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homeresources ⇒Legal Glossary

Plain English Legal definitions

For customer reference only:

A

ACT
Law, as an act of parliament
AFFIRMATION
Declaration by a witness who has no religion belief, or has religious beliefs that prevent him/her taking the oath, that the evidence he/she is giving is the truth
AFFIDAVIT
(see STATEMENT) A written statement of evidence confirmed on oath or by affirmation to be true and taken before someone who has authority to administer it
APPLICANT
Person making the request or demand, e.g. person who issues an application
APPLICATION
The act of applying to a Court

B

BANKRUPT
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
BAR
The collective term for barristers
BARRISTER
(see SILK) A member of the bar: the branch of the legal profession which has rights of audience before all Courts
BRIEF
Written instructions to counsel to appear at a hearing on behalf of a party prepared by solicitor and setting out the facts of the case and any case law relied upon

C

CASE NUMBER
A unique reference number allocated to each case by the issuing Court
CAUTION
i) 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
ii) Warning, given by a Police Officer, to a person charged with an offence
iii) Warning, given by a Police Officer, instead of a charge
CAVEAT
A notice given to the registrar that effectively prevents action by another party without first notifying the party entering the caveat

D

DEBTOR
Person owing money to another party
DECREE
An order of the Court in proceedings commenced by petition
DECLARATION
Court order setting out the rights of a party in the form of a statement
DEED
A legal document which sets out the terms of an agreement, which is signed by both parties
DEVI
Person to whom freehold land is given by a will
DISABILITY
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.
DISTRICT JUDGE
A judicial officer of the Court whose duties involve hearing applications made within proceedings and final hearings subject to any limit of jurisdiction Previously known as Registrars
DEPONENT
Person giving evidence by affidavit
DEPOSITION
A statement of evidence written down and sworn on oath, or by affirmation

E

ENTRY OF JUDGMENT
Decision of the Court in favour of one or other of the parties
ESTATE
The rights and assets of a person in property
EXECUTOR
A person or persons specified to carry out the provisions of a will
EXEMPT
To be freed from liability or allegiance
EXHIBIT
Item or document referred to in an affidavit or used as evidence during a Court trial or hearing

G

GARNISHEE
A summons issued by a plaintiff, against a third party, for seizure of money or other assets in their keeping, but belonging to the defendant
GAZUMPING
When a seller of property, after agreeing to sell to one buyer, accepts a better offer from another person
GUARANTOR
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
GUARDIAN
A person appointed to safeguard/protect/manage the interests of a child or person under mental disability (see NEXT FRIEND)

H

HIGH COURT
A civil Court which consists of three divisions:-
i) Queen’s Bench (can be known as King’s Bench Division if a King is assuming the throne) – civil disputes for recovery of money, including breach of contract, personal injuries, libel/slander;
ii) Family – concerned with matrimonial matters and proceedings relating to children, e.g. wardship;
iii) Chancery – property matters including fraud and bankruptcy

I

INFANT
Also known as a minor: A person under 18 years of age which prevents them from acting on their own behalf in legal proceedings (see NEXT FRIEND)
INJUNCTION
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
INSOLVENT
See BANKRUPT
INTESTATE
Without leaving a will
ISSUE
To initiate legal proceedings in pursuit of a claim

J

JUDGE
An officer appointed to administer the law and who has authority to hear and try cases in a Court of law
JUDGEMENT
Final decision of a Court. A monetary judgement requires the payment of a sum of money by one party to another
JUDICIAL/JUDICIARY
i) Relating to the administration of justice or to the judgement of a Court
ii) A judge or other officer empowered to act as a judge
JURAT
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
JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
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
JURISDICTION
The area and matters over which a Court has legal authority

L

LANDLORD AND TENANT ACT
Act which empowers applications (seeking extension of a lease or some other action concerning tenancy
LAW LORDS
Describes the judges of the House of Lords who are known as the Lords of Appeal in ordinary
LEASE
The letting of land or tenements, e.g. rent etc, for property for a prescribed period
LEGAL PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE
The person to whom a grant of probate or letters of administration has been issued
LEGATEE
Person to whom personal estate is given by will
LICENSE
Permission to carry out an act that would otherwise be considered illegal
LIEN
A legal right to withhold the goods/property of another until payment is made
LITIGATION
Legal Proceedings
LORD CHANCELLOR
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
LETTERS OF ADMINASTRATION
Authority granted by a Probate Registry to someone interested in the estate of a person who has died without leaving a will. The order allows the “adminastrator” to carry out the duties relating to the estate
LONG CHIEF JUSTICE
Senior judge of the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) who also heads the Queens Bench Division of the High Court of Justice)
LORD JUSTICE OF APPEAL
Title given to certain judges sitting in the Court of Appeal

M

MASTER
Judicial officer of the High Court in the Royal Courts of Justice who normally deals with preliminary matters before the trial
MORTGAGE
A loan of money advanced to purchase property. The transfer of the property is withheld as security for payment
MORTGAGOR
The party obtaining the loan
MORTGAGEE
The party making the loan
MESNE PROFITS
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
MINOR
Someone below 18 years of age and unable to sue or be sued without representation, other than for wages. A minor sues by a next friend and defends by a guardian

N

NEXT FRIEND
(see GUARDIAN) A person representing a minor or mental patient who is involved in legal proceedings
NOTARY PUBLIC
Someone who is authorised to swear oaths and certify the execution of deeds

O

OATH
(see AFFIRMATION) A verbal promise by a person with religious beliefs to tell the truth
OFFICIAL RECEIVER
A civil servant who works for the Department of Trade and Industry and is appointed by the Court to act as: -
i) a liquidator when a company is being wound up;
ii) 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
OFFICIAL SOLICITOR
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
ORDER
A direction by a Court
ORGINATING APPLICATION
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

P

PARTY
Any of the participants in a Court action or proceedings
PATIENT
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
PERSONAL APPLICATION
Application made to the Court without legal representation
POSSESSION PROCEEDINGS
Legal proceedings by a landlord to recover land/property i.e. house, flat, garage etc
PRECEDENT
The decision of a case which established principles of law that act as an authority for future cases of a similar nature
PROBATE
The legal recognition of the validity of a will
PROCESS
Personal delivery (i.e. not by mail) of a claim, summons or notice
PLAINTIFF
See CLAIMENT
PUBLIC TRUSTEE
A person (usually a barrister or solicitor) appointed by the Lord Chancellor as
i) Trustee for trusts managed by the Public Trust Office;
ii) Accountant General for Court Funds;
iii) Receiver (of last resort) for Court of Protection patients
PUISNE JUDGE
(Pronounced Puny) 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
PUTATIVE FATHER
The alleged or supposed father of an illegitimate child

Q

QUASH
To annul; i.e. to declare no longer valid
QUANTUM
In a damages claim the amount to be determined by the court
QUEENS COUNSEL
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 assumes the thone

R

RECEIVER
Person appointed by the Court of Protection to act on behalf of a patient
RESPONDENT
The person on whom a petition or originating application is served
RIGHT OF AUDIENCE
Entitlement to appear before a Court in a legal capacity and conduct proceedings on behalf of a party to the proceedings

S

SERVICE
Delivery by post or personal service of the claim, or other court documents
SILK
Queens Counsel, a senior barrister sometimes referred to as a leader or leading counsel
SOLICITOR
Member of the legal profession chiefly concerned with advising clients and preparing their cases and representing them in some Courts. May also act as advocates before certain Courts or tribunals
SUBPOENA
A summons issued to a person directing their attendance in Court to give evidence
SQUATTER
A person occupying land or property without the owners consent
STATEMENT
A written account by a witness of the facts of details of a metter
STATUTORY INSTRUMENT
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
SUPREME COURT OF JUDICATURE
Collective name encompassing – High Court of Justice, Crown Court and Court of Appeal

T

TESTATOR
A person who makes a will
TRIBUNAL
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
TRUST
Property legally entrusted to a person with instructions to use it for another person (or persons benefit)
TRUSTEE
A person who holds or administers property in a trust for another (or others)

W

WARD OF COURT
The title given to a minor who is the subject of a wardship order. The ensures that custody of the minor is held by the Court with day to day care 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
WARDSHIP
High Court action making a minor of court
WILL
A declaration of a person’s intentions to the distribute his/her estate and assets
WINDING UP
The voluntary or compulsory closure of a company and the subsequent realisation of assets and payment to creditors

^To Top ++ also see: LATIN TERMS

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