Legal Terms Explained

Legal glossary explaining law terms

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In legal terms 'abandonment' is giving up a legal right.


In law abatement is:
- cancelling a writ or action
- stopping a nuisance
- reducing the payments to creditors if there is insufficient funds to pay them in full
- reducing the bequests in a will in proportion if there is insufficient funds to pay them in full


Abduction is taking someone away by force. Taking someone without their will.


Abet is the act of encouraging or inciting another to do a certain thing, such as commit a crime. The perpetrator is equally liable to the same punishment as a person who aids or abets another to commit a crime.


ABH is an assault resulting in actual bodily harm and is based on the degree of the injury. For example surface injuries such as bruises and grazes fall within the category of ABH. Other examples of ABH are loss or breaking of teeth, temporary loss of sensory functions, extensive or multiple bruising, minor fractures, and cuts requiring stitches. The maximum sentence for ABH is 5 years.  


Abovementioned is a term used to describe something which has been referred to before in the document.


Abscond is 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.


In legal terms 'Absolute' means complete or unconditional.


Absolute discharge is when someone who has been convicted of an offence is released without any penalty, although they may still have to pay compensation.


The Absolute Owner is the sole owner of 'property' such as land, vehicles or equipment.


An Absolute Privilege is a defence which can be used in a case of defamation if the statement from which the defamation arose was either made in Parliament, made during court proceedings, or in fair and accurate news reporting of the court proceedings.


Abstract of Title is a term often heard when buying and selling property, and is a document drawn up by the seller summarising the title deeds to a property which is often that of a house.


Abstracting Electricity is a criminal offence and punishment may result in a 5 year prison sentence or a hefty fine. It is the act of dishonestly using or diverting electricity, for example by unlawfully obtaining a free telephone call, reconnecting a disconnected meter, or bypassing an electricity meter. Computer hacking used to be charged under this offence as it was deemed as unlawfully obtaining a communication service, however the Computer Misuse Act 1990 made hacking a specific criminal offence.


Abuse of Process is when criminal proceedings are brought against a person without there being any good reason and/or with malice.


Abuttals are the parts of the boundaries of a piece of land which make contact with pieces of land alongside.

ACAS (Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service)

ACAS (Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service) is a statutory body established under the Employment Protection Act 1975. The functions of ACAS are now governed by parts IV and VI of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

ACAS was created to encourage the improvement of industrial relations. Part of ACAS's function is to intervene with or without the parties consent in a trade dispute to offer assistance in negotiating a settlement.

ACAS employs conciliation officers to assist parties to reach a settlement on applications made for an employment tribunal. Earlier legislation removed the requirement for binding settlements of employment disputes to involve an ACAS conciliation officer, whereas now settlements can be made when the individual has had independent legal advice from a qualified solicitor or lawyer.

ACAS can give free advice to employers, employees and/or their respective representatives on matters of employment or industrial relations. It issues codes of practice giving guidance on matters such as disciplinary procedures and disclosure of information to trade unions.

ACAS may charge for its services where its considered appropriate. The law on conciliation is contained in the Employment Tribunals Act 1996.

Click here to contact ACAS


An acceleration clause is a clause in a contract stating that if a payment is missed, the remainder of the contract is due in full immediately.


What is an Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC)?

If an individual is found to be causing problems and displays an anti social manner in a community, police and local authorities can approach them and ask that person to sign an Acceptable Behaviour Contract.

An Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC) is a voluntary written agreement that is signed by the offender, the police and/or a local authority.

If the contract involves someone under 18, the parent or guardian of the offender will have to sign it.

An Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC) identifies the offending behaviour, the offender then agrees not to do it anymore.

As these are voluntary agreements the offender does not receive a criminal record, however, if the individual continues to display offending behaviour, this can be used as evidence in court.

An Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC) can be given to anyone, regardless of age, although they are mainly used for children but can be used for adults in certain situations.

An Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC) usually last for six months and during this period, the offending person will be monitored by the organisation who also signed the contract to ensure the agreement is not broken.

If the Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC) is breached and the offending person breaks the agreement, Police and local authorities may consider other ways to contain anti social behaviour, such as  applying for an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO).



In legal terms an 'acceptance' is where an offer is accepted unconditionally and a legally binding contract is created.


Acceptance of Service is when a solicitor accepts a writ on behalf of a client.


An Acceptor is an organisation, for example a bank, which will pay the cheque or bill of exchange it has accepted.


An accessory is someone who encourages or assists another person in committing a crime.


An accomplice is someone who assists another in committing a crime.


Accord and satisfaction is a concept of contract law where a debt may be settled by paying less than the amount demanded in exchange for extinguishing the debt.


In law, 'accordingly' is a word used in legal documents which means 'therefore', or 'so'.


An account monitoring order is an order granted by the court in a confiscation investigation, money laundering investigation or civil recovery investigation. It requires a specified financial institution to provide account information on a specified account for a specified period, not initially exceeding 90 days in the manner and at or by the times specified in the order. Account information is information relating to an account held at a financial institution - this would most commonly be transaction details.The order will set the manner and deadline by which the financial institution must produce account information and the period for which the order should last.


Accounts are the records of an organisation's income, expenditure and general financial situation.


Accretion is the barely noticeable gradual addition to land by the slow action of water. Heavy rain, river or ocean action would have this effect by either washing up sand or soil or by a permanent retreat of the high water mark.


Accumulation is reinvesting income generated by a fund, back into the fund.


The Accused is the person charged - the person who has allegedly committed the offence.


Acknowledgement is admitting that someone has a claim, or admitting that a debt exists.


Acknowledgement of Service is when the particulars of a claim form have been issued to a defendant, and they then receive a response pack which includes a form which they must complete to acknowledge they have received the claim. The defendant then has 14 days to return this form from the date they received the particulars of the claim.


Acquiescence is action or inaction which binds a person legally even though it was not intended as such. For example, action which is not intended as a direct acceptance of a contract will nevertheless stand as such as it implies recognition of the terms of the contract. 
For example, if I display a basket of fruit in a marketplace and you come by, inspect an apple and then bite into it, you have acquiesced to the contract of sale of that apple.
Acquiescence also refers to allowing too much time to pass since you had knowledge of an event which may have allowed you to have legal recourse against another, implying that you waive your rights to that legal recourse.


Acquit is when a court lets a person go without any penalty if they decide that the person in question is not guilty, or the case has not been proved, i.e they would acquit them.


In Criminal Law, an acquittal is the discharge of a defendant following a verdict of not guilty by a court.


An Act is a Law, i.e, an Act of Parliament.


The Act of Bankruptcy is an act which could lead to bankruptcy proceedings against a person with debts, if carried out by that person.


An Act of God is an extreme naturally occuring event that could not have been forseen, for example an earthquake or a flood.


Action is using the law to make a Claim.


An Active Trust is a trust where the trustees have other responsibilites rather than to just let the beneficiaries have the trust's assets when they ask for them.


Acts of Parliament are referred to as primary legislation. Part of the work of Parliament is to make laws which are called Acts of Parliament. Usually the House of Commons and the House of Lords both debate proposals for new laws. At this stage they are called Bills. If both Houses vote for the proposals then the Bill is ready to become an Act. It can only be described as an Act when it has received Royal Assent from the Monarch.


Actual Loss is a term used in insurance which means that the insured item no longer exists.


In insurance and pensions law an actuary is an expert on pension scheme assets and liabilities, life expectancy and probabilities for insurance purposes. They work out whether enough money is being paid into a pension scheme to pay out when it is due.


An Additional Voluntary Contribution (AVC) is extra money in occupational pension schemes can contribute to increase their pension benefits.


Adduce means to put forward in evidence.


Ademption is when a gift in a will cannot be made because the item no longer exists.


Where a case is Adjourned, the hearing of a case is temporarily suspended by order of the Court (maybe for a short period, e.g. to next day).


Adjourned Sine Die is a commonly used legal term incorporating latin, and is used when a court case has no date fixed for it to continue.


Adjournment is the postponing of the hearing of a case until a later date.


To Adjudge, or Adjudicate, is to give an official judgement about something. An example of this is where someone is unable to pay their debts, the court may adjudge them bankrupt.


Judgment or decision of a Court or tribunal


An Adjudictaion Order is the former name for a court order which made someone bankrupt. This has now been replaced with the term bankruptcy order.


In legal terms, Administration is a procedure under the insolvency laws of the UK. It functions as a rescue mechanism for insolvent companies and allows them to carry on running their business. This process is an alternative to liquidation. A company may be referred to as 'going into administration'.


An order by a County Court directing a debtor to pay a specified monthly instalment into Court in respect of outstanding debts. The Court retains the payments made and at intervals distributes it between the creditors on a pro-rata basis


The Administrative Court is part of the High Court. It deals with applications for judical review.


An Administrator,  can mean many things depending on the type of work or industry.

In 'Wills and Probate', an Administrator, also referred to as an Administratrix, is the person who is officially appointed to administer the estate of someone who died without leaving a will.

In 'Insolvency and Bankruptcy', an Administrator is a person, or company, who is appointed by the Court to manage the business and property of a company during administration, or Liquidation. The appointed person (or company) must be a Licensed Insolvency Practitioner.


Admiralty Court, also known as the Maritime Court, are courts exercising jurisdiction over all maritime contracts, torts, injuries and offences. Admiralty jurisdiction is exercised by the High Court of England and Wales.


Admissibilty of evidence deters which evidence can be presented in court. The evidence must be relevant to the case, but even some relevant evidence cannot be presented, such as hearsay evidence. The judge will decide whether such evidence can be used in the case or not.


A party involved in a claim may admit the truth of all or part of the other party's case. This may happen at any part of the proceedings. if the defendant makes an admission, the claimant may apply for judgement on the admission.


Admonition is the reprimanding of a defendant by a judge, even though the case agaist the defendant has been dropped.


Adoption is the act of legally placing a child with a parent or parents other than those to whom they were born. All rights and duties become vested in the adopter or adopters as if the child was born to them in marriage.


An Adoptive Child is a child who has been legally adopted.


An Adoptive Parent is a person who has legally adopted a child.


Adultery is the voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and another person who is not his or her spouse.


An Advance Decision, also called advance directive, or a living will, is used to indicate a patient's wish to refuse all or some forms of medical treatment if the patient loses mental capacity in the future. It cannot be used to request treatment.
An advance decision has the same effect as a refusal of treatment by a person with capacity and the treatment cannot lawfully be given.  A doctor who treats a patient against his or her wishes may face civil liability or criminal prosecution which will include treatment against the wishes contained in the advance decision.



In cases before the Crown Court, the defence can request an indication from the judge of the likely maximum sentence that would be imposed should the defendant decide to plead guilty. The request can be made at any stage of the proceedings, including at trial, although it is most likely to be made at the plea and case management hearing.


The Adversary System is deigned to bring out the truth through adversarial (conflict based) techniques, for example cross examination.


Adverse possession is where someone intentionally occupies land to prevent the rightful owner or tenant from doing so.


An Adverse Witness is a witness who gives evidence which damages the case of the side which they were asked to testify for.


An Advocate is a barrister representing a party in a hearing before a Court at the request of a Solicitor. In Scotland an Advocate is a Scottish Lawyer who is the equivalent of a barrister in England & Wales.


Aegrotat is the latin term for 'he or she is ill'.


A written statement of evidence confirmed on oath or by affirmation to be true and taken before someone who has authority to administer it


To Affirm is: to solemnly promise to tell the truth in court or in an affidavit; to confirm a decision made by a lower court; allow a contract to continue even though it could have been cancelled because it was fundamentally breached.


Affirmation is the declaration by a witness who has no religious belief, or has religious beliefs that prevent him/her taking the oath, that the evidence he/she is giving is the truth.


Affray is a criminal offence, and is the act of fighting unlawfully.


In law, aforementioned describes something referred to previously in a document.


In law, aforesaid describes something which been said or referred to previously in a document.


The age of consent is the age when a girl can consent to having sexual intercourse. In the UK this age is 16.


An Agent Provocateur is a person who entices another to commit an act of law that will make them bcome liable, and then proceed to inform against him in respect of such an offence.


Aggravated assault is a more serious type of assault often leading to actual bodily harm (ABH).


Aggravated burglary is armed burglary.  


Aggravated Damages are extra damages awarded because the defendant has caused the victim anguish, loss of self respect or shame.


Aggravated Vehicle Taking is the act of stealing a vehicle, driving it dangerously and as a result, injuring someone or damaging property.


An Agricultural Holdng is a type of tenancy agreement for someone who is carrying out agricultural work. The tenant has speacial rights, for example when the tenancy finishes and the right to compensation for improvements to the land. However, if the land has deteriorated then the tenant must compensate the landlord.


Aiding and Abetting is the act of helping someone to commit a crime.


Under Land, Property and Real Estate area of law, Airspace is 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.


An Alias is a false name, or a name someone is otherwise known as.


An Alibi is a means of defence by an accused person, which would suggest that they could not have committed the crime in question.

Alibi is the Latin term for 'At another place or 'Elsewhere'.


In legal terms, an Alien is someone from a foreign country.


In Property Law, Alienation is the transferring of ownership of property from one person to another.


In Scottish Law this refers to the giving of an amount of money or other finacial support from one spouse to another after seperation or divorce following a Court order. In England and Wales this is know as maintenance.


Alimony is a term used to describe the giving of an amount of money or other finacial support from one spouse to another after seperation or divorce following a Court order. Alimony is referred to as maintenance in England and Wales and Aliment in Scotland. 


All and Sundry means everybody.


'All That' is a term used in conveyancing and is used to introduce the description of the property which is being conveyed.


An Allegation is an unproved statement declaring that something has happened.


An Alliance is a military treaty between two or more countries. An alliance provides for a mutually planned offensive or for assistance if any member of the alliance is subjected to an attack.


Allocation is the process by which a judge assisgns a defended civil case to one of the three case management tracks - the small claims track, the fast track and the multi track.


These reforms only relate to Magistrates Court in England and Wales.

Abolition of Committal proceedings and allocation of either way offences in Magistrates Court

The abolition of committal proceedings ends the responsibility of Magistrates to be “examining justices”, deciding whether there is a case which justifies trial in the Crown Court. For several years Magistrates’ Courts have sent the most serious (indictable only) offences to the Crown Court.
Under the new arrangements, Magistrates will “allocate” either-way offences to be tried in either Crown or Magistrates’ Courts. In deciding whether to allocate a case to the Crown Court Magistrates are asked simply to consider whether, if the defendant is convicted, their powers of punishment are sufficient.

New aspects of Allocation Procedures on either way offences in Magistrates Court:

  • Before making an allocation decision the magistrates will be told of any previous conviction of the defendant
  • The giving of limited sentence indication, this should encourage defendants charged with a less serious offence to plead guilty in the Magistrates’ Court rather than delay their plea until they are sent to the Crown Court. A guilty plea in Magistrates Court can lead to a lesser sentence than waiting to plead guilty in crown Court.

New Procedures for allocating either way offences in Magistrates Court.

New procedures require:

  • The court to read the charge to the defendant and ask if he intends to plead guilty  (when the defendant would formally be convicted)
  • If the defendant does not indicate a guilty plea, the court will determine whether the offence is more suitable for trial in a Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court after hearing the defendant’s convictions (if any), and/or the prosecution and defence representations (the decision being based of whether the sentence which a Magistrates’ Court could impose is likely to be adequate)
  • If trial in the Crown Court is more appropriate, the court to send the case to the Crown Court
  • If trial in a Magistrates’ Court is more appropriate, the defendant will be asked to consent to trial by Magistrates and, if the defendant consents, asked to plead guilty or not guilty
  • Before being asked to consent to trial in a Magistrates’ Court the defendant may ask the court to indicate whether a custodial or non-custodial sentence would be imposed if the defendant pleaded guilty (the court is not required to give an indication)
  • If an indication of sentence is given, the defendant should be asked whether he now intends to plead guilty (if the defendant pleads guilty following an indication of sentence the court will be bound by that indication)
  • If the defendant does not indicate an intention to plead guilty, he should be asked if he consents to summary trial
  • If the defendant does not consent to summary trial, the court will send the case to the Crown Court for trial and if the defendant consents to summary trial the case will proceed in the Magistrates’ Court.

Change in responsibilities of Examining Justices in the Magistrates Court

Magistrates have a continuing responsibility to:

  • Deal with cases efficiently and expeditiously
  • Deal with cases in a way that takes into account
  • The gravity of the offence alleged
  • The complexity of the issues
  • The severity of the consequences for the defendant and others affected
  • The needs of other cases.

Procedures if trial in Magistrates Court is more appropriate than Crown Court:

  • If trial in a Magistrates’ Court is more appropriate, the defendant will be asked to consent to trial by Magistrates and, if the defendant consents, asked to plead guilty or not guilty
  • Before being asked to consent to trial in a Magistrates’ Court the defendant may ask the court to indicate whether a custodial or non-custodial sentence would be imposed if the defendant pleaded guilty (the court is not required to give an indication)
  • If an indication of sentence is given, the defendant should be asked whether he now intends to plead guilty (if the defendant pleads guilty following an indication of sentence the court will be bound by that indication)
  • If the defendant does not indicate an intention to plead guilty, he should be asked if he consents to summary trial
  • If the defendant does not consent to summary trial, the court will send the case to the Crown Court for trial and if the defendant consents to summary trial the case will proceed in the Magistrates’ Court.

Case Management Powers in the Magistrates Court.

Case Management Powers may be used in the Magistrates Court to ensure that cases are resolved as soon as possible and in the appropriate court. There is a risk that the abolition of committal proceedings will result in the premature sending of a case to the Crown Court when that court is not the appropriate venue for the case, for example when the charging decision may not reflect the evidence. If a case is inappropriately sent to the Crown Court there will be increased costs and delay.
Other than offences which must be sent for trial because the allegation involves either serious/complex fraud or children.

Magistrates power to adjourn Allocation Proceedings in the Magistrates Court.

Magistrates have the power to adjourn allocation proceedings, and this power should be used when needed to allow the parties sufficient time to gather the information to review charging decisions or ensure that the court has sufficient information to take an informed allocation decision. (NB: once a Magistrates’ Court has allocated a case to either the Crown Court or a Magistrates’ Court it may not be able to re-open the decision).

To discharge their responsibilities to the court, the prosecution and defence are expected to be properly prepared; this should include:

  • The prosecution ensuring that they have sufficient information to take an informed decision on charge 
  • The prosecution providing the defence with initial prosecution details of the case, on which the defence can take instructions 
  • The defence taking instructions and, if necessary, being given time by the court to make enquiries or prepare a written basis of plea.

Procedures for Summary Trial / Trial in a Magistrates Court.

Initially, Magistrates under the arrangements will have to consider allocation of either way offences to be tried in either Crown Court or Magistrates Court.
In deciding whether to allocate a case to the Crown Court, Magistrates are asked simply to consider whether if the defendant is convicted their powers of punishment are sufficient.
Cases allocated to the Crown Court will be sent without being put-off for the preparation of committal papers. Magistrates will also send to the Crown Court those cases “allocated” to a Magistrates’ Court where the defendant does not consent to being tried by Magistrates; however, before sending such a defendant to the Crown Court, they can be given an indication as to whether, if a guilty plea(s) is entered, a custodial sentence would be imposed.
If trial in a Magistrates’ Court is more appropriate, the defendant will be asked to consent to trial by Magistrates and, if the defendant consents, asked to plead guilty or not guilty.

Source of information: The Sentencing Council for England and Wales


Issued to all parties after a defence has been filed. This form details all the evidence to be used as well as the required domestic arrangements for the trial


In certain areas of law the allocation rate is the proportion of money left to be invested after charges have been taken off when money is paid into a fund, for example a pension fund. So if the charges were 5%, the alocation rate would be 95%.


Allodial is a sort of land ownership that is unfettered, outright and absolute. It is the opposite of the feudal system and has no obligation to another.


An allonge is an add-on of paper that has been attached to a contract, cheque or other important document on which to add a signature because there is no room left on the main document.


In legal terms, allotment are shares allocated to a buyer. An allotment of shares in a company gives the owner of the allotment an unconditional right to buy the shares at a fixed price.


Seen in Company and Business Law, an Alternate Director is a person appointed by a director to take the director's place.


These are systems such as arbitration and mediation which are designed to allow parties to find a resolution to their problem without legal action.


An Alternative Verdict is when a person may be found guilty of a less serious crime than the one they were initially charged with. If a more serious crime cannot be proved, then they may be found guilty of a less serious crime. An Alternative Verdict is often used in murder cases where there is insufficient evidence to convict someone of murder, but there may be enough evidence to warrant a manslaughter charge.


Amalgamation is the merging together of two things to form one. For example, the amalgamation of two companies to form one company.


An Ambassador is an individual who has been officially chosen by their own country to live in another country in order to legally represent it.


In law, an example of ambiguity is when a statement's meaning is not clear because it is capable of more than one meaning - it therefore contains an ambiguity.


In law terms if something is abulatory it is something not 'set in stone', such as an ambulatory will.


An Ambulatory Will is a will which can be revoked or changed while the person who made it is still alive.


In legal or law documents, amend is the term used when the wording of a written document is changed or revised.


Amendment is the process where corrections to court documents, such as statements, can be made. A statement can be amended at any time before it is served, or with permission of all other parties of the court once it has been served.


An example of amnesty is not punishing a person for an offence they have committed and removing details of the offence from the court's records - this gives the person amnesty. Amnesty is often used to protect someones Human Rights.


This is an amount of money offered by a defendant to pay a debt or to settle a claim, for example a personal injury claim.


In Planning Law, Ancients Lights is the right NOT to have the light you receive from a Neighbour's land blocked. It is a right to light.


Ancillary Relief are additional claims that a court can make in a divorce: regular maintenance, a lump sum, or a transfer of property.


Annual Accounts are a summary of a company or 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.


An Annual general meeting, or AGM, is the yearly meeting of the members of an organisation which is held to meet legal obligations. The annual accounts will be presented for approval at this meeting.


An Annual Return is a return which must be sent by companies to the Registrar of Companies. It includes details of the company such as shares issued and members amongst other information. The return is sent to Companies House for filing and is available for public viewing.


An Annuitant is the person who gets paid an annuity.


Most commonly in Insurance Law and Investment Services, an Annuity is an amount paid out every year to someone, and is often from an insurance policy. The amount can also be split into smaller amounts and be paid more frequently.


Annul is to cancel, or to declare something invalid. For example a marriage or a bankruptcy order. See also Annulment.


Annulment is a legal procedure for declaring a marriage null and void, therefore a marriage can be dissolved in a legal proceeding and declared void, as though it never took place.


Antecedents are the life history and previous convictions of a defendent in a criminal case. This information is given to the court before the sentence is given.


An Antenuptial Agreement, also known as a Prenuptial Agreement or a Pre Marital Agreement, is 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 divorce at a later date.


What is an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO)?

Anyone over the age of 10 behaving in an anti social manner can be given an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO)
Anti-social Behaviour can include:

  • drunken or threatening behaviour
  • vandalism and graffiti
  • playing loud music at night

Anti-Social Behaviour Order’s (ASBO’s) are court orders applied for by the police, local authorities and registered social landlords. The aim of an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) is to protect victims or communities from anti social behaviour which has damaged their lifestyle and also prevent further re occurrences.

Anti-Social Behaviour Order’s (ASBO’s) set down a strict set of rules that an individual must adhere to.  These rules may include:

  • going to a defined area in the community such as a local town centre
  • spending time with certain friends/ persons who are known trouble-makers
  • drinking in the street
  • threatening, intimidating or disruptive actions
  • leaving home after a certain time in the evening (a curfew)
  • committing any anti-social or criminal acts

How long can an ASBO last?

An Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) will last for a minimum of 2 years. This is reviewed on a regular basis. If an individual demonstrates improvement in their behaviour then certain conditions of the Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) may be removed or changed.

Anti-Social Behaviour Order’s (ASBO) are not criminal penalties. They are civil orders therefore do not appear on an individuals criminal record.
However, if an individual breaches the conditions of an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) they will have committed a criminal offence. The individual will then be expected to appear in court and the sentence passed will depend on the circumstances and age of the individual. They may be fined, given a community sentence or receive a prison sentence of up to five years.

Young offenders - Penalties for not obeying an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO)

Young offenders can be fined up to £250 (if aged 10 to 14) or up to £1,000 (if aged 15 to 17).
If the offender is under 16 the fine may have to be paid by the parents of the young offender.
Young Offenders may also receive a community sentence or, if over the age of 12, a detention and training order (DTO) for up to 24 months.

Adult offenders- Penalties for not obeying an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO)

Adult Offenders can be fined up to £5,000, sentenced to 5 years in prison, or both.


An Anton Piller Order is an order by the High Court, and is now known as a Search Order. It gives the applicant permission to search the defendant's premises for evidence, inspect it and take it away. This is so evidence which is relevant to the case is not destroyed.


An Appeal is a request to a higher Court or other body to review the decision made by a lower Court or tribunal. The higher court may reject the lower courts request.


An Appellant is the person who appeals to the highter court against a decision made by a lower court. See Appeal.


Appellate Jurisdiction is the authority a court has to hear an appeal against a decision made by a lower court.


Person making the request or demand, e.g. person who issues an application


The act of applying to a Court, for example to start proceedings.


Valuation of goods seized under warrant of execution prior to sale


The role of an Appropriate Adult is to attend Police stations when unaccompanied young persons aged below 17 are arrested, who would otherwise have no adult representation.
The Appropriate Adult’s role is to support the young person whilst in custody by   explaining their rights whilst detained, the use of legal terminology, offer counselling and/or advice, contact relatives and ensure the young person receives the care they are entitled to.
Appropriate Adults are contacted through the Young Offending Team that covers that specific area.
Appropriate adults are also used when vulnerable adults are detained in custody. Vulnerable adults are classed as people who suffer from mental illness, learning difficulties or literacy problems. In these cases it is the Appropriate Adults role to ensure that the detainee understands the custody process, legal advice and any questions put to them by the police. These appropriate adults usually have specialised mental health training or practical experience of dealing with vulnerable adults.


Appurtenances are minor rights in land, for example the right to do something on the land.


Arbitrage is the act of borrowing money at a low rate of interest in order to lend it out again at a higher rate, or buying and selling in different markets in order to make a profit out of the difference in price. In simple terms Arbitrage is to buy low, sell high.


Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution and is a legal technique for the resolution of disputes outside the courts. The hearing and determination of a dispute is done so by an impartial referee agreed upon by both parties. 


The Arbitrator is the independent referee who settles a dispute without the need to go through the courts. See Arbitration.


Arraignment is a procedure at the beginning of a trial, when details of the offences are read out and the defendants are asked whether they will plead guilty or not guilty.


An arrangement fee is a fee charged by lenders (Banks / Building Societies) to cover the cost of setting up a mortgage. The average arrangement fee for residential mortgages may be in the region of £1000. This can be checked with the mortgage lender, in some instances the lender may waive this fee for taking out a mortgage with them.


Arrears are payments that have not been made on or by their due date, therefore as time goes by and the debt is not paid, arrears accumulate. For example, if you fail to make your mortgage payments you will be in arrears.


Arrest is the seizing of an individual who is believed to have committed a criminal offence and detaining them in custody by lawful authority.


An Arrestable Offence is a crime where a person may be arrested without the need for warrant being issued.


Arson is a criminal offence and is the act of setting fire to something so to cause damage to it.


Arteriosclerosis is a medical condition sometimes used in the defence of insanity. It is a chronic disease in which thickening, hardening and loss of elasticity of arterial walls result in impaired blood circulation, affecting blood circulation to the brain. It is a disease than can develop with age, in hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia and other conditions.


Articles are the clauses within a document. A company's articles set out its rules and form part of the memorandum and articles of association.


Articles of Association are documents which set out a company's rules. See also Memorandum of Association.


Assault is a hostile act causing another individual to fear an attack. Words cannot amount to assault, however someone may threaten another using threatening gestures, without actually touching them and this may be determined as assault. Common assault is also threatening someone with a weapon such as a knife or a gun.
Common assault is less serious than aggravated assault.


In law, an Assent is a document used by a personal representaive to transfer property to a beneficiary.


In Scottish Law, in certain cases the Secretary of State may appoint a suitably qualified assessor to sit with the Reporter during the inquiry and to advise them on specified matters, for example where complex and technical issues are to be considered.


An Asset is something owned, for example a property, vehicle or it may be money in a bank account.


To Assign something, you legally transfer it, for example when ownership of a property is transferred from one person to another.


Assignment is the formal transfer to the rights to something. For example, a person may assign their bank the right to receive the benefits from an insurance policy to allow the bank security for a loan.


A party to legal proceedings who is receiving legal aid


Assizes are one of the periodic court sessions that used to be held in England and Wales (seperately) for trials of civil or criminal cases.


Associative discrimination is discrimination against someone because they associate with another person who possesses a protected characteristic.


Prior to 1875, an assumpsit was an agreement or action to recover damages for breach of a contract that was not under seal.


Assurance is insurance cover for something that will definitely happen such as death.


Assure is to transfer the ownership of something.


The Assured is the person whose life is insured or who is to receive the benefit from the assurance policy.


Assured Shorthold Tenancy is a type of tenancy agreement under which the landlord has the right to take the property back at the end of the tenancy agreement.


Assured Tenancy is a form of residential tenancy in England and Wales, defined by the Housing Act 1996, that grants a degree of security of tenure to the tenant.


Asylum is the protection granted by a state to someone who has left their home country as a political refugee.


Attachment or earnings is a court order that directs an employer of a debtor to deduct regularly an amount, fixed by the Court, from the debtor's earnings and pay that sum into Court. The employer pays the money collected to the court, and the court pays the money to the people to whom it is owed.


The term attainder stems from medieval times where a person would be attained; the extinction of civil rights took place when judgement of death was recorded against a person who had committed treason, and involved the forfeiture and reversion to the Crown of the land and goods belonging to the person who was attained.


To Attest is to sign to witness a signature on a document.


Attorn is to consent to a transfer of right. A good example of this is in landlord and tenant law. A tenant may agree to reside in a leased property after the property is sold to a new landlord, therefore remains in the property under a new landlord. Although the tenant may not be entirely happy with the new arrangement, in the eyes of the law they have still given their consent i.e. they attorn to the transfer.
Or, in general legal terms an individual may attorn to (consent) the jurisdiction of a court which would not otherwise have had any authority over them.


An Attorney is a person appointed to act for another person, if for example they are unable to look after their own affairs. A Formal Document called a power of attorney is used to appoint the attorney. In the United States of America, Attorney is the name used for a Lawyer.


The Attorney General, is the main legal advisor to the government, and may in addition have executive responsibility for law enforcement or responsibility for public prosecutions. This person must be a Member of Parliament or have a seat in the House of Lords, and they must be a barrister.


An Audit is an independent examiniation of a company or organisation's records and financials to ensure that they show a fair reflection of their financial position, that the income and expenditure is shown correctly, that any legal conditions are being met and that all statements are drawn up clearly.


The Auditor's report is a report and opinion on a company or organisation's financial records, and is carried out by an independent person following an audit.


In Trust Law, Authorised Investments are investments in which a trustee is peritted to invest trust money under an Act of Parliament.


Authorised Share Capital is the highest amount of share capital that a company can issue. The amount is set out in the company's memorandum of association.


An Automatic Transfer occurs where providing a number of criteria are met, proceedings must be transfered automatically to the court which is nearest to the defendents home.


An Autopsy is an examination of a deceased person's body in order to find the cause of death.


Autrfois acquit is a french term sometimes used in UK Criminal Law and simply means previously aquitted. Therefore used as a defence that the accused has already been acquitted so cannot be tried again.
The same principle as double jeopardy


Avulsion is land build up caused by errosion, or the addition of the land caused by an unexpected change on river stream such as a flash flood.


Result of an arbitration hearing or the amount of damages assessed by a Court



If something is done in bad faith, it is done with the intent to deceive. Often, something is done in bad faith when someone intentionally tries to deceive another in order to gain something.


Bail is the release of a defendant from custody, until his/her next appearance in Court, subject sometimes to security being given and/or compliance with certain conditions, such as a promise to pay an amount of money. If the accused does not appear at the trial, the court can keep the money put up for bail.


A Bail Hostel is accommodation sought for people charged with offences, who have been released on bail, but that have no fixed address. This is so the police know where to find them.


A Bailee is a person or organisation looking after valuable items to keep them safe for the owner.


Officer of the County Court empowered to serve Court documents and execute warrants. A Bailiff may also be ordered to take a debtors goods amd sell them to get money to pay the debtor's debts.


Bailiwick is the area over which as bailiff has jurisdiction.


Bailment is transferring possession of goods from the owner to someone else. The actual ownership of the goods is not transferred, just the possession. For example, someone may hire a product such as a television will have possession of it, but the rental company still owns it.


A Bailor is the owner of valuable items which are in the possession of another person or organisation for safe keeping.


A Balance Sheet is a summary of a company or organisation's financial position and lists all of their assets and liabilities.


A Banker's Draft is a cheque drawn by a bank and the funds are taken directly from ones bank account. This is a safer option than a normal cheque for the person receiving the draft as they know the funds will clear.


Bankruptcy is when a person or company is declared legally insolvent. A person can become bankrupt upon voluntary petition or one invoked by creditors. See also Insolvency.


A Bankrupty Search is a document which says whether someone is bankrupt or not.


The Bar is the collective term for barristers.


The Bar Council is the professional body for barristers in England and Wales. It provides representation and services for the Bar, and Guidance on issues of professional practice.

Visit The Bar Council for more information.


A Bare Trust is a trust which holds property on behalf of a person until they ask for it back.


A Bare Trustee is someone who holds property on behalf of another person until asked to return the property.


A Bargain and Sale is a contract to sell any property or investment in land that a person owns.


A Barrister is a lawyer with the right to speak and argue as an advocate in higher lawcourts. Barristers are instructed by solicitors. They specialise in a particular field of law and can present a case in any court, where as a solicitor's rights to speak in court are limited.
Another term for Barrister is 'Counsel'.
Barristers normally have no direct contact with the public and appear in court when instructed to do so by a solicitor.
Barristers put legal arguments to judges, magistrates and juries, and they cross-examine witnesses to attempt to control the outcome of a court case.
Only barristers or qualified Solicitor Advocates may represent clients in the higher courts.


Barter is the exchanging of goods without using money.


The base rate in the interest rate set by The Bank of England which is then used as the basis for other banks and lenders interest rates charged out to customers.


In legal terms a bastard is an illegitimate child born in a relationship out of wedlock.


Battered Woman Syndrome is a post traumatic stress disorder and since 1994, it has been included in the British classification of mental disorders. In a legal trial, a jury may consider whether Battererd Woman Syndrome could have made the woman in question more prone to loss of self control, resulting in a criminal case - possibly murder.


Battery is using physical force on someone either intentionally or carelessly and without their agreement. Therefore, when two boxers take part in a boxing match, this is not battery as even though they may hurt one another, they would have mutually agreed to take part in the fight.


The Bearer is the person who has a document in their possession.


The Bench is the name for the judges or magistrates in a court.


A Bench Warrant is a warrant issued by the judge for an absent defendant to be arrested and brought before a Court.


A Beneficial Interest is something belonging to a person, even though someone else is the legal owner. Therefore, if something belongs to someone, but they dont actually legally own it, then they have a benficial interest in it. A typical example is where a parent holds an investment policy for their child, they are the legal owner of the policy, but the child has a beneficial interest in it.


The Beneficial Owner is the owner of a piece of land and the buildings that are on it. The Beneficial Owner has the right to use the land for their own purpose, and has the right to the income their land generates.
The Beneficial Owner may also be the person who actually owns something even though it may be held under someone elses name.


The Beneficiary is someone who benefits from a will, a trust or a life insurance policy.


From the middle ages onwards a member of the clergy removed the jurisdiction of secular courts, however there are many myths surrounding this privilege.


Bequeath, is to leave something in your will, such as money. You cannot bequeath or real property, but you can devise them instead.


Bequest is something given in a will, other than land or real property.


The Berne Convention is an International copyright treaty named the Convention for the protection of Literary and Artistic Works signed at Berne, Switzerland in 1886. More information about this treaty can be found at the Intellectual Property Office.


VAT applies to Betting and Gaming in general and there are seperate specific notices about VAT on bingo, lotteries and gaming & amusement machines. More upto date information can be found at HM Revenue & Customs.


Bigamy is the offence committed by someone who is already married, who then goes through with a marriage ceremony with someone else.


In law, a Bill is a draft of a proposed law that is presented to parliament for discussion.




A Bill of Exchange is a signed written order, instructing a person to pay an amount of money to someone. A cheque is a Bill of Exchange.


A written statement of the charges against a defendant sent for trial to the Crown Court, and signed by an officer of the Court


A Bill of Lading is a document recording the goods a ship carries and the terms the goods are carried under.


A Bill of Sale is a document which transfers ownership of goods from one person to another.


In the Crown Court or (more usually) the Magistrates Court , and signed by an officer of the Court


An order which requires the defendant to return to Court on an unspecified date for sentence. Failure to observe this order may result in a forfeit or penalty to be enforced


The Binding Effect is where the terms and conditions of an agreement are binding upon, i.e they must be kept to by law.


Binding over is a term used in criminal law, and is the act by which a Magistrate or a court hold to bail a party, accused of a crime. The person accused may be bound over to appear in court to answer to the offences of which they have been charged, or they may be bound over to be of good behaviour.


A Binding Precedent is a precedent which must be followed by all lower courts, and is usually a decision made by the higher court, such as the House of Lords. Also known as Judicial Precedent.


Black letter law is a term used to describe law as it is formally written, not necessarily in context. Black letter law is sometimes used to reflect the learning of law in universities as oppose to learning through the Bar Vocational Course or the Legal Practice Course where law is taught as a practical subject.


Blackmail is the act of exerting pressure on someone through threats. English Law creates a much broader definition of blackmail, covering any unwarranted demands with menaces, whether involving revealing information or not.
Blackmail is similar to extortion. The difference is that extortion involves an underlying, independent criminal act, while blackmail does not.


A Blind Trust is a trust set up by a settlor who reserves the right to terminate the trust, and agrees to assert no power over the trust. This is administered without account to the settlor or the retention of any other measure of control over the trust's administration.
A blind trust is a convenient way to set up a trust to avoid any conflict of interest.


Bodily Harm is physical injury or pain.


'Boiler Rooms' is a term used in UK law which describes the place or offices, usually abroad, in which a scam selling shares to UK investors is taking place.

On paper, boiler rooms appear as any other firm, however only on paper as victims are usually targeted by telephone.

There are umpteen scams 'investors' may be the victim of, such as buying worthless shares from an unauthorised firm, then later being approached by another firm (part of the scam) which offers to sell the shares for a profit profiding a fee is paid upfront.

Boiler Rooms are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and are acting illegally by promoting or selling shares in the UK.

Unfortunately, most boiler rooms operate outside the UK so therefore cannot be reached by the FSA. 


A Bond is a written promise to repay a debt at an agreed time and to pay an agreed rate of interest on the debt.


Bonded Goods are goods for which a bond has been paid to HM Revenue & Customs as security for the duty owned on the goods.


A Bonded Warehouse is a warehouse approved by HM Revenua & Customs 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 Shares are free shares that a company offers to its shareholders in proportion to their existing shareholdings.


The Book Value is the fixed value of an asset, such as a car or property, and is recorded on paper. The value is usually the amount paid for the asset less an amount for depreciation.


If parents were not married at the time of the birth of their child(ren) they are born out of wedlock.


A Bought Note is a document which shows details of a purchase by someone for a third party. A Stockbroker would produce a bought note on behalf of a client. The bought note shows details of the investment, including price and any commission.


A Breach, is where a party within a contract does not comply with a term of the contract. Every breach gives rise to a claim for compensation in the civil court.


Breach of Duty is failing to carry out something which is required by law.


Breach of the Peace is a public disturbance by an individual or individuals who take part in any act of molesting, interrupting, hindering, disquieting, agitating or arousing from a state of repose or otherwise depriving inhabitants of the peace and quiet to which they are entitled.
Breach of the Peace may also be referred to where harm is done to someone, or harm is threatened.



A Breach of Trust is when a trustee does something which is against the rules of the trust, or fails to do something which is required of them by the trust's rules.


A Break Clause is a clause in a contract which allows it to be terminated, or come to an early end.


A Bridle Way, or Bridal Path, is a pathway of which the public have right of way on horseback or leading a horse, under the Highways Act 1980. Cyclists are also permitted to use a brdle way but must give way to pedestrians and horses.


A Brief is written instructions to a Counsel to appear at a hearing on behalf of a party prepared by the solicitor, and setting out the facts of the case, and any case law relied upon.


A Building Preservation Notice is a notice to say that a building is listed. If a building is in danger of being demolished, or altered, but the planning authority think it should be preserved, then they can issue a Building Preservation Notice to state that the building is listed.


Building Regulation Consent is the approval by the local authority on the design and materials used in building work, often as a matter of Health and Safety.


Building Regulations set standards for the design and construction of buildings to ensure the health and safety for people in or about those buildings. They also include requirements to ensure that facilities are provided for people, including those with disabilities, to access and move around and inside buildings.

You will need Building Regulations Approval if you are to carry out certain types of building work, such as:

The erection or extension of a building
An alteration project involving work which will temporarily or permanently affect the ongoing compliance of the building, service or fitting with the requirements relating to structure, fire, or access to and use of buildings
When installing replacement windows using a builder or window company not  registered with the relevant Competent Person Schemes.
The installation or extension of a service or fitting which is controlled under the regulations
The insertion of insulation into a cavity wall
The underpinning of the foundations of a building
When you want to change the building's fundamental use


For more information about Building Regulations visit the Planning Portal.


Formerly known as a Structural Survey, this type of survey is suitable for all residential properties and provides a full picture of the property's construction and condition. Because the level of detail is higher than the Homebuyer's Report, a Building Survey is more expensive. This type of survey is required when a property is of an unusual construction or has had extensive alterations, if it's old, in need of serious structural repair or if you are planning a major conversion or renovation. This survey involves a comprehensive inspection of the property and a detailed in-depth report which is necessary for complex buildings:
• A detailed appraisal of the method and materials used in the construction
• A technical assessment of significant defects and advice on appropriate further actions
• Identification of less significant defects, general disrepair and shortcomings in physical condition, maintenance and design
• A photographic inventory of the property and defects and other issues
• Market Valuation
Buildings Surveys may cost from £500 plus vat.


A bully is someone who continually subjects another person to cruel or intimidating behaviour.
A bully can do this by:

  • Behaviour that is unwelcome, offensive, abusive, intimidating, malicious or insulting.
  • Frightening, threatening, humiliating behaviour or making the victim feel vulnerable.
  • making the victim lose their self-confidence, causing them to suffer ill health and mental distress.
  • subjecting a victim to persistent and even aggressive and physical behaviour.

A bully may show signs of bullying by:

  • Spreading rumours, teasing, making a person the subject of jokes, or ridiculing someone in public 
  • Ignoring or excluding someone from group activities or social events.
  • Using physical violence, professional or personal insults, shouting, swearing, making aggressive gestures.
  • Unnecessarily picking fault and constantly undervaluing someone or denying them opportunities.
  • Setting unfeasible deadlines or removing areas of responsibility without good reason (commonly in the workplace).
  • Using a position of seniority to undermine and disregard valid suggestions, whether at a personal level or in the workplace.
  • Making unjustified accusations or complaints with the intent of causing distress to another person.

For further information on bullying see Bullying and Harassment


Bullying is a form of harassment and includes ridiculing and humiliating individuals, setting unreasonable or unachievable objectives, and controlling them by fear, rather than by standards.

Signs of bullying can include:

  • Spreading rumours, teasing, making a person the subject of jokes, or ridiculing someone in public
  • Ignoring or excluding someone from group activities or social events.
  • Using physical violence, professional or personal insults, shouting, swearing, making aggressive gestures.
  • Unnecessarily picking fault and constantly undervaluing someone or denying them opportunities.
  • Setting unfeasible deadlines or removing areas of responsibility without good reason (commonly in the workplace).
  • Using a position of seniority to undermine and disregard valid suggestions, whether at a personal level or in the workplace.
  • Making unjustified accusations or complaints with the intent of causing distress to another person.

For further information on bullying see Bullying and Harassment  


Burdon of proof is the obligation of a party in proceedings to prove a fact in issue.


Burglary is a person or persons entering a property without permission, and stealing or attempting to steal.


A Bylaw is a law made by a local authority and only applies within the local authority's boundaries.



Called up capital is 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.


Canon Law is the name for the rules made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority for the government of the Christian organisation.


In law, Capacity is somones ability to enter into a contract or agreement. For example, a minor would be unable to purchase something on credit.


Capital Allowances are allowances that you can claim when you buy long term assets, such as machinery to use for your business. You claim part of the cost against your profits before your tax is calculated for the year.


Capital Gain is the profit you make if you sell a long term asset, such as a house, for more than it cost you.


Capital Gains Tax is a tax charged on certain Capital Gains.


Capital Punishment is punishing someone for certain crimes by killing them.


A Company has to have a capital redemption reserve in its financial records and in its accounts if any of the shares it has isued 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.


A Capture House is house specially rigged up by the Police or another Law Enforcement Agency to catch criminals, especially burglers in action.


A care order is an order by a court instructing the local authority to care for a child.


Careless driving is driving a car, or other vehicle or motorcycle, without consideration for other people using the road.


A Cartel is an agreement between businesses to restrict competition and keep prices high.


A Case is an action, suit or claim made in a court of law. Arguments put forward in a court of law are also a 'case'.


Usually the first hearing in a Multi Track claim and an opportunity to take stock and consider the way forward


A Case Disposal is when the case is taken out of the court process.


Case Law is law that is based on the resullts of previous court cases. It is the interpretation placed on statute law by the Judiciary. Such decisions and interpretations generally remain binding in law until over turned by a higher court.


 A Case Management Conference (CMC) is a meeting between all parties involved in a case as well as the judge. It allows everyone to go through the progress of the case with regards to costs and any other matters. The number of Case Management Conferences held for one case varies depending on the simplicity of the case.


There are three Case Management Tracks and civil cases are allocated to one of the three, depending on financial value, issues of law and the likely duration of the case.

The three tracks are:

1. The Small Claims Track - For cases upto £5000 and the claimant does not have to have a legal representative.

2. The Fast Track - For cases between £5000 and £15000.

3. The Multi Track - For cases above £15000.

Legal representaion is advisable in the Fast and Multi Tracks.

See Case Value.


A unique reference number allocated to each case by the issuing Court


Case stated is the written statement setting out the facts of a case, and is produced by a Magistrates Court when asking the High Court for an opinion on the law.


The Case Value is the financial value of a case. This is one of the factors used to assess which track a case (claim) should be allocated to. See Case Management Tracks.


Causation is one thing being done causing something else to happen.


The Cause of Action is the reason an individual is entitled to sue another.


This is an offence committed by someone who is unfit to drive because of drink or drugs, but proceeds to drive a vehicle and kills another person. The punishment for careless and inconsiderate driving is less severe than for dangerous driving.


This is a criminal offence committed by someone whose driving is dangerous and results in a person being killed. The courts consider dangerous driving to be a very serious offence.


A caution relates to several matters in different parts of the law. For example:

  • Notice given to the Land Registry by any person with an interest in particular land to ensure that no action is taken in respect of the land without the person's knowledge.
  • Warning, given by a Police Officer, to a person suspected guilty of a crime when the person is arrested.
  • Warning, given by a Police Officer, when a supsect is released without prosecution, and that if there are any further offences committed by the suspect, then the first possible offence may be taken into account.

When a police caution must be given

Individuals suspected of being involved in an offence must be cautioned before any questions are put them about the offence in question.
Individuals not suspected of committing an offence may be spoken to (or questioned) without being cautioned. However, if after questioning, a response (or other development) leads to them being a potential suspect, then they must also be cautioned.
Cautioning an individual is crucial to the judicial process as this then allows any of the responses given to be used as evidence at court.
It may also be used as evidence in court in cases where the suspect remains silent when cautioned (failure or refusal to answer questions).

Caution following an Arrest
When an individual is arrested on suspicion of committing an offence, they must be informed as soon as possible that they are under arrest and the grounds for their arrest. An arrested person should understand why they have been arrested, for example they should be told what the suspected offence is, and when and where it was committed

Following their arrest, the individual will be cautioned immediately as from that point any responses given can be used as evidence in court.
The wording of the Police caution differs depending on where the offence was committed.

Police caution wording in England and Wales
Police caution wording in Scotland
Police caution wording in Northern Ireland

Caution before Interview

Where there has been a period of time between an individuals arrest and the start of an interview, the caution should be repeated in full before questioning starts.
Likewise, if there is a short break in the interview for any reason, the individual will be reminded that they are under caution before the interview recommences.







The Central Criminal Court is the most senior court covering central London.


A Certificate of Incorporation is a certificate stating that a company has been incorporated. The Registrar of Companies issues the certificate once a company has been formed.


A certificate of costs allowed following taxation by a judicial or taxing officer (Previously referred to as an Allocatur)


A Certificate of Origin is a certificate stating in which country the goods being imported were made, ie where they originated from.


A Certificate of Service is a document which states the date and manner in which the parties were served (given) a document.


A chain of evidence is an unbroken account of a piece of evidence from its origin, to an exhibit in court.


A Challenge for Cause is when the defence request that the judge discharges a potential juror from serving on a jury, and provides a valid legal reason why they shouldn't serve.


A Challenge to a Jury is when either side in a case objects to the people who have been selected to serve on the jury before they are sworn in.


A Challenge to the Array is when the defence objects to all the jurors.


Like a Challenge for Cause, A Challenge Without Cause happens when the defence objects to a juror, but in this case does not say why.


There are two meanings of Chambers:
A private room, or Court from which the public are excluded in which a District Judge or Judge may conduct certain sorts of hearings, or offices used by a Barrister.


All barristers are required to be self-employed. Because they are not permitted to form partnerships in the way that solicitors do, barristers form chambers. Members will share office accommodation and overheads. Every barrister’s chambers will have an experienced barrister or barristers as its head of chambers. Within chambers, there will be barristers of varying degrees of seniority from very junior barristers through to senior barristers, and sometimes Queens Counsel (QC’s). In most chambers there are barristers’ clerks who are responsible for much of the administrative work of barristers.


The work of the Chancery Division, which is dealt with by Chancery Chambers, includes claims relating to:

  • trusts
  • contentious probate (contesting the validity of a will)
  • companies
  • land
  • other claims - for example for professional negligence or breach of contract – which involve issues of trust, company, land or conveyancing law or procedure
  • claims for dissolution of partnerships or the taking of partnership accounts
  • claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 proceedings for breach of a restrictive covenant(an agreement in a deed which limits an owner’s use or enjoyment of his/her property); breach of trust or fiduciary duty (the duty owed by a person who is in a position of trust e.g. solicitor or trustee)
  • commercial disputes including international commercial disputes
  • claims relating to membership of or exclusion from or dissolution of a club or other incorporated association
  • revenue matters (i.e. appeals against various taxes such as Income Tax or VAT)
  • Patents Court: intellectual property such as copyright, patents & registered designs, trademark infringements, inventions and passing off (a person’s goods or services being misrepresented as someone else’s). Although listed separately, proceedings in the Patents Court are issued in Chancery Registry and dealt with by Chancery Judges and Masters nominated to do so.


In law there are various meanings for the term Charge:
• formal accusation against a person that a criminal offence has been committed
• to use property as security for a debt, such as a mortgage
• a direction given by a judge to tell the jury what they must do



A Charge Certificate is a certificate which the Land Registry issues to the legal mortgagee, ie the lender, who has lent money on the security of registered land. The certificate is proof of the legal mortgagee's right to the security.


A Charge Sheet is the document a police officer uses to record details of an accusation made against a suspect.


A Chargeable Event is an event that may create a tax liability.


Chargeable gain is a gain on which capital gains tax is apyable. if a capital asset, such as a house is sold at a profit, then tax on the gain has to be calculated, unless for any reason the asset is one which is exempted by law.


A Charges Clause is a clause which appears in some contracts and sets out who should pay for certain items.


In Land Law, a Charges Register is part of the charge certificate which is evidence of someones' title. The register shows details of any mortgages, restrictions on the use of land, or rights someone alse may have over the land such as a right of way.


In Trust Law, if there is a charging clause, trustees can charge the trust for their services.


A Charging Order is an order, or a court judgement directing that a charge be registered at the Land Registry on property owned by the debtor. This is also a form of enforcing civil debt. It is also an order preventing the sale or disposal of a property until the charge has been cleared


A Charity is an organisation which has been set up to do good for the community, for example helping disabled people, homeless people, educate people and protect children or animals. Official charities should be registered with the Charity Commission.


The Charity Commission is an organisation which is responsible for ensuring that charities are managed correctly, and also decides if proposed charities can be placed on the register of charities.


A Chattel is any property other than freehold land.


Chattels Personal is the name for tangible goods (goods which can be touched) such as watches, clothes, furniture etc.


Chattels Real is another name for leasehold land.


In Tax Law, a Cheat is a person who fails to send their tax return to the tax authorities, or fails to pay any tax owed, such as income tax or value added tax (VAT).


A Cheque is a written order addresses to a bank, instructing that bank to pay an amount of money to the person or organisation named on the cheque. The money is taken out of the account of the person who writes the cheque.


A Cheque Card is a card issued by a bank to a customer. It gurantees that a cheque used with the card will be paid for upto the amount on the card, providing the person issuing the cheque has kept to all the conditions.


Chief Rent is money charged regularly on freehold land. Despite its name it is not rent.


Child Abuse is ill-treatment or molestation suffered by a child.


A Child Assessment Order is an order which a local authority may apply for through a court to assess a childs situation if there are concerns about the childs welfare.


The Child Support Agency is part of the Department of Social Security and supervises the assessment and payment of maintenance for children.


Child Support Maintenance is an amount of money (maintenance) the parent not living with their child must pay.


Children in care are children who are being looked after by a local authority. The loacl authority takes on the responsibility of the children as it was a parent.


A Chose is an item of property; anything which can be owned.


A chose in action is a right such as a patent, or a right to recover a debt. A chose in action does ot physically exist, for example you cannot touch patents or rights because they have no physical existance.


Unlike a chose in action, a chose in possession is an object which physically exists, such as furniture.


The Circuit is any of the six legal regions into which the United Kingdom is divided. Each circuit has its own system to administer the courts within the circuit.


Circumstantial Evidence is evidence which suggets a fact but does not prove that the fact is true.


A Citation is:
- a summons to appear in court
- a notice sent out by someone wanting a grant of probate, or letters of administration asking people to come forward if they object to it
- a quoting from a completed case to support an argument



A Citizens Arrest is an arrest made by someone other than a police officer. The offence must be being committed or have already been committed when the arrest is done.
A person who makes a citizen's arrest could risk exposing him or herself to possible lawsuits or criminal charges if the wrong person is apprehended or a suspect's civil rights are violated.
The level of responsibility that a person performing a citizen's arrest may bear depends on the jurisdiction.


'Civil' refers to matters concerning private rights and not offences against the state.


A Civil Case or Civil Claim is a civil dispute that involves court action.


In civil proceedings the person who wins the case is generally entitled to his/her costs. If the court believes that the winner has behaved unreasonably, they may decide to reduce the costs to be paid by the losing side.


A Civil Court is a court which does not hear criminal cases and deals with peoples rights such as the collection of debts.


Civil Justice, or Civil Law is a branch of the law which relates to the rights and business of private citizens. It does not include criminal immigration, employment or family matters.


The result of the Access to Justice report by Lord Woolf The aim is to provide more effective access to Justice through quicker, cheaper and more proportionate justice for defended cases It introduced a unified set of Rules and Practice Directions for the County and High Courts, and Judicial Case Management The reforms came into effect on 26 April 1999


A Civil Law Dispute is a dispute between two people or organisations where one wants money or some form of settlement from the other because of something that has happened.


The Civil Procedure lays out the rules and procedures which are to be followed for civil cases in the County Court and the High Court.


A Civil Restraining Order is an order made at any level of court and by any level of judge, to prohibit the issue of further applications within a set of proceedings without the permission of a judge.


In general terms a claim (previously referred to as an action) is:
- a proceeding issued in the County or High Court
- to demand a remedy
- an application for something such as a right



In law, a Claim Form is the form that a claim is issued on to an individual to appear or produce evidence in court. Previously known as a Summons in the UK.


A Claimant is the person issuing the claim. Also known the Plaintiff.


A clandestine is something that is kept from the view of others intentionally, whether in violation of the law or to hide something potentially illegal.


Calls for the introduction of a national disclosure scheme gained momentum following the tragic case of Clare Wood, who was murdered by her former partner in Greater Manchester in 2009. Her partner had three previous convictions under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
A Pilot scheme was put in to force in 2012 by Gwent and Wiltshire Police; The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, known as Clare's Law.
Under the scheme women will have the right to ask the police whether a new or existing partner has a violent past. If police checks show that a person may be at risk of domestic violence from their partner, the police will consider disclosing the information.
The pilot will also look at how the police can proactively release information to protect a person from domestic violence where it is lawful, necessary and proportionate to do so.
Both processes can be implemented within existing legal powers but new guidance developed for the pilot will help ensure that recognised and consistent processes are in place.
Forces in Nottinghamshire and Greater Manchester have also since joined the pilot, which runs until September 2013.


Class action is when different people combine their lawsuits due to similarities in the case facts. An example of a class act law suit would be after an air crash where all survivors and/or their families join together to sue the company in question.


A Clause is a section within the terms of a contract.


"Claytons Case" derives from a U.K case in 1816; Devaynes vs Noble, where a precident was set that any funds withdrawn from an account are presumed to be debits from monies first in, i.e the first in first out principle. This rule does not apply to trustees who are presumed to have drawn their own money from mixed bank accounts and not the trust money, regardless to when it was deposited.


The clean hands doctrine is a rule of law where a person bringing a lawsuit, or coming to a court does so free from any unfair conduct, i.e. they have 'clean hands'.


A clearing bank is one of several major banks which work together to exchange and pay for cheques which their customers have written.


Some one involved in a case who has a Solicitor representing them.


A client-solicitor privilege is a right belonging to the client of a lawyer whereby the lawyer keeps any information given tothem by the client strictly confidential, which includes being protected from testimony in a court of law. If disclosure of the information may prevent a serious crime the privilege may be waived by the lawyer.


Clinical Negligence (formerly referred to as Medical Negligence) describes a medical accident where a patient has been harmed, not because of a complication which couldn't be avoided, but because a doctor or other healthcare professional has not given the proper standard of care. It doesn't mean that this person was incompetent. It can just mean that in a particular case, they made a mistake which they shouldn't have. Clinical negligence includes things such as: making a mistake during surgery, giving you the wrong drug; or making the wrong diagnosis or delaying a diagnosis unnecessarily. Clinical negligence can also include not doing things that should be done, such as: not giving you treatment you needed; not getting your consent (agreement) to treatment; or not warning you about the risks of a particular type of treatment. If you or a relative have been the victim of clinical negligence, you may be able to claim compensation.


A Close Company is a company controlled by five people or less, or by its directors.


A Closing Order is an order prohibiting the use of a house because the house is not fit for humans to live in.


What is a Closure Notice?

A Closure Notice allows Police to shut down licensed premises that regularly cause noise and /or demonstrate persistent nuisance and rowdy behaviour.

A Closure Notice can also be extended to dwellings where people deal in and take class A drugs.

A Closure Notice allows Police to close these premises for up to six months.



A person named as an adulterer (or third person) in a petition for divorce


A code of practice is a set of guidlines and regulations set out by a company, organisation or trade for its own people to follow to establish good practice. A code of practice may include both voluntary measures and those required by Law. The latter being admissable before a Tribunal or Court of Law.


The Codecision Procedure, now referred to as Ordinary Legislative Procedure, is the main legislative procedure by which directives and regulations are adopted.

One of the important changes introduced by the Lisbon Treaty (or the Treaty of the European Union (TEU) and the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)) is the fact that co-decision becomes the "ordinary legislative procedure", i.e. what used to be the exception in decision-making has become the norm for most policy areas.

As defined in Article 294 of the TFEU, the co-decision procedure is the legislative process which is central to the Community's decision-making system. It is based on the principle of parity and means that neither institution (European Parliament or Council) may adopt legislation without the other's assent.

Having been established by the Maastricht Treaty, and extended and adapted by the Treaty of Amsterdam, where it was also made more effective, and the Treaty of Nice, the co-decision procedure now covers more than 80 areas under the first pillar  (based on the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union - TFEU).

Since the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty until 30 June 2009, some 900 co-decision procedures have been successfully completed, apart from just three cases.


Codicil are pages that need to be added to a valid will which needs a minor alteration. The codicil must be signed in the presence of a witness and then attched to the existing will.


In many countries codification contains whole areas of law in single code rather than being divided like in England and Wales between the common law , which derived from decisions of judges over centuries, and statute law which is enacted by Parliament.


A Codifying Statute is used to bring together all the strands of the law on a particular subject.


Coercion is when an individual is forced to behave in a particular way by often by threats of violence. The individual does not act freely of their own accord.


The UK Government defines Coercive Behaviour as:

'An act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm , punish, or frighten their victim'.

This definition includes so called honour based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.

Whilst this term is not legislation, this definition is intended to inform victims of what constitutes domestic violence and abuse.


Collaboration is a term used widely in law and is the act of working together.


Collateral is extra security for a debt. If there is a main security for a debt, for example a house would be security for a mortgage, any extra security supplied is called collateral.


A collusion is a secret agreement between two or more people who appear to have conflicting interests to abuse the legal system , deceive a court or defraud a third party.
An example of this would be where a married couple choose to lie about the duration of their seperation in order to get a divorce settled sooner. 


A comfort letter is a letter from an EU official stating that the European Commission intends to close the file on a case involving a possible breach of the competition rules.


The Commercial Court is part of the Queen's Bench division of the High Court.


A commission is a group of experts brought together on a regular basis to debate specific matters within theor line of expertise. The members of the commission would have quasi judicial or regulatory powers.
Commissions also usually have advisory powers to government, for example the Law Commission.


A Commissioner for Oaths is a person, usually a solicitor, authorised by the Lord Chancellor to administer oaths and affirmations to a statement of evidence


In 2012, the committal proceedings process was superseded by "allocation of either way offences" in the Magistrates Court in England and Wales.

Prior to 2012 the different aspects of "committal" were:

  • Committal for Trial: Following examination by the Magistrates of a case involving and indictable or either way offence, the procedure of directing the case to the Crown Court to be dealt with.
  • Committal for Sentence: Where the Magistrates consider that the offence justifies a sentence greater than they are empowered to impose they may commit the defendant to the Crown Court for sentence to be passed by a judge.
  • Uncontested Committal: Where the committal is uncontested and the accused (who must still attend) is represented, the committal will take place without the court considering the evidence.
  • Contested Committal: At a contested committal winnesses are called and cross examined.

For any changes to these processes since 2012 see "allocation of either way offences".

The following procedures still remain current:

  • Committal Order: An order of the Court committing someone to prison.
  • Committal Warrant: Method of enforcing an order of the Court whereby the penalty for failing to comply with its terms is imprisonment; the bailiff is authorised to carry out the arrest and deliver the person to prison (or in some instances the Court).


In 2012, the committal proceedings process was superseded by "allocation of either way offences" in the Magistrates Court in England and Wales.
Prior to 2012, committal for sentence occured when magistrates found someone guilty of a crime but they thought their sentencing powers were not harsh enough. The magistrates then transfered the case to the Crown Court where a higher sentence could have been imposed. For any changes to this process see "allocation of either way offences".


In 2012, the committal proceedings process was superseded by "allocation of either way offences" in the Magistrates Court in England and Wales.
Prior to 2012, "committal for trial" was where magistrates looked at the evidence in a case and then sent the case to be heard in the Crown Court. For any changes to this process see "allocation of either way offences".


A Committal Hearing is a procedure in the Magistrates Court where in "either way" cases the defendant is committed to stand his or her trial in the Crown Court.

The Committal Process has now been superseded by allocation of either way offences in England and Wales.


A Committal Order is an order used to send somone to prison for contempt of court.


In 2012, the committal proceedings process was superseded by "allocation of either way offences" in the Magistrates Court in England and Wales.

Procedure prior to 2012.
If a defendant pleads not guilty or declines to indicate a plea at the magistrates' court, a mode of trial hearing will take place.

If a Magistrates Court declines jurisdiction or the defendant elects to be tried at the Crown Court, the case will be adjourned for committal proceedings.Committal proceedings will be in one of two forms, depending on whether the defendant wishes to challenge the strength of the evidence at the committal stage.

If the defendant does wish to challenge the evidence, committal proceedings will take place under section 6(1) of the Magistrates Courts Act 1980 (MCA 1980).
The magistrates, sitting as examining justices, will consider the statements and exhibits submitted by the prosecution.
There will be no oral evidence and the defence are not entitled to present any evidence at all, documentary or otherwise.

After considering the evidence, which is read out, and hearing submissions from both parties, the court will decide whether there is sufficient evidence to put the defendant on trial by jury. If the court finds that there is, the defendant is committed to the Crown Court to stand trial.If the court finds that there is not, the defendant is discharged.

If the defendant does not wish to challenge the evidence at the committal stage, they may agree to committal proceedings taking place under section 6(2) of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980, in which case there will be no consideration of the evidence.

These proceedings are known as "paper" committals, the original signed statements (or a copy of the signed statements), are served on the court at the hearing. The evidence is not read to the court. As soon as it is known that committal proceedings are to be held, the defendant's agreement to this form of committal should be sought.

All committal proceedings should be conducted by a solicitor or counsel.


Committee of Inspection is a committee appointed from the creditors of a company in liquidaton to oversee the liquidators work.


'Committee of the Whole House' is the name which describes the whole House of Commons when sitting as a committee.


Commorientes is a latin phrase and is where closey related people die at the same time, but it is unclear which of them died first.


Common duty of care is the duty of the occupier of premises or land to take reasonable care of visitors to make sure they are kept safe.


The law established, by precedent, from judicial decisions and established within a community


Common seal is the seal companies use to validate important company documents. The company's name is engraved on the seal.


A common share is a basic share in a company. Common shares tend to have voting rights and a right to any dividents on a pro rata basis.


A Community Service Order is 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 instead of being sent to prison.


Companies House is the office which stores company information such as annual accounts, director's names and addresses and the registered office address. This information can be viewed by the public if required.


The Company Secretary is the person appointed by the director/directors of a company, and is responsible in ensuring that the company complies with the Companies Acts.


Compensation is a sum of money to make up for or make amends for loss, breakage, hardship, inconvenience or personal injury caused by another.


Compensation for loss of office is a lump sum of compensation a company pays to an employee whose contract has been ended.


A compensation order is an order by a court issued to a criminal to compensate the victim of the crime.


A Complainant is a person who makes a complaint.


A Complaint is an expression of discontent or resentment of something.


In Conveyancing, completion is the transferring of a property in exchange for payment.
In Land, Property & Real Estate, where 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 trasferred to the person buying it, in return for the seller receiving the rest of the purchase price.


Composition with creditors is an arrangement between a debtor and the creditors. The creditors agree to accept a proportion of what is owed to them in full settlement.


Compulsory Purchase is 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 landowner.


Compulsory Winding Up is 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 is failure by one side negotiating a contract to disclose information which the other side would need to consider when deciding whether or not to go ahead.


Concealment of Securities is hiding or destroying a document such as a will to gain benefit for yourself, or cause other people loss of benefit.


Conciliation is an element of Dispute Resolution, which to some solicitors is a specialised area of law.

Part of the process involves the parties to a dispute identifing the issues within the dispute, develop options, consider alternatives and endeavour to reach an agreement.

This process takes place with the assistance of a dispute resolution practitioner, also referred to as the conciliator.


A Conciliator is a person who conciliates in cases of Dispute Resolution.

A Conciliator tries to bring peace to the dispute.

See Conciliation.


Conclusive Evidence is evidence which cannot be disputed by law.


Concurrent Sentence is when someone is sentenced for different crimes and the sentences of imprisonment should run at the same time


A duplicate of the original writ bearing the same date and expiring at the same time as the original


A Condition is a term within a contract between two parties.

If a condition of a contract is breached by one party, then the other may be entitled to terminate the contract and even claim compensation.


Condition Precedent is something which must happen before a contract starts.


Condition Subsequent is something which may happen in the future and if it does, will affect the contract.


A Conditional Agreement is 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.


A Conditional Contract is a written contract that is signed by two parties, but where there are still conditions that need to be met.

A Conditional Contract is frequently used in the sale or purchase of houses, where the term 'subject to contract' is often referred to, and the sale is not complete until signed contracts have been exchanged.


A discharge of a convicted defendant without sentence on condition that he/she does not re-offend within a specified period of time


A Conditional Sale Agreement is a type of credit agreement which relates to the sale of goods. The total price of the goods may be payable by several installments over an agreed period of time, all of which will be set out in the contract. The buyer will not become the owner of the goods until all conditions of the contract have been met, and in particular, the final payment has been made.


i) Money paid to a witness in advance of the hearing of a case as compensation for time spent attending Court ii) Commonly used to describe expenses paid to a debtor to cover the costs of travelling to Court


Confiscation is a legal process by which the Court determines the benefit from a convicted person’s criminal conduct and an equivalent amount (where recoverable) is returned to the state. It is not just for serious criminals but applies in every case of acquisitive crime.
Confiscation may not be restricted to the proceeds of the offences of which the defendant has been convicted. If the defendant is deemed to have a ‘criminal lifestyle’ it should include all criminal conduct up to the date when the court makes the confiscation order, whether or not it has been the subject of criminal proceedings.
Confiscation is possible in cases where an offender has benefited directly or indirectly from their crime. In this context, benefit does not mean profit but the value of property obtained by the offender as a result of or in connection with his or her criminal conduct, even if the offender only obtained the property momentarily, before passing it on to another.


A confiscation order follows the legal process of confiscation and requires an offender to pay back the equivalent of the benefit from their criminal conduct. If the offender can prove that they do not have sufficient means to do so, they will be ordered to pay an amount equal to the value of all their assets, plus any ‘tainted gifts’. The confiscation order itself does not transfer the title of any property. If the amount is not repaid, a default sentence is served consecutively with any sentence already imposed, and the amount of the outstanding confiscation order remains to be paid. Enforcement action may also be taken.


The purpose of confiscation proceedings is to recover the financial benefit that an offender has obtained from their criminal conduct. The court calculates the value of that benefit and orders the offender to pay an equivalent sum (or less where a lower sum is available for confiscation). Proceedings are conducted according to the civil standard of proof, i.e. on the balance of probabilities. In certain circumstances the court is empowered to assume that the defendant's assets, and their income and expenditure during the period of six years before proceedings were brought, have been derived from criminal conduct and calculate the confiscation order accordingly.


A Solicitor must not act on behalf of two or more clients where a conflict of intersts occurs between them.


A consecutive sentence is when someone is sentenced to imprisonment for different crimes and the second sentence is to commence as soon as a previous sentence expires. This may apply to more than two sentences.


Consent is to agree to something. A contract would not be valid unless all the parties consented to it.


Consideration is an element within Contract Law. Consideration requires the parties within a contract, to give up something of value, to receive something of value.

Consideration is the 'price' in a contract for the other party's promise. For example, in an insurance contract 'Consideration' usually means money. The 'price' would be the premium paid by the policy holder for insurance protection. The 'price' may be a promise or an act, e.g a promise of payment. A party may only take legal action on a promise, if he has given consideration (something) in return for the promise.



The Consignee is the person goods have been sent to.


The Consignor is the person who has sent goods.


A Consistory Court is a court for the clergy. There is one for each diocese.


Conspiracy is an agreement by two or more people to commit a crime, or people acting together and harming a third party.


Constructive describes something which may not be set out in the law but will considered to exist all the same.


In Employment Law, constructive dismissal is where an employer breaks fundamental terms of the contract of employment, thus forcing the employee to resign. In such circumstances the employee can apply for a hearing before an industrial tribunal.


Constructive notice is presuming something is known. The law sometimes presumes that a person knows something even though they do not.


Is a conference between Solicitors and Barristers engaged on the same side of a cause, for the purpose of examining their case, arranging their evidence, and removing any difficulties that may obstruct the case.
It is also a meeting between a Solicitor and their client to examine and determine the best way to forward a case.


The Consumer Credit Act 1974 is a consumer protection law in the UK. Until 6 April 2008, it required certain businesses to obtain Consumer credit licences and protected individuals receiving credit up to £25,000. After that date, new agreements for credit in excess of £25,000 are also protected as a result of amendments made by the Consumer Credit Act 2006.

Consumer Credit Licences are issued by the Office of Fair Trading. It is illegal to offer credit services without a valid licence, and penalties include inprisonment.

Cancellable agreements have a cooling-off period starting on the day the customer signs. This period is 14 days for goods bought from a mail-order catalogue. Otherwise, it is five days from the day the customer receives either a second copy of the agreement or a separate copy of a notice of cancellation rights.

You will only benefit from a cooling off period concerning a credit agreement if the credit agreement was signed away from the creditor's normal business premises, eg at your home or place of work, or for agreements made online, by phone or by post.

For agreements signed at your home or place of work, you will have a cooling off period of 5 days, which begins from the time you receive the second copy of the agreement (containing the cancellation form). For agreements made online, by post or by phone, you benefit from a 14 day cooling off period.


A Consumer Credit Agreement, is a general term used to describe different types of credit agreements which in most cases are regulated by the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

Some examples of regulated credit agreements are: Hire Purchase Agreements, Credit Sale Agreements and Conditional Sale Agreements.

Agreements which are exempt from the Consumer Credit Act include:

  • agreements to hire gas, electricity or water meters
  • trade agreements with short repayment periods, where the number of repayments is four or more (unless it is a hire purchase or conditional sale agreement)
  • agreements where the whole of the credit for a period is repayable by a single payment, for example, charge cards, or milk bills. Hire purchase and conditional sale agreements are not exempt
  • loans secured on land, for example, mortgages
  • credit given at less than commercial rates of interest, for example loans from credit unions or an employer.


The Consumer Credit Act 1974 requires most businesses that offer credit or lend money to consumers to be licensed by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). This includes where credit is arranged to finance the purchase of goods or services. Licensing arrangements may also be required by debt collectors, debt advisors and businesses that offer goods for hire or leasing. Trading without a licensing arrangement is a criminal offence and can result in a fine and/or imprisonment.

A business is likely to need a licence if the following are carried out: 

- sells on credit
- hires or leases out goods for more than three months
- lends money
- issues credit cards or trading checks
- arranges credit for others
- offers hire-purchase terms
- collects consumer credit debts
- helps people with debt problems
- advises on people's credit standing
- administers agreements for creditors or assignees but does not collect debts
- helps individuals to find and correct records about their financial standing

Consumer credit regulations apply to agreements where the borrower or hirer is an individual, a sole trader, a partnership with three or fewer partners or an unincorporated association, regardless of the amount of credit or the cost of the hire.

In general, credit agreements between businesses do not fall under the scope of the regulations, particularly if the credit amount is greater than £25,000. You should seek legal advice before entering into a credit agreement with another business.

Unless your business is a credit reference agency, you're unlikely to need licensing if you:

- only deal with limited companies or Limited Liability Partnerships
- offer no other form of credit than accepting credit cards issued by someone else
- allow customers to pay their bills in four or fewer instalments over a year
Remember - the rules don't just apply to specialist credit businesses. If, for example, you run a small retail business that offers credit terms or hires out goods to consumers, you should check whether you need to be licensed.

If your business requires consumer credit licensing and you trade without being licensed, you're committing a criminal offence that could result in a fine or a prison sentence - or both.



Contemp of Court is a court order which deems an individual of being disrespectful of the court and its process, for example; disobeying a court order, abusing a judge during a court case or interfering in the administration of justice.


Contemptuous damages are extremely small damages which may be awarded if the court considers that the case should not have been brought to court, even though the case may have been won.


A contingency fee is paid to the claimant's lawyer only if the case is won by the claimant. The fee is often a proportion of the damages won.


A contingent legacy is a gift in a will which will only be made if certain conditions are met.


A contract is a binding agreement between two or more party's and is enforceable by law.


A Contract for services is a contract under which materials and services are provided by a contractor.


A contract of exchange is a contract to exchange goods without money being involved.


A contract of service is the contract between an employer and an employee.


Contributory negligence is partial responsibility of a claimant for the injury or damage done in respect of which he/she claims damages.


The UK Government defines Controlling Behaviour as:

'A range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance an escape and regulating their everyday behaviour'.

See also Domestic Violence and Abuse 


Conversion is exchanging one sort of property for another, for example exchanging money for goods, or acting unlawfully to deprive another person of their ownership of goods.


Convey is to transfer ownership of something.


Conveyance is the name for carrying out all the actions needed to transfer the ownership of a piece of land.


Conveyancing is the legal process to transfer the ownership of a property from the seller to the buyer.
Legal fees for the cost of the conveyancing are payable to the solicitor or licensed conveyancer. The fee charged by a solicitor is based on the time and costs of legal registrations and miscellaneous costs (known as disbursements).
Solicitors' fees vary from practice to practice, although 1% of the purchase price may be used as an average guide. People selling an existing property have an additional charge to pay for the conveyancing of their existing property to a new buyer.




Conviction is being found guilty of a criminal offence.


A Cooling Off Period is a length of time in which the two sides to a purchase agreement, or contract can think things over and cancel with no penalty.

Unless there is an agreement between the two sides, the right to cancel via the cooling off period does not apply to:

  • Auctions
  • Goods made to order – for example personalised T-shirts, tailored suits, furniture made to specific dimensions on request etc
  • Audio/video recordings when unsealed/opened by the consumer
  • Computer software when unsealed/opened by the consumer (this includes turning on a computer that contains software)
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Betting, gaming or lottery services
  • Contracts for accommodation, transport, catering or leisure services, for a specific time or date (such as train tickets, airline tickets, concert tickets or hotel bookings)


Copyright is a legal right which stops things being copied without permission. If you have the copyright over something such as a book or music, it cannot be copied without your permission.


A coroner is an official responsible for investigating deaths, particularly those happening under unusual circumstances, and determining the cause of death. The additional roles and qualifications or the coroner vary significantly not only by country but by jurisdiction.


The term "coroner" is used to refer to the executive officers of the High Court of the Isle of Man, i.e those who execute court orders within their sheadings, namely jury summons (each Coroner is the head on one of six administrative districts known as sheadings).
This is not to be confused with the Coroner of Inquests (Isle of Man).


The Coroner of Inquests is an independent judicial officer who follows laws which apply to coroners and inquests. In the Isle of Man, the Coroner of Inquests is always the High Bailiff or the Deputy High Bailiff.
The Coroner of Inquests inquires into deaths which appear violent, unnatural, sudden or unexplained.
A full inquest will determine:-
• who has died;
• where the death occurred
• when the death occurred; and
• how the person died.
An inquest is not a trial and the Coroner does not apportion blame.

This not to be confused with a Coroner (Isle of Man).


The Coroner's Court holds an inquest to determine how, when and where the individual died, and in some cases a Coroner will singularly head this court. Deputy and Assistant Deputy Coroners act when the Coroner is not available, in doing so, they exercise the full powers of the Coroner.


A corporate body, or corporation is a group of people acting together, such as a club. The group has a seperate legal identity from its individual members. A company is also an example of a corporate body.


Corporation Tax is a tax which companies pay on their profits.


Corroboration, or Corroborating Evidence is evidence by one person confirming that of another.


This is the word used for fees paid to a solicitor either by his own client or the losing party in litigation. These are regulated in law and by the courts although frequently settled by agreement.


A Costs Judge is a procedural Judge who assess legal fees to see that they are fair.


The term Counsel (England & Wales) refers to a Barrister who pleads cases in court.


In Scottish Law, the term Counsel refers to an Advocate who is a member of the Faculty Of Advocates. They can also do cases in all Courts and work from stables.


A 'Count' is an individual offence set out in an indictment.


A Counterclaim is a claim made by a defendant against a claimant in an action. There is no limit imposed on a counterclaim, but a fee is payable according to the amount counterclaimed.


Counterfeit is something which has been copied or forged with the intent of deceiving.


A counterpart is an exact copy of a document.


Sometimes inaccurately referred to as the Small Claims Court, County Courts deal with civil matters including all monetary claims up to £50,000. Many County Courts have extra powers which enable them to deal with divorce and other family proceedings, bankruptcy actions, matters relating to children and cases involving ships and boats known as admiralty actions. Some County Courts are also branch offices of the High Court known as district registries.
County Courts are broken into two divisions:

County Court - Civil
Civil cases involve hearings in open court which the public may attend, hearings in the judge's private room from which the public are excluded, and matters decided by the judge in private but on the basis of the papers alone, without any attendances by the parties or their legal representatives.

County Court - Family
The family courts deal mainly with two sorts of work - private cases involving parents and their children, and public work when local councils take action to remove children from their parents' care because they are being hurt in some way.



A County Court Judgement, commonly referred to as a CCJ, is a judgment of the county court that orders a defendant to pay a sum of money to the claimant. CCJs are recorded on the Register of County Court Judgments for six years and can affect a defendant’s ability to borrow money.


In investments a coupon is a dated piece of paper attached to a bond. The coupon must be surrendered to get the interest or the dividend on the bond.


A Court Bundle is the documents relevant to the case used in Court. They are paginated chronologically and numbered.


To issue a charge in a civil court a Court Fee is charged by the County Court. The fee varies depending on the amount of the claim. A fee is also charged to launch proceedings if the defendant ignores the judgement of the court.


The Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) sits in London at the Royal Courts of Justice. It deals with appeals from the Crown Court and is precided over by Lord Chief Justice, who is the most senior judge in England and Wales. The Court of Appeal is normally constitued by any three of the Lord Justice of Appeal and the Lord Chief Justice. The 25 Lord Justices of Appeal are assisted by High Court Judges when required.



The Court of protection is a branch of the High Court with jurisdiction over the estates of people mentally incapable of handling their own financial affairs.


In Scotland, the role of the Court Officer calls the accused and witnesses into the Court room and helps maintain order. Also referred to as Macers in the High Court.


The room in which judicial cases are heard.


A formal agreement or a contract constituting an obligation to perform an act


A Credit Sale is a common type of credit agreement. Under a  credit sale agreement, you purchase the goods at the cash price, and then repayment is made in installments, or sometimes payment is required at a later date. In most cases, interest will be added, however some suppliers offer interest-free credit. 

You are the legal owner of the goods as soon as the contract is made and the goods cannot be returned if you change your mind. The supplier cannot repossess the goods if you fall behind in repayments but can take court action to recover the money owed if you are in arrears.

Also see Consumer Credit Agreement


A Creditor is a person to whom money is owed by a debtor.


A Creditors Voluntary Winding Up is when a company is insolvent, i.e cannot pay its debts, and the members pass a special resolution to have the company wound up, or liquidated.


Person who has been found guilty of a criminal offence


What is a Criminal Anti-Social Behaviour Order (CRASBO)

A Criminal Anti-Social Behaviour Order (CRASBO) differs from an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) as the order is made in addition to a criminal conviction or a conditional discharge.

The aim of a CRASBO is to impose conditions on an individual and stop them from re offending and behaving in an anti social manner. The conditions imposed will relate to the type of offence committed, (like those of an ASBO) and may include:

  • committing any anti-social or criminal acts
  • associating with certain friends/ acquaintances
  • entering defined areas in the community
  • entering certain buildings, shopping areas etc
  • leaving home after a certain time in the evening – curfew

Criminal Anti-Social Behaviour Order’s (CRASBO’s) are designed to protect the wider community by encouraging the reporting of crime and anti-social behaviour.

If an individual breaches a CRASBO they are committing a criminal offence that could result in a prison sentence. The maximum penalty is 5 years imprisonment for an adult or a 2 year Detention and Training Order (DTO) for juveniles, of which 12 months will be served in custody.


Criminal conduct is conduct which constitutes an offence in the United Kingdom or would constitute such an offence if it occurred there.


Criminal Damage is the criminal offence of causing damage to someone elses property, either recklessly or intentionally.


This area of law covers legal help on everything to do with criminal proceedings. For example, it includes being investigated, prosecuted and sentenced. You may need advice on length of prison sentence, detention or parole. This category also covers help about the way prisoners are treated.


Criminal Responsibility is when a person reaches the age when the law says they are able to commit a criminal offence. The age of Criminal Responsibility in England and Wales is currently 10. In Scotland it is 8, but soon to be raised to 12 (confirmed by Scottish Ministers 2009).


'Crocodile Tears' is a term used to describe the situation when a person or persons put on a very public display of emotion, that in the end turns out to be false and a nothing more than an act.
The term is widely used by the media to describe instances when somebody (usually claiming to be a victim) appears to be very upset when in fact they may be the criminal themselves; when the guilty party of a criminal act takes on the media frontline and turns on the tears in an attempt to fool or win over the public.


Cross Examiniation is when a witness on the opposite side in a case is questioned. Cross Examination follows Examination in Chief.


Crown Court tries more serious criminal cases, as well as hearing appeals from Magistrates Courts. It sits at permanent sites throughout England and Wales, each centre being designated as first, second or third tier, reflecting the seriousness of the offences tried. Trial is by a jury of 12 people selected at random from the elctoral register. They are directed on matters of law by a judge, who may be any one of the High Court Judges, Circuit Judges, Recorders and Assistant recorders (the latter two being part-time appointments).

First Tier

- Defended High Court Civil Work.

- All Classes of offence in criminal proceedings.

- Committals for sentence from the Magistrates' Court.

- Appeals against convictions and sentences imposed at Magistrates' Court

Second Tier

- All classes of offence in criminal proceedings.

- Committals for sentence from the Magistrates' Court.

- Appeals against convictions and sentences imposed at Magistrates' Court

Third Tier

- Class 4 offences only in criminal proceedings.

- Committals for sentence from Magistrates' Court

- Appeals against convictions and sentences.


Cumulative preference shares are shares which carry forward unpaid dividends. If the 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.


A curfew is when a court orders someone to stay at a named place at stated times of the day.


A customer information order is an order granted by the court in a confiscation investigation, money laundering investigation or civil recovery investigation. This order compels a financial institution covered by the application to provide any customer information it has relating to the person specified in the application, within a specified time.


Customs duties are duties which are charged on imports of goods into the United Kingdom, and on some exports.


Cyber Bullying is the sending or posting of inappropriate or cruel text or images using the internet or any other form of digital communication.
For further information see Bullying and Harassment



Damages are an amount of money claimed as compensation for physical/material loss, whether by means of personal injury or breach of contract.


Dangerous driving is driving that falls below the standards that are expected and that of a careful, competent driver. It would be obvious to such drivers that it is dangerous to drive that way and that they could be a danger and a hazard to other road users. A driver found guilty of dangerous driving by the court would be disqualified from driving.


The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) is a United Kingdom Act of Parliament which defines UK law on the processing of data on identifiable living people. It is the main piece of legislation that governs the protection of personal data in the UK. Although the Act does not mention privacy, in practice it provides a way in which individuals can control information about themselves.


In civil claims the date of service of the claim is the date at which the defendant receives the claim form issued by the court on behalf of the claimant. The defendant must acknowledge receipt of these particulars of the claim within 14 days.


A debate is a formal discussion in a public meeting or legislature, in which opposing arguments are presented.


A Debenture is a document issued by a company which acknowledges that some or all of the company's assets are security for a debt, normally to a bank. Debenture is also the name for some long term loans to companies.


A Debenture is an unsecured debt issued by a company backed only by the integrity of the borrower rather than by specified assets, such as a house on a mortgage or a car on a hire purchase agreement.


Debt is money that is owed.


Debt securities are debts which can be bought and sold, for example debentures.


Person owing money to another party


Deceit is when one person deliberately misleads a another with a statement which causes the other person to do something that causes them damage.


Deception is the act of convincing another person/body to beleive information that is not true, or not the whole truth. Deception involves conceots such as propaganda, distraction and concealment. Deception is also termed as 'Fraud'.


In Law, 'decision' may be the judgement of the Court or Tribunal.


Court order setting out the rights of a party in the form of a statement


An order of the Court in proceedings commenced by petition


A final certificate, resulting from an application, dissolving a marriage


A legal document which sets out the terms of an agreement, which is signed by both parties


A Deemster is a judge in the Isle of Man. The High Court of Justice of the Isle of Man is presided over by a Deemster.


Defamation is making a statement, either orally or in writing, which damages someones reputation.


If you default, you fail to do something which had been agreed, for example to keep up repayments on a loan.


Obtained by the claimant as a result of the failure of a defendant to comply with the requirements of a claim i.e. reply or pay within a 14 day period after service of the claim


Defence is the general term for the team of people, ie lawyers, who are defending against proceedings brought against someone. In a civil case, a defence is also a written statement by the defendant setting out the facts that the defence will rely on.


Similar roles as prosecution,except on the side of the defendant. Note that some Defence Solicitors also have right od audience in Crown Court and can conduct defences/trials without a Barrister


Argues for the defendant and may offer mitigation before sentencing.You may also encounter a defence Counsel.


The Defendant in civil cases is the person who has a claim made against them. They can either admit liability in part or in full,  or dispute claim.


The Defendant in criminal cases is the person standing trial or appearing for sentence.


In Scottish Law a Defender is a person who disputes the claim of the pursuer and lodges a defence.


Defending a claim is when the defendant disputes the claim made by the claimant.


See 'Secondary Legislation'


To consider the facts, the laws and/or other matters, particularly by members of a jury, a panel of judges, or by any group including a legislature.


A dependant is someone who depends on another for finacial support.


A deponent is a person giving evidence by affidavit, or a person who swears on oath that a statement is correct.


A statement of evidence written down and sworn on oath, or by affirmation


Depreciation is the drop in value of an asset due to wear and tear, age or the asset simply being outdated, such as a car where a new model is introduced.


The term Depute, means to delegate, or to transfer power to someone.


Deputy Circuit Judges are Judges that sit part-time in retirement.
A retired Circuit Judge still retains the title 'His Honour' or 'Her Honour' for life, but 'Judge' is dropped from the title.


Derogation is the act of damaging someone elses rights or entitlements.


A Judge designated to deal with the Civil Justice Reforms for a group of courts


What is a Designated Public Places Order (DPPO)/Drinking Banning Order (DBO)?

A Designated Public Places Order (DPPO)/Drinking Banning Order (DBO) can be applied to any location where there are persistent anti social behaviour problems caused by individuals drinking in public.

A Designated Public Places Order (DPPO)/Drinking Banning Order (DBO) gives Police the power to confiscate alcohol from individuals over the age of 18 if they suspect that the consumption of alcohol is causing or may lead to anti social behaviour.

If the offending individual refuses to comply with the Police they may be arrest and/or receive a fine of up to £500.

Police can not exercise a Designated Public Places Order (DPPO)/Drinking Banning Order (DBO) if an offending individual drinking in public is under the age of 18.

The police have alternative powers to confiscate alcohol from underage drinkers.


When a court makes a costs order it may make a details assessment of costs. A costs officer would carry out the assessment.


What is a Detention and Training Order (DTO)

A Detention and Training Order (DTO) is an order given by the court sentencing a young person (aged between 12 and 17 years) to custody.

A DTO would be given where a young offender has been convicted of a crime which is punishable with imprisonment as in the case of an adult, if the offence is so serious that only custodial punishment is justifiable, or if the crime involved violence or a sexual offence where again only a custodial sentence would be adequate to protect the public from the young offender.

The courts are only able to give a DTO for a certain length of time; 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 18 or 24 months. The seriousness of the offence is of course taken into account by the court when passing sentence. The first half of the sentence is served in detention and the remainder is served in the community under the supervision of a probation officer, social worker or a member of a Youth Offending Team.

Detention and Training Order (DTO) - Serious Offences

Violent or sexual crimes
In cases of violent or sexual offences - young people can get an extended sentence. This means a young offender can spend a long time in custody, and following release,  be put under supervision for further prolonged period of time (for example, being tagged).

In cases involving murder, a court can set a minimum amount of time to be spent in custody. The young person can not apply for parole before this time.
When released, the young person will be kept under supervision for the rest of their life.

Other serious crimes
In certain situations the sentence for a young offender can last as long as the sentence given to an adult for the same offence (but no longer), including a life sentence.

Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 - Offenders under 18 - Detention and Training Order


In civil cases, if the defendant offers to pay the claimant an amount by installments and the claimant rejects the offer, an officer of the court will make an assessment of what would be reasonable for the dependant to pay.


In criminal cases, Determination is the act of scrutinising a bill of costs in criminal proceedings to see if the work done and amount claimed is reasonable.


Person to whom freehold land is given by a will


Devise is to leave land in a will. Also see Bequeath.


Diminished Responsibilty is often used as defence for someone charged with murder, in suggesting that they may not have been in usual state of mind, therefore had less control over their reasoning and judgement. If their defence succeeds, then they may instead be convicted of manslaughter, a lesser charge.


Diocese is the area covered by a Bishop's authority.


A Diplomat is an official of one country who engages in negotiations tactfully and peacefully with those of other countries.


Diplomatic Immunity is immunity given to certain members of foreign embassies for crimes they may have committed.


Judges are often required to give juries instructions on points of law, and this is referred to as directing the jury.


In civil cases directions are case management instructions given by the judge which give a timetable for pre trial procedures. In cases allocated to the small claims track the judge will normally give standard direction. In cases allocated to the multi track, there may be several hearings on directions.


A person may be appointed as a Director of a company to help manage the company's affairs.


The inability of a person to handle their own affairs (e.g. through mental illness or a minor under 18 years of age) which prevents involvement in civil legal proceedings without representation


Disbursements are miscellaneous fees and charges incurred during a legal process, such as expert witness fees. These fees are made by a professional, such as a solicitor, on behalf of their client. These fees are then claimed back by being included on the bill for the services provided by the professional, i.e the solicitor.


In law, discharge may be interpreted as realease from a commitment, such as a debt; a contract, either because it has come to an end or the partied agreed to end it; a punishment for a crime.


To disclaim is to give up a claim or right. A disclaimer is a notice to restrict responsibility.


Disclosure refers to a process that forms part of legal proceedings, whereby the prosecution inform or disclose to the other parties the existence of relevant material that they have in their control.


Notice given by the Court, on instruction by the claimant, that they no longer wish to proceed with the case


Mutual exchange of evidence and all relevant information held by each party relating to the case


A discretionary trust is a trust in which the trustees can decide who will benefit from the trust and how much they will get.


Discrimination means treating a person more or less favourably than you would treat others in the same or similar circumstances. For example, discrimination could be conscious or unconscious and direct or indirect. One persons perception of what is discriminatory behaviour may differ from another's.


To make order or decision that a claim be ceased


What is a Dispersal order?

If certain areas are identified as having continued problems with anti-social behaviour then the police can grant a Dispersal Order. This could include areas such as parks or other communal areas where people congregate on a regular basis and display anti social behaviour.

A Dispersal Order’s main aim is to prevent anti-social behaviour by allowing police the power to direct groups or individuals to leave the area and not return for a period of up to 24 hours. If a person refuses to leave the area, they may then be arrested by Police.


Disposal is the selling, giving or throwing something away. For example crucial evidence may be disposed of by a guilty party in an attempt to cover up their crime.


A Dispute is a civil problem not dealt with in court. A civil dispute which does come to court is known as a civil case.


Distrain is to seize goods a security for an unpaid debt.


Diversity recognises and addresses the affects of discrimination on particular groups, but which focuses on improving opportunities for all. It is about respecting and valuing people as they are, rather than expecting them to conform to a stereotype.


A Divisee is the person who is left freehold property or land in a will.


As well as having an original jurisdiction of their own, all three divisions of the High Court have appellate jurisdiction to hear appeals from lower Courts and tribunals. The Divisional Court of the Chancery Division deals with appeals in bankruptcy matters from the County Court. The Divisional Court of the Queen's Bench Division deals largely with certain appeals on points of law from many Courts. The Divisional Court of the Family Division deals largely with appeals from Magistrates Courts in matrimonial matters a 'next friend' or 'guardian ad litem'


Divorce is the dissolution or nullity of marriage. The legal end to a marriage.


A divorce petition is an application for a divorce, ie the legal end to a marriage.


Enclosure in criminal Court for the defendant on trial


From the 31st March 2013 the definition of domestic violence (also referred to as domestic abuse) changed to include individuals aged 16 and 17. The change was introduced to increase awareness that young people from this age group are also victims of domestic violence and abuse.

The UK Government defines domestic violence as:

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse.


Domicile is the country where your permanent home is, even if you are living somewhere else temporarily.


Domicile of choice is the country in which you make your home, with the intention in making it permanent.


A domicile of origin is the domicile a newborn child has, and is usually it's father's domicile, or if the father has passed away, it will be it's mother's.


Domiciled is being permantly based in a country.


A Dominant Tenement is used when referring to easements to specify that property (i.e. tenement) or piece of land that benefits from, or has the advantage of, an easement


Double Jeopardy is the prosecution of a defendant for a criminal offense of which they have already been tried.


The drawee is the organisation which will pay a bill of exchange. In the case of a cheque, the drawee is the bank that the cheque is drawn on.


The drawer is the person or organisation that has written the bill of exchange.


Drug Classification

Controlled drugs (CDs) are drugs which are defined by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 as "dangerous or otherwise harmful" and have the potential for abuse or misuse.

Offences under the Act include:

• Possession of a controlled drug unlawfully
• Possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply it
• Supplying or offering to supply a controlled drug (even where no charge is made for the drug)
• Allowing premises you occupy or manage to be used unlawfully for the purpose of producing or supplying controlled drugs

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 divides drugs into three classes:

Class A
  Cocaine, crack, crystal meth, ecstasy, heroin, LSD (acid), magic mushrooms, methadone, opium, and any class B drug prepared for injection;
  Less common substances: dextromoramide (e.g. Palfium), dipipanone, fentanyl, mescaline, pethidine, PCP, all parts of the seeds of the opium poppy (after mowing);
  Maximum penalties: seven years in prison and/or a fine for possession, life imprisonment and/or a fine for possession with intent to supply.

Class B
  Amphetamines (speed), barbiturates, cannabis, codeine. This class also includes the following less common substances: dexamphetamine, dihydrocodeine (DF0118), methaqualone, methylphenidate hydrochloride (Ritalin), phenmetrazine (Filon);
  Maximum penalties: five years in prison and/or a fine for possession, 14 years in prison and/or a fine for possession with intent to supply.

Class C
  Ketamine, some tranquillisers like Temazepam, the supply of anabolic steroids;
  Maximum penalties: two years in prison and/or a fine for possession, five years prison and/or a fine for possession with intent to supply.

The chart below details the penalties for possession of drugs and possession with intent to supply.

Offence Court Class A Class B Class C
Possession Magistrates 6 months/
£5000 fine
3 months/
£2500 fine
3 months/
£500 fine
Possession Crown 7 years/Unlimited
5 years/
unlimited fine
2 years/
unlimited fine

Possession with intent
to supply

Magistrates 6 months/
£5000 fine
6 months/
£5000 fine

3 months/
£2000 fine

Possession with intent
to supply

Crown Life/Unlimited
14 years/
unlimited fine
14 years/
unlimited fine


Duress is the act of threatening or pressurising someone into doing something.


Duty is a levy charged by the Government.


What is a Duty Solicitor?

In the United Kingdom a duty solicitor is a solicitor whose services are available to a person either suspected of, or charged with a criminal offence pro bono (free of charge) if the person does not have access to a solicitor of their own.

In England and Wales there are two duty solicitor schemes which operate in parallel:

  • The Police Station Duty Solicitor scheme enables a person who is arrested on suspicion of a criminal offence to consult with a solicitor, either in person or on the telephone, or both, whilst in police custody. This right is most often taken up when the suspect is to be interviewed concerning their suspected involvement in the commission of a crime.
  • The Court Duty Solicitor scheme allows a person that has already been charged with an offence to consult with and be represented by a solicitor at the Magistrates' Court on their first appearance if they do not have, or simply have not contacted, their own solicitor.



e-Business is the term used to describe the information systems and applications that support and drive business processes, most often using web technologies.
e-Business allows companies to link their internal and external processes more efficiently and effectively, resulting in overall improved business performance and service.


E-Commerce, commonly known as electronic marketing, consists of the buying and selling of products or services over electronic systems such as the Internet and other computer networks.


Easement is a right to use someone else's land.


Ecclesiastical is the term used to describe associated with a church (especially a Christian Church).


An offence for which the accused may elect the case to be dealt with either summarily by the magistrates or by committal to the Crown Court to be tried by jury


An employee is an individual who is hired by another individual or company, and works under a contract of employment.


This category covers help on anything to do with what happens at work. For example, you may feel you have been sacked unfairly. You may need advice on aspects of your employment contract or whether you have a case for racial or sexual discrimination. You may want to know whether a strike is legal or how you stand on data protection and employee confidentiality


Enabling legislation is legislation which gives authority to government ministers to create rules to bring about general principles set out in the legislation, for example, to create laws for the Police to follow.


An Encumbrance is a burden or hindrance that can affect the transfer of a property, most commonly a mortgage or other financial claim. To enable the smooth transfer of a property it must be 'free from encumbrances'.


An endorsement is a change to the origianl terms of a contract such as an insurance policy, or the change to an official document such as a driving licence, which will be endorsed if points are added for a motoring offence.


An endownment policy is a type of insurance policy which will pay out a lump sum on a fixed future date, or if you die - whichever is sooner.


An Enduring Power of Attorney is a power of attorney which takes place in the future. If a person is capable of handling their own affairs at present, then they can sign an enduring power of attorney which will only come into effect when they are no longer capable of doing so. This allows and authorises the person appointed to act for the person who signed the power of attorney.


Method of pursuing a civil action after judgment has been made in favour of a party. Process carried out by Magistrates Court to collect fines and other monetary orders made in the Crown Court


When a judgement has not been paid or its terms obeyed, enforcement proceedings can be issued to ensure compliance. A court can order such action as the seizure of a defendent's property for sale.


Engrossment is preparing the final version of a legal document ready for it to be executed (made valid).


The claimant can ask the court to enter judgement on admission when the defendant has admitted all or part of the case, and offered payment or other restitution.


Entrapment is a term which describes the actions of law enforcement officials who may 'trick' a person into committing an offence they may otherwise not have committed. Entrapment is sometimes used as a possible defence against criminal liability.


Decision of the Court in favour of one or other of the parties


Entry Point, is the typical sentence for an offence, as published in the Magistrates Association Sentencing Guidelines.


Equal Opportunities is about providing opportunities for particular groups who face discrimination and barriers in society and the workplace. The Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004 is there to help the prevention and elimination of discrimination between people on grounds of gender, marital status, cultural and social background, and disabilities.


An equitable mortgage is a type of mortgage where the purchaser owns the property which is security for the mortgage.


An Escrow is a deed which has been supplied but cannot become of use until a future date.


An estate is everything that a person owns at the date of their death, or the right to use land for a set period of time.


An estimate is a proposal to do requested work for a set price.


Estoppel is a rule of law stating that a person cannot deny something they previousl said if someone else acted on what was said, and their position was changed, maybe for the worse as a result.


The Law of the European Union is the unique legal system which operates alongside the laws of Member States of the European Union (EU). EU law has direct effect within the legal systems of its Member States, and overrides national law in many areas, especially in areas covered by the Single Market. The EU is not a federal government, nor is it an intergovernmental organisation, but rather is said to constitute a new legal order in international law for the mutual social and economic benefit of the Member States. It is sometimes classified as supranational law. Currently there are around 500 million EU citizens in 27 Member States subject to EU law, making it one of the most encompassing modern legal systems in the world.

Like the EU itself, EU law can be divided into three pillars. The first of these, the European Community pillar, comprises the majority of law produced by the EU and is where the European Court of Justice has the most power. The EU can also enact legislation under the second and third pillars - relating to criminal law and foreign policy respectively - although the powers of the Court of Justice are much reduced and direct effect does not apply.

EU laws are more detailed when compared with member states' laws. Similarly with federal states, the legal system is used to ensure political results from the member states, because of the decentralised nature of the political system. Decisions are taken at the EU level but, implementation is overwhelmingly done by member states. By contrast, decision making and implementation inside member states is usually done by the same actors.


Euthanasia is the act of killing or aiding the killing of someone to end their suffering.


There are several main types of fact. Facts in issue are those that are needed to establish something. For example breach of contract or the offence of theft. Collateral facts are those that effect credibility, for example, does the witness have a reputation for lying or bad eyesight. Preliminary facts (a type of collateral fact) are those that have to be proved as a condition to admissibility, for example evidence that the accused my have suffered oppression whilst in custody making his confession in danger of being unsafe. Finally direct evidence is that which directly establishes any fact in issue, for example, a witness giving testimony that they owned the car in question.There are different types of physical evidence (or 'real' evidence) other than by oral witness testimony that may be admitted in court, including:


  • written statements;
  • documents;
  • maps, plans and photographs;
  • sound and video recordings;,
  • business records;
  • certificates;
  • material objects, such as parts of machinery

    Evidence in Chief is the evidence given by a witness for the party that called them.


    Ex Dividend simply means without dividend. If a share is sold ex divident, the seller will receive the dividend declared just before it was sold.


    Ex works is the term used for something which is available straight from the factory, therefore the buyer can collect it from the place it was manufactured.


    Examination in Chief refers to the questioning of your own witness under oath. Witnesses are introduced to a trial by their Examination in Chief, which is when a witness answers questions asked by the lawyer representing the party that called them to give evidence. After a witness’s 'examination in chief', the other party's lawyer can then ask them questions; this is known as cross-examination.



    Excess of Jurisdiction is someone such as a judge acting without authority.


    Exchange of contract is swapping/exchanging identical contracts. For example, when land is sold, the person selling and the person buying each sign identical copies of the contract and exchange them. The contract is then binding on both of them.


    Excise Duty is a tax levied on certain goods such as pertrol, alchohol and tobacco. It is also levied on certain activities such as driving a car on public roads or gambling.


    An exclusion clause is a term within a contract, where by one of the contracting parties exludes himself from liability. For example, if you enter a car park there will often by a sign tellling you that that the car park owner will not accept responsibility for any damage or theft to vehicles. Another example of an exclusion clause may be in a gym, where you may see a sign stating that the company will not accept responsibilty if you are injured whilst using equipment. Often, you are asked for your doctor to sign a form giving you permission to use the gym if you have any medical conditions. This also exludes the gym company from liability if an injury occurs.


    An exclusive licence is a licence under which only the licence holder has any rights.


    Execute is the act of carrying out a contract.


    Executed is the act of a document being made valid.


    Seizure of debtors goods following non payment of a Court order


    An Executive Director is a director who usually works full time as director of the company.


    Executor is the name given to a person who has been appointed to administer the provisions of a will. Executor is the name given to a male, where by Executrix is name given to a female.


    Executory describes a contract which has not been started yet.


    An Executrix is a female appointed in a will to deal with the estate, in accordance with the wishes laid out in the will.


    Exemplary damages are damages awarded based on the seriousness of the defendents crime, and are intended to deter the defendent or others from participating in such conduct again. 


    To be freed from liability or allegiance


    Item or document referred to in an affidavit or used as evidence during a Court trial or hearing


    An Expert Witness is a person employed to give evidence on a subject in which they are qualified or have expertise such as a Forensic Scientist.


    Extortion is the practice of extoring money or other property by the use of threats.

    An example of an extortionist (who would also be called a 'blackmailer'), is a criminal who extorts money from someone by threatening to expose embarrassing information about them.


    What is Extradition? 

    Extradition is the formal procedure for returning persons located in one country to another country for one of the following purposes:

    • to be prosecuted
    • to be sentenced
    • to serve a sentence that has already been imposed

    The extradition process cannot be used to secure the return of a suspect for questioning or to facilitate further enquiries; nor can it be used to secure the return of a person for the purpose of imposing a default sentence post confiscation.
    Usually, the criminal will be extradited to their native country to be tried and sentenced there, or to the country where the crime was committed.


    An extraordinary general meeting (EGM) is a general meeting of the members of a company which is not the annual general meeting.


    An extraordinary resolution is a resolution for consideration by members of a company at a general meeting.



    To factor is to buy or sell something for commission, or is an organisation who provides finance for a business by advancing money on the value of invoices the business issues.


    The Faculty of Advocates is an independent body of lawyers who have been admitted to practise as Advocates before the courts of Scotland.


    False imprisonment is wrongfully keeping someone in custody.


    False pretence is misleading someone by deliberately making a false statement.


    False representation is being dishonest in a statement, verbal or written, to entice someone into entering a contract.


    The Family Division deals with matters such as divorce, children, probate and medical treatment. The family division has to make some 'life or death', yet extremely controversial decisions. For example, allowing a hospital to surgically seperate conjoined twins without the consent of the parents, or not permitting a husband to give his severely disabled wife a lethal injection with her consent, then on the other hand, giving permission for another's life support machine to be turned off.


    This category covers legal help on all family issues. For example, you may want advice on what to do if you want your children to live with you following a divorce and whether the other party should have contact with them. You can get help on what to do about domestic violence, or if your child is being taken into care or being considered for adoption.


    Fast Track is the route taken to for claims of more than £5000 but not more than £15000. See Case Management Tracks.


    Fees are monies payable on issue of an claim or subsequent process. Also see Court Fees.


    Felony is a past term used for serious crimes such as rape or murder, though is still used in the USA.


    Feme Covert is a legal term to describe a married woman.


    Feme Sole is a legal term used to describe a woman who is not married, or no longer married.


    A Feu is a piece of land or property in Scotland.


    Feu Duty is a yearly charge on a Feu, which only applies in Scotland.


    The word feudal stems from the latin term 'fief' which means estate. The feudal system was like a government introduced when William the Conqueror became King of England in 1066.
    At the top was the King; under him the barons, then the knigts served the barons, and the peasants served the knights.
    The king owned all the land and gave some to the barons who in return had to pay the king taxes on the land or fief (estate). The dispersion of the land then ranked down like the ruling, so the barons would 'let' land to the knights and so on.


    A decree or command


    A Fiduciary is an individual in whom another has placed paramount trust and confidence to manage and protect property or money. The relationship in which one person has an obligation to act for another's benefit. Fiduciary Services may be provided by an individual such as a guardian to minors, or a corporation such as a bank, who for example may act as an administrator of estates.


    In legal terms, filing is the process of delivering or presenting forms and other documents to a court. For example a claim, or defence to a claim must be filed.


    A Final Judgement is the court's final decision in a civil case.


    The Law

    The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) 2005, sections 76 - 81, is the legal gateway for Financial Reporting Orders (FROs).

    The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Amendment of Section 76(3)) Order 2007 introduced offences that allowed financial reporting orders to be made

    What is a Financial Reporting Order?

    Following conviction for a listed offence as defined under section 76 (3), as part of sentencing or "otherwise dealing with" a person, a court may also make a Financial Reporting Order (FRO).

    FROs are intended to reduce the risk of re-offending, both before and after release. The Orders are aimed at enabling the monitoring of the financial affairs of a defendant and are intended to be a preventative measure of further fraudulent activity. The Financial Reporting Order is independent of any confiscation proceedings that may be instigated following a conviction.

    Section 76(1) states that a "court sentencing, or otherwise dealing with a person, may also make a financial reporting order."

    Section 76(1) also states a FRO can be administered in addition to a sentence and the phrase "otherwise dealing with" can make reference to a hearing/other court matter, (other than a sentencing hearing), where a Financial Reporting Order could be imposed.

    Financial Reporting Order’s can be imposed in the Magistrates or Crown Court in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland they can be made in the Sheriff Court and High Court of Judiciary. The Orders can be made following a conviction for a listed offence and where the Court is satisfied that there is a “sufficiently high risk” of committing one of the listed offences in the future.

    What is meant by "sufficiently high risk"?

    Sufficiently high risk is not defined in the Act, however, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) advises that:

    • The risk should be real and not fanciful
    • It is unlikely to be as high as "substantial grounds to believe"
    • It is more likely than not that the defendant will re-offend

    Breach of a Financial Reporting Order

    Failure to comply with the requirements of a Financial Reporting Order or to provide false or misleading information is a summary offence with a maximum fine of £5000, or a term of imprisonment of 51 weeks in England and Wales, 12 months in Scotland and 6 months in Northern Ireland. In some instances the individual who is subject of the order could incur a fine and imprisonment, as per section 79 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.

    Duration of a Financial Reporting Order

    FROs can require a convicted criminal to report their financial details at regular intervals for a period of up to 20 years for those sentenced to life, or a maximum of 15 years for other sentences. An Order comes into effect when made and will be for a period specified in the Order. An Order made in the magistrates' court can be for a maximum of 5 years

    Mandatory Terms of a Financial Reporting Order

    The Order must:

    • State to whom the report must be made
    • Specify the intervals at which reports must be submitted. First, the period beginning with the date on which the Order came into force, and second, subsequent periods of a specified length, each following immediately after the end of the earlier one (these periods will be subject to a maximum specified in rules of court)
    • the number of days after the end of each period by which the report must be received
    • Set out the particulars of their his financial affairs required
    • The manner in which they must be reported
    • Including details of any documents required

    Requirements of a Financial Reporting Order

    Financial Reporting Order could include a requirement to submit a report every six months setting out details of income, assets and expenditure. It could include requirements to submit copies of all bank statements, credit card accounts or other documentation detailing financial transactions, including tax returns and business accounts.

    Variation or Revocation of a Financial Reporting Order

    The individual who is the subject of the Order or the individual to whom the report must be made can make an application to the court for variation or revocation of the Order.

    The application should be made to the court that made the Order, unless it was made on appeal in which case the application must be to the original sentencing court.

    If the order was made in a magistrates' court, the application can be made in any court that is in the same local justice area.


    In Scottish Law, a First Calling is a preliminary hearing in criminal courts.


    The first reading of a bill is the first presentation of a bill to a legislative assembly, to permit its introduction into law.


    Fitness to plead is establishing whether or not the person charged is capable of making an informed decision, maybe due to a mental illness.


    A fixed charge is a charge which provides security for money lent.


    In civil cases costs that are set at a certain level can be claimed in specific circumstances. An example of such would be if a defendent fails to acknowledge a claim, then the claimant can obtain judgment as well as an order for fixed costs to compensate for the cost of starting the claim.


    What is a Fixed Penalty Notice/On the spot fine?

    A Fixed Penalty Notice allows Police to issue one-off on the spot fines to individuals demonstrating anti-social behaviour. This fine is known as a Fixed Penalty Notice. They can be issued in response to dealing with environmental offences such as littering, graffiti, noise and dog fouling. The cost of the fine is determined by age, for example, children under 16 years old can receive an on the spot fine of £50. Individuals aged 16 and over can receive an on the spot fine of £80. Penalty notices are not the same as criminal convictions, but failure to pay the fine can result in higher fines or imprisonment


    A floating charge is a charge used to provide security for money lent to a company. The charge is over the company's liquid assets but is only triggered by an event such as liquidation.


    Forbearance is where one party to an agreement refrains from doing what they are legally entitled to due, ie pursue a borrower for not keeping up repayments on a mortgage.


    Force Majeure is french for 'superior force' and in law is referred to in an event which cannot be controlled and which stops obligations under an agreement from being fulfilled.


    Foreclosure is the legal process by which an owners right to a property is terminated, usually due to defaulting on payments. The lender may apply to the High Court for an order insisting the debt be re-paid. If the debt is not re-paid then the property will be reposessed and re-sold, with sale proceeds being applied to the mortgage debt.


    Forfeiture is the loss of possession of a property because the tenancy conditions have not been met by the tenant.


    Foster Care is a system by which children who have been removed from their birth parents by the authorities, are taken in by carers who are certified and thouroughly checked out for their suitability and capability, known as foster carers.


    Franchising, a division of Business Law, is the method in which an individual or organisation may practice business using another person's business idea. The franchisor grants the franchisee the right to distribute its products, techniques, and trademarks for a percentage of gross monthly sales and/or a royalty fee.


    Fraud, a division of Criminal Law, is the intentional misrepresentation of the truth for the purpose of convincing another person to give up something of value or surrender a legal right.


    Fraudulent Conveyance is the transferral of ownership of land with the intention of defrauding someone.


    A Fraudulent Preference is for example where someone who is insolvent chooses to pay one creditor knowing there is not enough money to pay the others.


    Fradulent Trading is running a business with the intention of defrauding its creditors.


    If your property is Freehold, you fully own the property and the land it sits on, as well as any other buildings that are on that land (such as garages and other outbuildings), together with the rights and obligations that come with the property and land. It is your sole responsibility for the maintenance of the property.

    Owners of freehold property are generally free to do as they please with their property and land such as carry out refurbishments, or build an extension or outbuildings, subject to it meeting legal requirements and that planning permission is sought and obtained where appropriate.


    Frustration is the stopping of a contract. If for some reason a contract cannot be carried out because something makes it impossibe it may be stopped, and this is called frustration of contract.


    A futures contract is a binding contract to by or sell something at a fixed price, but at a future date.



     A Garnishee is person who owes a third party a debt which is attached by court order for the benefit of a judgment creditor.


    Garnishment is the process by which a summons is issued by a plaintiff, against a third party, for seizure of money or other assets in their keeping, but belonging to the defendant


    When a seller of property, after agreeing to sell to one buyer, accepts a better offer from another person.


    GBH is very serious physical damage suffered by the victim of a crime and is a more serious crime than ABH. GBH is a higher degree of injury such as broken bones and intent to cause injury.

    Examples of GBH are injuries resulting in some permanent disability or visible disfigurement, broken or displaced limbs or bones, and injuries requiring blood transfusion or lengthy treatment.

    The maximum sentence for GBH is LIFE.

    See also ABH.


    This is a hearing within a hearing conducted with in a court of law and is named following the case of R v Goodyear (2005) England and Wales Court of Appeal (EWCA) Crim 888. This case set out the procedure for seeking an advance indication of sentence. In cases before the Crown Court, the defence can request an indication from the Judge of the likely maximum sentence that would be imposed should the defendant decide to plead guilty. The request can be made at any stage of the proceedings, including at trial, although it is most likely to be made at the plea and case management hearing.  

    For further information see the Crown Prosecution Service website.


    A Grant is a monetary aid.


    A Grant of Probate is a certificate which confirms that the executors of a will are permitted to deal with the estate. A Grant of Probate is issued by a registrar once they have been satisfied with all the documents supplied by the executors.


    A group litigation order (or GLO) is an order of a court in England and Wales, and can be made in a claim in which there are multiple claimants. The order will provide for the case management of claims whichg give rise to common or related issues.


    Someone who promises to make payment for another if payment is not made by the person responsible for making the repayments of a loan or hire purchase agreement


    A Guardian is a person appointed to safeguard/protect/manage the interests of a child, or person under mental disability.


    The word guilty is only used in criminal trials. It means the defendant is guilty  - responsible for committing the criminal offence.



    Habeas Corpus is a writ ordering a prisoner before a judge if they have been imprisoned unlawfully.


    Handling is dishonestly handling goods.


    The Law that has been introduced to deal with harassment is the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. This legislation makes it a criminal offence to pursue a course of conduct that can be perceived as the harassment of another individual.

    Harassment is unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.

    Harassment applies to all protected characteristics except for pregnancy and maternity and marriage and civil partnership. Employees will now be able to complain of behaviour that they find offensive even if it is not directed at them, and the complainant need not possess the relevant characteristic themselves. Employees are also protected from harassment because of perception and association.


    Harassment of debtors is the illegal act attempting to collect a debt using threatening behaviour, or acting in a way that causes distress and humiliation to the debtor.


    Harassment of debtors is an illegal act committed by landlords who use violence, or threaten to use violence in an attempt to reposses the property.


    A “hate crime” is a criminal offence committed by an offender who demonstrates hostility or prejudice that is motivated by:

    • Race
    • Religion
    • Disability
    • Sexual orientation
    • Gender identity
    • Members of subcultures (for example individuals who due to musical influences such as punks and Goths, dress differently or have a different appearance to what is perceived as normal).

    Anyone who publishes material that is intended to incite hatred against people on the grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity or members of subcultures are also committing a ‘hate crime’ and victims are protected by the law.

    Forms of hate crime include:

    • Physical attacks, for example, physical assault, property damage, graffiti that is offensive, spitting and arson
    • Threat of attack, for example, offensive letters, abusive or obscene telephone calls, groups of people congregating together for the purpose of intimidating others, and malicious complaints
    • Verbal abuse, insults or harassment, offensive leaflets and posters, abusive gestures, emails and text messages, dumping of rubbish outside homes or through letterboxes, and bullying at school or in the workplace.

    To report a hate crime see GOV.UK   


    The basis of UK health and safety law is the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This sets out the general principles of health and safety compliance and is supplemented by various Regulations, some of which apply to all industries and some of which apply to specific industries, types of premises or specific health and safety issues.


    A Hearing is the trial of a case and is usually held in public.


    Hearsay Evidence is evidence which is given by one person on behalf on another or others. Hearsay evidence consists of information which has been obtained by another source, other than directly from the witness. Therefore, Hearsay evidence is not a first hand account of an alleged offence or incident. For example, an individual may be able to provide information as to what they saw or heard in relation to an incident rather than providing a first hand account.

    As with all evidence, a Judge or Magistrate must decide on the relevence and accuracy of this information and whether it has any weight on the matter before them.


    Hereditament is any proprty which is capable of being inherited.


    In the UK, the High Court hears most serious civil cases, and appeals from the county courts. It is divided into three Divisions: `Queen's Bench', `Family' and `Chancery'.

    Queen's Bench (known as King's Bench if a King is assuming the throne) - civil disputes for recovery of money, including breach of contract, personal injuries, libel/slander.

    Family - concerned with matrimonial maters and proceedings relating to children, e.g. wardship.

    Chancery - property matters including fraud and bankruptcy


    A High Court Enforcement Officer is an officer appointed by the Lord Chancellor to enforce High Court judgements and orders.


    A High Court judge is a judge of the High Court of Justice, and represents the third highest level of judge in the courts of England and Wales.

    HIP (Home Information Pack)

    A HIP (Home Information Pack)  is a set of documents that provides the buyer with key information on the property and must be provided by the seller or the seller's agent. It is a legal requirement to have a HIP and you can't market your property without one.

    The HIP lets buyers see important information about the property at the start of the process, free of charge. This means there is less chance of buyers becoming aware of any surprises at the end of the process. The HIP can help reduce delays and extra expense to the buyer and seller.

    From the 21st May 2010 you no longer need a HIP to market your property.  But, you do need an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) - or at least you need to have 'commissioned' one and it needs to arrive within 28 days of you placing your property on the market.


    A Hire Purchase is a contract for the hire of goods, where the debtor has the option to purchase the goods once the final payment has been made. Until the final payment has been made, the purchase company owns the goods, and also has many rights where if payments are not made by the debtor at the agreed time, the purchase company are within their rights to reposess the goods. This type of agreement is extremely popular is the motor industry for the purchase of vehicles.


    A holding Company is a company which controls another company, often by owning more than half of its shares.


    This is a detailed inspection and report designed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors to give the buyer important information on the property’s condition whether or not any repairs need to be carried out.
    This service is less thorough than a full 'structural survey' (which might be more useful for older properties), but provides reasonably detailed information at a slightly higher outlay than a basic valuation

    Features of the Homebuyer survey, which is suitable for most properties, include:
    • Any serious defects and urgent repairs
    • Colour coded condition ratings for each part of the building making the report easy to understand
    • Serious risks and hazards such as structural movement, damp and timber defects
    • Any further investigation the surveyor considers necessary
    • Any issues which need to be referred to the legal adviser
    • A market valuation and advice on whether or not the property is a reasonable purchase at the agreed price
    • Highlights what decisions and actions should be taken before contracts are exchanged
    Home buyers surveys may cost from £250, but it is advisable to check this with your Solicitor.


    A hostile witness is a witness who testifies in a way that differs from their previous statement, or a witness who refuses to testify in support of the people who called for them.


    The House of Commons is the elected chamber of Parliament in the United Kingdom.


    Housing Associations are organisations who provide housing for people without intending to make any profit from doing so.


    A Housing Claim is the process a landlord may use in a county court to recover land, property or money for arrears or damage to a property.


    How to address a Judge or Magistrate in Court:

    Magistrates Court, Youth Court & Family Court Proceedings

    District Judge: Sir/Madam
    Chairman of Lay Bench: Sir/Madam
    Members of Lay Bench: Your Worships

    Chairman: Sir/Madam
    Other members: Sir/Madam                                      

    County Court - Civil Justice Centres
    Circuit Judge: Your Honour
    Recorder or any person sitting as a deputy Circuit Judge: Your Honour
    District Judge: Sir/Madam
    Crown Court
    High Court Judge: My Lord/My Lady
    Circuit Judge: Your Honour 
    Lay Bench sitting with a judge on appeal against sentencing in a magistrates court: Your Honour's colleagues
    Recorder or any person sitting as a deputy Circuit Judge: Your Honour

    • Any person sitting as a Judge at the Central Criminal Court:  My Lord/My Lady 
    • Recorder of Manchester/ Liverpool:  My Lord/My Lady

    High Court
    Judge: My Lord/My Lady
    Any Circuit Judge sitting as a Judge of the High Court: My Lord/My Lady
    District Judge: Sir/Madam
    Master: Master                                    

    Court of Appeal 
    Lord Justice: My Lord/My Lady  

    House of Lords  
    Lord of Appeal in Ordinary: My Lord/My Lady  


    The Human Rights Act 1998 gives legal effect in the UK (excludes Isle of Man and Channel Islands) to the fundamental rights and freedoms contained in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). These rights not only affect matters of life and death like freedom from torture and killing but also affect your rights in everyday life: what you can say and do, your beliefs, your right to a fair trial and many other similar basic entitlements.

    The rights are not absolute – governments have the power to limit or control them in times of severe need or emergency. You also have the responsibility to respect the rights of other people – and not exercise yours in a way which is likely to stop them from being able to exercise theirs. 

    Your human rights are:

    • the right to life
    • freedom from torture and degraded treatment
    • freedom from slavery and forced labour
    • the right to liberty
    • the right to a fair trial
    • the right not to be punished for something that wasn't a crime when you did it
    • the right to respect for private and family life
    • freedom of thought, conscience and religion
    • freedom of expression
    • freedom of assembly and association
    • the right to marry or form a civil partnership and start a family
    • the right not to be discriminated against in respect of these rights and freedoms
    • the right to own property
    • the right to an education
    • the right to participate in free elections

    If any of these rights and freedoms are abused you have a right to an effective solution in law, even if the abuse was by someone in authority, for example, a policeman.

    Exercising your human rights

    See if the problem can be resolved without going to court

    If you are in a situation in which you believe that your human rights are being violated, it's advisable to see if the problem can be resolved without going to court by using mediation or an internal complaints body.

    Where you believe your rights have not been respected and you cannot resolve the problem outside court, you are entitled to bring a case before the appropriate court or tribunal in the UK. The court or tribunal will then consider your case. 

    Seeking legal advice

    Before you decide to take any legal action is important that you seek legal advice.

    The Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to help you and Community Legal Advice can put you in touch with advice providers in your area. There are also a number of Law Centres around the UK, which can offer you advice and help on a range of issues.

    HMCS (Her Majesty's Courts Service) provides a leaflet, 'The Human Rights Act 1998 – Information for Court Users', which provides information on how to issue a claim for monies owed or damages under the Human Rights Act. It also sets out some important things to consider before making such an application.


    A hung jury is a jury that cannot agree upon a verdict after an extended period of deliberation and is deadlocked with irreconcilable differences of opinion.


    Hypothecation is where a person gives a bank authority to sell goods which have been pledged to the bank as security for a loan.



    Identity theft is part of criminal law and is where criminals can find out your personal information (by many means) and use them to obtain loans, open bank accounts, credit cards, pasports and driving licences.


    This area of law covers legal help on anything to do with immigration into the UK . For example, you may have questions relating to your nationality or right to stay in this country. You may need to know about asylum, the information you require to enter the UK and why you may be deported.


    To be Impartial is not having or showing any favouritism to one side in a dispute.


    An income tax is a tax levied on the income of individuals or businesses.


    Indecent Assault is an assauly by any person committed upon another person, in circumstances of indecency.


    An 'Independent' is a person or organisation not connected to any of the parties in a dispute or legal case.


    An Independent Contractor is someone who is self emplyed and works under a contract of services, as opposed to a contract of employment. Therefore, independent contractors have less rights than employees.


    Indict is to accuse somebody formally of a crime.


    A criminal offence triable only by the Crown Court. The different types of offence are classified 1, 2, 3 or 4. Murder is a class 1 offence


    An Indictment is a formal written document outlining the charges against a person.


    The Equality Act 2010 already applies to age, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation and marriage and civil partnership and has been extended to cover disability and gender reassignment. Indirect discrimination can occur when you have a condition, rule, policy or even a practice in your company that applies to everyone but specifically disadvantages people who share a protected characteristic. From an employers perspective, indirect discrimination can be justified if you can show that you acted reasonably in managing your business, i.e. that it is ‘a fair and reasonable means of achieving a legitimate aim’. A legitimate aim might be any lawful decision you make but if there is a discriminatory effect, the sole aim of reducing costs is likely to be unlawful.


    Industrial diseases (sometimes referred to as occupational diseases) are injuries or sicknesses resulting from long term exposure to occupational hazards in the workplace, such as as asbestos and certain chemicals.
    Two of the most common types of industrial disease are asbestosis and mesothelioma, both caused by exposure to asbestos. Other injuries may include deafness or repetitive strain injuries.


    Infanticide is the killing of an infant under 12 months old, and committed by its own mother.


    Inheritance is the practice of passing on property, titles, debts, and obligations upon the death of an individual. Inheritance Rules are very complex and ever changing. More up to date information on UK Inheritance can be found here.


    An inheritance tax (also known as estate tax) is a tax levied on a person who inherits money or property, or a tax on the total value of any money and property left to a person by someone who has died.


    An order by a Court either restraining a person or persons from carrying out a course of action or directing a course of action be complied with. Failure to carry out terms of the order may be punishable by imprisonment


    An Injury is where someone is hurt and can claim money from the person who caused it, i.e. in an injury claim.


    Innocent is the opposite of guilty and only used in criminal trials. A defendant is innocent of the crime charged unless, and until, found guilty by a Court.


    In cases of sudden or unatural death, an inquiry into the identity of the deceased, together with how, when and where they met their death. This is known as the Inquest.


    The Inquistorial System is the system of investigation adopted in a Coroner’s inquest and some inquiries. There are no parties or sides, and legal representatives are meant to assist the inquiry in finding the facts.


    Insolvent - unable to pay creditors and having all goods/effects administered by a liquidator or trustee and sold for the benefit of those creditors as a result of an order under the Insolvency Act 1986. Insolvency is usually referred to in business terms. See also Bankruptcy.


    Following disclosure of each parties documents by discovery, the arrangements made by the parties to allow mutual exchange and copying of documents


    Instalments are a means of paying a bill or debt in a number parts at intervals, for example monthly or quarterly.


    Intangible Property is a property which does not physically exist, such as a patent.


    Interest is a charge for borrowing money and is usually a percentage of the amount borrowed.


    An Interim Order is an order made during proceedings which is not a final order.


    Interlocutory refers to an order, sentence, decree, or judgment, given midway between the initiation and termination of a cause of action, used to provide a temporary decision on a matter.  Therefore, an interlocutory order is not final and is not subject to immediate appeal.


    If you are a witness in a criminal trial and need help to communicate your evidence, you can request to use a Registered Intermediary. Registered Intermediaries are approved by the court. Their role is to explain to the witness any questions the court, defence and prosecution teams may ask. They also communicate the answers that the witness gives in response. They must not change the meaning of what they explain.

    Intermediaries remain neutral throughout a court case and do not act for the defence, the prosecution or the witness.

    Intermediaries may also be used at a Police station when giving evidence (interview under caution).


    A claim by a third party to ownership of goods levied upon under a warrant of execution which is disputed by a creditor. The Court then issues an interpleader summons for the parties to attend Court to adjudicate on rightful ownership


    A Legal Interpreter is a qualified person who can assist in the communication between two or more people who are not speaking the same language.
    For more information and to find a Legal Interpretation company click here.


    In a civil case, interragatories are formal questions from one side which the other side must answer under oath.


    An Intestate is a person who dies without leaving a will. There is a body of law called Intestacy Law, that determines who is entitled to a person's estate.


    Intimidation is threatening or scaring someone into doing something.


    To initiate legal proceedings in pursuit of a claim


    Issued Share Capital is share capital which has been allocated to shareholders who have purchased or been given shares.



    Joint, or several liability is when two or more (several) people are responsible for paying back a debt. As well as being responsible as a pair or a group, they are also individually responsible for repaying the debt.


    A joint lives policy is a life assurance policy on more than one persons life, and the policy will pay on the first death.


    Joint tenancy is a type of ownership where two or more people equally share ownership of a property. Upon the death of any owner, the survivors take the decedent's interest in the property, known as right of survivorship.


    A joint will is a single will in which two or more people make to cover all their estates. Probate has to be obtained on each death.


    Joyriding is taking a vehicle that is not your own without permission and use (ride) it soley for pleasure. Joyriding is not considered to be as theft as in most cases it cannot be proven that the vehicle was taken to permantly deprive its owner.


    An officer appointed to administer the law and who has authority to hear and try cases in a Court of law


    The Judge Advocate General is appointed by Her Majesty the Queen on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor. They are a Law Officer of the Crown and an independent member of the judiciary and is always a civilian, although they may have served in the armed forces. The Office of the Judge Advocate General deals with criminal trials of service men and women in the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force for serious offences, which are heard in a standing court known as the Court Martial.


    This is a government department which appoints barristers to advise army and air force courts.


    From 1661 the office of Judge Advocate of the Fleet (JAF) existed to supervise the Royal Navy Courts-martial system, separately from the Judge Advocate General (JAG). The two historic offices were amalgamated by the Armed Forces Act 2006, with the role of JAF subsumed into JAG.  The Armed Forces Act 2006 repealed the three Service Discipline Acts of 1955/57, establishing a single system of Service law, and created the Court Martial as a standing court. This came into effect on 31 October 2009.


    A Judge in Chambers describes a hearing in front of a judge which is not held in court.


    Final decision of a Court A monetary judgment requires the payment of a sum of money by one party to another


    A judgement creditor is the person who is owed money and has been to court to obtain a judgement for the money owed.


    A judgement debtor is the person who owes the money the court judgment states is owed.


    A judgement in default is where somebody gets a judgment against them for failing to do something, for example if a civil case has gone to court and the defendant fails to show up, the claimant may ask the court to issue a judgement in default to the defendant to pay back the money being claimed.


    A judgement or order can be set aside, or made void, at the request of a party to the case in specific circumstances, for instance if they were too ill to attend court on the day of the judgment.


    A judgement summons is a summons to appear in court to divulge income and assetts under oath because a judgement debtor has failed to pay the judgement debt.


    The term Judicial relates to the administration of justice, or the function of the judge, i.e the Judicial System.


    In civil cases Judges have the power to decide how best to manage the case based on the individual facts. The judge has very wide case management powers under rule 3 of the civil procedure rules to decide on the evidence produce how best to manage their case.


    Judicial Immunity is a form of legal immunity which protects judges and others employed by the judiciary from any claims brought against them for official conduct in office.


    Judicial precedent is where lower courts have to follow the decisions of higher courts.


    A Judicial review is where the High Court can review decisions of lower courts, public bodies and other bodies to ensure that the decision making process has been legal.


    A Judicial Separation is a court order stating that a married couple should live apart.


    A Judiciary is a  judge or other officer empowered to act as a judge.


    A junior barrister is a barrister who has not yet attained the rank of Queen's Counsel.


    A statement contained at the conclusion of an affidavit which states the name of the person giving the evidence, the name of the person before whom and the place where the oath or affirmation was taken


    The area and matters over which a Court has legal authority


    A Juror is a person who is on the Jury.


    A Jury in Engalnd & Wales consists of a group of 12 citizens sworn to give a true verdict according to the evidence presented to them in a court of law.


    In Scotland, a Jury is made up of 15 members of the public who decide guilt or innocence in criminal cases at a Sheriff’s Court or the High Court of Judiciary. They come to a verdict.


    Jury Service is the term used to describe the duty carried out by a juror. Most people between 18 & 70 are eligle to be selected for Jury Service.


    Jury Tampering is when someone attempts to influence a jury through other means than the evidence presented in court, for example bribes, conversations about a case taking place outside the courtroom or making threats.


    Winding Up on Just & Equitable grounds may be ordered because fairness cannot be achieved for all members of a company.


    A lay magistrate - person appointed to administer judicial business in a Magistrates Court . Also sits in the Crown Court with a judge or recorder to hear appeals and committals for sentence


    Justification can be a defence in a prosecution for a criminal offense. When an act is justified, a person is not criminally liable even though his act would otherwise constitute an offence, for example, if someone acted in self defence.


    Justifying bail is where the person standing surety for the bail can demonstrate to the court that they have the sufficient assetts to cover it.


    A juvenile is an adolescent who may display a lack of maturity, and in law is referred to as a minor.



    A Kerb Crawler is a person who drives along roads seeking prostitues and soliciting them for sex.


    Kidnap is the act of taking someone to an undiclosed location against their will, sometimes by force.


    Knock for Knock is an agreement made between two insurance companies to avoid legal action. They will pay for their own policy holders' losses regardless as to who was to blame.


    Know-How is having a particular kind of knowledge specific to an organisation which may also be protected by a patent.



    In the eyes of the law, land includes the buildings that are built on it, the subsoil, the airspace above the land and any property fixed to the land.


    The Land Registry holds a record of land ownership and interests in land For more information visit the Land Registry website.


    The Land Registry is a government department which looks after the registers of all registered properties in England and Wales. It charges a fee for transferring the register to the new owner. This fee is charged according to property price.

    For the most up to date fees for Land Registry vist the Land Registry Website.


    A Landlord is a person or organisation which owns land and/or buildings which are leased to tenants.


    Act which empowers applications seeking extension of a lease or some other action concerning tenancy


    Law is a collection of rules established by an act of parliament or authority prohibiting certain action.


    Law Lords, also known as the 'Lords of Appeal in Ordinary', were the judges of the House of Lords. See House of Lords for further information.


    A lawsuit is a proceeding in a court of law, particuarly in civil cases.


    A Lawyer, is a general term used to describe any person who is professionally qualified to practice Law.


    A Lay is a type of Magistrate, also known as Justice of the Peace, and has no legal qualifications. They are unpaid and usually three sit together. They are addressed as 'your worship', 'sir' or 'madam'.


    A Lay Representative is a person not legally qualified who accompanies another during a court hearing. The person may be a friend, colleague or spouse.


    A Leading Junior Counsel is a senoir Barrister who deals with more serious cases. A Leading Junior Counsel is not a Queens Counsel (QC).


    A leading question is a question which is asked in such as way that it may suggest the answer that is required. A lawyer may use leading questions on cross - examiniation.


    A Lease is a contract allowing occupation of property, or use of a car during a specified time for a specified payment.


    A Leasehold is a land or property held under a lease.


    In simple legal terms 'Leave' means permission. Some stages in legal action require the permission of the court, for example a losing party may be granted leave to appeal.


    A Legacy is a gift of personal property left in a will.


    Legal Advice is advice about the law and your options relating to your individual issue from a qualified legal representative or advice centre.


    Legal Aid, sometimes referred to as public funding, is a facility for the fees and expenses of counsel, solicitors or other legal representatives to be funded by the state for those on low incomes or benefits.

    Following the introduction of The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) Act 2012

    The Legal Aid system has now been reformed to reflect numerous changes including legal aid funding and sentencing and punishment of offenders.

    To find out what legal aid services you may be entitled to visit our legal aid advice page.


    By joining the Institute of Legal Executives, Graduates and Non Graduates can move a step closer to qualifying as a solicitor. This can be done by working in a legal office and firstly sitting an exam to qualify as a member, and later as a fellow of the Institute.
    Being a legal executive is a career in itself, without the need to progress to a Solicitor. However, further professional training is a requirement of qualification as a solicitor. The process is demanding, but allows non-graduates the opportunity to earn while they learn.


    The Legal Personal Representative is the person to whom a grant of probate or letter of administration have been issued.


    Under common law, there are two kinds of legal privilege.

    The first kind being Legal Advice Privilege. This protects disclosure of communications between a legal advisor and their client provided that it is confidential and in relation to seeking or giving legal advice. Legal Advice Privilege will apply whenever a legal advisor is advising in a legal context.

    The second kind is Litigation Privilege. This protects all communications produced for the sole or main purpose of the litigation, where litigation proceedings are contemplated or are in progress, including communications between the legal advisor and his client and also the legal advisor or client with an independent third party.


    Legal Remedy (also known as Judicial Relief) is the way in which a court of law, usually in civil law jurisdiction, enforces a right, imposes a penalty, or makes some other court order, to impose its will .
    For example, where an injured victim or plaintiff seeks damages from a third party (e.g employer) for injuries sustained in an accident. The plaintiff will try to establish that the accident, and therefore his or her injuries, were caused by the fault or negligence of the third party. If the Plaintiff succeeds, he or she may be entitled to receive damages (ie compensation) from the third party. The Court will consider the facts involved in the case and decide on the amount of compensation. Facts that may be considered could be loss of earnings if the plaintiff was unable to work. This figure would then be calculated into the sum of money awarded in compensation.


    A Legatee is a person to whom personal property is given by a will - the legacy.


    Legislation is the act or process of making laws.


    A Legislature is a type of representative deliberative assembly with the power to create, amend and ratify laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law.


    Legislature the legislative body of a state that has the power to make laws.


    Prior to agreeing to a mortgage, lenders require a valuation of the property to check that it is worth the price being paid for it. This is commissioned by the mortgage lender but must be paid for by the borrower. This is a survey which gives advice on the value of the property. The surveyor (normally a valuer rather than a Chartered Building Surveyor) will advise in broad terms, on any major defects that are apparent that have a significant effect on value. This type of survey will only report in a very summary manner (ie. on roofs, walls, floors, structural stability and dampness) and will not provide any detail. The cost of the valuation depends on the value of the property ranging from £100 for a £50,000 plus flat to £250 or more for a £200,000 plus property.
    Some lenders do not charge this fee as an incentive for taking out a mortgage with them.


    A lessee is the person a property has been leased to.


    A Lessor is the person who lets a property via a lease.


    A Letter of Credit is a document issued by a bank to guarantee a payment.


    Letters of Administration are issued following the death of a person who has left no valid will to authorise an administrator who is given the powers and duties required to administer the estate of the deceased person.


    A duty carried out by a bailiff or sheriff under the authority of a warrant or writ of fi-fa, for a sum of money whereby goods of value belonging to the debtor are claimed with a view to removal and sale at a public auction in an attempt to obtain payment


    A Liability is a responsibility or an obligation. For example, a debt is a liability.


    Libel is a false and malicious written and published statement or article which infers damaging remarks on a persons reputation.


    A Licence is a permit to carry out an act that would otherwise be considered unlawful.


    A Licenced Conveyancer are legal specialists who assist clients in the buying & selling of property.


    A Licensee is the holder of a licence.


    A Lien is a legal right to hold the property of a debtor until payment is made.


    Life imprisonment is a sentence given to a criminal who is to remain in prison for the rest of their life, though under some circumstances they may be released early.


    A life insurance policy, sometimes referred to as a life assurance policy, is a contract between the insurance company and the policyholder, which will pay out upon death of the policy holder or if specified critical illness.


    Life interest is an interest which will be passed on to someone else when the present title holder dies.


    What is a Life sentence?

    If a person is found guilty of murder, a court must give them a life sentence.
    A court may also choose to give a life sentence for serious offences like:

    • rape
    • armed robbery

    In simplistic terms a life sentence lasts for the rest of an individual’s life. However, in many cases where a life sentence is given, the judge may set a minimum term to be served before the prisoner is eligible for parole, or early release. In exceptional circumstances a judge may order a life sentence to mean life, known as a whole life order.



    A life tenant is someone who is entitled to use a property for the rest of their life.


    A Limitiation Clause places a limit on the amount that can be claimed for a Breach of Contract claim, regardless of the actual loss.


    A Limited Company is a corporation registered in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland through Companies House and whose liability is limited by law.


    The Limited Liability Partnerships Act 2000 came into force on 6 April 2001. Its aim was to introduce a new form of legal entity known as a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP).
    Partners of a Limited Liability Partnership are not personally liable for debts that the business cannot pay, and their liability is limited to the amount of money they invest in the business.
    It is mostly professional services firms, like solicitors or accountants who set up Limited Liability Partnerships.
    For mor information about how to set up a Limited Liability Partnership visit the Companies House website.


    Liquidated Damages are damages agreed in advance by the parties to a contract in case one of them should later breach the terms of the contract.


    Liquidation is the termination of a business operation by using its assets to discharge its liabilities.


    A liquidator is the person appointed to wind up a company.


    A Listing Questionaire is a pre-trial checklist used in Fast Track and Multi Track claims, to ensure that all issues are resolved and that the parties are ready for trial.


    A litigant is a person who is a party to a lawsuit; a person involved in a legal case.


    A Litigant in Person is someone who starts or defends a case without legal representation. They may be entitled to be accompanied by another person who may advise them, but may not address the court.


    Litigation is the process of a dispute being resolved through court. Litigation proceedings can be either civil or criminal.


    A Litigation Friend is a person who conducts legal proceedings on behalf of a child or a mentally incapacitated person.


    Local searches are carried out by a solicitor to ensure that there are no potential problems such as planning permission on neighbouring properties or plans for new roads / buildings in the local vicinity. A local authority search will typically cost between £100 and £200, though this may increase up to £250 in London.


    Lodging is the process of filing documents to a court.


    Period between 1 August and 30 September in each year during which there are only restricted High Court sittings for urgent matters


    The Lord Advocate is the principal prosecutor in criminal cases in Scotland.


    The cabinet minister who acts as speaker of the House of Lords and oversees the hearings of the Law Lords. Additional responsibilities include supervising the procedure of Courts other than Magistrates or Coroners Courts and selection of judges, magistrates, queens counsel and members of tribunals


    Senior judge of the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) who also heads the Queens Bench Division of the High Court of Justice.


    A Lord Justice of Appeal is an ordinary judge of the court of appeal of England and Wales, which is the court that hears appeals from The High Court of Justice, and represents the second highest level of judge in the Courts of England and Wales



    In Scotland, a Macer is an official who acts as an usher in Court, They call the accused and witnesses into the Court room and help maintain order.


    There are two types of Magistrate: 

    Lay, or Justice of the Peace - has no legal qualifications and is unpaid. Usually three sit together,one of whom is chairperson. Magistrates are members of the public who rely on a Court Clerk, or Justice Clerk to advise on points of law.

    District Judge - legally qualified and paid. Usually sits alone and is addressed 'Sir' or 'Madam'.


    Magistrates Court is the lowest tier of criminal court in England & Wales dealing with a vast proportion of all criminal cases. Local and central government fund the court jointly and almost all cases are tried by Magistrates, also known as justices of the peace (JP's), although District Judges, a legally qualified JP, try some cases.

    Some examples of civil matters commonly dealt with in the Magistrates Court are Family matters, Liquor licencing and betting and gaming.

    95% of criminal cases are completed in the Magistrates Court.


    A temporary order for financial provision made within divorce proceedings until such time as the proceedings are finalised (i.e. by issue of the Decree Absolute)


    A majority verdict is when all the jurors cannot agree and the judge decides that they will accept the decision if at least 10 of the jurors agree. A majority decision can only occur when the judge considers that enough time has elapsed. This will depend on the case, but could be a very long time (if the jury has been reduced, the judge can accept a majority of 9 out of 10 jurors).


    Maladministration is administration that leads to injustice because of such factors as excessive delay, bias or random decision making.


    Malfeasance is an unlawful act, especially by a public official.


    Malice is a legal term describing someones intention to cause injury or harm to another.


    Malice Aforethought is planning to kill someone, or intending to do something which is likely to kill, and is the element of mens rea, which must accompany the actus reus of death.


    Malicious falsehood is a written or spoken lie told with malice, and was told with the knowledge of doing so.


    Malicious Prosecution is a prosecution of another without feasible grounds to suppose that such action will be successful.


    A mandate is an official document giving an official instruction or command.


    Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another person, but without malice.


    Market Overt comes from the french term 'Marché Ouvert', which translates to 'open market'. It is a lawful 'market' which relates to the handling of stolen goods. If someone buying the goods is not aware that they do not actually belong to the seller, then the buyer will get title to the goods.


    Martial law is the system of rules that takes effect when the military takes control of the normal administration of justice.


    Judicial officer of the High Court in the Royal Courts of Justice who normally deals with preliminary matters before trial


    The Keeper, or Master of the Rolls and Records of the Chancery of England (known as the Master of the Rolls) is the second most senior judge in England and Wales, after the Lord Chief Justice. The Master of the Rolls is the presiding officer of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal.


    Material Facts are facts which are a key part of a defence or a claim.


    Matricide is the killing of a mother my her son or daughter.


    Matrimonial causes are the court proceedings to divorce a married couple; dissolve a marriage.


    The matrimonial home is the house that a husband and wife live in as a married couple.


    Proceedings commenced by way of originating application


    Civil, commercial and family mediation is a way of solving problems without going to court in which an impartial third party, the mediator, helps find a mutually acceptable resolution. If mediation fails, court proceedings can be initiated.


    The memorandum gives details of the company's name, objectices, and share capital. It also sets out the limites of the shareholders liability if the company has to be wound up. The articles set out the members' rights and the directors' powers.


    Mercantile Law is the branch of law which relates to commercial transactions.


    Merchantable Quality is term in law which suggests that goods sold by a business are fit for their purpose.


    Sum of money claimed by the owner of property against someone not legally entitled to be in possession. Calculated from the date the notice to quit expires until the date possession is given up


    In law a messuage is a dwelling, or a house along with any land or out buidlings.


    Military law, also referred to as military justice, is a distinct legal system to which members of armed forces are subject. Military law deals with issues such as; procedures for military discipline, what is or what is not a lawful command, and obligations for service personnel.
    The Armed Forces Act 2006 encompasses Military Law and discipline across all three UK services (Army, Royal Air Force, Royal Navy) so that all personnel are subject to the same system wherever in the world they are serving. All members are the Armed Forces are also subject to the criminal law of England wherever they are serving, and have a duty to uphold it. In that respect they are no different from other citizens, and all civil offences have been fully incorporated within The Armed Forces Act 2006. When deployed on operations sevice personnel are aslo subject to international law including the laws of armed conflict and rules of engagement.


    In general, minority relates to the smaller of two parts in a group, for example a minority vote. In law minority also refers to an age prior to the legal age.


    Minutes are a record of what was transpired in a meeting.


    In law, a misadventure is a mishap, or an unexpected accidident which occured whilst doing something lawfully.


    Miscarriage of Justice is the punishment and conviction of a person who actually did not commit the crime; the court system failing to to give justice.


    Misconduct is a legal terms which means doing something wrong, aware that such action is unlawful.


    In law, a misdirection is when the judge gives incorrect instructions to a jury. 


    Misfeasance is where somebody does something that is lawful, but does it in an injurious manner, or in Company Law, misfeasance is breach of duty in relation to the funds or property of a company by its directors or managers.


    Misrepresentation is a concept of contract law. It means a false statement of fact by one party to another, to encourage the other party to enter into a contract. For example, you may be sold goods described as 'new', when in actual fact they turn out to be re-conditioned.


    A mistrial is a trial that has been made invalid, or is inconclusive.


    A Mitigating Circumstance is where a circumstance does not excuse a person but may lessen the penalty (most commonly used in Motoring Offences where the "totting up" process is used).


    Mitigation is where facts and reasons are put to a judge on behalf of a guilty party in order to excuse, or partly excuse the offence committed in an attempt to minimise the sentence.


    Mode of Trial is the type of trial, for example trial by Magistrate, trial by Judge, or trial by Judge & Jury.


    Molestation is the act of subjecting someone to harrassing and improper behaviour, maybe of a sexual nature. Molestation has always been associated with women and children, however far more men are also now the subject of molestation.


    The Monarch is the sovereign head of state (The Queen), and the Monarch also gives royal assent to Bills of Parliament.


    A Money Claim is a claim for money only in the County Court.


    Money Laundering is any procedure to change the identity of illegal or 'dirty' money by a cycle of transactions. To disguise the origin of the funds in such a manner, so they appear in the system as a legitimate income derived from an apparently legitimate source.


    A Moratorium is a delay of action, so for example it may be arranged not to take action to recover a debt for an agreed length of time.


    A loan of money advanced to purchase property. The transfer of the property is withheld as security for payment


    The party that advances the loan


    The party obtaining the loan


    An application by one party to the High Court for an order in their favour


    A motive is the reason for a person doing something.


    A muniment is a deed, or a legal document that proves ownership, or a right to something.


    Murder is the unlawful killing of another human being.



    A Naked Trust is a trust which holds property for a trustee until they request it back.


    In law, naturalisation is giving a citizen of one country citizenship of another.


    Negligence is the failure to use a reasonable amount of care which could then result in injury or damage to another.


    A Negotiable Instrument is a document which promises to pay an amount of money. A cheque is an example of a negotiable instrument.


    A Newton hearing occurs when the defendant has pleaded guilty to an offence, but on the basis of a different version of the facts from that of the prosecution.

    If the prosecution and the defence are unable to agree the facts of the offence, the court may hold a Newton hearing to resolve the dispute and ascertain the correct basis for sentence.

    A Newton hearing is conducted by a Judge sitting without a Jury who hears evidence on the disputed facts. Such a hearing is not necessary if the disputed facts do not have the potential to significantly affect the level of sentence.




    A person representing a minor or mental patient who is involved in legal proceedings


    A next of kin is a person's closest living blood relative, or relatives.


    If you enter into a No Win No Fee agreement, your solicitor will take on your case aware of the fact that if you lose, they will not get paid. However, there is more to the costs than just your solicitors fees. If you do lose your case, you may still have to pay the legal costs of the person/body you are claiming against, and in some cases their disbursements, which are other expenses, such as fees for expert witnesses.

    It is strongly advisable to purchase insurance to cover such legal costs should you lose your case. Your solicitor can arrange this on your behalf at the start of your claim. If your solicitor is unable to find a suitable insurer, they will advise you of this and how this may affect your claim. 

    If you win your case, you will need to pay your solicitor's fees and also your disbursements. However, you should be able to get all, or the majority of these fees paid by your opponent.

    Some solicitors also charge a success fee. This is to compensate your solicitor should you lose your case, or if you win, this fee may cover the period of time from the start of your claim to winning your case.

    The amount of the success fee can vary. It can be determined by your type of case, and your chances of winning. In some cases the maximum success fee will be a percentage of your solicitors normal fee, whereas in other cases which are more complex, or if there is a trial, then a larger fixed fee may apply.

    If you win, the court will usually order your opponents to pay most (or sometimes all) of your solicitor's fees and disbursements (including the insurance premium). Any additional fees or costs incurred, including the success fee, which are not covered by the courts order, will have to come out of the compensation you are awarded.


    Non-Disclosure is the act of failing to reveal (disclose) facts to the opposing side of a contract to influence their decision to be a party to the contract.


    A non-exclusive licence is when a person has been given the right to use something, but does not prevent other people being given the same right.


    An order within an injunction to prevent one person physically attacking another


    Proceedings where the plaintiff has failed to establish to the Court's satisfaction that there is a case for the defendant to answer


    Not Guilty may be a court's verdict, or a jury's verdict, that the person accused did not commit the crime based on evidence given. Or, a formal plea by a defendant of not being responsible for the crime of which they have been charged.


    Not Negotiable is term within a contract which means something within it (the part the term relates to) cannot be transfered.


    Someone who is authorised to swear oaths and certify the execution of deeds.
    To find a Notary in England and Wales visit The Notaries Society.


    A notice may be a formal sign, to warn people about something which is about to happen, for example, a planning permission notice.


    Notice sent by a Court to the claimant giving notification of the case number allocated to their action and details of fees paid. Confirms date of service


    Gives prior notice, when served in possession proceedings, of termination of a tenancy


    Novation is a term used in contract and business law, and is replacing an existing obligation within an agreement with a new one.


    In legal terms, a nuisance is when someone does something that harms other people rights.


    Application to the Court for a declaration that a marriage be declared 'void' or be annulled i.e. declared never to have existed or to have subsisted until the Court dissolved it



    A verbal promise by a person with religious beliefs to tell the truth.


    In law, an Objection is where a party to a case says that either a particular line of questioning ,a particular witness, a piece of evidence or other matter is improper and should not be continued, and asks the court to rule on its impropriety or illegality.


    An Objects Clause is a clause which forms part of a company's memorandum of association, and sets out the purposes for which the company was formed.


    An obligation is a legal duty to do something.


    An obligee is someone who has something done under contract, for example receives money.


    An obligor is someone who has to do something such as pay money because they are bound by a contract.


    Obstruction is a motoring offence which may involve for example, leaving a vehicle in a place which obstructs other vehicles or pedestrians, or driving in such a way which inconveniences other road users.


    In law, occupation is taking control of a piece of land which belongs to someone else.


    An occupational pension scheme is a pension scheme organised by an employer for its employees.


    An occupier is the person who is in control of a piece of land such a tenant.


    Act, conduct and/or ommission which is forbidden by law and punishable.


    An offensive weapon is any object that is intended to pysically injure someone.


    In law, an offer is a promise to do something that once accepted becomes legally binding.


    The offeree is the person who receives the legally binding offer.


    The offeror is the person who makes (offers) the legally binding offer.


    A civil servant who is appointed by Court to act as a liquidator when a company is being wound up, or act as a trustee when an individual is made bankrupt. The duties of an official receiver will include examining the company/bankrupt's property which is available to pay the debts and distributing the money amongst the creditors


    The Official Secrets Act 1989 is an act of UK parliament which prevents its employees from disclosing confidential information. The 1989 act replaces section two of the Official Secrets Acts 1911.


    A solicitor or barrister appointed by the Lord Chancellor and working in the Lord Chancellor's Department. The duties include representing, in legal proceedings, people who are incapable of looking after their own affairs i.e. children/persons suffering from mental illness


    An Ombudsman is an independent official who investigates complaints made by the public against an organisation.


    Ommission is the failure to do something.


    An opinion is a view based upon the available facts of the case. An expert witness is entitled to give opinion evidence because of their expertise and/or qualifications, for example a Forensic Scientist.


    Oppression is the state of being kept down by unjust use of authority, ie, a public official using their official position to harm another.


    In banking and finance law, an option is contract between a buyer and a seller, where the buyer has an option, but not an obligation, to buy the asset at an agreed price at a later date.


    Oral Evidence is evidence given to a court verbally as oppose to being in writing.


    A method of questioning a person under oath before an officer of the Court to obtain details of their financial affairs


    An 'Order' is a direction by a Court.


    An order in council is an order given by the monarch after taking advice from the members of a Privy Council.


    In Scottish law, Ordinary Action is referred to for cases in the Sheriff Court involving divorce, children, property disputes or debt / damages claims of high value. 


    A method of commencing proceedings under the authority of a specific act of parliament, e.g. Landlord and Tenant Act, whereby the applicant asks the Court to grant an order in their favour


    An originating summons is a summons which sets out the questions that the court is being asked to settle. It is prepared when the interpretation of the law or documents needs to be resolved, evrn though the actual facts in a case are not disputed.


    An order within an injunction to force a person to leave a property


    An out of court settlement is a resolution between the plaintiff and the defendant before going to trial.


    In law, Outlaw maybe to declare something illegal, or is someone who has committed a crime.


    In Criminal Law, an Overt Act is an act done openly, that can be clearly proved by evidence, as oppose to just intent. For example in a murder case involving a shooting, the purchasing of a gun by a suspect is an Overt Act. 



    The list of people summoned for Jury Service may be referred to as the Panel.


    The Crown has the authority to reduce or withdraw penalties imposed by the courts. A Pardon is the forgiveness of a crime and the penalty that came with it.


    Parole is the early release of someone from prison. If someone is given parole they may be returned back to prison if they offend again.


     A Part 8 Claim is an alternative procedure for issuing a claim to the court.


    Details relevant to a claim


    A Particulars of Claim is a document containing details of the claimants claim which must be contained in the claim form. The particulars should be a consice statement of the facts of the claim.


    Any of the participants in a Court action or proceedings


    Costs that one party must pay to another


    A Party Wall is a wall or in some cases a fence, which has been erected on the line between two properties, and is shared by both owners.


    The term 'passing off' may be used to describe the action when goods or services are offered, acting as if they are supplied from a different business.


    A Patent is a document which grants an official right for a specified time, for a person or organisation to be the only ones to make or sell something.


    A person who is deemed incapable of handling his/her own affairs by reason of mental incapacity and who is under the jurisdiction of the Court of Protection


    Patricide is the killing of a father by his own son or daughter.


    A pawn is a bailment or deposit of personal property to a creditor to secure repayment for some debt or engage. The actual property which constitutes the security is also referred to as pawn.


    The payee is the person to whom money is paid.


    Directions attached to an order of a Court stating the penalty for disobedience may result in imprisonment


    In law, a penalty is the punishment given to a person who commits a crime, for example a a speeding fine is a penalty, or, a penalty is a sum of money to be paid if the terms of a contract are breached.


    What are Penalty Notices for Disorder (PND's)

    Penalty Notices for Disorder (PND) can be issued to any individual over 16 years old committing more serious offences than those that can be dealt with by a penalty notice. Penalty Notices for Disorder (PND) are issued by Police for more serious offences, such as throwing fireworks, being drunk and disorderly, petty stealing or damaging property. Penalty notices are not the same as criminal convictions, but failure to pay the fine can result in higher fines or imprisonment.


    Penalty Points are points given by a court to a driver of a vehicle for one or more of a number of possible driving offences. Once anyone receives a certain number of points, usually 12 within 3 years, then they are likely to lose their licence for a period of time.


    The Equality Act 2010 already applies to age, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation. Now extended to cover disability, gender reassignment and sex. This is direct discrimination against an individual because others think they possess a particular protected characteristic. It applies even if the person does not actually possess that characteristic.


    Perjury is lying in a court of law under oath.


    A perpetrator is an individual who commits and offence or crime.


    A Perpetuity is a payment which lasts forever, or for an unlimited duration. The law prevents things such as property being held in perpetuity as this may hinder the housing market by hampering the circulation of housing.


    Application made to the Court without legal representation


    A Personal Guarantee is a pledge by a person to a lender, to repay a debt on behalf the main borrower if they fail to make their repayments.


    This area of law covers help concerning claims for damages for injury caused by another person or organisation. For example, you may need advice on claiming following a traffic accident. You may want to know how you stand on the issue of an accident at work, or a disease you caught there.


    Personal property is all property that is moveable, not real estate.


    A Personal Representative is a person who is appointed to administer the estate of a deceased person. If there is a will, then executors appointed will be the personal representatives. Where a person dies without a will, the court appoints an administrator.


    Personal delivery (i.e. not by mail) of a claim, summons or notice


    Personation is to portray another person, possibly fraudulently.


    Perverting the Course of Justice is a criminal offence and is the act of doing something which interferes with the justice system, such as fabricating or disposing of evidence, intimidating or threatening a witness or juror, intimidating or threatening a judge.


    A method of commencing proceedings whereby the order required by the petitioner from the Court is expressed as a prayer, e.g. the petitioner therefore prays that the marriage be dissolved (divorce proceedings)


    A person who presents the petition




    Old-fashioned term for Claim Number


    A Plaintiff is an individual/body that instigates legal proceedings.


    Planning regulations are there to help shape the way our towns, cities and countryside develop.  This includes the use of land & buildings, the appearance of buildings, landscaping considerations, highway access and the impact that the development will have on the general environment.

    For many types of building work, separate permission under both Planning Permission and Building Regulations will be required.  For other building work, such as internal alterations, Buildings Regulations approval will probably be needed, but Planning permission may not be.  If you are in any doubt what so ever, or need any further information you should contact your Local Planning Authority.


    A defendant's reply to a charge put to him by a court; i.e. guilty or not guilty


    The first hearing at Crown Court after committal is the plea and case management hearing ("PCMH"). A PCMH takes place in every case in the Crown Court, and its purpose is to ensure that all necessary steps have been taken in preparation for trial and sufficient information has been provided for a trial date to be arranged. The judge is required to exercise a managerial role with a view to progressing the case.

    At this hearing, each defendant will enter a plea. If the defendant pleads guilty, sentencing may take place immediately or an adjournment may be requested. If the defendant pleads not guilty, then the prosecution and defence are expected to inform the court of any issues in the case.

    A list of witnesses and their availability must be submitted to the Court along with exhibits and Prosecution papers to be used at trial, any formal admissions, and any point of law or question as to the admissibility of evidence which may arise. The court must be informed of the estimated length of the trial.

    These matters are dealt with in a questionnaire, which must be completed by counsel for each party.

    The defendant may use the PCMH to request an advance indication of sentence from the judge. The hearing is likely to be the first opportunity that the defendant has to make such a request, as the procedure is not available in the magistrates’ court.

    At the PCMH, the judge will give directions with a view to dealing with the case justly and bringing it to trial quickly and efficiently.



    A Plea Bargain is when the defendant pleads guilty as oppose to not guilty in return for a concession, such as dropping another charge.


    To plead, is to declare whether you are guilty or not guilty to the court.


    Pleadings are documents stating the facts in a civil case prepared by both sides of the claim. This term was replaced with 'statement of case' in April 1999.


    A Pledge is allowing another to take possession of goods without the ownership transferring. It is often done to give security for money owed or to ensure something is done as promised.


    What is Poaching? (Legal definition of Poaching)

    Poaching is taking an animal or wild plant unlawfully. The hunting or fishing of animals, and taking and/or eating wild plants without permission (and in some cases also a licence) is illegal. Local and international conservation and wildlife management laws must be respected and adhered to.


    See "caution" for full definition


    “You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in Court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”
    The person cautioned is then asked “Do you understand?”

    Where the use of the Welsh Language is appropriate, an officer may provide the caution directly in Welsh in the following terms:

    “Does dim rhaid i chi ddweud dim byd. Ond gall niweidio eich amddiffyniad os na fyddwch chi’n sôn, wrth gael eich holi, am rywbeth y byddwch chi’n dibynnu arno nes ymlaen yn y Llys. Gall unrhyw beth yr ydych yn ei ddweud gael ei roi fel tystiolaeth.” 
    The person cautined is then asked “Ydych chi’n deall?”

    If the person does not understand or the officer doubts their understanding, the caution can be simpliified as follows:

    "I am going to ask you some questions. You do not have to answer any of them unless you want to. But if you go to court and say something there which you have not told me about, and they think you could have told me, it may harm your case. Anything you do say may be repeated in court."



    “You do not have to say anything, but I must caution you that if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in Court, it may harm your defence. If you do say anything it may be given in evidence.”
    The person cautioned is then asked “Do you understand?”


    "You are going to be asked questions about (give a brief description of all the suspected offences). You are not bound to answer but if you do your answers [will be noted] [will be tape recorded and may be noted] and may be used in evidence. Do you understand?"


    Polygamy is being married to more than one person at the same time.


    Possess is a term used in Property Law and Conveyancing, and is to own, or have as ones property.


    Possession of something, is owning, or possessing something, ie a property.


    Possession Claim Online (PCOL) is an online service which allows claimants to start legal proceedings related to property. Defendants can also use the service to respond to a claim against them.


    Legal proceedings by a landlord to recover land/property i.e. house, flat, garage etc


    Possessory Title is gaining title of something through possession.


    Post Mortem is the Latin term for 'After death', and is the examination of a deceased person to establish the cause of death.


    A Power of Appointment is a person giving a second person the power to dispose of the first persons property.


    An order attached to some injunctions to allow the police to arrest a person who has broken the terms of the order


    A 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 are steps to be followed by parties to a dispute prior to legal action. The aim of them is to increase co-operation between parties and hopefully the chances of an early settlement.


    A Practicing Certificate is a certificate issued by the Law Society each year and shows a person is authorised to practice law.


    A Pre Sentence Report (PSR) is an impartial report assessing the reasons for a person's offending, and proposing actions to be taken to reduce the risk of further offending.


    Pre-emption is having the right to purchase something before others - a term often used in Property Law.


    A Pre Marital Agreement, also known as a Prenuptial Agreement, or an Antenuptial Agreement, is 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 divorce at a later date.


    A Pre-Trial Checklist is a reminder for the parties and the Judge, of the issues to be considered. It is completed before the trial and reviewed at a pre-trial review just before the final hearing.


    A preliminary appointment at which the District Judge consider the issues before the Court and fixes the timetable for the trial


    A Preamble is an explanation or introduction to a bill or law setting out its purpose.


    Precedent, is the decision of a case which established principles of law that act as an authority for future cases of a similar nature. Also see Binding/Judicial Precedent.


    A Precept is an order issued by a court to an official body, ie Police, HM Revenue & Customs or a Council, for example a writ or a warrant to order a payment or to do/not to do something.


    Preference Shares are shares that pay dividends at a specified rate and have a preference over ordinary shares in the payment of dividends and the liquidation of assets, i.e. if a company is wound up the preference shares must be fully paid out before the ordinary shareholders are paid.


    A Preferential Creditor is a creditor who is to be paid in full before unsecured creditors can be paid anything.


    A Preliminary Hearing is a hearing in which the Judge ensures that the parties understand what they must do to comply with any directions, and offers guidance on matters such as the use of witnesses. A Preliminary Hearing is before the final hearing.


    A Prenuptial Agreement, also known as an Antenuptial Agreement, or a Pre Marital Agreement, is 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 divorce at a later date.


    The prescribed limit refers to refers to the legal alcohol levels in your breath, blood and urine.
    You can be found guilty of drink driving if you have the following levels of alcohol in your blood:
    • 35 microgrammes of alcohol in a 100 millilitres of your breath.
    • 80 milligrammes of alcohol in a 100 millilitres of your blood.
    • 107 milligrammes of alcohol in a 100 millilitres of your urine.


    Senior judge and head of the family Division of the High Court of Justice


    In law, a Principal can mean one of several things, such as:

    - In Commercial Law, a Principal is a person who authorises another to act for them, such as an agent to create a legal relationship with a third party.

    - In Criminal Law, a Principal is someone who is primarily responsible for a criminal offence

    - In Banking, Finance or Investment Law 'Principal' refers to an mount of money borrowed or invested, excluding interest.



    In law terms, a Privilege is where someone has special rights because of the job they do, for instance a diplomat of a foreign country is immune from arrest in the UK.


    Privity of Contract is the term  which describes the principle that parties which mutually sign the same contract, and only those parties, can sue or be sued under the terms of the contract.


    A Privy Council is a body of people appointed by the Crown and may include royalty and former cabinet ministers. Its main purpose is to give confidential advice to the head of state, i.e The Queen.

    Up to date information can be found at the Privy Council Office.


    The Privy Purse is the name given to the allowance for the Monarch's personal expenses.


    Probate is the term which relates to the process in which the estate of a deceased person is adminstered. All claims are resolved and distributed as per the persons will.


    The Probate Registry handles the forms which are needed when someone applies for probate.


    In some instances when a court convicts someone of an offence, they may also order that the offender is supervised by a probation officer for a set period, which is a minimum of six months to a maximum of three years. This is known as probation and is an alterntaive to sending the offender to prison.


    In law terms 'process' is referred to as:

    - a summons or writ, issued by an authorised person to order someone to appear in court

    - when a clain or subsequent action is filed through to completion




    A Procurator is a person who has been authorised to act for another.


    In Scottish Law, a Procurator Fiscal is a public prosecutor acting under the control of the Lord Advocate. Their role is to investigate an offence and bring the prosecution. The role of Advocacy is often undertaken on the Procurator Fiscal’s behalf by an Advocate Depute.


    Product Liability is where manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, retailers, and others who make products available to the public are held responsible for any injuries those products may cause.


    In criminal law, an order to have evidence produced by someone other than the accused. In civil law, an order that a party, or a third party with relevant documents, produce those documents for the purposes of the litigation.


    The term Promisee refers to the person to whom a promise has been made.


    The term Promisor refers to the person who has promised something.


    A Promissory Note is a written promise to pay a specified amount at a certain time.


    In Scottish Law, a Proof Hearing is a formal hearing at which evidence is given and recorded 


    Property is the name given to anything that can be owned, tangible or intangible.


    Presents and argues the case for the Crown.Takes instructions(their brief) from the prosecuting solicitor.Can deal direct with the case officer.May be a Queens Councel(QC).


    Briefs prosecution Barrister on the case.Liases with defendant.(and sometimes with prosecution witnesses).Also liases with defence.


    Prosecution is when legal proceedings are brought against a person. Also, the team of people i.e lawyers etc, who carry out proceedings against somebody are referred to as 'The Prosecution'.


    The Prosecutor is the legal representative who brings legal proceedings against the accused on behalf of the Crown.


    A company may prepare a Prospectus if it wants people to invest in it. It is a formal document which outlines details of the company's past performance and its future plans.


    Prostitution is engaging in a sexual activty for money.


    Under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 , and the Equality Act 2010 it is illegal to taunt or harass or treat someone unfairly because they have a protected characteristic.

    The Protected Characteristics:

    • Age
    • Disability
    • Gender Reassignment
    • Marriage and Civil Partnership 
    • Pregnancy and Maternity 
    • Race 
    • Religion or Belief 
    • Sex
    • Sexual Orientation

    Where the law may come into effect:


    These Acts protects people of all ages however, being treated differently just because of your age is not unlawful direct or indirect discrimination, providing this can be justified. Age is the only protected characteristic that allows employers to justify direct discrimination.


    The Acts have made it easier for a person to show that they are disabled and protected from disability discrimination. Under the Acts, a person is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on their ability to carry out every day activities such as using a telephone, reading a book or using public transport.
    The Acts puts a duty on an employer to make reasonable adjustments for staff, to help them overcome disadvantage resulting from an impairment, for example by providing assistive technologies to help visually impaired staff use computers effectively.
    The Acts include a new protection from discrimination arising from disability. This states that it is discriminative to treat a disabled person unfavourably because of something connected with their disability, for example to make spelling mistakes arising from dyslexia. This type of discrimination is unlawful where the employer or other person acting for the employer knows, or could reasonably be expected to know, that the person has a disability. This type of discrimination is only justifiable if an employer can show that it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. Additionally, indirect discrimination now covers disabled people. This means that a job applicant or employee could claim that a particular rule or requirement you have in place, disadvantages people with the same disability. Unless you could justify this it would be unlawful.
    The Acts also include a new provision which makes it unlawful, except in certain circumstances, for employers to ask about a candidate’s health before offering them work.

    Gender reassignment

    The Acts provide protection for transsexual people. A transsexual person is someone who proposes to, starts or has completed a process to change his or her gender. The law no longer requires a person to be under medical supervision to be protected – so a woman who decides to live permanently as a man but does not undergo any medical procedures would be covered. Transgender people such as cross dressers, who are not transsexual because they do not intend to live permanently in the gender opposite to their birth sex, therefore are not protected by the relevant Act.
    It is discrimination to treat transsexual people less favourably for being absent from work because they propose to undergo, are undergoing or have undergone gender reassignment than they would be treated if they were absent because they were ill or injured. Medical procedures for gender reassignment such as hormone treatment, should not be treated as a ‘lifestyle’ choice.
    Marriage and civil partnership

    The Equality Act protects employees who are married or in a civil partnership against discrimination, single people are not protected.

    Pregnancy and maternity

    A woman is protected against discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy and maternity during the period of her pregnancy and any statutory maternity leave she is entitled. During this time, pregnancy and maternity discrimination cannot be treated as sex discrimination. As an employer, when making decisions about a womans employment, you must not take into account any period of absence to due to pregnancy-related illness .
    Under the Act, race includes colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins. A racial group can be made up of two or more different racial groups (eg Black Britons).

    Religion or belief

    In the Equality Act, religion includes any religion. It also includes protection for employees or jobseekers if they do not follow a certain religion or have no religious beliefs at all. Additionally, a religion must have a clear structure and belief system. Belief means any religious or philosophical belief or a lack of such belief. To be protected, a belief must satisfy various criteria, including that it is a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour. Denominations or sects within a religion can also be considered a protected religion or religious belief.


    Both men and women are protected under the Equality Act.

    Sexual orientation

    The Equality Act protects bisexual, gay, heterosexual and lesbian people.


    With reference to a tenancy agreement for a property, protected tenancy gives the tenant certain rights such as protection from eviction, proving the tenant keeps to the terms and conditions of the agreement.


    Proviso is a condition in a legal document which may exclude another condition within the document.


    Provocation is aggravating someone, or displaying unfriendly behaviour which may cause resentment and anger to the degree that the other person may retaliate.


    A Proxy is a person who represents another, eg a shareholder, and can vote on their behalf at a meeting with a valid Proxy Form.


    A Proxy Form is the form the Proxy must have to be able to vote in a meeting on others (shareholders) behalfs.


    A court can grant an order allowing a prosecuting authority to refrain from disclosing evidence to the defence where disclosure would be damaging to the public interest. In making a Public Interest Immunity (PII) order, the court has to balance the public interest in the administration of justice and the public interest in maintaining the confidentiality of certain documents whose disclosure would be damaging. These proceedings are usually conducted Ex Parte.


    A Public Mischief is when somone does something which causes damage to the community.


    In Criminal Law, Public Nuisance is a class of offence by which the general public may be put in danger or suffer damage to themself or their property.


    A person (usually a barrister or solicitor) appointed by the Lord Chancellor as:Trustee for Trusts managed by the Public Trust Office; Accountant General for Court Funds;Receiver (of last resort) for Court of Protection patients


    A Puisne Judge(Pronounced Puny) is a High Court judge; any judge of the High Court other than the heads of each division. The word puisne means junior and is used to distinguish High Court judges from senior judges sitting at the Court of Appeal


    The term 'Purple Judge' refers to Circuit Judges  who are senior Judges in Crown and County Court. Such judges wear purple dress robes must be addressed as 'Your Honour.


    A pursuer in Scotland is the party who initiates a lawsuit before a Court of Scotland. The term is the same in civil and criminal proceedings. The pursuer is seeking a legal remedy, and if successful, the court will issue judgment in favour of the pursuer and make the appropriate court order (eg. an order for damages or find the defendant guilty and punish them.)


    The Putative Father is the alleged or presumed father of an illegitimate child, determined by a court.



    In relation to Child Support, a qualifying child is a natural or adopted child under 16, or if in full time education, 19. For upto date information on anything related to child support visit the Child Support Agency.


    A Quango is an organisation funded and set up by the Government to carry out specific work on behalf of it, although it is independent and does not form any part of the Government.


    In a damages claim the amount to be determined by the court


    Quarter Days are the four days in the year which represent the start of each new quarter within the year. In British & Irish tradition quarter days were the four dates in the year when servants were hired and rents were due. These days fell on religious festivals roughly three months apart, and were around the start of each season. The dates and their names were:

    • 25th March - Lady Day
    • 24th June - Midsummer Day
    • 29th September - Michaelmas Day
    • 25th December - Christmas Day

    The significance of quarter days is now limited. In business and financial affairs the quarter days used are 1st April, 1st July, 1st October and 1st January although leasehold payments and rents for business premises in England are often still due on the old English quarter days.

    In Scotland, the quarter days are 28 February, 28 May, 28 August and 28 November.


    Quash is a term used to declare something, ie a piece of evidence, no longer valid


    A Quasi Judicial is an executive function that involves the excercise of discretion. Court staff perm such functions, such as managing the issuing of claims, serving court documents and deciding what would be resaonable for the defendant to pay. See Determination - Civil, or Determination - Criminal.


    The Queens Bench Division is a division of the High Court. It has authority to deal with civil disputes involving the recovery of money, including breach of contracts and personal injury.


    Barristers of at least ten years standing may apply to become queen's counsel. QCs undertake work of an important nature and are referred to as 'silks' which is derived from the Courts gown that is worn. Will be known as king's counsel if a king assumes the throne.


    Queens Evidence is when the person standing trial is given the opportunity to give evidence against an accomplice or a co-accused. This may be recognised by the court resulting in a lesser sentence.


    Quiet Enjoyment is a clause in a lease which allows the tenant to enjoy the property without interference from the landlord.


    Quiet Possession is the right granted to a buyer by a lender to use a property without any interference from the lender unless the buyer defaults.


    A Quorum is the minimum number of qualifying people needed to officially conduct business and cast binding votes.



    Racial Discrimination is abusive or discriminatory behaviour towards somebody of a different race, colour, nationality or culture.


    Rack Rent is a rent which represents the full, or nearly full market value annual rent of a property, therefore an excessive rent.


    Rape is having unlawful sexual intercourse with another person without their consent.


    Re Examination is the set of questions asked of a witness, following cross examination, in Court by the Lawyer who represents the party who asked that witness to give evidence. This is done to clarify and explain matters arising from the cross examination of the witness.


    Re-Allocation is the transfer of a case from one ollocated track to another. This can happen when a claim increases in value.


    The Reading of a Bill is the stage of debate in Parliament through which a bill must pass before it can become law. See also First, Second and Third Reading of a Bill.


    Real estate is a legal term that encompasses land along with anything permanently affixed to the land such as buildings, and any rights ro the land. The latter also being referred to as Real Property and Realty.


    Please use Real Estate for a full explanation.


    Used in defining NEGLIGENCE. The standard or test for a Court . For example did an individual to what a reasonable individual would have done in the same situation.


    Reasonable Force is a level of physical violence used by someone against another, and is deemed acceptable or even essential in the necessity to protect themselves, their family or their property. Reasonable Force is a complex issue.


    A Receiver is a person, usually a liquidator, who is appointed, usually by a court of law, who liquidates or protects assetts in favour of affected parties i.e. a creditor.


    An undertaking before the Court by which a person agrees to comply with a certain condition, e.g. keep the peace/appear in court. A sum of money is normally pledged to ensure compliance


    In a case of law, if a record is referred to it is the documents in a court case from beginning to end.


    A Recorder is a barrister or solicitor of at least 10 years' standing who is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Lord Chancellor to hold part-time judicial office. A Recorder acting as such has all the powers of a Circuit Judge and may sit in the Crown Court or in the County Court. A Recorder is expected to sit as a Judge for between 3 and 6 weeks a year.


    In Land Law, recovery is regaining posession of land by taking court action.


    Redemption is the repayment of the principle amount of a debt borrowed under an agreement.


    In civil cases, redetermination is where the defendant or claimant objects to the rate of repayment set out by a court officer, and the Judge will decide on the matter. See Determination - Civil Cases.


    In criminal cases, Redetermination is an application made by a solicitor or counsel for amounts assessed by determination to be reconsidered.


    Redundancy is where an employer needs to reduce his or her workforce. This may be for a number of reasons such as the business closing down, or that a particular job type id no longer required. As an employee, for you to be made redundant your job should no longer exist. Your employer must not recruit for the same job or they may have broken the law. This is a vast topic which is part of Employment Law. It is strongly recommended you seek for advice from a solicitor who specialises in this field.


    The Register of Charities is a register that holds comprehensive information about every registered charity in England and Wales.


    This is a public register which contains details of County Court Judgements (CCJ's), High Court Judgements, fines enforced by Magistrates Courts, and County Court administration orders.


    Registered Land is any land that is registered at the Land Registry.


    A Registered office is the official address of a company where any official documents must be served, and the address is registered at Companies House.


    Registrars and deputy registrars were renamed District Judges and Deputy District Judges respectively in the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990


    The Registrar of Companies is the official responsible for Companies House where the records of registered compaies are kept. England and Wales have the same registrar, and Scotland has its own.


    Reinsurance is where an insurance company transfers part or all of a risk to another insurance company. Reinsurance is technically insurance for insurers.


    In law terms release may mean; to free someone from prison or custody, to give up a valid claim against someone or is a document which is used to cancel a claim one person has against another.


    In Property Law, a remainder is an interest or estate that remains after all costs have been deducted or when the original life tenant has died.


    To Remand, is to order an accused person to be kept in custody or placed on bail pending further Court appearance.


    A Legal Remedy isusing the law to get compensation for damage done or rights infringed, or can be using the law to prevent something from happening.


    Renouncing Probate is when a proposed executor signs a legal document which cancels their appointment from the start.


    Rent is a regular payment under contract (usually of a lease agreement) to a landlord by a tenant for being allowed to use the landlords property, whether for business or to reside there.


    Repeal is to officially state that a law no longer has legal authority and has ended.


    A Repeat Offender is a person who repeatedly offends against the law.


    In law terms , a reply is referred to when in a civil case, a defendant may provide a defence to the claim, or may even make a counterclaim.


    Repossession is where a financial institution takes back an object, for example a house or a car. This is usually done in accordance with a credit agreement, such as a mortgage or hire purchase agreement.


    In law, representation can mean:

    - a statement in a contract

    - taking the place of another, for example an executor handling a deceased persons affairs

    - acting on behalf of someone else, for example a solicitor acting on behalf of their client


    Representative action is where a group of people who have joined together with the same grievance, nominate one or more people to take legal action to represent the whole group.


    Reprieve is where a judge suspends or withdraws punishment for an offence.


    A request for further information is when the opposing party requests more details about the case.


    Rescission means to rescind, or set aside, and in Contract Law is the termination, or cancellation of a transaction or contract between two parties.


    A Reservation of Title is a clause within a contract which leaves ownership of the goods with the seller(or lender) until the goods have been paid for. This will be a clause in a Hire Purchase agreement on a vehicle, where the person with the agreement will not actually own the vehicle until all payments have been made. There is usually a final charge to pass title from the lender to the name on the agreement. Also referred to as Retention of Title.


    Reserves are monies set asside in accounts which can be spent in the future, and are often used to describe shareholders equity.


    A Residence Order is an order that a court issues when it has decided where a child should live, and sets out details of the decision made.


    The Residuary Legacy is what remains to be given out from an estate after all debts, taxes and specific legacies have been paid.


    The Residue is what is left of an estate after all debts, taxes, expenses and sepcific legacies have been dealt with.


    Resisting arrest is when a person tries to prevent themselves from being arrested. Further charges can be incurred from this offence.


    A Resolution is a decision taken by the members of a company in a meeting.


    In civil and criminal cases the respondent is the defending party, or person, in an appeal or in a petition to the courts. Also see Appellant.


    In family cases a respondent is the person on whom a petition or originating application is served.


    A response pack is sent to the defendant in a civil claim, along with the claim form, or with the particulars of the claim if they were served seperately. The pack also includes any forms required to repond to the claim.


    Restitution is the act of restoring something to its natural state, or getting somethinjg back again. In law, this term is used for example, where a defendant who has been evicted by a bailiff, illegally re-enters the property. The claimant must issue a warrant of restitution with the court order to regain possession.


    In family law cases, an order restraining harassment that prohibits a person from molesting, annoying, harassing or communicating with their spouse, their children, or a person having custody.

    Or, an order stopping one spouse from selling or depleting his or her property.



    A Restraint Order is set in place to freeze an individuals assets, and to safeguard such assets for any future confiscation proceeding.


    In Mental Health Law, a Restriction Order is an order by the Crown Court which prevents a person being discahrged from hospital in order to protect the public.


    A Restrictive Covenant is an agreement within a contract which limits or restricts the use of land owned by one of the parties. For example, that the property must not be used to run a busines.


    In law, a Retainer may be a sum of money paid in advance to a Barrister to act in a case.


    Revocation is the state of being cancelled or anulled.


    A Revolving Agreement is a credit agreement by which the person named on the agreement can re-borrow to top up the loan, providing they stay within any stated credit limit.


    Entitlement to appear before a Court in a legal capacity and conduct proceedings on behalf of a party to the proceedings


    'Right of Way' is a legal term used in land law which refers to a legal right obliging the owner of land to allow people to cross it.


    A rights issue is a way in which a company can sell new shares in order to raise capital. Shares are offered to existing shareholders in proportion to their current shareholding, respecting their pre-emption rights. The price at which the shares are offered is usually at a discount to the current share price, which gives investors an incentive to buy the new shares — if they do not, the value of their holding is diluted.


    Robbery is theft, or threat of theft by force.


    Royal Assent is the assent of the Sovereign/Monarch to a bill which has been passed by Parliament, and which then becomes an Act of Parliament.



    If goods are purchased under a Sale or Return arrangement, then if the person purchasing them is unable to sell them on to a third party they may be returned to the original seller without needing to be paid for. Normally certain conditions apply to a sale or return dealing with the state of the goods when returned and the time by which the return must take place. 


    Salvage is a term used to describe property or goods saved from damage or destruction.


    If a person involved in a case fails to comply with directions or refuses to consider an alternative to court, then a penalty will be imposed on them, known as a sanction. Even though a person may win their case, the judge may still order them to pay the other party's costs.


    Satisfaction is paying a debt or settling an obligation by an act or deed. County Court Judgements for example, are satisfied once paid.


    A Scheme of Arrangement is an agreement between a person with debts who cannot pay them, and the creditors. The agreement is court approved. The creditors share the money the debtor is able to pay in proportion to what they are each owed.


    When a person intends to buy a property such as a house, an inspection is arranged via a Solicitor with organisations such as the Land Registry to discover any adverse information about the property or the surrounding area, i.e plans for future motorways or buidlings.


    A search warrant is a court order issued by a judge or magistrate that authorises a law enforcement agency to conduct a search of a person or location for evidence of a criminal offense and seize such items.


    The Second Reading of a Bill is the second presentation of a bill to a legislative assembly.


    Secondary legislation (also known as delegated legislation or subordinate legislation) is law made by an executive authority under powers given to them by primary legislation in order to implement and administer the requirements of that primary legislation.


    Securities may be stocks, shares or debentures where there is a right to receive dividends or interest from the investment.


    Security is a term referred to to describe something of value pledged to a lender by a borrower, such as a their home. If the borrower fails to repay the debt then the lender can sell the security to repay the debt out of the sale proceeds.


    A Security of Tenure is a period in which something is held.


    Sedition is writing or saying things which may encourage others to rebel against the Government.


    A Sentence is the penalty a court or judge imposes on someone found guilty of an offence.


    A Separation Order is a court order which allows a husband and wife to live separately if they so wish.


    A Sequestrian is a court order for the seizure of someone's property.


    Serious Crime Prevention Orders

    The Serious Crime Act 2007 received Royal Assent on 30 October 2007 allowing the provision for Serious Crime Prevention Orders (SCPO). The purpose of a Serious Crime Prevention Order is to aid the reduction of harm caused by serious organised crime.

    What is a Serious Crime Prevention Order?
    Serious Crime Prevention Orders are civil orders, a breach of which constitutes a criminal offence which can result in a prison sentence of up to 5 years.

    What is the purpose of a Serious Crime Prevention Orders?

    Serious Crime Prevention Orders were put in place for the purpose of protecting society by preventing and restricting an individual’s involvement in serious crime in England and Wales.

    How can Serious Crime Prevention Orders be used?
    Serious Crime Prevention Orders may be made against individuals, corporate bodies, partnerships or unincorporated associations, to prevent, restrict or disrupt serious crime, although they can only be applied to people aged 18 or over.

    What is the duration of a Serious Crime Prevention Order.
    A Serious Crime Prevention Order must specify when it is to come into force and when it ceases to be in force. An order can not be in force for more than 5 years.

    When would a Serious Crime Prevention Order be used ?
    Applications for Orders can only be made by the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Director of Revenue & Customs Prosecution Office, the Director of the Serious Fraud Office and the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland.
    Applications may be made to the High Court or the Crown Court.

    • In the High Court the judge must be satisfied that the person has been involved in serious crime.
    • The Crown Court can impose a Serious Crime Prevention Order following a conviction for a serious offence as part of a sentence

    In both cases the court must have reasonable grounds to believe that a Serious Crime Prevention Order would protect the public by preventing, restricting or disrupting involvement by the person in serious crime in England and Wales.

    What constitutes involvement in serious crime?
    An individual has been involved in serious crime if they have:

    • committed a serious offence 
    • facilitated the commission by another person of a serious offence 
    • conducted themselves in a way that was likely to facilitate the commission by oneself or another person of a serious offence (even if the offence was not committed).

    What is a ‘serious offence’?

    The Serious Crime Act defines a ‘serious offence’ in Schedule 1.

    These include (but are not limited to):

    • drug trafficking 
    • money laundering
    • fraud
    • offences in relation to public revenue
    • corruption and bribery
    • counterfeiting
    • environment 
    • intellectual property 

    What sort of prohibitions, restrictions or requirements can a Serious Crime Prevention Order impose on an individual? 

    Prohibitions, restrictions or requirements relating to:

    • An individual’s finances, property or business dealings or holdings 
    • An individual’s working arrangements 
    • The means by which an individual communicates or associates with others, or the person with whom he communicates or associates 
    • The premises to which he has access  
    • The use of any premises or item by an individual  
    • An individual’s travel (whether in the UK, between the UK and other places or otherwise)
    • An individual’s private dwelling, including prohibitions or restrictions on, or requirements relating to, where he or she may reside

    What sort of prohibitions, restrictions or requirements can a Serious Crime Prevention Orders impose on corporate bodies , partnerships and unincorporated associations?

    Prohibitions, restrictions or requirements relating to:

    • Their financial, property or business dealings or holdings 
    • The types of agreements to which they may be a party 
    • The provision of goods or services by them 
    • The premises to which they may have access 
    • Their use of any premises or item 
    • Their employment of staff.

    Can a company be wound up as a result of a Serious Crime Prevention Orders?

    The High Court can, where a company breaches its Serious Crime Prevention Orders, wind it up where it would be in the public interest to do so.

    Is there any limitation as to who a Serious Crime Prevention Orders can be imposed upon?

    Serious Crime Prevention Orders can only be applied to people aged 18 or over and who have committed a serious offence or been involved in serious crime. The court will be able to impose an order on any “person” which includes individuals, corporate bodies, partnerships and unincorporated associations.

    Breach of a Serious Crime Prevention Order.
    Breach of Serious a Crime Prevention Orders without reasonable excuse constitutes an offence punishable:

    • On summary conviction by up to 12 months imprisonment, a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both; 
    • On conviction on indictment by up to 5 years imprisonment or a fine or both.


    Delivery by post or personal service of the claim, or other court documents


    Servient Tenement is the land which has the burden of an easement. The beneficiary of the easement is called a dominant tenement.


    A Settlement is a voluntary agreement between the claimant and the defendant to settle their civil case.


    A Settlor is the person who gives property to a settlement.


    Sexual Harassment includes unwanted physical contact and unwelcome verbal sexual advances.


    A Shadow Director is a person who gives instructions to the directors of a company to which they comply, although not actually appointed director themselves.


    A Share Certificate is a document which certifies who owns shares within a company. The document will show the number of shares owned and the serial numbers of the shares.


    Sharia Law is the code of law derived from the Koran (Quran) and from the teachings of Mohammed. Muslims believe Sharia is God's law, but they have differences between themselves as to exactly what it entails as different countries and cultures have varying interpretations of Sharia.  


    Sheadings is the term used to describe the administrative districts on The Isle of Man.
    The six sheadings are Ayre, Glenfaba, Garff, Michael, Rushen and Middle. Each sheading has a coroner.


    Sheriff is a Scottish law term for the person who presides over cases in the Sheriff Court.


    Sheriff courts provide the local court service in Scotland, with each court serving a sheriff court district within a sheriffdom.
    The sheriff court can deal with some criminal cases. Cases can be heard before a sheriff or a sheriff and a jury. The maximum sentence for cases heard before a sheriff is a fine of £10,000 or 12 months in prison. The maximum sentence for cases heard before a sheriff and jury is 5 years (3 years for cases that were first called before 1 May 2004) in prison or an unlimited fine.
    Examples of criminal cases the sheriff court can deal with are:-
    • theft
    • assault
    • possession of drugs
    • soliciting
    • appeals from the Children's Hearing.

    The Sheriff Court also deals with civil cases. Usually the sheriff is a qualified advocate or solicitor. The highest authority is the Sheriff Principal.
    Examples of civil cases the sheriff court can deal with are:-
    • separation, divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership
    • custody or aliment disputes
    • adoption
    • claims for damages for carelessness
    • tenant/landlord problems including evictions
    • discrimination cases, including discrimination about race, sex ,sexual orientation, disability, religion and marriage and civil partnership
    • debt
    • money claims for broken agreements
    • wills
    • bankruptcy or liquidation
    • registering clubs
    • licensing
    • fatal accident enquiries where the cause of death is unclear or unexplained


    A Sheriffdom is an area of Scotland for which a Principal Sheriff is appointed with other Sheriffs acting on their behalf. Proceedings in Sheriff Courts are by summary proceedings when the Sheriff hears the case on their own or proceedings on indictment when a Sheriff sits with a Jury of 15.


    Shoplifting is a term used commonly worldwide to describe the act of stealing goods from a shop.


    Queens Counsel's are also known as ‘silks’ because when a barrister is invited to be a Queen's Counsel they are allowed to wear coloured robes, traditionally made of silk. When a barrister is appointed as a QC, they are said to ‘take silk’. QCs are the most experienced, senior barristers and judges are usually appointed from their ranks.


    Born in 1552, Sir Edward Coke was an English barrister, judge and politician, considered to be the greatest jurist of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras.

    He was born into a middle-class family, and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge before leaving to study at the Inner Temple, where he was called to the Bar on 20 April 1578. As a barrister he took part in several notable cases, including Slade's Case, before earning enough political favour to be elected to Parliament, where he served first as Solicitor General and then as Speaker of the House of Commons. Following a promotion to Attorney General he led the prosecution in several notable cases, including those against Robert Devereux, Sir Walter Raleigh and the Gunpowder Plot conspirators. As a reward for his services he was first knighted and then made Chief Justice of the Common Pleas.
    He died in September 1634.


    A Skeleton Argument is a written summary of the main points of a case to be heard by the appeal court.


    Spoken words which have a damaging effect on a person's reputation


    See also Small Claims Track.
    The Small Claims Court is a section of the County Court which deals with small civil claims under the value of £5000 (£1000 for personal injury cases). Neither side is ellible to claim costs in a Small Claims Court.


    The Small Claims Track is the route taken for claims of £5000 and under (and personal injury and housing disrepair claims of no more than £1000). See Case Management Tracks.


    Smuggling is importing or exporting goods illegally, usually to avoid paying duty on them.


    A Sold Note is a document that shows details of investments that have been sold and includes the sale price plus any charges. For example, stockbrokers produce sold notes to their clients for share investments.


    In Scottish Law, a Solemn Procedure covers the most serious cases involving trial on indictment before a Judge or Sheriff sitting with a Jury.


    Soliciting is when a prostitute attempts to 'pick up' clients in a street or other public place.


    Solicitors are the initial point of contact when an individual has a legal problem. Their role is to meet with prospective clients, hear the client's problems, give legal advice, drafts letters and documents, negotiate on the client's behalf, handle the clients money and prepare the client's case for trial corresponding with other parties involved.
    Solicitors can only represent their clients in a criminal case that is heard in the magistrates Court. However, if a legal matter is referred to a higher Court then the Solicitor will instruct a Barrister to act on their client’s behalf.
    Some Solicitors do have a higher right of Audience allowing them to do the same work as Barristers and are known as Solicitor Advocates.





    A Solicitor Advocate os a Solicitor who has higher rights of audience allowing them to do the same work as a Barrister.


    A Solicitor General assists the Attorney General, who both advise the Government.


    In investment and banking, a Special Resolution is a resolution which must be approved by holders of a minimum of 75% of the share holders with voting rights, as not all types of shares give their owners the right to vote.


    In law terms, a 'Specific Performance' is a court order to complete a contract, for example the court may order a person who has failed to fulfil an obligation under the terms of a contract, to complete it.


    A type of claim which is issued for a fixed amount of money allegedly owing. Previously known as a liquidated claim


    Spent Conviction is a law term used to describe a conviction which is no longer taken into account for future legal proceedings following a specific timescale. For example penalty points on a driving licence lapse after a specified length of time.


    A person occupying land or property without the owners consent


    Squatting is the occupation of land or property without the consent of it's owner.


    For administrative purposes Advocates in Scotland are divided into stables or chambers. Each group has a clerk or practice manager who can act as a point of contact for instructing agents or others with direct access to Advocates services. All of these stables or chambers operate from the same room within Parliament House in Edinburgh which houses the Supreme Courts of Scotland, with the exception of one stable which operates from Glasgow.


    Stalking is a form of harrassment where a person is made to feal fearful or threatened by another's actions. In stalking cases the prosecution have to prove that the defendant would have known their behaviour would cause distress to the victim, and there must have been at two instances of stalking for possible prosecution.


    Stamp Duty is a tax on the transfer on certain documents, for example for patent rights, shares and property.

    For up to date information regarding Stamp Duty visit Direct.Gov.


    Stamp Duty Land Tax is a tax payable on the purchase or transfer of property or land in the UK where the amount paid is above a certain threshold.

    For up to date information on Stamp Duty visit


    A Stand Down Report is a pre-disposition or pre-sentence report given orally in court


    Standard of Proof is the level of proof a person has to attain so that the Court will decide in their favour. In criminal cases, the level is beyond reasonable doubt. In civil cases, it is on the balance of probability.


    A written account by a witness stating the facts and details of the matter in question.


    Known as 'Pleadings' until April 1999, The Statement of Case contains a summary of the claimants case and includes a claim form, the particulars of the claim, the defence and any reply to the defence, and any counterclaim.


    A Statement of Claim is a term which has not been used now since April 1999. It was used to refer to the claiments written statement setting out the claim in a civil case.


    A Statement of Truth is a stement which states that a party beleives that the facts they have written down are true. Every statement of Case must be verified by a Statement of Truth and be signed by the parties involved.


    In law this term is used to describe how the law regards a person, for example 'bankrupt' or a 'minor'.


    'Statute' is an Act of Parliament.


    A Statute Book contains all the existing statutes within a country.


    Statute Law is a formal, written law enacted by Parliament, which takes the form of an act of Parliament as opposed to unwritten or common law.


    A Statute of Limitation is a statute which sets out the time limits to which court action must take place.


    In Company Law, Statutory Accounts are company accounts which have been filed with the Registar of Companies. These account must show all information required by the Companies Act 2006.


    A statutory audit is an audit that is required by law. Certain companies (e.g. Limited Companies) have to have their accounts audited by qualified accountants.


    Statutory books are books of account that detail all of a companies transactions. These books of account must be kept by law.


    A statutory demand is a formal legal document requesting payment for a debt of more than £750.


    A document issued by the delegated authority (usually a Government Minister or committee) named within an act of parliament which affects the workings of the original Act, e.g. The County Courts Act 1984 confers authority on to the County Court Rule Committee to make rules relating to the operation of the County Courts act


    A Stay is a suspension of court proceedings. This remains the case until an order has been followed. No action may be taken in the case other than an application to have the stay lifted. A case can also be 'stayed' when an offer of payment is accepted or if the court feels it necessary.


    An order following which judgment cannot be enforced without leave of the court


    Stipendiary magistrates are legally qualified Magistrates (most were either barristers or court clerks before taking this office) who are paid (a stipend) to act as full-time lawyers. Stipendiary Magistrates were renamed District Judges in August 2000.


    A Stockbroker is someone who buys and sells shares on behalf of a client.


    The court can strike out a case, preventing all further proceedings, if a party fails to comply with a rule, practice direction or court order. This can also occur if it appears there are no reasonable grounds for bringing or defending a claim. Either the claimant or the defendant can ask the court to strike out a case.


    In the court of trial. Whilst a court case is under construction.Proceedings are Sub Judice and details can not be disclosed.


    Subduct is a term used when something is withdrawn, i.e. to subduct = to withdraw.


    Subject to Contract is often used in conveyancing and is an agreement which is not binding until a contract has been signed.


    See 'Secondary Legislation'


    A summons issued to a person directing their attendance in Court to give evidence


    Subrogation is substituting one person for another including all rights and responsibilities.


    In Business Law 'subscribers' are the individuals who set up a limited company


    Subsidiarity is an organising principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralised competent authority. Political decisions should be taken at a local level if possible, rather than by a central authority. In Europe for example, member countries of the European Community agreed that activities could be done by the individual member countries where feasible. Therefore the European Community should only do subsidiary activities; this is called subsidiarity.



    A Subsidiary is a company that is controlled by another company. The control is usually a result of having more than 50% of the voting rights.


    Sue is the term used to describe the legal proceedings in the civil court against someone.


    Suicide is the act of killing oneself intentionally. This is not a crime, but it is a crime to help another person to commit or attempt suicide.


    A suit (most often referred to as a law suit) are legal proceedings commenced by petition, or proceedings brought by one person against another in a civil court.


    Person bringing a suit before the Courts


    Where the question of costs is dealt with at the conclusion of the hearing


    In Scottish Law, a Summary Cause is a dispute in the Sheriff Court involving rent arrears, delivery of goods and middle ranking debts.


    A summary judgement is a judgement obtained by a plaintiff where there is no defence to the case or the defence contains no valid grounds, and without a trial.


    (see INDICTABLE , EITHER WAY OFFENCE ) A criminal offence which is triable only by a Magistrates Court


    A Summary procedure is a procedure where by the court, when making an order about costs, orders payment of a sum of money instead of fixed costs or detailed assessment.


    In Scottish Law, a Summary Procedure covers less serious offences involving a trial by Sheriff or Magistrate sitting alone.


    A summary trial means there is no committal and no jury. The trial is before a bench of magistrates sitting in a Magistrates Court. In most cases, there are three magistrates who are "lay" persons - in other words, they are not professional judges nor are they lawyers, but, like the jury, they are persons from the local community.


    Summing up is a review of the evidence and summary of the case and directions as to the law by a judge immediately before a jury retires to consider its verdict.


    A Summons is an order to appear or to produce evidence to a Court. In the UK a Summons is also known as a 'claim form'.


    Order to attend for jury service


    Order to appear as a witness at a hearing


    Superior courts are the higher courts in English Law and include:

    • The High Court
    • The Court of Appeal
    • The Crown Court
    • The House of Lords

    The decisions made by those in superior courts act as precedents for the lower courts to follow.


    A supervision order is a court order stipulating that a child should be supervised by a probation offcer or local authority.


    The Supreme Court, as well as being the final court of appeal, plays an important role in the development of United Kingdom law.

    As an appeal court, The Supreme Court cannot consider a case unless a relevant order has been made in a lower court.

    The Supreme Court:

    • is the final court of appeal for all United Kingdom civil cases, and criminal cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland
    • hears appeals on arguable points of law of general public importance
    • concentrates on cases of the greatest public and constitutional importance
    • maintains and develops the role of the highest court in the United Kingdom as a leader in the common law world
    The Supreme Court hears appeals from the following courts in each jurisdiction:

    England and Wales

    • The Court of Appeal, Civil Division
    • The Court of Appeal, Criminal Division
    • The High Court (in some limited cases)
    • The Court of Session
    Northern Ireland
    • The Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland
    • The High Court (in some limited cases)



    In Tax Law, a surcharge is a penalty charged if tax is paid late. In other areas of law such as Banking and Finance Law a surcharge may also be charged for other late payments or if agreements are not adhered to with a bank or other lender.


    Surety is a person's undertaking to be liable for another's default, for example debts or promises. They would guarantee that the debt would be paid, or the promises made. Surety is also the name for a sum of money put up as security that someone will appear in court. If they do not appear in court then the money will be forfeited.


    A Suspended Sentence is a custodial sentence which will not take effect unless there is a subsequent offence of which the offender is convicted of within a specified period.


    SWIFT stands for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications. 
    A SWIFT payment is a form of payment between one bank account to another and is an international system allowing a credit transaction to happen from and to anywhere in the world.



    A "tainted gift" is a legal term used to describe the transfer of funds or assets, such as property or a car into someone else’s name. For example, if an individual knows that a confiscation order is pending, then they may move or "gift" all their assets into to someone else’s name to avoid these items being included in any subsequent confiscation proceedings.


    Offences taken into consideration, or TIC’s, are entered in those cases where the defendant accepts responsibility for other offences they have committed.
    This results in reduced time to the Court system allowing the faster progression of other cases, the defendant therefore may not face further prosecution for those offences.  


    'Tamper' is to interfere with something intentionally to cause damage or in violation of the law, or to make unauthorised alterations to a document for example. In law, the term 'jury tampering' is used when someone attempts to influence a jury through other means than the evidence presented in court, for example bribes, conversations about a case taking place outside the courtroom or making threats.


    A tangible asset is an asset which can physically be touched such as money, building and real estate.


    Tangible property is property that physically exists, and refers to both real property and personal property (moveable property).


    In law terms, 'tariff' describes the level of punishment imposed for a criminal offence.


    Tax Avoidance is where tax bills can be reduced by legal means, in contrast to Tax Evasion.


    Tax Evasion is reducing your tax bills unlawfully, for example by concealing true income.


    The tax point is date by which VAT (value added tax) arises on goods or services supplied to a customer. The tax point should always be displayed on the invoice, and is not necessarily the same as the date of the invoice itself.


    Taxable suuply is a term for supplying goods and services where VAT (Value Added Tax) can be charged.


    Taxation is simply the levying of taxes.


    The Technology and Construction Court is a specialist court which deals with disputes within the construction industry and is part of the Queens Bench Division of the High Court


    Teeming and Lading is a method used in accounting, and describes attempts to hide the loss of cash received from one customer, by allocating cash from other customers to replace it and make the books balance.


    Telephone Hearings are hearings which can be conducted by telephone. Such hearings can be

    - all allocation hearings

    - listing hearings

    - case management hearings

    - interim applications

    They are under an hour in length. Any other application requires the consent of all parties and the agreement of the court.



    This form of tenancy is a form of co-ownership between a husband and a wife. If a husband was to transfer land to his wife, the property could not be sold unless both parties agreed. 


    A tenant is a person who pays rent to use land or a building or a car that is owned by someone else, under a lease agreement.


    Tenants in common share equal property rights, except when one of the tennants in common dies. In this instance their share does not go to the surviving tenant. Instead it is transferred to the estate of the deceased tenant.


    Tender is supplying a price for a job. For example if a company asks firms to send in tenders for supplying something they are asking for written offers to complete the work to an agreed standard for an agreed price.


    Tenement is property that may be subject to tenure under English land law, property usually being land, buildings or apartments.


    Tenure is how a piece of land is held by the owner, for example a freehold or leasehold.


    A term is any clause which forms part of a contract.


    Terrorism is using violence and often causing death and massive disruption for poilitical purposes.


    The Legal Services Act and introduction of Alternative Business Structures (ABS), known as "Tesco Law" signifies a major shake up in the composition of the UK legal services market ushering in new providers and new forms of ownership. This change represents the radical relaxation of the tight ownership restrictions on legal businesses and from 6 October 2011, non-lawyers will for the first time be able to invest in and own them. Law firms may even soon be floating on the stock market due to these changes.


    A testament is a will which deals with personal property.


    A Testamentary Trust is a trust that is to take effect only upon the death of the settlor and is often part of a will. This is unlike a trust which takes effect during the life of the settlor. These are called inter vivos trusts.


    A testamentum is another name for a will.


    A testator is a person who has made a will.


    A testatrix is a woman who has made a will.


    Testify is to give evidence.


    A testimony is a solemn statement made under oath; the evidence a witness gives in court.


    A testor is a person who makes a will.


    The Trade Descriptions Act 1968 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which prevents manufacturers, retailers or service industry providers from misleading consumers as to what they are spending their money on.

    To see the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 visit the Office of Public Sector Information - OPSI.


    Theft is dishonestly taking property belonging to someone else with the intention of permantly depriving them of it.


    A Third Party is someone who is not a party to an agreement or contract, but has an interest within it. As a general rule a 'third party' would have no privileges or rights under a contract.


    A Third Party Debt Order is a order issued by a claimant against a third party, to seize money or other assets, but that belong to the debtor. Orders can be granted which prevent the defendant from withdrawing money from their bank account. The money is paid to the claimant from the account. A third party debt can also be sent to anyone who owes the defendent money.


    The Equality Act 2010 makes you potentially liable for harassment of your employees by people (third parties) who are not employees of your company, such as customers or clients. You will only be liable when harassment has occurred on at least two previous occasions, you are aware that it has taken place, and have not taken reasonable steps to prevent it from happening again.


    The Third Reading of a Bill is the third presentation of a bill to a legislative assembly. In the UK this is to debate committee reports prior to the bill being passed as an Act of Law.


    Thole an Assize is a term used in Scottish law. Quote from the Court of Session, 1825 "In proper criminal proceedings no man shall thole an assize twice for the same delinquency", in simple terms no man shall undergo a trial after which no further trial on the same charge may take place.


    Threatening behaviour is using threats, abuse ot insults towards another person.


    Time immemorial is a phrase meaning time extending beyond the reach of memory.
    The term has been formally defined for certain areas such as in English law where it specifically translates to "a time before legal history and beyond legal memory".
    In 1275, by the first Statute of Westminster, the time of memory was limited to the reign of Richard I (Richard the Lionheart), beginning 6 July 1189, the date of the King's accession. Since that date, proof of unbroken possession or use of any right made it unnecessary to establish the original grant under certain circumstances. In 1832, time immemorial was re-defined as "Time whereof the Memory of Man runneth not to the contrary." The plan of dating legal memory from a fixed time was abandoned and instead, it was held that rights which had been enjoyed for twenty years (or as against the Crown thirty years) should not be impeached merely by proving that they had not been enjoyed before (holding by adverse possession).

    The Court of Chivalry is said to have defined the period before 1066 as time immemorial for the purposes of heraldry.


    Timeshare is when people buy a share in a property for a set period of time each year. See the Timeshare Act 1992 for more information.


    The Timeshare Act 1992 is an Act to provide for rights to cancel certain agreements about timeshare accommodation. For more information about this act go to the Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI).


    An officer of the Supreme Court whose duties involve the enforcement of High Court arrest warrants


    Tithes are one tenth of annual income/earnings, formerly taken as a tax (or donation) for religious purposes, for example the support of the church and clergy.


    If you have title to something it means you have the right to own it.


    Title deeds are the documents which state who owns a property and under what terms.


    A toll is a payment which is charged for being able to use certains roads and bridges etc.


    A Tomlin Order is a sealed order by agreement in civil proceedings.


    Tort is a civil wrong committed against a person for which compensation may be sought through a civil court, e.g. personal injury, negligent driving, libel etc.


    A tortfeasor is someone who commits a tort.


    Tracing is a term used in family law where a divorcing couple had separate assets before and during the marriage. Tracing can be used to determine if these assets have been mixed together, such as joint contributions towards the purchase of a home.


    A Trade Association, also known as an Industry Trade Group,  is an organization founded and funded by businesses that operate in a specific industry. For example ABTA - The Association of British Travel Agents.


    A trademark is a 'mark' which can distinguish the goods and services of one trader from those of another. It must be registered at trademark registries and once registered will be used only on products produced by the owner of the trademark. It is illegal for anyone else to display the mark.


    A transcript is the official record of a court case.


    Transferable securities are securities which can have their ownership changed, for example debentures.


    A Transferee is the person something is transferred to.


    A transferor is the person who transfers something to someone else.


    A Legal Translator translates text within the field of law. For more information or to find a Legal Translation company click here.


    Treason is the crime that covers serious betrayal of your sovereign or nation. For example helping enemies during a war.


    A treasure trove is treasure found in a hiding place but whose owner cannot be traced. It officially belongs to the Crown however the finder and the owner of land it was found on may get a reward.


    The Treasury is the government department which manages the country's finances.


    A Treasury Bill is an unconditional promise by the treasury to repay money it has borrowed to pay for government spending. This is a short term debt.


    The Treasury Solicitor is the person, or solicitor who gives legal advice to the treasury.


    A Treaty is a formal agreement under International Law and is a legally bonding agreement between two or more countries or states.


    A Trespass is a person who enters another persons property or land without right or permission, therefore, a post person for example, would not be commiting an offence by entering someones land to deliver mail, because they have a right to do so.


    A Trial is a public hearing in which the evidence in the case and the law are examined.

    TRIAL (Civil)

    Civil trials are usually held before one or more judges without a jury. The form and length of the trial will depend on the track it has been allocated to.


    Trial Bundles are the documents that are to be referred to in a trial or tribunal hearing. The Judge and parties to the case receive identical bundles.


    Trial Contents are the contents of the trial. They include any written statements and documents that are within the trial bundles.


    A trial court (also known as Court of First Instance) is a court in which trials take place.


    This takes place before a Judge and Jury in the Crown Court. The Judge presides over the trial, ensuring fairness, deciding matters of law and passing sentence. The Jury decides the verdict. Depending upon the nature of the offence, it may be tried only Summarily, only on Indictment, or either way.



    A period of time within which the case must be listed for trial


    A tribunal is a group of people consisting of a chairman (normally solicitor/barrister) and others who exercise a judicial function to determine matters related to specific interests, e.g. VAT Tribunal - appeals against the amount of duty levied by Customs and Excise Lands Tribunal - appeals against the valuation of land.


    In common law a trover is a legal proceeding to recover the value of personal property that has been wrongfully disposed of by another person.


    A trust is a finacial arrangement where property is legally entrusted to a person with instructions to use it for another person, or persons benefit.


    A trust corporation is a company which acts as a trustee and holds a trust's assets.


    A trust deed is a legal document which is used to:
    • create a trust
    • change a trust
    • control/monitor a trust



    A trustee is a person who holds or administers property in a trust for another (or others).


    A trustee in bankruptcy is a person who oversees and manages a bankrupt persons estate and pays any available money to the creditors.


    A trustee in bankruptcy is a person who oversees and manages a bankrupt persons estate and pays any available money to the creditors.


    Type approval is a legal process of ensuring design and construction standards of certain products are met.



    A unanimous decision is where all 12 jurors must agree on their verdict.


    An underlease is when a tenant of a property leases it to someone else.


    An undertaking is a promise which can be enforced by law. It may be made by a perty or their legal representative during legal proceedings.


    The Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 was passed to regulate contracts by restricting the operation and legality of some contract terms and clauses.


    Unfair Dismissal is a subject covered under Employment Law. There are several ways your dismissal could be unfair. Most commonly these could be:

    - your employer does not have a fair reason for dismissing you (eg if there was nothing wrong with your job performance)

    - your employer did not follow the correct process when dismissing you (eg if they have not followed their company disciplinary procedures correctly)

    - you were dismissed for an automatically unfair reason (eg because you wanted to take maternity leave)


    A Unit Trust is a trust which manages investements where people can invest by buying units. The owners of the trust then use the money people have invested to buy further investments aiming to increase the value of the initial investment, although they dont always increase.


    Unjust Enrichment is a legal process where you can seek repayment from another who benefited from your action without legal justification.
    Certain conditions must be met before you can ask a court to force repayment based on unjust enrichment.

    These are:

    • an actual enrichment or benefit to the defendant
    • a corresponding deprivation to the plaintiff
    • the absence of a legal reason for the defendant's enrichment.

    A classic example is if you found somebody else's money and spent it, you may be sued for reimbursement under unjust enrichment.


    Unlawful Sex is having sexual intercourse with another person who is under the age of consent - 16 years.


    Unlawful wounding is wounding someone without being able to justify or prove it was in self defence.


    Unliquidated damages are the amount of damages decided by a court where the parties to a contract had failed to agree in advance how much the damages would be for breaking the terms of a contract.


    Unreasonable behaviour is behaviour within a marriage that justifies that they should live apart.


    Unregistered land is land which is not recorded in the registers at HM Land Registry.


    An unsecured creditor is somone who has lent money without getting any security for the loan.


    An unspecified amount of money is one which is not exact. In certain claims for compensation it may not be possible to work out exactly what the damages are.


    A claim where the amount to be awarded is left to the Court to determine, e.g. damages to be assessed for personal injuries. Previously known as an unliquidated claim


    An Usher is responsible for calling witnesses, swearing them in, and generally helping to run the court. They may also decide on the running order of cases in some courts. In Scotland an Usher is referred to as a Macer.


    Usury is the illegal act of lending money at excessively high interest rates. A lot of countries have ursury laws in place to protect borrowers.


    Uterine describes those with the same mother but different fathers.



    A vagrant is a person with out a permanent home, or even any home. They may be referred to as tramps or beggars.


    A Varied Order may be granted by the Court, where a defendent has been ordered to pay an amount of money they cant afford. They can ask the court to vary the order to allow installments, or reduced installments if this was already the agreed method of payment.


    A Vendee is somone who buys something.


    A vendor is someone who sells something.


    A verdict is the jury's decision at the end of a trial, i.e. finding someone guilty or not guilty.


    A vesting order is a way the High Court transfers land without the need for a conveyance.


    Vexatious complaint is a complaint that is pursued, regardless of its merits, solely to harass, annoy or subdue an adversary. Something that is frivolous, repetitive, burdensome or unwarranted.


    A Vexatious Litigant is a person who reguarly brings court cases which have little chance of succeeding. The Attorney General can apply to the High Court for an order to prevent such individuals from instigating legal proceedings without getting permission first.


    Vicarious Liability is where a person or organisation is legally liable for what someone else has done. For example, where a National Health Trust may be liable for work done by an individual in their employment.


    Victimisation occurs when an employee is treated badly / victimised because they have made or supported a complaint or raised a grievance under the Equality Act 2010 or because they are suspected of doing so. An employee is not protected from victimisation if they have maliciously made or supported an untrue complaint. There is no longer a need to compare treatment of a complainant with that of a person who has not made or supported a complaint under the Act.


    A violent disorder is where three or more people in a group use or threaten to use unlawful violence.


    Viz is the abbrebiation for videlicet - see videlicet for more information


    In law the term void is used when something is unable to be enforced by the law.


    A void contract, also known as a void agreement, is not actually a contract. A void contract cannot be enforced by law. Void contracts are different from voidable contracts, which are contracts that may be annulled.


    If something is voidable is may be cancelled in certain circumstances.


    When something is done voluntary, it is done without compulsion and at the free will of the person concerned.


    A Voluntary Arrangement is an agreement between a debtor and creditors. If a person or a company cannot pay their debts they can come to a voluntary arrangement with the creditors to pay their debts over an agreed period of time. If the creditors agree to the terms of the arrangement then it will prevent the companies individuals becomeing bankrupt or the company from going into liquidation.


    A person who attends a Police Station, or another law enforcement office , for the purpose of assisting a criminal investigation is referred to as a ‘voluntary attender’ by virtue of Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 section 29 and Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (NI) article 31. Further guidance regarding welfare and the right to legal advice is covered in Code C 3.21 and 3.22 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 Codes of Practice

    A ’voluntary attender’ is, as the name suggests, an individual attending of their own free will. Accordingly, they are to be treated with no less consideration than detainees or arrested persons.
    A voluntary attender should be cautioned under the provisions in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 Codes of Practice C, Section 10, as follows:
    “You do not have to say anything but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence”

    As a voluntary attender you should then be asked if you understood the caution.
    If you did not understand, ask the Police Officer to explain the caution to you.
    The caution can be simplified and means that you are going to be asked some questions.
    You do not have to answer any of them unless you want to, but, if you go to court and say something there which you have not told the Police about (and the Police think you could have told them), it may harm your case.
    Anything you do say may be repeated in a court.

    The voluntary attender should then be informed by the Police officer giving the caution that they are:

    • Not under arrest
    • They are not obliged to remain at the Police Station
    • They are entitled to leave at will unless they are placed under arrest
    • They will be informed at once that they are under arrest if a decision is taken by a Police Officer to prevent them from leaving at will.

    If the voluntary attender decides to remain they should be informed that they may:

    • Obtain free and independent legal advice, which can be obtained by phone
    • The offer of refreshments at appropriate times
    • A right to communicate with anyone outside the police station
    • A person who is not placed under arrest but has been cautioned must be informed by the officer who has cautioned them of the above rights to legal advice (including telephone advice) and their right to leave at any time (unless subsequently placed under arrest)

    The voluntary attender must be informed of this and served with an appropriate form or notice outlining the above.

    Free Legal Advice
    The Legal Services Commission has confirmed that a voluntary attender under caution at a Police station (s29 Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984) is entitled to free legal advice, and also at any other place provided that an officer with the power of arrest in relation to the matter in which the interview is taking place is present, but such free advice is not dependent on an arrest taking place.

    You should be issued with a form advising you of your legal rights

    If an interpreter is required, the Police Officer should obtain the use of one.
    It is the role of the interpreter to ensure the voluntary attender understands the procedure, is fully aware of their rights and has a true understanding of questions put to them in interview.

    If the voluntary attender is in a special group, they should be accompanied by an appropriate / independent adult, whose role will be to ensure the attender understands the procedure, is fully aware of their rights and has a true understanding of questions put to them in interview.

    Where the voluntary detainee is a juvenile, a parent or an appropriate adult must be in attendance before any of the procedures detailed above are conducted. Juveniles who attend voluntarily will not remain on police premises for more than 1 hour awaiting the arrival of a parent or appropriate adult. After this time, arrangements are made for the juvenile to return in the company of a parent or guardian.

    Interviews with voluntary attenders will be conducted under Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. The interview will be recorded on tape or, in exceptional circumstances, by noting down the interview on the appropriate Police forms.

    Forensic samples, including fingerprints and DNA, should only be taken with your consent for all offences that are likely to result in a simple caution, reprimand, final warning or report for summons. In the case of juveniles, consent must be given by an appropriate adult.
    To refuse consent does not provide grounds for arrest if the sole purpose is to take samples in order to do a random search of and to include on police databases.
    If a Police Officer believes that a forensic sample will be needed as part of the enquiry, then the individual should be arrested in the first instance and the voluntary attendance process should not be used.

    Arresting of a Voluntary Attender
    Under voluntary attendance procedure, a voluntary attender has the right to leave at any time during their attendance. If the voluntary attender is prevented from leaving, they are then considered to be under arrest.
    Police Officers should not arrest merely to prevent the voluntary attender from leaving; there must be sufficient grounds for the arrest.

    Although each arrest is at the discretion of the Police officer, they must be satisfied that the arrest can be justified as necessary (section 24(5) Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 - necessity test). These grounds should include reasonable suspicion that an offence has been committed and that the person being arrested has had some involvement in that offence.

    The power of arrest is exercisable only if the Police officer has reasonable grounds for believing that it is necessary to arrest the person for one of the reasons set out in section 24(5) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.



    A signed agreement by a debtor not to remove goods levied by a bailiff under the authority of a warrant of execution and to allow the bailiff access at any time to inspect the goods, in consideration of which the bailiff leaves the goods in the possession of the debtor


    The title given to a minor who is the subject of a wardship order. The order ensures that custody of the minor is held by the Court with day to day care of the minor being carried out by an individual(s) or local authority. As long as the minor remains a ward of Court, all decisions regarding the minors upbringing must be approved by the Court, e.g. transfer to a different school, medical treatment etc


    High Court action making a minor a ward of court


    A Warrant is a type of writ, and is an order by the court permitting the Police, HM Revenue & Customs, or other official body to carry out specified acts, for example to search an individuals property.


    Method of enforcing an order of the Court whereby the penalty for failing to comply with its terms is imprisonment; the bailiff is authorised to carry out the arrest and deliver the person to prison (or in some instances the Court)


    Method of enforcing a judgment for the return of goods (or value of the goods) whereby a bailiff is authorised to recover the goods (or their value) from the debtor and return them to the creditor


    Method of enforcing a judgment for a sum of money whereby a bailiff is authorised , in lieu of payment, to seize and remove goods belonging to a defendant for sale at public auction


    Method of enforcing a judgment for possession of a property whereby a bailiff is authorised to evict people and secure against re-entry


    A remedy available following illegal re-entry of premises by persons evicted under a warrant of possession. The bailiff is authorised to evict all occupants found on the premises and re-deliver the premises to the plaintiff


    In commercial and consumer transactions, a warranty is a commitment or guarantee that an article or service sold is as stated, and that a procedure is in place such as repair or replacement in the event the article or service failing to meet the required standards under the warranty. A breach of warranty occurs when the promise is broken, i.e., a product is defective or not as should be expected by a reasonable buyer.


    A wayleave is a right of way through or over a piece of land usually for a specific purpose, for example untility piping or cabling going through land or maybe for goods to be carried over it.


    What is a whole life term / whole life order?

    A whole life term means there is no minimum term set by a Judge when a person is sentenced and that the person will never be considered for early release. A Judge may order that a life sentence should mean life and therefore a person remains in prison until they die, this is known as a whole life order.

    A whole life order was formerly known as a whole life tariff.


    The wig is headgear worn by barristers when appearing in specific courts. They are not worn in the Magistrates Court and there may be other occasions when a barrister may be without their wig. When wigs are worn, they are worn with a black robe. The wigs are usually made of horse hair and can be very itchy.

    Legal Outfitters 


    A declaration of a person's intentions to distribute his/her estate and assets


    The voluntary or compulsory closure of a company and the subsequent realisation of assets and payment to creditors


    Without Prejudice means without pre judging an issue. A party may suggest to the other party that the case be ended on certain terms without admitting or pre judging anything. If the matter ended up in Court, the Judge would not be advised of the suggestion.


    A person who gives evidence in Court


    A witness statement is a formal written document setting out the facts relating to a particular event or events. It must contain a Statement of Truth and must be signed by the witness. If practicable, a statement should be prepared in the witness’s own words.

    Once a person has made a written statement, they may be called to give evidence in court.



    A Witness Summons is a document which is issued by a court, and requires a person to give evidence in court, or to produce any other documentation for the court.


    Words of art are words that have a fixed meaning in law, so when used in legal documentation, they only have one meaning.


    A Writ is a formal written order issued usually by a Court. The Writ will usually order someone to do, or to stop doing something. A Warrant is a type of writ. Since April 1999 a writ has been known as a 'claim form'.


    A Writ of Execution is a type of writ (or 'claim form' since April 1999) used when a court judgement needs enforcing.


    A writ of summons is a type of writ (claim form since April 1999) used to start a civil case in the High Court. Also see CLAIM


    Written evidence, or a written statement, is a statement detailing the relevant facts of a case for submission to court.


    Wrongful Dismissal is often confused with Unfair Dismissal however they are two different things. Both are under the Employment Law umbrella, however Wrongful Dismissal is based on Contract Law, whereas Unfair Dismissal is part of Employment Law. Any employee who makes a claim of 'wrongful dismissal' would need to be sure that there is nothing in their contract of employment to back up the employers decision. If that is the case then the contract may have been broken by the employer, and the employee may have a valid claim. 


    Wrongful trading is where one continues to trade whilst knowing there is little prospect of the company being able to pay its debts.



    A Young Offender is anyone between the ages of 10 and 17 who has committed a criminal act.They may also be referred to as a Minor or Infant.
    Children under the age of 10 are considered to be under the age of criminal responsibility and have not reached an age where they can be held responsible for their crimes. Therefore, they cannot be charged with any criminal offence.
    Children aged 10-14 can be convicted of a criminal offence if it can be proved that they were aware of what they were doing at the time of the offence and that it was seriously wrong. After the age of 14, young people are considered to be fully responsible for their own actions in the same way as an adult would. However, there are some differences in the type of sentencing all young offenders will receive. See Youth Court.



    Where the accused is between the ages of 10 and 17, the case will be heard in a youth court. These are special Magistrates' courts which either sit apart from the other courts or are held at a different time. By law, a youth court cannot sit in a room that has been or will be used within the hour by another court. The underlying philosophy of the youth court is that the welfare of the young person is paramount. However, young offenders must still have their circumstances assessed in a room resembling a court.
    A Youth Court is usually much less formal than a Magistrates Court.