged with a crime did not commit it. When criminal court cases start the defendants are asked for their pleas. If they want to deny they committed the offence they plead not guilty. If a court's verdict is that the prosecution has not proved the defendant committed a crime, the defendant has been found not guilty.
  • Not negotiable
    Cannot be transferred. If a bill of exchange is marked not negotiable it cannot be transferred to someone else.
  • Notary
    A person (usually a solicitor) who is authorised to certify documents, take affidavits and swear oaths.
  • Note
    A note is a document acknowledging that a debt exists and promising to repay that debt.
  • Notice
    A warning of something which is about to happen.
  • Notice to quit
    A notice to end a tenancy on a stated date. It is usually sent by the landlord to the tenant although the tenant can also send one to the landlord.
  • Novation
    Replacing an existing agreement with a new one.
  • Nuisance
    Doing something that harms other people's rights.
  • o

  • Oath
    Swearing the truth of a statement.
  • Objects clause
    A clause which forms part of a company's memorandum of association it sets out the purposes the company was formed for.
  • Obligation
    A legal duty to do something.
  • Obligee
    Someone who, under a contract, receives money or has something done.
  • Obligor
    Someone who is bound by a contract to pay money or do something.
  • Obstruction
    A motoring offence involving: leaving a vehicle or other obstruction in a road; or driving in a way which inconveniences other road users.
  • Occupation
    Taking control of a piece of land which belongs to someone else.
  • Occupational pension Scheme
    A pension scheme organised by an employer for its employees.
  • Occupier
    The person who is in control of a piece of land, such as a tenant.
  • Offensive weapon
    An object that is intended to physically injure someone.
  • Offer
    A promise to do something, or not to do something. If the promise is accepted it becomes legally binding.
  • Offer price
    This is how much people have to pay for each unit when investing in unit trusts.
  • Offeree
    The person who receives the legally binding offer.
  • Offeror
    The person who makes the legally binding offer.
  • Office of the Judge Advocate of the Fleet
    A government department which appoints barristers to advise naval courts.
  • Official receiver
    The person appointed to act as a receiver in bankruptcies and company winding-up cases. The department of trade and industry appoints official receivers.
  • Official secret
    Information which the government classifies as confidential. It is a criminal offence to disclose an official secret without permission.
  • Official Solicitor
    An officer of the supreme court whose duties include acting for people who cannot act for themselves, such as children or people with mental health problems.
  • Omission
    A failure to do something.
  • Open ended investment companies (OEICs)
    An oeic is a type of unit trust but there is no difference between the bid price and the offer price. In other words the buying price and the selling price is always the same.
  • Operating lease
    Under this type of lease, ownership of the leased goods stays with the lessor (the company leasing out the goods).
  • Operating profit (or loss)
    The profit (or loss) from a company's principal (main) trading activity.
  • Oppression
    The offence of public officials using their official positions to harm or injure people.
  • Opting out
    If an employee leaves an occupational pension scheme, or chooses not to join one, it is called opting out.
  • Option
    A type of contract under which money is paid for a right to buy or sell goods at a fixed price by a particular date in the future.
  • Order
    An instruction by or command of a court.
  • Order in Council
    An order given by the monarch (king or queen) after taking advice from the members of the privy council.
  • Orders not to pay
    If a bank's customer asks the bank not to pay a cheque, the bank may write 'orders not to pay' on the cheque before it is sent back.
  • Ordinary resolution
    If a resolution can be passed at a meeting by more than half of those voting agreeing to the resolution, it is an ordinary resolution.
  • Originating summons
    A summons that sets out the questions the court is being asked to settle. When the facts in a case are not disputed, but the interpretation of the law or of the documents needs to be resolved, an originating summons is prepared.
  • Out of date
    If a cheque is dated more than six months before the date when it is presented for payment, the bank may refuse to pay it.
  • Outlaw
    Formerly, a person who was not protected by the law.
  • Output tax
    This is the value added tax (vat) charged by a business registered for vat, on the goods and services it sells.
  • Overdraft facility
    If a bank agrees to let a customer borrow from the bank by taking out more than the customer has in the bank, an overdraft is created. The bank puts a limit on how much the customer can borrow and this is called the overdraft facility.
  • Overt act
    An act done openly and from which the criminal intention of the act is clear.
  • p

  • Paid-up share capital
    This is the money paid on shares allotted to the members.
  • Panel
    The list of people who have been summoned for jury service.
  • Pardon
    Releasing someone from a court's punishment. The crown has the right to alter, cancel or reduce the penalties imposed by the courts.
  • Pari passu
    Equally. (This term is latin.)
  • Parole
    Release from prison early. If someone is given parole they may be returned to prison if they offend again.
  • Party
    The claimant ('plaintiff' before april 1999) or defendant in a lawsuit. It is also someone who has taken out a contract or agreement.
  • Passing off
    Pretending that the goods and services offered are those supplied by another business.
  • Patent
    An official right for a specified period of time to be the only person (or organisation) to make or sell something.
  • Patricide
    The killing of a father by his own son or daughter.
  • Pawn
    To pledge goods as security for a loan.
  • PAYE
    An employer collects income tax and national insurance are collected from employees' pay and pays it to the inland revenue. This system is called pay as you earn (paye). Payee this is the person money is being paid to.
  • Payee
    The person money is being paid to.
  • Payment countermanded
    If a bank's customer asks the bank not to pay a cheque, the bank may write 'payment countermanded' on the cheque before it is sent back.
  • Payment into court
    Money paid to the court by the defendant for payment to the claimant ('plaintiff' before april 1999).
  • Payment protection insurance
    This insurance covers people's finance agreement repayments if they cannot work because of long-term illness or redundancy.
  • Penalty
    Is: a sum of money which has to be paid if the terms of a contract are broken; or a punishment given to someone who commits a crime.
  • Penalty points
    Points given by a court as punishment for driving offences. If enough penalty points have been collected the offenders may have their driving licences taken off them.
  • Pension benefits
    The pensions and lump sums people receive from their private pensions are called pension benefits.
  • Pension mortgage
    This is a mortgage which will be repaid out of the lump sum from a pension policy or retirement annuity.
  • Pensionable age
    This is the age people have to reach to be entitled to draw their state pension.
  • PEP
    This stood for personal equity plan. It was a way of investing in stocks and shares through a government scheme.
  • Per
    Through or by. (This word is latin.)
  • Per pro
    On behalf of. (This term is latin.)
  • Per quod
    In accordance with or whereby. (This term is latin.)
  • Per se
    In itself or by itself. (This term is latin.)
  • Per stirpes
    Describes property divided equally between the offspring. If a parent who is a beneficiary under a will dies and the legacy goes to the children in equal shares, the legacy has been divided per stirpes. (This term is latin.)
  • Performance
    Doing what is required under a contract.
  • Perjury
    Lying to a court after you have been sworn in.
  • Permanent assurance
    This is life assurance cover on someone for the rest of their life.
  • Permanent health insurance
    This is a type of insurance policy which pays an income if the policyholder suffers from a long-term illness or disability.
  • Perpetuity
    Forever. The law prevents property being tied up in perpetuity because it could stop owners disposing of it.
  • Personal allowance
    People do not have to pay income tax on all their income. Everyone gets a tax allowance which allows them to have some income they do not have to pay tax on. However, the amount varies depending on personal circumstances.
  • Personal guarantee
    A pledge, by a person to a bank, to repay a debt owed to the bank if the bank's customer fails to pay it.
  • Personal injury
    An injury caused to a person.
  • Personal pension
    Self-employed people or people who are not in an occupational pension scheme can take out these pensions.
  • Personal property
    All property except land.
  • Personal representative
    A person who is appointed to deal with a dead person's estate. If there is a will, the executors appointed will be the personal representatives. If there is no will, the courts will appoint someone called the administrator.
  • Personalty
    Another word for personal property.
  • Personation
    Pretending to be someone you are not.
  • Perverting the course of justice
    Doing something to interfere with the justice system (such as misleading the court or intimidating witnesses).
  • PIN
    This stands for personal identification number. It is a secret number given to an account holder to be used when they put their credit card or cash card into an automatic teller machine (atm). If the number they use is correct, they will be allowed access to their account.
  • Plaintiff
    The person who goes to court to make a claim against someone else. (since april 1999, this term has been replaced with 'claimant'.)
  • Plea
    The defendant's answer to the accusations.
  • Plea bargain
    When the defendant pleads guilty instead of not guilty in return for a concession by the prosecution (such as dropping another charge).
  • Plead
    To declare to the court whether you are guilty or not guilty.
  • Pleadings
    Statements of the facts prepared by both sides in a civil case. Each side gives the other its pleadings so that they are both aware of what arguments will be used during the trial. (This term was replaced with statement of case' in april 1999).
  • Please represent
    If a bank has refused to pay a cheque because there was not enough money available in the customer's bank account, it may mark the cheque 'please represent'. It will do this if there is likely to be enough money to pay the cheque in a few days time.
  • Pledge
    Letting someone take possession of goods but the ownership does not change. It is often done to give security for money owed or to make sure that something is done as promised.
  • Plenipotentiary
    Someone who has been given complete authority to act.
  • Poaching
    Taking game from someone else's land without permission.
  • Poll
    When a company has a poll vote, each shareholder has one vote for each share they own.
  • Polygamy
    Being married to more than one person at once.
  • Possess
    To have property under your control.
  • Possession
    Having something under your control even though you may not own it.
  • Possessory title
    Gaining title through possession. If you have possession of something for a long time you may gain title to it even though you do not have documents to prove that it is yours.
  • Post-dated
    If a cheque is written with a date in the future, it is 'post-dated'.
  • Post-dated (no represent)
    If a cheque is returned unpaid with this written on it, the bank will not honour it if it is represented.
  • Post-mortem
    The examination of a dead body to establish the cause of death.
  • Power of appointment
    A person giving a second person the power to dispose of the first person's property.
  • Power of attorney
    A document which gives power to the person appointed by it to act for the person who signed the document.
  • Practising certificate
    Certificates showing a person is entitled to practise law. Every year the law society issues these certificates to the solicitors who can practise law.
  • Pre-emption
    The right to buy property before others are given the chance to buy.
  • Preamble
    An explanation of a proposed law. At the beginning of each act of parliament there is an explanation of what the act is intended to achieve.
  • Precedent
    Lower courts have to follow the decisions of the higher courts. This is called precedent, binding precedent or judicial precedent.
  • Precept
    An order given by an official body or person. It is used: by a county council to tell a body to levy (charge) rates for the benefit of the county council; by a sheriff to call an election; or to order payment of a sum of money, such as by a writ or a warrant.
  • Preference
    When insolvent, paying one creditor while leaving other creditors unpaid.
  • Preference shares
    A share entitled to a fixed dividend. Holders of preference shares are treated more favourably than ordinary shareholders. The preference dividend is at a fixed rate and must be paid in full before a dividend can be paid on the ordinary shares. When the company is wound up the preference shares must be fully paid out before the ordinary shareholders can be paid.
  • Preferential creditor
    A creditor who has to be paid in full before unsecured creditors can be paid anything.
  • Premium
    This is the money the policyholder pays to the insurance company in return for the cover set out in the insurance policy.
  • Prepayment (prepaid)
    In a set of accounts this means something which has been paid out which covers a period after the end of the accounting period. You may have paid an insurance premium for the year to 30 september. If your accounting year ends on 30 june, 3 months of your premium will be prepaid.
  • Present
    When a bank sends a cheque it has received to the bank which has to pay it, it is 'presented' for payment.
  • Prima facie
    On the face of it. (This term is latin.)
  • Principal
    is: someone who authorises another person to act for them; the actual person who committed a crime; or an amount of money lent or invested, not including the interest.
  • Principal activity
    This is a company's main trading activity.
  • Private limited company
    A private limited company cannot sell its shares to the public and is not listed on the stock exchange.
  • Privilege
    Special rights which some people have because of the job they do or their special status. For example, diplomats of foreign countries are immune from arrest in the uk.
  • Privity of contract
    Only the parties to a contract can sue each other over breaches of contract.
  • Privy Council
    A body of people appointed by the crown. Its members include members of the royal family, present and former cabinet ministers and people who hold or have held high office. Its main duties are advising the queen.
  • Privy Purse
    Money given to the crown for royal household expenses.
  • Probate
    Authority to deal with a dead person's estate. When someone has died and left a will, the executors of the estate apply to the court for this authority.
  • Probate Registry
    A registry which deals with the forms which are needed when someone applies for probate.
  • Probation
    If a court convicts someone of an offence, the court may order that the offender is supervised by a probation officer for a period of at least six months but for no more than three years. This is known as probation and it is an alternative to sending the person to prison.
  • Procurator
    A person who has been given authority to manage another person's affairs, such as under a power of attorney.
  • Procurator fiscal
    Under scottish law, a person who acts as public prosecutor and coroner.
  • Product liability
    The liability of manufacturers and sellers to compensate people for unsafe goods which have caused injury to people or property.
  • Profit and loss account
    A profit and loss account shows the money a business has earned from selling goods and services, less the money spent on goods, services and overheads.
  • Promisee
    A person who has been promised something.
  • Promisor
    A person who has promised something.
  • Promissory note
    A written promise to pay an amount of money to someone at a given time.
  • Property
    The name for anything which can be owned.
  • Prosecution
    The name for the team of people (lawyers and so on) bringing proceedings against someone else. Also when legal proceedings are taken against someone it is called a prosecution.
  • Prosecutor
    The person who brings legal proceedings, on behalf of the crown, against the accused.
  • Prospectus
    A formal document giving details of a company's past performance and of its plans for the future. If a public company wants people to invest in it, it prepares a prospectus.
  • Prostitution
    Selling sexual services for money.
  • Protected tenancy
    A tenancy agreement for a house. It gives the tenant the right to a fair rent and protection from eviction as long as the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement are kept to.
  • Provision
    When accounts are being prepared and an amount needs to be set aside for liabilities which are known to exist, but which cannot be measured accurately, the amount set aside is called a provision.
  • Proviso
    A clause in a legal document which qualifies another section of the agreement.
  • Provocation
    Causing someone to lose their self-control by doing or saying something (such as threatening to harm a baby) which would cause a reasonable person to temporarily lose their self-control.
  • Proxy
    A person appointed by a shareholder to go to a meeting of shareholders. The proxy can vote at the meeting for the shareholder.
  • Proxy form
    A form for shareholders by which, if it is delivered to a company at least 48 hours before the
  • Public liability
    This is a type of insurance cover to protect people and businesses from claims made by members of the public.
  • Public limited company (plc)
    A public limited company can offer its shares to the public and is often listed on the stock exchange.
  • Public mischief
    Shareholders' meeting, the person who is the proxy will be able to vote at that meeting.
  • Public nuisance
    Something that someone does which damages the general community.
  • Purchased life annuity
    A person can buy this type of annuity from an insurance company by paying a lump sum.
  • Put option
    This is a right to sell foreign currency at a particular exchange rate.
  • Putative father
    A crime by which the general public is put in danger or suffers damage to its health, property and so on.
  • q

  • Qualifying child
    The man found by a court to be the father of an illegitimate child.
  • Qualifying policy
    This is a policy which can pay its proceeds, free of tax, if the conditions have been met.
  • Quango
    When used in connection with child support this means a natural child or adopted child who is under 16, or under 19 if receiving full-time education.
  • Quarter days
    An organisation set up by the government to do a particular activity. It is partly independent and does not form part of the government.
  • Quartile
    In statistics the quartile point is the spot where one quarter of the items in a series is on one side and three quarters are on the other side. For example, if a series of numbers was 1, 3, #, 4, 5, 7, 10, 20 and 30, the quartile point (#) would be between 3 and 4.
  • Queen's Bench
    In england the days when payments which are made every quarter should be paid. The quarter days are the days that the seasons are said to start. The actual dates and their names are: 25 march - lady day; 24 june - midsummer day; 29 september - michaelmas day; and 25 december - christmas day.
  • Queen's Counsel
    A barrister who has been chosen by the lord chancellor to serve as counsel to the crown. A queen's counsel is more senior than other barristers.
  • Queen's evidence
    Evidence for the prosecution given by someone who is also accused of the crime being tried.
  • Quiet enjoyment
    Allowing a tenant to use land without interference. When a tenancy is created the landlord is expected to allow the tenant to use the land without any interference, unless the tenancy agreement allows it.
  • Quiet possession
    Using property without interference. When property is sold the buyer should be able to use the property free from interference by the seller.
  • Quorum
    The lowest number of qualifying people needed for a meeting to be able to make a decision.
  • r

  • Racial discrimination
    Treating someone less favourably because of their race, colour, nationality or culture.
  • Rack rent
    The full market value rent of a property.
  • Rape
    Having sex with a person without their permission (such as if they were asleep or unconscious) or forcing them to have sex against their will.
  • Rate of risk
    If an investment carries more risk it is expected to deliver better returns than a lower-risk investment.
  • Real
    relating to immovable property such as buildings or land.
  • Real estate
    Land owned by someone who has died. In the usa it is also land and buildings used for business purposes.
  • Real property
    Land and buildings, minerals in the land and rights over the land.
  • Realty
    Another word for real property.
  • Reasonable force
    Necessary force. Reasonable force is a complex issue but essentially use of some force must be necessary to defend your property or yourself and the force used must be in proportion to the threat.
  • Receiver
    Someone appointed to: sell assets to raise money to repay lenders; or protect property.
  • Receivership
    If a company defaults in repaying a secured debt, the debtor may appoint a receiver to sell the assets secured until enough money has been raised to repay the debt. The company is in receivership while the receiver is appointed.
  • Receiving
    Gaining control of stolen property.
  • Recognisance
    An undertaking, given by someone to a court, to make sure that they do what the court requires. If they do not do as the court wishes they may have to pay a sum of money.
  • Record
    The documents in a court case from beginning to end.
  • Recorder
    A part-time high court judge.
  • Recovery
    Regaining possession of land by taking court proceedings.
  • Redemption
    Paying off all the money borrowed under an agreement.
  • Redundancy
    Being dismissed from a job because it no longer exists.
  • Refer to drawer
    A bank writes 'refer to drawer' on a cheque which it will not pay. The bank sends it back (returns it) to the branch of the bank with the account the cheque was paid into.
  • Refer to drawer-please represent
    If this is written on a cheque which is returned, the bank sending the cheque back expects that there may be enough money available in the bank account to pay the cheque when it is presented again.
  • Registered land
    Any land recorded at the land registry. There is a system of recording and registering, at the land registry offices, details of land ownership and interests in land.
  • Registered office
    The official address where documents can be served on a company.
  • Registrar of Companies
    An official in charge of the office which keeps records of registered companies. There is a registrar for scotland and another one for england and wales.
  • Reinsurance
    An insurance company insuring part of a risk it is covering. If an insurance company has taken on a large insurance contract it may decide to spread the risk of loss by insuring part of the risk with another insurance company.
  • Related party
    This is someone, or an organisation, which controls or significantly influences another organisation.
  • Release
    Means: to give up a valid claim against someone; to free someone from prison; or a document used to cancel a claim one person has against another.
  • Remainder
    An interest which starts when a previous interest finishes. When more than one person has been left an interest in land the first person to possess an interest will have to die before the next person can possess an interest in the land, and so on.
  • Remand
    Being kept in prison or paying bail. If an accused person is placed on remand they are either kept in prison for a short period or have to pay bail or get someone to pay it for them. It is used for short periods before a trial starts.
  • Remedy
    Using the law to get compensation for damage done or for rights infringed. Also, a remedy can be using the law to prevent something from happening.
  • Renouncing probate
    A proposed executor refusing to act. Sometimes when a testator dies an executor will not wish to accept appointment. The executor has to tell the probate registry about it in writing.
  • Rent
    A regular payment to the landlord by a tenant in return for being allowed to possess and use the landlord's property.
  • Rentcharge
    This is the name for a charge to use land such as a chief rent but it does not include tenancies and leases.
  • Repeat offender
    A person who continues to commit the same offence.
  • Reply
    A claimant ('plaintiff' before april 1999)'s answer to a claim. In a civil case the defendant may offer a defence to the claim, or even make a counterclaim.
  • Repossession or Repossess
    A mortgagee recovering vacant possession of the property mortgaged.
  • Representation
    Is: acting on behalf of someone else (such as a solicitor acting for a client); taking someone else's place (such as when a court gives an executor the right to deal with a dead person's affairs); or a statement in a contract.
  • Representations
    These are facts borrowers give to lenders about themselves when they apply to borrow money.
  • Representative action
    One or more people, in a group of people with the same grievance, taking legal action representing the group.
  • Reprieve
    A judge suspending or cancelling punishment for an offence.
  • Res ipsa loquitur
    Proof is not needed because the facts speak for themselves. If the defendant was in charge of events and an accident was caused on the face of it by negligence, then it may be presumed that the defendant was negligent unless there is evidence to the contrary. (This term is latin.)
  • Rescission
    The cancellation of a contract.
  • Reservation of title
    A contract which leaves ownership of the goods with the seller until the goods have been paid for.
  • Reserves
    Money set aside in accounts which can be spent in later years. Some types of reserve can only be spent if certain conditions are met.
  • Residence order
    An order which a court issues when it has decided where a child should live, setting out details of the court's decision.
  • Residuary legacy
    What remains to be given out from an estate after all debts, taxes and specific legacies have been paid.
  • Residue
    What is left of an estate after all debts, taxes, expenses and specific legacies have been dealt with.
  • Resisting arrest
    A person trying to prevent the police arresting him or her. A charge could be made of obstructing a police officer in the course of duty.
  • Resolution
    A decision taken by the members of a company in a meeting.
  • Respondent
    The person an action is being taken against.
  • Restitution
    is: an order for the return of stolen goods to the victim of the theft or for compensation to be paid to the victim; or a writ, following a successful appeal, for the return of the items lost after the original case.
  • Restriction
    When placed on a piece of land the owner cannot sell or mortgage the land.
  • Restriction order
    An order which a court may issue to prevent a person from doing a particular thing. For example, if someone has been harassing another person, the court may order that the harassment must stop.
  • Restrictive covenant
    This order by the crown court prevents a person being discharged from hospital, to protect the public.
  • Retained profits (or losses)
    Retained profits are those profits earned by a business which have not yet been spent.
  • Retainer
    A deed which restricts how a piece of land can be used.
  • Retention of title
    A payment to a barrister to act in a case.
  • Retirement annuity
    Retirement annuities are still in existence though none have been started since june 1988. They were taken out by self-employed people or employed people who were not in an employer's pension scheme.
  • Reversion
    Another term for reservation of title.
  • Revocation
    Cancellation.
  • Revoke
    To cancel or withdraw.
  • Revolving credit Agreement
    A loan agreement under which a person can borrow again to top up the loan, as long as they do not go over their credit limit.
  • Right of way
    A legal right obliging the owner of land to allow authorised people to cross it.
  • Rights issue
    An issue of extra shares by a company. Existing shareholders can buy extra new shares in proportion to the shares they already hold. The shares are usually on sale at a lower price than the stock market price to encourage shareholders to buy. The shareholders can sell the rights if they do not wish to use them.
  • Riot
    A gathering of 12 or more people using, or threatening to use, violence to achieve a common end.
  • Robbery
    Using or threatening to use force while carrying out a theft.
  • s

  • Sale or return
    An arrangement under which goods can be kept by the potential buyer for a period while their resale is attempted. Unsold goods can be returned if the conditions of the contract have been kept to and the buyer pays for the goods used.
  • Salvage
    Compensation paid by the owners for saving ships, aircraft and property from the sea.
  • Satisfaction
    is: paying a debt; settling an obligation by an act; or settling an obligation by substituting something satisfactory for what was originally required.
  • Schedule A
    Schedule a rules were used to work out income tax on certain rents and other income from land.
  • Schedule D
    Self-employed people's income tax is worked out using the tax rules in schedule d.
  • Schedule E
    Employees' and directors' income tax is worked out using the rules in schedule e.
  • Scheme of Arrangement
    An agreement between a person with debts, who cannot pay them when they are due, and the creditors. The creditors share the money the debtor manages to pay in proportion to what they are each owed.
  • Scrip
    A certificate showing the extra shares and fractions of shares the owner is entitled to.
  • Scrip dividend
    A dividend paid in shares instead of cash.
  • Scrip issue
    Free shares offered to the members of a company in proportion to their shareholdings.
  • Search
    Inspection of the registers maintained by organisations such as the land registry. When a person intends to buy a property such as a house, a solicitor arranges the inspection. This is to find out if there is any adverse information about the property or the surrounding area.
  • Search warrant
    A warrant issued by a magistrate, or high court judge, to allow police officers to search premises.
  • Securities
    Stocks, shares, debentures and so on where there is a right to receive interest or dividends from the investment.
  • Security
    Something of value pledged to a bank by a borrower. If the borrower fails to repay the debt, the bank can sell the security and repay the debt out of the proceeds of the sale.
  • Security of tenure
    Protection from a landlord attempting to obtain possession of the property the tenant is renting.
  • Sedition
    Writing things or saying things which encourage ordinary people to rise up against the government or which cause discontent.
  • Self-assessment
    This is a system for taxpayers to work out the tax they have to pay. However, if they send their tax returns to the inland revenue in good time, the inland revenue will do the calculations.
  • Sentence
    The penalty the court imposes on someone found guilty of an offence.
  • Separation order
    A court order that a husband and wife can live separately if they wish.
  • Sequestration
    A court order for the seizure of someone's property.
  • Settle
    Means: to create a settlement; to end a case by agreement; or to draw up a contract and agree its terms.
  • Settlement
    When property is bestowed, usually by a will or a deed, on a trust for the benefit of people decided by the settlor. It also means voluntarily agreeing to settle a civil case.
  • Settlor
    The person who gives property to a settlement.
  • Several
    Separate (not joint).
  • Shadow director
    A person who has not been appointed a director of a company but nevertheless gives instructions to the directors, which they comply with.
  • Share capital
    The money invested directly in a company by its members. When the shares are first made available by the company, people can apply to buy them. The company states the price it wants for the shares.
  • Share certificate
    A document which certifies who owns shares in a company. It gives the type and number of shares owned by the shareholder and lists the serial numbers of the shares.
  • Share premium Account
    An account in a set of books recording the extra amount over face value that shares have been issued for. If shares are issued for more than their face value, the extra amount over face value is called a share premium.
  • Sheriff
    Someone appointed each year by the crown to be a county's senior officer. Each county in the uk has a sheriff. To be eligible for the office the person must own some land in the county. The areas of the law which come within the sheriff's jurisdiction are largely dealt with by the under-sheriff.
  • Shoplifting
    Stealing goods from a shop.
  • Shorthold tenancy
    A tenancy under which the law allows the landlord to repossess the house.
  • Show of hands
    If voting is on this basis, each person who can vote has one vote only.
  • Sickness Benefit
    Sickness benefit has now been replaced by incapacity benefit.
  • Sine die
    Indefinitely. If a case has been adjourned sine die no date has been set for it to be continued. (This term is latin.)
  • Slander
    Saying something untrue about a person or doing something, such as making a gesture, which damages their reputation.
  • Smuggling
    Importing or exporting goods illegally to avoid a ban on them or to avoid the duties on them.
  • Sold note
    A note that shows details of investments which have been sold, including the sale price and any charges taken. Stockbrokers produce sold notes for their clients.
  • Sole trader
    A sole trader is someone who is in business on their own. They have no business partners and they do not trade through a company.
  • Soliciting
    A prostitute attempting to get clients in a street or other public place.
  • Solicitor
    A person who can deal with legal matters for the public and give advice on legal matters. All solicitors are listed on the roll of solicitors kept by the law society. Some solicitors can appear for their clients in some of the lower courts.
  • Solicitor General
    The assistant of the attorney general. They both advise the government.
  • Sort code
    Each bank branch is given an identification number which is called a sort code. The sort code is used on cheques and other bank documents to identify the bank branch.
  • Special resolution
    A resolution which must be approved by holders of at least 75% of the shares with voting rights. (some types of share give their owners the right to vote at shareholder meetings, but there are other types which do not.)
  • Specific performance
    A court order to complete a contract. The courts may order a person who has failed to fulfil an obligation under a contract to complete it.
  • Spent conviction
    A conviction which, after the passage of a stated time period, does not have to be disclosed (revealed) to a court.
  • Spot rate
    This is the exchange rate for foreign-exchange transactions which are being done straightaway.
  • Squatter
    A person who occupies land illegally.
  • Stakeholder pension
    The government has announced plans for the stakeholder pension which is a type of personal pension. There will be a rebate which will reduce the employee's national insurance contributions and the rebate will be invested in the stakeholder pension.
  • Stalking
    The name given to a form of harassment where a person is made to feel alarmed or distressed by another person's actions. The prosecution has to prove that a reasonable person would have known that the behaviour would create distress or fear. The harassment must have happened on at least two occasions.
  • Stamp duty
    A tax on the transfer documents for certain types of transaction. Examples are buying shares, patent rights and properties.
  • Standard & Poors
    This organisation rates companies according to their financial strength.
  • Standing order
    This is an instruction by a bank's customer to the bank, to pay an amount of money regularly to another bank account.
  • State earnings related pension scheme (SERPS)
    People working for an employer can earn this extra state pension. They pay extra national insurance as their earnings rise above a lower limit and some of this extra national insurance is for the increased pension.
  • State pension scheme
    The government pays a basic state pension to everyone who has paid the minimum national insurance contributions.
  • Statement of claim
    The claimant's written statement setting out the claim in a civil case. (This term has not been used since april 1999.)
  • Statistical sampling
    This involves the randomly choosing of items to be tested, and then using probabilities (the likelihood of things happening) to decide the acceptable rate of error for the test to be treated as successful.
  • Status
    How the law regards a person, such as whether the person is a minor or a bankrupt and so on.
  • Statute
    An act of parliament.
  • Statute book
    All the existing statutes in a country.
  • Statute law
    The law created by acts of parliament.
  • Statute of limitation
    A statute which sets out the time limits within which a court action must take place.
  • Statutory accounts
    Company accounts which have been filed with the registrar of companies. The accounts have to disclose (show) the information required by the companies acts.
  • Statutory audit
    An audit required by law. Certain companies have to have their accounts audited by suitably qualified accountants.
  • Statutory books
    Books of account which companies must keep by law to show and explain all their transactions.
  • Statutory instrument
    A power delegated by parliament. Parliament can delegate its power to make and amend law to a person or organisation. A statutory instrument is one of these powers and is used by government ministers to amend legislation.
  • Statutory Sick Pay
    Employers have to pay this to employees who are off work because of sickness. The government sets statutory sick pay rates.
  • Stay of execution
    The suspension of the carrying out of a court order.
  • Stipendiary magistrate
    A magistrate who gets a salary.
  • Stock control
    Stock control is a system for keeping adequate control of stock levels and for preventing stock losses.
  • Stock exchange
    A stock exchange is a market for stocks and shares. Organisations can raise capital by selling securities through a stock exchange.
  • Stock in trade
    This is the term for goods bought but which have not yet been sold.
  • Stockbroker
    A person who buys and sells stocks and shares for clients.
  • Sub judice
    Describes something being dealt with by a court which cannot be discussed outside the court. (This term is latin.)
  • Subduct
    To withdraw.
  • Subject to contract
    An agreement which is not binding until a contract has been signed.
  • Subpoena
    A writ requiring the person it is addressed to to attend at a specific place (such as a court) on a specific date and at a stated time.
  • Subrogation
    Substituting one person for another including all rights and responsibilities.
  • Subscribers
    The people who set up a limited company.
  • Subsidiarity
    Subsidiary activities. Member countries of the european community agreed that activities could be done by the individual member countries unless they could not do them adequately alone. The european community therefore should only do subsidiary activities and this is called subsidiarity.
  • Subsidiary
    A company controlled by another company. The control is normally a result of having more than 50% of the voting rights.
  • Sue
    To start legal proceedings in the civil court against someone.
  • Sui generis
    Describes something that belongs in a particular category or is the only one of its class. (This term is latin.)
  • Sui juris
    Describes someone who can enter into a contract without any restriction. (This term is latin.)
  • Suicide
    The act of killing oneself intentionally.
  • Suit
    Proceedings brought by one person against another in a civil court.
  • Summary judgement
    Obtaining judgement without a trial. In an action in the high court to recover damages or a debt, if the claimant ('plaintiff' before april 1999) swears an affidavit that it is believed that there is no defence to the claim, the claimant ('plaintiff' before april 1999) can obtain summary judgement.
  • Summary offence
    An offence that can only be tried by magistrates. Most minor offences are summary offences.
  • Summary proceedings
    A trial by magistrates, where the defendant has the right to choose which court should hear the case, but has agreed to be tried in the magistrates' court.
  • Summary trial
    A trial by magistrates.
  • Summing up
    The judge's summary of a case. At the end of a trial by jury the judge explains points of law in the case to the jury, explains the jury's role and summarises the evidence.
  • Summons
    An order by a court that a person attend at a particular court at a stated time on a particular date.
  • Superannuation
    This is a regular contribution to a pension scheme by an employee.
  • Superior courts
    The higher courts in english law, which include the high court, the court of appeal, the crown court and the house of lords. Their decisions act as precedents for the lower courts to follow.
  • Supervision order
    A court order that a child should be supervised by a probation officer or a local authority.
  • Supra
    Above (see above or before in the document). (This word is latin.)
  • Supreme Court
    The highest court below the house of lords. The full name is the supreme court of judicature. It is divided into: the crown court; the high court of justice; and the court of appeal.
  • Surcharge
    A penalty charged if tax is paid late. It is also an extra charge banks make if customers do not keep to the agreements they made with the bank.
  • Surety
    Someone who takes responsibility for someone else's debts or promises, and guarantees that they will be paid or undertaken (done). It is also the name for the money put up as security that someone will appear in court. If they do not appear in court the money will be forfeited.
  • Surrender value
    If a policyholder cancels a life policy early, the insurance company will pay the policyholder an amount of money called the surrender value.
  • Suspended sentence
    A sentence that is postponed until the offender is convicted of another offence.
  • SWIFT payment
    A payment from one bank account to another using the swift system. Swift stands for society for worldwide interbank financial telecommunications and it is an international system for paying by credit transfer.
  • t

  • Tangible asset
    An asset which can be physically touched.
  • Tangible assets
    If an asset can be physically touched, it is a tangible asset.
  • Tangible property
    Property that physically exists.
  • Tax
    Money raised by the government to pay for the services it provides. Some taxes are called indirect because they are part of the price we pay for goods and services, such as vat. Other tax is called direct because the individual taxpayer pays it. Income tax and corporation tax are examples of direct taxes.
  • Tax allowance
    Taxpayers are given tax allowances to reduce the amount of tax they have to pay. The allowances are taken off their income before the tax is worked out.
  • Tax avoidance
    Reducing tax bills by using legal means.
  • Tax code
    The inland revenue work out the allowances for each taxpayer paying paye. The total allowances are converted into a code number which is used with tax tables to work out how much tax should be taken from the income.
  • Tax credit
    When companies pay dividends they send each shareholder a dividend warrant. The warrant shows the amount of the dividend and also a figure for a tax credit. For basic-rate tax payers the tax credit covers the income tax due on the dividend.
  • Tax evasion
    Breaking the law to reduce tax bills, such as by concealing income.
  • Tax month
    The tax year is split up into 12 monthly periods. The first tax month starts on 6 april and finishes on 5 may and the other 11 months start on the 6th and finish on the 5th of the following month.
  • Tax point
    The date when value added tax arises on goods or services supplied (or made available) to a customer. The tax point should be displayed on invoices. It is not necessarily the same as the date of the invoice.
  • Tax return
    The inland revenue sends these forms out to taxpayers each year. Income and gains for the year are declared on the form and certain allowances are claimed. There are fines and penalties charged by the inland revenue if the returns are sent in late, incomplete or incorrect.
  • Tax voucher
    This is the same as a dividend warrant.
  • Tax week
    The tax year is split up into 52 tax weeks. The first tax week starts on 6 april and finishes on 12 april and the other 51 weeks follow in order.
  • Tax year
    The tax year starts on 6 april and finishes on 5 april in the following year.
  • Taxable supply
    A term for supplying goods and services on which value added tax can be charged. This applies even if the tax rate is 0% at present, because it can be increased if the government chooses to.
  • Taxation
    The levying of taxes.
  • Taxation of costs
    The scrutiny of and, if necessary, the lowering of a solicitor's bill to a client. The scrutiny is done by a court officer.
  • Teeming and lading
    A term used to describe attempts to hide the loss of cash received from one customer by using cash from other customers to replace it. This fraud can carry on by using cash from other customers in the same way
  • Tenant
    A person or organisation granted a lease.
  • Tender
    Supplying a price for a job. If an organisation asks firms to send in tenders for supplying something, they are asking for firm written offers to do the work to an agreed standard and at a stated price.
  • Tenure
    How a piece of land is held by the owner (for instance freehold or leasehold).
  • Term
    any of the clauses which form part of a contract.
  • Term assurance (or temporary assurance)
    This is life insurance cover for a fixed period of time.
  • Term deposit
    This is money deposited with a bank for a fixed period of time.
  • Term loan
    Banks offer these loans to companies for a fixed time period.
  • Terminal bonus
    A terminal bonus is one the insurance company can decide to pay when a policy matures or when the policyholder dies. It is paid out of the profits on the insurance company's investments.
  • Terra
    Land. (This word is latin.)
  • Terrorism
    Using violence for political purposes.
  • TESSA
    This stands for tax exempt special savings account. It is a special savings account with banks, building societies and so on and the interest is free of tax if you keep to any rules about withdrawals.
  • Testament
    A will dealing with personal property.
  • Testamentum
    Another name for a will.
  • Testator
    A person who makes a will.
  • Testify
    To give evidence.
  • Testimony
    To give evidence
  • Theft
    Taking someone else's property dishonestly, with the intention of never returning it.
  • Threatening behaviour
    Using threats, abuse or insults against another person.
  • Timeshare
    An arrangement where people can buy a share in part of a property for a period of time in each year. They can use their part of the accommodation each year for the period that is theirs.
  • Title
    The right to own something.
  • Title deeds
    The documents which prove who owns a property and under what terms.
  • Toll
    A payment in return for being allowed to travel over a road, bridge and so on.
  • Tort
    Doing something which harms someone else. It may result in a claim for damages. (This word is old french.)
  • Tortfeasor
    Someone who commits a tort.
  • Tracker fund
    Tracker funds invest in the same shares and in the same proportions as those reflected in the financial index they are tracking (such as the ftse 100 index).
  • Trade creditors
    These are the organisations which are owed money for goods and services supplied.
  • Trade debtors
    These are the organisations which owe money for goods and services supplied.
  • Trademark
    A mark which is registered at trademark registries and which is used on products produced by the owner. It is illegal for anyone else to display the mark.
  • Trading account
    A trading account is the part of a profit and loss account which records money due from selling goods, less what those goods cost. This gives the gross profit on those goods.
  • Trading profit
    The trading profit is the profit from selling goods and services before taking off overheads. The trading profit less the overheads gives the net profit.
  • Transcript
    The official record of a court case.
  • Transferable securities
    Securities, such as debentures, which can have their ownership changed.
  • Transferee
    The person something is transferred to.
  • Transferor
    The person who transfers something to someone else.
  • Treason
    The crime of betraying your country such as helping your country's enemies in wartime.
  • Treasure trove
    Treasure found in a hiding place and whose owner cannot be traced. It belongs to the crown but the finder and the landowner may get a reward.
  • Treasury
    The government department which administers (manages) the country's finances.
  • Treasury bill
    An unconditional promise by the treasury to repay money it has borrowed for the short term (up to one year), to pay for government spending.
  • Treasury Solicitor
    The person who gives legal advice to the treasury.
  • Trespassing
    Going on land without the owner's permission.
  • Trial
    An examination of the evidence in a case and the law which applies.
  • Tribunal
    Is: a body set up to act like a court, but outside the normal court system; a forum to hear disputes and with the authority to settle them; a body given power by statute to discipline members of a profession who do not keep to the high standards of behaviour demanded of members of the profession; or a body set up by the members of an association to police the members' actions.
  • True and fair view
    When auditors examine an organisation's accounting records and annual accounts they have to decide whether the accounts present a fair and honest picture of the organisation's trading and finances. The audit report has to say whether the accounts show a true and fair view.
  • Trust
    A financial arrangement under which property is held by named people for someone else.
  • Trust corporation
    A company which acts as a trustee and holds a trust's assets.
  • Trust deed
    A legal document which is used to: create a trust; change a trust; or control a trust.
  • Trustee
    A person who holds property and looks after it on behalf of someone else.
  • Trustee in bankruptcy
    A person who administers (manages) a bankrupt person's estate and pays any available money to the creditors.
  • Turnover
    A business's turnover is the total value of its sales over a particular period.
  • u

  • Uberrimae fidei
    Of the utmost good faith. In certain contracts (such as insurance policies) one party must disclose (reveal) any material facts to the other party. If they are not disclosed the contract can be cancelled or become unenforceable. (This term is latin.)
  • Ultra vires
    Beyond one's powers. If an organisation does something ultra vires, what it has done is invalid.
  • Uncleared cheque
    This is a cheque which has been paid into an account, but the payment for it has not yet been collected from the bank the cheque which will pay the cheque.
  • Underlease
    The lease of a property by a tenant of the property to someone else.
  • Undertaking
    A promise which can be enforced by law such as a promise made by one of the parties or by their counsel during legal proceedings.
  • Underwriting
    When the public is invited to subscribe for (ask for) shares in a company the directors may ask an investment firm, such as a bank, to agree to buy any unsold shares. This is called underwriting the issue of shares.
  • Unfair contract terms
    Prevents a party to a contract unfairly limiting their liability. The unfair contract terms act 1977 was passed to control unfair exclusion clauses. In particular, in a case where someone had been killed or injured because of someone else's negligence the act prevented a contract limiting the negligent person's liability.
  • Unfair dismissal
    Sacking an employee unfairly. When an employee has been dismissed it is the employer's responsibility to prove that the dismissal was fair. If an industrial tribunal finds that the dismissal was unfair it can insist on compensation or reinstatement.
  • Unincorporated body
    This is a group of people acting together but who do not form a separate legal body (such as a company).
  • Unit trust
    A trust which manages investments. People can invest in unit trusts by buying units. The managers of the trust use the money people invest to buy investments. The fund manager values the fund's assets from time to time and puts a new price on the fund's units.
  • Unit-linked
    Some investment policies, such as endowment policies, are used to invest in unit trusts. These are called unit-linked life assurance policies.
  • Unitised
    This term describes investors joining together to buy units in a fund such as a unit trust.
  • Unitised with profit
    People with this type of with-profits policy have a share of the unit trust fund their policy is invested in.
  • Unlawful wounding
    Wounding someone without the justification of self defence or without power given by the law.
  • Unlimited company
    This type of company does not limit what its members would have to pay towards the company's debts, if the company was wound up.
  • Unliquidated damages
    The amount of damages decided by a court because the parties to a contract had not agreed in advance how much the damages would be for breaking the terms of the contract.
  • Unpaid item
    This is an item such as a cheque, standing order or direct debit which a bank refuses to pay.
  • Unpresented cheque
    This is a cheque which has been sent, but which has not yet appeared on the bank account which will pay it.
  • Unreasonable behaviour
    Behaviour by a married person that justifies the other partner in the marriage living apart.
  • Unregistered company
    A company which is not registered under the companies acts.
  • Unregistered land
    Land which is not recorded in the registers at hm land registry.
  • Unsanctioned overdraft
    This is an overdraft which has been run up without the bank's permission.
  • Unsecured creditor
    Someone who has lent money without getting any security for the loan.
  • Upper earnings limit
    This is the highest amount of earnings on which employees pay national insurance.
  • Uterine
    Describes people who have the same mother but different fathers.
  • v

  • Valuation point
    This is the date and time when the fund manager revalues the investments in a fund, such as a unit trust.
  • Value added tax (VAT)
    Most traders in the uk are registered for vat. This means that registered traders have to charge their customers value added tax on any goods and services they supply which are not exempt. The vat collected (less vat they have been charged) is later paid to h m customs and excise.
  • Vendee
    A person who buys something.
  • Vendor
    A person who sells something.
  • Verdict
    The jury's decision at the end of a case.
  • Vesting order
    A way the high court transfers land without the need for a conveyance.
  • Vexatious litigant
    A person who regularly brings court cases which have little chance of succeeding.
  • Vicarious liability
    A situation where someone becomes responsible under the law for wrongs done by someone else. This often happens when an employee does something wrong while at work which becomes the employer's responsibility (such as an employee working negligently and causing someone else to be hurt because of the negligence).
  • Violent disorder
    Three or more people in a gathering using or threatening to use unlawful violence.
  • Void
    Unable to be enforced by the law.
  • Voidable
    able to be cancelled in certain circumstances.
  • Voluntary arrangement
    An agreement between a debtor and the creditors. If a person or a company cannot pay their debts when they are due they can come to a voluntary arrangement with the creditors to pay the debts over a period. If the creditors agree with the proposals it avoids bankruptcy of the individual or liquidation of the company.
  • Voluntary manslaughter
    Murder and voluntary manslaughter have the same meaning in law. But there are four defences that can reduce the crime in seriousness to manslaugher: provocation; diminished responsibility; infanticide: and suicide.
  • w

  • Waiver of premium
    If a member of a scheme with this benefit becomes seriously ill or disabled and cannot pay their premiums, the insurance company will pay the premium for them. This is called waiver of premium.
  • Ward of court
    A person who is protected by the high court, such as a minor.
  • Warrant
    Is: a certificate which gives the person holding it the right to buy shares at a given price; a magistrate's written instruction to arrest someone; or a magistrate's written instruction to search a property.
  • Warranty
    A term in a contract. If the term is not complied with damages can be claimed by the injured party.
  • Wayleave
    A right of way through or over a piece of land often for a particular purpose, such as for a pipeline to go through a piece of land or for goods to be carried over it.
  • Whole-life assurance
    This is life assurance cover which lasts the lifetime of the person whose life is assured.
  • Winding up
    Disposing of all a company's assets and paying all its debts. Any money left is then divided among the members.
  • With-profits policy
    A policyholder with this type of life insurance policy shares in the surpluses of the insurance company's life insurance and pensions business.
  • Without prejudice
    When written on a document, the document cannot be used as evidence that a contract or agreement exists.
  • Witness
    Someone who: watches a signature being put on a document, and then signs as well to verify the signature's authenticity; or attends court to testify about events they know about. To witness a document is to watch it being signed and then add your own signature and name, address and occupation.
  • Words of art
    Words which have a fixed meaning in law so that their use in a legal document can have only one interpretation.
  • Writ
    An order issued by a court telling someone to do something or not to do something. (This has been known as a 'claim form' since april 1999).
  • Writ of execution
    A type of writ ('claim form' since april 1999) used when a court judgement needs enforcing.
  • Writ of summons
    A type of writ ('claim form' since april 1999) used to start a civil case in the high court. (This has been known as a 'claim form' since april 1999).
  • Wrongful dismissal
    Ending an employee's contract without following the contract's terms.
  • Wrongful trading
    Continuing to trade while knowing that there is little prospect of the company being able to pay its debts.
  • y

  • Young offender
    A person between the ages of 14 and 17 who has committed a crime.
  • z

  • Zero-rated
    This means: that the rate of interest is 0%; or that the vat rate is 0%. (but it could be raised from this level, if the government wished to, without fresh legislation being needed.) zero-rate does not mean the same as exempt. If something is exempt from tax, no tax can be charged on it, unless the law is changed.

The Glossary is reproduced by the kind permission of the Plain English Campaign who retain all copyright to this work. Copyright © 2016 Plain English Campaign. All Rights Reserved.

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