There are many legal terms and jargon which are not immediately obvious to anyone who is not a lawyer. If you are involved in a legal case and there is something you don't understand, we hope the list below will help explain the relevant item.
All the terms are listed alphabetically; or just use your browser's 'search' function (usually Ctrl-F on a Windows PC or Command-F on a Mac) to quickly find the item you are looking for.
Ab initio (Latin) - the start of something.
Abandon - to intentionally and permanently give up, surrender, leave, desert or relinquish all interest or ownership in a property. The term is often used to determine if a tenant has left a property with no intention of returning.
Abatement (1) - the cancellation of a writ or action; stopping a nuisance or proportionately reducing payments to creditors or bequests in a will in there is not enough money to pay.
Abatement (2) - the removal of a problem which is against policy or endangers others (nuisances such as noise or antisocial behaviour).
Abet - to help someone plan or commit a crime, or escape arrest.
Abscond - to leave an area (also known as a jurisdiction) to avoid arrest or avoid being served with legal papers; the term can also mean fleeing with stolen funds or goods.
Absolute privilege - a complete defence to an action for defamation.
Abuse of law - unfair or improper legal action that has been initiated with selfish or malicious intentions. The abuse of law can originate from nearly any part of the legal system and may include careless or corrupt attorneys, abuses by law enforcement or misconduct from the judiciary.
Accord and satisfaction - a legal contract where two parties will agree to discharge a tort claim, contract or liability for an amount base that differs from the original amount of that claim. It may also be used to settle claims before they come to court.
Acknowledgement of service - when a defendant agrees that a writ or claim form has been received.
Acquiescence - a common law that states if a person knowingly permits their civil rights to be infringed they cannot later make a claim against the person that infringed them. An example of this could be if a party has taken no action to start a claim for a significant amount of time this could lead to the other party believing that they have consented to the infringement.
Acquit - where the Court finds someone not guilty for a crime which they were accused.
Act (of Parliament) - the main form of primary legislation in England & Wales. It begins as a Bill and passes through both Houses of Parliament. An Act may also be referred to as a Statute. An Act that applies to the whole country (i.e. the UK or at least one of its constituent countries) is called a Public General Act (PGA).
Actus reus (Latin) - the “guilty act”, the action or conduct of an individual which is an essential element of a crime.
Ad idem (Latin) - in agreement.
Adjourn - the postponement of a court hearing.
Administration order - an order made in a county court to arrange and administer the payment of debts by an individual; or an order made by a court in respect of a company that appoints an administrator to take control of the company. A company can also be put into administration if a floating charge holder, or the directors or the company itself file the requisite notice at court.
Administrative receiver - the person appointed by the holder of a floating charge debenture over a company’s assets to collect in and realise the assets of that company and to repay the indebtedness to the debenture holder.
Administrative receivership - the process where an insolvency practitioner is appointed by a debenture holder (lender) to realise a company’s assets and pay preferential creditors and the debenture holder’s debt. The right of a debenture holder to appoint an administrative receiver has been restricted by the Enterprise Act 2002.
Administrator - the person (which can be an Insolvency Practitioner (IP)) who is appointed to manage the affairs of a bankruptcy, or to manage the estate of someone who has died without leaving a will.
Advocate - a lawyer who speaks in court on behalf of their client.
Affidavit - a sworn statement of truth.
Agent - someone who acts on behalf of someone else. For example, a conveyancer who acts on behalf of a couple buying a house.
Agreement - where two parties reach consensus on a set of facts or course of action. For example, when a formerly married couple agree the terms of their divorce.
Aid and abet - to assist someone or encourage someone to commit a crime.
Allege - to claim a fact is true without or before proof is given.
Alternative Business Structures - brought into being by the Legal Services Act 2007 these are law firms which are managed or owned by a mixture of lawyers and non-lawyers
Alternative dispute resolution - negotiation, arbitration, mediation, early neutral evaluation, adjudication and expert determination are alternative ways in which a dispute can be resolved, without going to court.
Ancillary relief - an application for financial support, following the presentation of a petition for divorce, nullity or judicial separation. The term arises because the financial application is 'ancillary' to the divorce petition.
Annulment - a term used mostly in bankruptcy proceedings, relating to the cancellation of a bankruptcy which puts the bankrupt into the same position they would have been in had the bankruptcy order never have been made.
Appeal - requesting a court to overturn a lower court’s decision
Appellant - the person who is appealing the court against a decision that the lower court has made.
Appellate court - any court that has the power to hear an appeal of a decision of a lower court.
Appellate jurisdiction - the power of a court to review decisions of a lower court.
Application - a formal written request sent to court.
Appointee ship - if a person is incapacitated and entitled to receive a retirement pension or other state benefits, the Department for Work and Pensions can choose an 'appointee' to receive those benefits on that person's behalf. The appointee can be a relative, friend or someone from the caring professions (such as the local authority social services department).
Arbitration - a way of seeking to resolve a dispute without going to court - a third party (the arbitrator) looks at both sides of the dispute and makes a decision as to how it should be resolved. Those involved may agree to be bound by the decision of the arbitrator.
Arbitrator - an independent referee who can settle a dispute through alternative dispute resolution, without the need of a court.
Assets - things owned by a person or organisation which usually have some value. In insolvency, assets are anything that belongs to a debtor that may be used to pay his/her/its debts.
Associate - a person, usually employed by a law firm, who may be in charge of handling your case - often a lawyer, they are considered by the firm employing them to be a 'senior assistant'.
Assured shorthold tenancy - assured shorthold tenancy is normally for six months. You have no right to stay at the end of the tenancy period agreed if your landlord has given you valid notice to leave.
Assured tenancy - often used by public-sector landlords, assured tenancy gives you far greater rights to stay at the end of the tenancy period agreed.
Asylum - protection and immunity from extradition granted by a government to a political refugee from another country.
Attorney General’s reference - the procedure whereby the Attorney General may refer a decision in the Crown Court to the Court of Appeal, either on a point of law or where the sentence may have been unduly lenient.
Authorised Investments - investments in which a trustee is permitted to invest trust money under an act of parliament.
Bail - a payment, or promise of payment, which is made in order for an individual who is accused of a criminal act to be released from custody pending trial.
Bailiff - an officer of the court whose duty is to carry out court orders, such as taking debtors goods and selling them to get money to pay a debtor’s debt. A bailiff may also personally serve documents on people.
Bankrupt - the legal status of a person or organisation that is unable to repay debts to their creditors.
Bankruptcy Restriction Order (BRO) - is a court order, which extends the period of time for which you have to follow certain restrictions. This can last up to 15 years and can restrict your financial affairs.
Bare trust - where the beneficiary of a trust has an immediate and absolute right to both the trust capital and income received by the same.
Barrister - a lawyer regulated by the Bar Standards Board, often specialising in court room representation, drafting pleadings and expert legal opinions.
Beneficiary - someone who is entitled to a benefit (eg under a will or trust).
Bequest - a gift of money or personal property made in someone's will, other than land.
Beyond reasonable doubt - the standard that must be met by the jury in a criminal trial to convict the defendant. The jury can only find the defendant guilty if they are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt.
Bill (of Parliament) - a draft Act that has to pass through both Houses of Parliament and receive Royal Assent before becoming law.
Bill of costs - an invoice given by a solicitor to their client which outlines disbursements, fees and any expenses paid.
Bill of exchange - an unconditional offer from one person to another, which has been signed by the person giving it, which requires the person who it is addressed to, to pay a sum of money on demand or at a future time.
Bill of sale - a document which transfers the ownership of goods from one person to another.
Bona fide (Latin) - sincere, genuine or good faith.
Bona vacantia (Latin) - goods without an apparent owner.
Book value - the value of a fixed asset, such as a building or machine, as recorded by an organisation’s books. It is usually the amount paid for the asset less an amount for depreciation.
Books of authority - the collective name for some older works published between the late 12th and mid 18th centuries that are considered to be reliable statements of the law of their time. Examples are Sir Edward Coke’s Institutes of the Laws of England and Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England.
Bound Over - to be under a legal obligation to keep the peace.
Breach of contract - a contract is a legally binding agreement between private parties that creates mutual obligations. The contract is breached when either party breaks one of the terms that has been agreed.
Breach of duty - the failing to carry out something which is required by law, or doing something that the law forbids.
Break clause - a clause included in a contract that allows it to be ended.
Burden of proof - a party’s duty to produce sufficient evidence to support their allegation or argument.
Byelaw (or By-law) - a form of delegated legislation made by local authorities or other mostly public bodies, applying for example to public parks, roads, railways or waterways.
Cancellation clause - a provision in contract that permits the termination of the contract by one of the parties before its expiration under specific terms and contracts.
Capital gain - a profit that is made when a long term asset is sold for more than it originally cost.
Case law - law that is based on the result of previous court cases.
Catchwords - indexing terms at the start of a law report that summarise the subject of the case.
Caveat emptor (Latin) - the principle of “let the buyer beware” where the buyer assumes the risk that whatever they are purchasing may be defective and therefore places onus on them to perform due diligence first.
Chambers (1) - a collection of independent, self-employed barristers who share employed clerks to administer work, and who share the expense thereof.
Chambers (2) - a courtroom or other room from which the public are excluded.
Chapter number - the individual serial number of an Act. The word “chapter” is commonly abbreviated to c., ch. or chap. Acts are cited by their date and chapter number.
Charge - security interest taken over property by a creditor to protect against non-payment of a debt (such as a mortgage).
Chattels - personal belongings that can be moved from one place to another.
Chattels personal - property item other than freehold land which is tangible and owned.
Chattels real - an item of property other than freehold land which is tangible and is leased.
Chit - a recording of a sum owed.
Chose in action - bundle of personal rights over a property which can only be claimed or enforced by action, and by not taking physical possession.
Church measure - a form of primary legislation concerning the Church of England, passed by the General Synod of the Church of England and subject to approval by both Houses of Parliament.
Circuit - the number of counties or districts, in which a judge has the judicial authority to decide on cases.
Citation - an abbreviated form of reference for a law report, piece of legislation, journal article and any other kinds of legal material.
Civil Court - a court that deals with private rights rather than offences against the state.
Civil law - law covering disputes you may have with a person or an organisation, which are not criminal in nature.
Civil law system - a legal system in which laws are contained in codes which the courts then interpret.
Civil Procedure Rules - in England and Wales the rules governing procedure in the civil courts.
Claim - a legal demand given by a person seeking compensation for loss.
Claimant - a person making a claim; the term for the party who initiates a lawsuit. In 1999 it replaced the former term plaintiff.
Clause - a section, paragraph, phrase or segment in a legal document.
Client - a person who uses services provided by a lawyer or other legal professional.
Cohabitation agreement - this allows unmarried couples who live together to enter into a legally binding contract regarding division of assets if the relationship breaks down.
Cohabitation contracts - these contain, in advance, what each member of the relationship expects of the other, both during the relationship and if they separate or one of them dies.
COM document - a proposal for legislation from the European Commission.
Command paper - a document issued by the British government and presented to Parliament.
Commencement date - the date when a piece of legislation came or will come into force.
Common law - laws based on customs and court decisions made by judges rather than Acts of Parliament.
Companies House - where information on all limited companies and limited liability partnerships registered in the United Kingdom is kept.
Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) - a voluntary agreement for a company is a procedure whereby a plan of reorganisation or composition in satisfaction of debts, is put forward to creditors and shareholders.
Compensation - money paid as recompense for injury, loss or suffering.
Compromise agreements - in a workplace dispute, if you can reach an agreement with your employer without going to a tribunal, this can be recorded as a 'compromise agreement'.
Compulsory liquidation - winding up of a company after a petition to the court.
Conciliation - an alternative to alternative dispute resolution where the parties to a dispute use a conciliator.
Conditional fee agreement (CFA) - if a claim on a CFA is unsuccessful the solicitor typically receives no payment for their work (No Win No Fee). If the claim is successful then the solicitor claims a higher than normal fee to reflect their risk involved.
Conditions - requirements, restriction or permission added onto a document.
Confidentiality - information that must not be disclosed without the consent of the client.
Connected persons - directors or shadow directors and their associates (including family members) and associates of the company.
Consent order - a judge approved order setting out terms that have been agreed between the parties and is legally binding and enforceable.
Contempt of Court - showing a lack of respect or obedience by an individual in a court.
Continuing professional development (CPD) - required training each year by the organisation regulating them.
Contract - an agreement between two or more parties which creates legal obligations for both to perform specific acts.
Conveyancing - the legal process of transferring legal title in property from one person to another.
Costs Law - the law regarding legal costs cases.
Counsel - a term used for a barrister.
Counterclaim - a claim made by the defendant that opposes the claimant’s claim.
Court of first instance - the first court in which a trial takes place.
Court of protection - when someone is mentally incapable of making a particular decision at a particular time, and they haven't made a lasting power of attorney, and the decision isn't one that can be made on an informal basis, the matter can be referred to the Court of Protection.
Creditor - a person or organisation to which money is owed.
Crown Court - where serious criminal cases are heard.
Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) - the CPS is the organisation that prosecutes criminal cases.
Crown prosecutor - a lawyer working for the Crown Prosecution Service.
Culpable - at fault or guilty.
Custodial Sentence - where an offender is sent to a prison or a young offenders’ institution.
Damages - an award, typically of money, paid to a person or organisation for loss or injury.
Debenture - a long term security which is issued by a company and secured against its asset in order to yield a fixed rate of interest.
Debt security - a term used to describe a financial instrument with a promise by the issuer to pay the holder of the instrument defined amount.
Decision - a form of secondary legislation produced by the European Union and is binding on whoever is addressed by it.
Declaratory judgment - a judgment of a civil court which declares the rights, duties, or obligations of each party involved.
Decree - an order made by the court.
Deed - a written document with the required formality in which an interest, right or property passes or is confirmed.
Defamation - the making of a false statement regarding an individual which has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to their reputation.
Default - failure to comply with something that is required by the law.
Default judgment - a binding judgment in favour of the claimant when the defendant has not responded to a summons.
Defendant - the person to who the claim is being made against.
Deferred sentence - in criminal proceedings when the final decision about punishment of the offender is put off to another time.
Defraud - to take something illegally from another person or to prevent someone from having something that is legally theirs by deceiving them.
Derivative claim - a claim made by a shareholder or continued by a shareholder on behalf of the company in relation to the breach by a director.
Dilatory tactic - intended delay.
Directive - secondary legislation that is produced by the European Union and is addressed to all member states.
Disbursement - fees that are paid to organisations as required as part of legal services.
Disclosure - this relates to the making available of relevant documents which you believe to be in the possession of the other party.
Discovery - when one party reveals relevant documents to the other side.
Discrimination - being treated unfairly or differently because of factors, such as disability, race, religion or belief, sex or sexuality.
Disqualification - when a person has a court order made against them or gives an undertaking to the Secretary of State which makes it an offence for that person to be involved in the management or directorship of a company for the period specified (unless leave has been granted by the court).
Doctrine - a rule or principle of the law.
Document of title - a legal document that proves that someone owns property or goods or has the right to take control of it or them.
Domicile - the principal home of a person.
Ejectment - a lawsuit to remove a party occupying a property.
Elder law - a speciality in legal practice that covers estate planning, wills, trusts, arrangements for care, social security and retirement benefits.
Emancipation - freeing a minor from the control of parents, allowing them to live their life under their own control.
Embezzlement - dishonestly taking another person’s assets.
Employment - the hiring of a person for payment/compensation.
Enacting words - the introductory words of an Act of Parliament that give it the force of law.
Encroachment - putting a structure on your neighbours property.
Encumbrance - a claim of real property.
Endorsement - payee or owner signing his/her name to a negotiable instrument.
English Reports - a set of volumes containing reprints of the Nominate Reports.
Entity - term for any institution, company, partnership, government agency or any organisation that is distinguished from other individuals.
Entry of judgment - the placement of judgement on the official roll of judgments.
Ernest payment - a deposit that is paid to show a commitment with the remainder of the sum due to be paid at a later date.
Escalator clause - a provision in a lease or other agreement in which payments will increase when the living index goes up.
Escape clause - a provision in a contract allowing one of the parties to be relieved of obligation in the occurrence of a certain event.
Escrow - an agreement between two people or organisations in which money or property is kept by a third person or organisation until a condition has been met.
Estate - a person's property, entitlements or obligations.
European Court of Human Rights - an international court that rules on alleged violations of rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.
European Court of Justice - the European Union’s highest court, which interprets and applies EU law (as found in the EU treaties and legislation) across all member states.
Evasion of tax - to intentionally avoid paying taxes through fraudulent mean.
Eviction - expulsion from a property.
Evidence - that which proves or disprove something.
Ex parte (Latin) - a legal proceeding brought by one person in the absence of another, without notification or representation of the other parties.
Exception - an objection to a ruling by a judge.
Excise tax - a legislated tax on specific goods or services at purchase.
Exclusionary rule - evidence got in illegal means cannot be used in a criminal trial.
Excusable neglect - a legitimate excuse as to why a party or their lawyer may have failed to take the required action on time.
Executor - someone named in a will who will carry out the directions of the will.
Exemplary damages - damages that are awarded in excess of the claimant’s loss.
Exempt European lawyer (EEL) - a lawyer described by a European directive.
Exhibit - a document or object that may be used as evidence at a trial.
Expert witness - a person who is a specialist in a subject and could give their expert opinion without being a witness to any occurrence in the lawsuit.
Extent clause - the section of an Act that states the geographical area over which the legislation has effect.
Extortionate Credit Transaction - a transaction by which credit is provided on terms that are exorbitant or grossly unfair compared with the risk accepted by the creditor.
Face amount - the original amount due before adding the calculation of interest.
Fair market value - the value at which a property would sell at if it were put on the open market for sale.
Fair trade laws - laws which permit manufacturers to set a minimum price.
False imprisonment - when a person is restrained by another person who does not have the legal right to.
False pretences - the crime of knowingly making untrue statements for the purpose of obtaining money or property fraudulently.
Family Division - sector of the high court that specifically deals with marriage, divorce and probate.
Fee earners - employees of firms who deliver legal services.
Feu - a lease that lasts forever.
Fixed asset - assets that are purchased for long term use and not likely to be converted into cash quickly.
Fixed charge - a charge held over specific assets.
Floating charge - a charge held over general assets of a company.
Force majeure (Latin) - an event that cannot be controlled and will stop duties under an agreement from being carried out.
Foreclosure - the repossessing of a property.
Forfeited (to the Crown) - where someone dies without a will their estate might be passed on to the state if relatives cannot be traced.
Forfeiture - when the tenant has not met the conditions of tenancy agreement therefore loses the property.
Forward contract - an agreement between two parties to buy or sell an asset as a specific price on a predefined expiry date.
Franchise - a licensing contract that allows a business to give the right to a third party to operate using their trade - name.
Fraud - lying or deceiving to either make a profit or gain an advantage or cause harm.
Fraudster - a person who commits fraud.
Fraudulent conveyance - the transfer of land ownership with the intention of defrauding someone.
Fraudulent preference - someone who is insolvent paying one of their creditors whilst being aware they do not have the funds to do so.
Fraudulent trading - when an organisation has carried on business with intent to defraud creditors, or for any fraudulent purpose.
Free of encumbrances - no one else having any rights over something. If one person owns a property and no other person has any rights over it then it is owned free of encumbrances.
Freehold - the description of an areas of land that only the owner has any legal rights over.
Frustration - stopping of a contract.
Funded debt - this may also be known as a long - term debt. This is a debt in the form of securities, such as loans or bonds, with long - term or indefinite redemption.
Futures contact - binding contract to buy or sell something in the future at a fixed price.
Garnishment - the taking of a person’s property or salary for the purposes of paying off a debt.
Grant of probate - a certificate that proves the executors of the will are entitled to deal with the estate.
Grants of representation - includes grants of probate (when there is a will) and grants of letters of administration (when there is no will).
Grassum - money that is paid when first taking up a lease in addition to the rent payment.
Green Book - a name for the Civil Court Practice.
Green Paper - a consultation document which sets out government proposals on a topic.
Grievous bodily harm - intentionally causing serious physical harm to another person.
Gross Negligence - an act or omission which places another person at risk of harm.
Grounds - what an action is based on.
Guarantee - an agreement to pay a debt owed by a third party.
Guarantor - a person or organisation that promises to pay a debt that is owed by the second person if the second person fails to repay it
Guardian - someone who is appointed to a child or someone incapable to look after their interests.
Guilty - a courts verdict.
Habeas corpus (Latin) - the legal action, by which a prisoner can seek to be released from unlawful detention.
Hansard - the official edited verbatim report of proceedings of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
Harassment of debtors - the act of attempting to collect debt by threatening or distressing a debtor.
Harassment of occupiers - if a landlord uses threat, violence or interfering with the tenants enjoyment of the property in an attempt to repossess the property.
Hard law - legal obligations that are binding on the parties who are involved and can be legally enforced by court.
Headnote - a summary of the facts of the case.
Hearing - any proceedings held before a court of law.
Hearsay evidence - evidence that is given in court of something said to the witness by another person.
HM Customs and Excise - the government department that is responsible for value added tax, customs and excise duties.
HM Land Registry - a registry in offices and towns in the UK that keeps record of registered land.
Holding company - a company which controls another company.
Hostile witness - a witness who either refuses to testify in support of the people who called them.
House of Lords - the highest court in the UK.
Imputed notice - a legal presumption that a party has notice when it can discover certain facts by due diligence into public records.
In camera (Latin) - the hearing of a case in private rather than in open court.
In curia (Latin) - the hearing of a case in open court.
In force - (of an Act or Statutory Instrument) passed by Parliament.
In-house lawyer - lawyers working for organisations to provide legal advice to the organisation.
Incorporated company - a type of private company with shares, but the shares cannot be traded publicly on the stock exchange.
Indemnity - security against a loss.
Indemnity insurance - also known as professional indemnity insurance this provides cover for the legal costs and expenses in defending a claim against you for inadequate advice.
Independent person - someone free from outside control or influence to act in the way they want to.
Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) - a voluntary arrangement for an individual is a procedure where the person comes to an arrangement with his creditors as to how their debt will be discharged.
Inheritance - parts of someone's estate passing to someone on death.
Inheritance tax - a tax which the inheritors of a deceased person’s property are required to pay.
Injunction - an order made by the court requiring someone to do something or not do something.
Insolvency Act 1986 (IA 1986) - primary legislation governing insolvency law and practice.
Insolvency Practitioner - an authorised person who specialises in insolvency.
Insolvency Rules (IA 1986) - The Insolvency Rules 1986.
Insolvent - being unable to pay debts when they are due.
Insolvent liquidation - a company goes into insolvent liquidation if it goes into liquidation at a time when assets are insufficient for the payment of its debts and other liabilities and the expenses of liquidation.
Instructing - instructing a lawyer to represent you.
Intangible property - non-tangible property such as intellectual property rights.
Integrity - acting in a moral and honest way.
Intellectual property (IP) - IP refers to ideas you create and legally own as a result of owning its copyright, trademark or patent.
Inter Alia (Latin) - means ‘among other things’.
Interest - a legal claim, or right to use property.
Interim injunction - an injunction which is made prior to a civil case coming to trial
Interim order - an individual who intends to propose a voluntary arrangement to his creditors may apply to the court for an interim order which, if granted, precludes bankruptcy and other legal proceedings whilst the order is in force.
Interim proceedings - in law, interim proceedings are hearings that take place between the first hearing and the final hearing.
Interlocutory judgment - a provisional judgement.
Intervention (1) - when a regulator takes control of the papers and monies of a legal practice in order to protect the public.
Intervention (2) - where a Government body takes over a company acting in the publics best interest.
Intestate - when a person dies without leaving a will.
Issued share capital - the total amount of shares issued by a company and held by shareholders.
Joint and several liability - where two or more parties are equally liable for an agreed obligation.
Joint tenancy - a tenancy which is equally divided between two or more parties.
Joint venture - a commercial undertaking between parties which retain their individual identities.
Joint will - a will which comprises of two or more individual’s estates.
Judge - the individual who presides over court proceedings and adjudicate them.
Judgment - the decision of the judge.
Judgment creditor - the individual who is owed money after obtaining a judgment at court in their favour.
Judgment debtor - the individual who owes money as a result of the judgment of the court.
Judgement in default - a judgment made by the court without trial.
Junior barrister - any barrister that is not part of the Queen’s Counsel.
Jurisdiction - the territorial limits which a court has power to make an order.
Jury - a sworn body that reviews evidence during a trial and attempt to come to a decision.
Justice of the Peace - the official title of a Magistrate who deals with minor criminal matters and misdemeanours.
Knowhow - the expertise and technical information in an organisation which is often protected by a patent.
Land Registry - a statutory body whose role is to maintain registers of certain legal estates in land.
Lasting power of attorney - a lasting power of attorney goes one step further than an ordinary power of attorney, because it carries on, or 'lasts', even after you have become unable to manage your affairs, whether temporarily or permanently, or because of an illness, disability or accident.
Law firm - a firm that provides lawyers to provide legal advice and legal services.
Law of Property Act 1925 (LPA 1925) - Governs transactions in law and property.
Law report - report of a case produced by legal publishers.
Law Society - the professional body for solicitors in England and Wales.
Lawyer - a person trained in the law who is certified to give legal advice and represent others.
Lease - a contract between a property owner and a person wanting temporary use of a property in exchange for rent paid.
Leasehold - property which is held exclusively by a tenant for a given period of time in return for rent.
Legacy - a gift left to an individual via a will.
Legal aid - government funding that can help people meet the costs of legal services they need.
Legal disciplinary practice (LDP) - a law firm where solicitors work alongside other types of lawyer, such as licensed conveyancers, and a restricted number of non - lawyers.
Legal executive - a lawyer regulated by ILEX Professional Standards.
Legal Ombudsman - an independent body set up to deal with complaints of poor service about lawyers and law firms of England and Wales.
Legal professional privilege (LPP) - a protection that means information a client shares with his or her lawyer in confidence should never be revealed without the client's consent.
Legal services - services provided to clients.
Liability - can mean something that is a hindrance or puts an individual or group at a disadvantage, or it can be something a person is responsible for.
Liable - when someone is legally responsible for something.
Libel - the publication of a false statement about another person who is alive without legal justification.
Licence - authority given which allows the holder to do something which would otherwise be unlawful.
Licensed conveyancer - a lawyer specialising in property.
Lien - Right to retain possession of assets or documents until settlement of a debt.
Limitation period - these are the statutory rules which limit the period in which a civil claim may be commenced.
Limited liability partnership (LLP) - a business partnership in which some or all of the partners have limited liability in terms of their legal and financial obligations.
Liquidation - the realisation and distribution of the assets.
Liquidation committee - committee of creditors who receive information from the liquidator and sanction some of his actions.
Liquidator - The Official Receiver or an insolvency practitioner appointed to administer the liquidation of a company or partnership.
Litigant - a person involved in a lawsuit.
Litigant in person - someone who represents themselves in court proceedings.
Litigation - legal action through the courts.
Loan capital - money raised by an organisation or firm.
Local and Personal Act - An Act of Parliament that originates as a Private Bill and applies to an individual or to an organisation such as a local authority.
Magistrate - non-legal volunteer who hears cases in their community and administers the law.
Magistrates Court - the lowest court in England and Wales, generally dealing with minor criminal cases.
Magna Carta (Latin) - Means ‘great charter’, signed by King John in 1215, it promised the protection of rights and access to justice.
Malfeasance - to do something that is illegal.
Matter - an application, information or an issue that needs to be considered by the relevant authority; what the lay public would call a 'case'.
Mediation - mediation and arbitration are alternative ways in which a dispute can be resolved, without the need to go to court.
Member (of a company) - A person who has agreed to be, and is registered as, a member, such as a shareholder of a limited company.
Mens rea (Latin) - the state of mind that a defendant must have had at the time of committing a crime in order to be convicted of the same.
Middle Temple - one of the four Inns of Court.
Misconduct - the breach of a relevant principle by a professional in their field.
Misdemeanour - a minor crime which is not tried in a criminal court.
Misfeasance - breach of duty in relation to the funds or property of a company by its directors or managers.
Misrepresentation - an untrue statement made by one party to the other which induces them into a contract.
Mitigating - an argument made on behalf of a guilty defendant to excuse their offence.
Money laundering - concealing the source of funds obtained illegally.
Mortgage - a transfer of an interest in land or other property by way of security with the paying a given sum of money.
Multinational - a business that operates in different countries.
National debt - is the total amount the government owes to its creditors.
Negligence - an action which causes harm or injury to another person.
Negotiable Instrument - is a document that guarantees specific payment of a sum of money.
Neutral citation - citation independent of any particular form of publication, which was introduced in 2001 and is now used in the UK for all judgments from the Supreme Court, Privy Council, Court of Appeal and all divisions of the High Court.
Next of kin - a person’s closest relative or relatives.
Next-of-kin status - should your partner become ill or die, you may not be considered as their 'next-of-kin' for medical purposes unless you and your partner make a written agreement beforehand.
No win no fee - if a claim on a CFA is unsuccessful, the solicitor receives no payment for their work under the CFA. If the claim is successful, the solicitor claims a higher than normal level of fees to reflect their risk in taking the case on a CFA.
Nominate reports - the collective term for law reports published between 1571 and 1865.
Nondisclosure - the failure of a party to disclose a fact to the other side that could influence their decision.
Notary - a person with the authority to confirm that legal documents are true.
Notice of hearing - a written notice informing the parties of the date, time and place that a scheduled hearing will take place.
Notice to admit - a CPR Part 44 request served by a litigant to pressure the opponent to admit particular facts.
Notice to quit - a document from a landlord to a tenant informing them to leave the rental premises.
Notice to treat - is a notice that is served by authority on a land owner wanting to obtain land by an agreement.
Noting a bill - is where a bill (draft or promissory) has been submitted for acceptance or payment and a note to that effect has been dishonoured.
Novation - to substitute of an old contract to a new contract in place.
Nuisance - is an act that is offensive or harmful to others and gives rise to a cause of action.
Oath - a promise to tell the truth or take a specific action in front of a court of law.
Obiter - a non-essential opinion which forms part of a Judge’s written judgement and does not become legal precedent.
Obligation - a requirement to take a particular type of action.
Offer - a promise or willingness to do something or refrain from doing something. Once accepted this becomes legally binding contract.
Officer (of a company) - a director, manager or secretary of a company.
Official Journal of European Communities - the official journal of the EU.
Official Receiver - an officer of the court and civil servant employed by The Insolvency Service, who deals with bankruptcies and compulsory company liquidations.
Omission - a failure to perform a particular act where there was a duty or a legal requirement for that act to be carried out.
Onerous property - the term onerous property in the context of a liquidation or bankruptcy, applies to unprofitable contracts and to property that is unsaleable or not easily saleable or that might give rise to a continuing liability.
Order - an instruction of the court.
Order in Council - an order made by the Privy Council and subject to formal approval by the monarch.
Ordinary power of attorney - a legal way of giving someone else the power to manage your financial affairs when it is difficult for you to manage them yourself.
Ordinary resolution - a decision made by a company by simple majority.
Out-of-court settlement - an agreement between the two sides to settle the case privately before the court makes its decision.
Overriding objective - the Civil Procedure Rules are a new procedural code with the overriding objective of enabling the court to deal with cases justly and at proportionate cost.
PACE - Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.
Paralegal - someone who supports lawyers in their work.
Pari passu (Latin) - Meaning ‘equal footing’.
Part 36 Offer - an offer to settle all or part of a claim which complies with the requirements in Part 36 of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR).
Partner - members of a firm who equally share ownership and liability.
Partnership - two or more people working in business together.
Party - a participant of a lawsuit or other legal proceeding.
Passing off - a misrepresentation that goods or services offered are those supplied by another.
Patent - the exclusive right that is granted for an invention.
Penalty - a clause in a contract that operates when the contract is breached.
Per stirpes (Latin) - property divided equally between the offspring.
Perjury - an intentional lie under oath or in a sworn statement.
Personal guarantee - a pledge by an individual to a bank to repay debt owed to the bank if they fail to pay the debt.
Personal injury - is when injury is caused to a person
Personal property - is all property except land.
Personal representative - is a person who is appointed to deal with a dead person’s estate.
Perverting the course of justice - is when doing something to interfere with the justice system.
Petition - a formal application made to a court.
Petty offence - a minor crime which results in a fine or short term of imprisonment.
Plaintiff - the former term for the party who initiates a lawsuit.
Plea - The defendant’s answer to the accusations.
Plea bargain - is when the defendant pleads guilty instead of not guilty in return for a concession by the prosecution.
Plead - an accused stating whether they are guilty or not guilty.
Pleading - a formal written statement filed with a court by parties in a civil action.
Pledge - is letting someone take possession of goods but the ownership does not change.
Plenipotentiary - someone who has been given complete authority to act.
Poaching - is taking game from someone else’s land without permission.
Policyholders Protection Act 1975 - provides compensation to the public in the event of the liquidation of an insurance company.
Possess - to have property under your control.
Power of appointment - a person giving a second person the power to dispose of the first person’s property.
Power of attorney - is a document which gives power to the person appointed by it to act for the person who signed the document.
Practice directions - directions given by judges on matters of court practice and procedure.
Practising certificate (PC) - a document issued to solicitors by the SRA which allows a solicitor to carry out certain legal work such as advocacy, litigation, probate and conveyancing.
Preference - a payment or other transaction in the six month to two year period preceding a liquidation, administration or bankruptcy, which places a creditor or a person connected with the insolvent, respectively, in a better position than they would have been otherwise.
Preferential creditor - a creditor who is entitled to receive certain payments in priority to floating charge holders and other unsecured creditors.
Prima facie (Latin) - meaning ‘on the face of it’.
Primary legislation - legislation enacted directly by Parliament.
Private Bill - a Bill that is introduced into Parliament by an individual, a group, a company or local authority.
Private Member’s Bill - a Bill introduced into Parliament by an MP who is not a government minister.
Privilege - the right of someone to refuse to disclose or produce a document or to answer questions based on legally recognised circumstances.
Pro bono (Latin) - term for professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment or at a reduced fee.
Probate - permission provided by the Probate Registry for someone to deal with someone else's estate after they die; the legal recognition of the validity of a will.
Proof of debt - a statutory form completed by a creditor in a compulsory liquidation to state how much is claimed.
Property - anything which can be owned.
Prosecution - is bringing proceedings against someone else.
Prospectus - is a formal document giving details of a company’s past performance and future plans.
Protected tenancy - is a tenancy agreement for a house.
Proviso - is a clause in a legal document which qualifies another section of the agreement.
Proxy - to appoint someone to go and vote in their place.
Public Bill - a Bill introduced into Parliament by a member of the government.
Public General Act - an Act of Parliament which applies to the whole country of the UK.
Public interest - the overall welfare of the public.
Pursuant - when something is related to, or comes out of, something else.
Quantum - the value of a claim.
Quantum meruit (Latin) - the equitable remedy in a claim to recover a reasonable sum in respect of services or goods supplied to the defendant equivalent to the amount he deserves or has earned.
Quantum of damages - the amount of money a successful claimant will receive in a court action.
Quash - to invalidate or set aside a conviction.
Queen’s bench - is a division part of the High Court.
Queen’s Counsel (QC) - is a barrister who has been chosen by the Lord Chancellor to serve as counsel to the Crown.
Queen’s evidence - is evidence for the prosecution given by someone who
is also accused of the crime being tried.
Quiet enjoyment - where a tenant is allowed to use land without interference.
Quiet possession - is using property without interference.
Ratio decidendi (Latin) - the reasons or principles of law on which the court reaches its decision.
Realise - selling an asset or disposing of it to raise money.
Receiver - a name for an administrative receiver.
Receivership - a company in administrative receivership is often said to be “in receivership”.
Red Book - a familiar name for the Family Court Practice, an authoritative guide to practice and procedure in the family courts of England and Wales.
Registered European lawyer (REL) - a lawyer from a European state who registers with the SRA to practise law in England and Wales.
Registered Foreign lawyer (RFL) - a lawyer from overseas who registers with the SRA to practice law in England and Wales.
Regnal year - a specified year of a monarch’s reign, calculated from the date of accession.
Regulated individual - an individual who is authorised by a regulatory body, like the SRA.
Regulation (EU) - a form of secondary legislation produced by the European Union. Regulations are addressed to all member states and are applied in full, without the need for national legislation.
Release - the process by which the Official Receiver or an insolvency practitioner is discharged from the liabilities of office as trustee/liquidator or administrator.
Remedy/redress - when a court or other applicable body grants protection, recovery or enforcement of rights or recovery of damages.
Remote hearing - a hearing without those being in court in person.
Remunerate - to pay or reward someone for something they have done.
Repealed - no longer in force.
Reply - a statement of case in response to the Defence.
Request for further information - a written request under Part 18 of the Civil Procedure Rules.
Requisition - an application to the Land Registry or a local authority for a certificate of official search to reveal if land is affected by encumbrances.
Rescind - when you cancel a contract.
Rescission (1) - a procedure that cancels a winding-up order.
Rescission (2) - the setting aside of a voidable contract which is treated as if it never existed.
Reservation of Title or Retention of Title Agreement (Romalpa) - An agreement for the sale of goods to a company:
- which does not constitute a charge on the goods, but
- under which, if the seller is not paid and the company is wound up, the seller will have priority over all other creditors of the company in respect to the goods or any property representing the goods.
Residuary legacy - an estate after all debts, taxes and specific legacies have been paid.
Residue - is 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 them.
Resolution - is a decision taken by the members of a company in a meeting.
Respondent - is the person an action is being taken against.
Restitution - the return of property to the owner or person entitled to possession
Restraining order - an order which a court may issue to prevent a person from doing a particular thing.
Restriction - a limitation of the right of a registered proprietor to deal with the land or charge in registered title.
Restriction order - this prevents a person being discharged from hospital.
Restriction - if placed on a piece of land the owner cannot sell or mortgage the land.
Restrictive covenant (employment) - a restriction set out in an employment contract preventing the employee from taking certain steps post - employment e.g. working for a competing business
Restrictive covenant (property) - a deed which restricts how a piece of land can be used.
Retainer - a contract which states that a lawyer or barrister will represent a client in exchange for money.
Revocation - when something is cancelled or taken away, an example might be when the SRA revokes an individual's permission to practise as a solicitor.
Revoked - (of a Statutory Instrument), no longer in force.
Rights of audience - generally a right of a lawyer to appear and conduct proceedings in court on behalf of their client.
Roll of solicitors - a list of all admitted solicitors held by the Law Society.
Royal Assent - formal approval of a Bill by the monarch, the final step whereby a Bill becomes an Act of Parliament.
Secondary legislation - legislation that is delegated by Parliament.
Secured creditor - a creditor who holds security, such as a mortgage, over a person’s assets for money owed.
Security - a charge or mortgage over assets taken to secure payment of a debt.
Security for costs - a sum payable to the court by a claimant in civil proceedings as a condition of being permitted to continue with the claim.
Security of tenure - protection from a landlord who is attempting to obtain possession of the property that a tenant is renting.
Service - key documents in litigation such as the Claim Form, Statements of Case are required to be served on the opponent in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules.
Set aside - a court order voiding or cancelling another order or judgment.
Settlement - where the parties agree between themselves or with the use of a mediator, to resolve the claim prior to commencing litigation or without going to trial.
Shadow director - a person who, without being formally appointed, gives instructions on which the directors of a company usually act.
Share capital - the money in a company that is invested directly by its members.
Slander - a verbal false statement about another person who is alive and is without legal justification.
Sole practitioner - a lawyer who runs his or her own law firm on their own.
Solicitor - a lawyer who has been admitted as a solicitor by the SRA and whose name appears on the roll of solicitors.
Solicitor advocate - the title used by a solicitor who is qualified to represent clients as an advocate in the higher courts in England, Wales or Scotland.
Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) - the SRA regulates solicitors in England and Wales.
Statement of Affairs - a document sworn under oath, completed by a bankrupt, company officer or director(s), stating the assets and giving details of debts and creditors.
Statement of Case - documents filed and served in litigation which set out the ambit of the claim and include the Particulars of Claim, the Defence (and Counterclaim), Reply and witness statements.
Statement of Truth - the CPR requires that some documents are verified by a statement of truth.
Statute - also known as an Act of Parliament.
Statute of limitation - this sets out the time limits within which a court action has to take place.
Statutory declaration - a formal statement in a prescribed form affirming that something is true to the best of that person’s knowledge.
Statutory demand - a formal notice requiring payment of a debt exceeding £750 within 21 days, in default of which bankruptcy or liquidation proceedings may be commenced without further notice.
Statutory Instrument (SI) - in England and Wales the main form of secondary or delegated legislation.
Statutory Rules and Orders (SR&Os) - the main form of secondary or delegated legislation in England and Wales before 1948, when they were replaced by Statutory Instruments (SIs).
Stay of execution - an order suspending the execution of an order of the court or judgment.
Stay of proceedings - an order pausing civil legal proceedings.
Struck-off - where a solicitor is struck from the roll of solicitors and is no longer able to practice.
Subpoena (Latin) - an order of the court which requires someone to be present at a certain time and in a certain place.
Summary judgment - a party can apply to the Court to dismiss a claim summarily and based on the allegation that there is no claim or defence with a reasonable prospect of success.
Summary judgment - a court judgment made without a full trial.
Summons - an order signed by a Magistrate which requires someone to be present at a certain time and in a certain place to answer a charge.
Superior courts - the higher courts in English law.
Supreme Court - the Highest court below the House of Lords.
Suspended sentence - a custodial sentence not resulting in imprisonment.
Tax base - the complete amount of assets or income that can be taxed for by the government or taxing authority.
Tax tribunal - a two tier system of the First Tier Tribunal and the Upper Tribunal that deals with UK tax appeals.
Tax - Is the amount of money that you need to pay the government for the government to pay for public services.
Taxable year - is a 12 month period which tax return covers.
Tenancy - a contract between a tenant and their landlord which can be written or verbal, giving the tenant control of land or property for a period of time.
Tenant - a person to whom a landlord allows temporary use of land or part of a building in exchange for rent.
Third party - Someone other than the two sides in a situation.
Tort (Latin) - a wrongful act or omission, other than a breach of contract, for which damages can be awarded in a civil court by the person who has been wronged.
Trademark attorney - a lawyer regulated by the Intellectual Property Regulation Board.
Trainee Solicitor - is a person who is training to be a solicitor by working at a law firm.
Transaction at an undervalue - either a gift or a transaction in which the consideration received is significantly less than that given.
Transcript - official recorded proceedings of a court case.
Transparent - is being open and honest in a way that others can understand.
Trespass - to unlawfully interfere with another person’s property or rights.
Tribunal - a person or group who collectively have the authority to determine a dispute.
Trustee - (a) Trustee in bankruptcy - the authorized insolvency practitioner appointed to deal with the estate of the bankrupt; (b) Trustee under a deed of arrangement - the authorized insolvency practitioner appointed to deal with the estate of the person who entered into the deed.
Unadmitted - a person who has not been admitted to the roll of solicitors.
UNCITRAL - United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.
Undisclosed bankrupt - a person against whom a bankruptcy order has been made and who has not been discharged from bankruptcy.
Unfair dismissal - an employee can make a claim for unfair dismissal after they are employed for two years if they are dismissed in circumstances that are not one of the 5 potentially fair reasons set out in the Employment Rights Act 1996.
Unlawful - illegal.
Unregistered company - a company not registered under the Companies Act.
Unreported case - a case that has not been reported in any of the law reports.
Unsecured creditor - A creditor who does not hold security (such as a mortgage) for money owed.
Upheld - an appeal against a legal decision resulting in the original ruling being maintained.
Usury - an illegal interest rate which is usually excessive.
Valuation - a process that determines the value or worth of an asset.
VAT Bad Debt Relief - the relief obtained in respect of the VAT element of an unpaid debt.
Vendor - the person who sells something.
Vesting order - where no conveyance is needed for the High Court to transfers land.
Vexatious litigant - a person who regularly brings court cases which have little chance of succeeding.
Vicarious liability - where an employer of an employee injures someone through negligence whilst in the course of employment.
Violent disorder - this is when three or more people in a gathering are threatening to or using unlawful violence.
Void - unable to be enforced by the law.
Voluntary disclosure - a tax program whereby a delinquent taxpayer discloses information voluntarily to avoid any liabilities or prosecution prior to non - disclosure.
Voluntary liquidation - a method of liquidation not involving the courts or the Official Receiver.
Waiver - when a person declines a specific legal right .
Warrant - a legal document allowing the police to take certain actions.
White Book - a familiar name for Civil Procedure, a guide to civil procedure in county courts, the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
White Paper - a document by the government which sets out fully considered statements of policy or proposals for legislative change.
Will - a legal document that declares a person's wishes about the way their estate should be handled when they die.
Winding-up - the procedure where the assets of a company (or partnership) are gathered in and realised, the liabilities met and any surplus, is distributed to members.
Winding-up order - order of a court for the compulsory winding up or liquidation of a company or partnership.
Winding-up petition - a winding-up petition is a petition presented to the court seeking an order that a company be put into compulsory liquidation.
Without prejudice - when this is written on the document it cannot be used as evidence.
Witness - someone who watches a document being signed to verify the authenticity of the document; or testifies regarding an event that they know information about.
Young offender - a person aged between 10 and 17 who is tried differently than an adult.