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Dictionary of Legal Terms

Legal Jargon Buster

Legalese can be a minefield...

We at Everyday Legal know how hard it can be to truly understand the meaning of agreements and legal documents. Certain terms and phrases can have a special meaning (certainly in court) that the unwitting amongst us may not fully understand. When you use our self-service document creation facility, we have done our best to simplify the content and explain the meaning of key words and phrases. You'll see them highlighted when you fill the details of a new document!

As many of these terms are recognised in courts across the globe, we have to use them. So, for your convenience, this page lists and attempts to translate those unusual words and terms into everyday language.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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Above/aforementioned

Referring to something which has been previously mentioned in the document

Acceptance

When an offer is accepted by the other party in the agreement.

Accordingly

This means therefore or so.

Accounting Reference Date

this is typically the month end of the anniversary of the business and when accounts need to be prepared

Accounts

The financial record of an organisation's income, outgoings and capital position.

Acknowledgement

Admitting what has been said or claimed.

Act of bankruptcy

An act which might lead to bankruptcy proceedings against the person committing it.

Act of god

An extreme naturally occurring event (such as an earthquake, avalanche or flood) that could not have been anticipated.

Action

Using the law to make a claim or counterclaim.

Actual loss

An term which means that an insured item no longer exists, or real loss caused by the actions or fault of someone else.

Actuary

Someone who specialises in life expectancy and probabilities of certain things happening.

Ad hoc

Means for a particular purpose. For example, a committee

Ad valorem

In proportion (or pro rata) to the value. An ad valorem duty goes up as a sliding scale in accordance with the value of the matter which duty is charged upon.

Adjudicate

To provide an official decision about something. For example, if someone cannot pay their debts a court may adjudge them bankrupt.

Administrative order

An order made by a court when someone or a business cannot pay debts. A court often orders that the debts are paid by instalments which, if kept up, means that the creditors cannot do anything else to recover their money.

Administrator

Someone who has been appointed to deal with the affairs of a bankrupt business, or someone appointed to deal with the estate of someone who has died without leaving a will.

Admission

Where one party in a case agreeing that something the other party has alleged is true.

Adoption

The procedure where people can become parents without being the relevant child's biological parents.

Adoptive child

A child who has been legally adopted.

Adoptive parents

A person who has legally adopted a child.

Adverse possession

Deliberately occupying land trying to prevent the rightful owner or tenant using it.

Advice

Legal advice is the giving of a professional or formal opinion regarding the substance or procedure of the law in relation to a particular factual situation. The provision of legal advice will often involve analyzing a set of facts and advising a person to take a specific course of action based on the applicable law. Legal advice is ordinarily provided in exchange for financial or other tangible compensation. Advice given without remuneration is normally referred to as being "pro bono publico" (in the public good), or simply "pro bono".

Agent

A person acting for someone else. E.g. A solicitor acting for a couple buying a house.

Agm (annual general meeting)

The annual meeting of the shareholders of a company or partnership which decides certain matter such as approving accounts.

Agreement

Where two parties reach agreement on something like facts or course of action. E.g. A married couple agree the terms of their divorce.

Agricultural holding

A tenancy agreement specially for someone doing agricultural work, where the tenant has special rights including, when the tenancy finishes, the right to compensation for improvements made to the land.

Alien

Someone from a foreign country.

Allegation

A claim made against someone with or without any proof e.g. A claim that someone has engaged in an unlawful act.

Allotment

The right of a purchaser to have shares provided at a fixed price.

Alternate director

A person appointed by a company to take the (normally temporary) place of the director

Alternative dispute resolution

Different ways of agreeing or resolving disputes without going to court e.g. Arbitration and mediation.

Amalgamation

Two or more companies combining

Ambiguity

Something that can have more than one meaning or say, wording which is unclear.

Ancillary relief

This is financial support or arrangements on divorce, nullity or judicial separation.

Annual return

A return which must be sent each year by a certain date by companies to companies house and which contains details of the shareholders, directors and secretary, shares issued and other information about the company. The return is published on the register and can be viewed by the public.

Annul

Means to cancel something like a marriage which is invalid or a court order such as bankruptcy.

Ante

Before.

Appeal

A request to overturn a decision eg a higher court overturning the decision of a lower court.

Appointee

A person who is appointed to do something under a power of appointment.

Arbitration

A method of trying to resolve a dispute without going to court where someone neutral is appointed to examine both sides of an argument and comes to a decision as to how it should be resolved. It is possible for those in dispute to agree to abide by such decision.

Arbitrator

The neutral person referred to above.

Articles

Means clauses in a document.

Articles of association

Documents which detail and set out the rules of a company.

Assent

An approval or agreement or a document used by personal representatives to transfer property to a beneficiary.

Assets

Items owned by a person or a business.

Assign

To formally transfer or hand over something, e.g. The ownership of property can be assigned from one person to another.

Assignment

The formal transfer of the procedure referred to above e.g a bank being assigned the right to receive the proceeds of a life insurance policy to give the bank security for a mortgage.

Assured shorthold tenancy

A tenancy, which is normally for six months, and where the tenant has no right to stay at the end of the tenancy period if the landlord has given proper notice to leave.

Assured tenancy

A tenancy often used by public-sector landlords where the tenant has greater rights to stay at the end of the tenancy period.

Attest

To sign or to witness a signature on a document.

Attorney

A person appointed to act for another person (such as when someone cannot look after their own affairs). The formal document of such appointment is called a power of attorney.

Audit

An important and independent examination of a business’s financial affairs, records and financial statements (report and accounts) to ensure that the financial statements show a fair reflection of the financial position at the accounting date;, and the income and spending is shown accurately, and the financial statements meet any legal requirements, and the financial statements are drawn up clearly.

Authorised share capital

The total amount of share capital (number of shares) that a company can issue. The amount is set out in the company's memorandum of association.

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Bailiff

An officer of the court who carries out court's orders, e.g. Collecting a debtor's belongings and selling them for money to pay the debtor's debts. Or serving documents on people or businesses..

Banker’s draft

Used when certainty of payment is essential it is a cheque drawn by a bank on itself.

Bankrupt

The legal status issued by a court of a person or organisation that is unable to repay debts owed to its creditors.

Bankruptcy order

An order issued by a court when someone or a business cannot pay their debts when due. This order results in the ownership of the debtor's property being taken away from the debtor and allows for the sale of that property with proceeds going to the creditors in a strict order of preference.

Bearer

The person who has possession of a document.

Beneficial interest

Where someone owns something even though someone else is

Beneficial owner

The person who really owns something where it is held in someone else's name.

Beneficiary

Someone who is entitled to something e.g. Under a will.

Bequest

A gift of money or personal property made under a will.

Bill of sale

A document which transfers the ownership of goods from

Bona fide

‘good faith’ namely, genuine or honest etc.

Bond

A written promise to repay a debt at an agreed time

Bonus shares

Shares which are free of charge which a company offers to its shareholders in proportion to their existing shareholding.

Breach of contract

Defaulting, non-observing or otherwise failing to carry out an obligation under a contract.

Breach of duty

Failing to carry out on onus or responsibility required at law or doing something the law forbids.

Breach of trust

A trustee breaking the rules of the trust or failing to do something required under the trust.

Break clause

A clause in a contract which allows it to be ended earlier than its full duration.

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Call

Requesting persons to come up with the money for new shares they have applied for or which they have already paid part only. Shares are ‘called up’ when this happens.

Called up capital

Means the money received from all those shares which have been ‘called up’.

Capacity

Someone's ability (age and understanding) to enter into a legal agreement. Eg a primary school infant could not enter into a contract because of age, nor could someone in a coma as there would be no understanding.

Capital allowances

Tax allowances that may be claimed against the purchase of certain business assets, e.g. Machines. Some of the cost may be claimed against profits before tax is calculated.

Capital gain

Profit made on the sale or other type of disposal of an asset e.g. A building.

Capital gains tax (cgt)

A tax charged on certain capital gains.

Care order

A court order instructing the local authority to look after a child.

Case law

Aw that is based on the results of previous similar court cases.

Causation

Events or happenings which in turn cause something else to happen.

Cause of action

A justification entitling someone to sue someone else

Caveat

A warning.

Certificate of incorporation

A certificate issued out of companies house confirming that a company has been incorporated (formed)..

Change Control

the process by which the specification or order within an agreement may be changed by the parties

Change of Control

an event leading to a change of ownership of a business which essentially results in new decision makers

Charge

Means to use property as security for a debt such as a mortgage.

Charge certificate

A certificate which the land registry issues to the lender of the secured monies on a property which acts as proof of the lender’s right to the security.

Chargeable event

Something which may create a tax liability.

Chargeable gain

The monetary gain upon which capital gains tax (cgt) is payable. This is generally sale price less purchase price with some allowances to be used up.

Charges register

This is part of the land register which displays details of any mortgages, restrictions on the use of the land or rights someone else may have over the land such as a right of way.

Charging order

This a court order which someone owed money may apply for against

Chattels

Personal belongings that can be moved from one place to another.

Child maintenance

The amount of maintenance the parent not living with its child with must pay.

Child of the Family

a child of both of the parties or any other child treated by the parties as a child of the family (not foster children)

Children in care

Children looked after by a local authority who assumes the role of a parent.

Civil court

A court which can hear everything but typical criminal cases.

Claim

Means to apply for something in a court namely something like money, a remedy, a right to be ascertained etc.

Claimant

The person making a claim.

Codicil

Means an addition to an existing will which is properly signed, witnessed and then be attached to the will.

Cohabitation agreement

A written agreement setting out the expectations of each party to the relationship both during it and catering for death or separation. They are not necessarily binding but a court can see what the parties intended, and they can limit or reduce disagreements.

Collateral

Additional security for a debt when required e.g. A parent guarantee on top of normal security.

Commissioner for oaths

A person appointed by the lord chancellor to

Commissioner for Oaths

normally a solicitor who is empowered to witness the signing or swearing of a particular document

Common duty of care

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

Common seal

A company seal which can be used to ‘sign’ company documents instead of signatures.

Companies house

The office which stores company information such as annual accounts, directors' names and addresses and the registered office address. These can be inspected by the public online.

Company secretary

A person appointed by the directors of a company who is responsible for making sure that the company complies with the law and the companies acts.

Compensation

Monetary recompense for loss, injury, or suffering.

Composition with creditors

An arrangement between a debtor and its creditors when the creditors tend to accept a share of the amount owed to them in full settlement.

Compromise agreements (settlement agreements)

An agreement between employer and employee following an employment dispute but short of a tribunal hearing, confirming the terms of the settlement, in exchange for surrendering legal claims against the employer. Employers often contribute towards the employee’s legal costs.

Compulsory winding up

When a court orders the liquidation of a company usually following when the company has not been able to pay its bills on time and one of the creditors has presented to the court a petition (request) for winding up the company.

Conciliation

Another method of resolving disputes where the parties use an independent conciliator who meets with the parties both separately and together to resolve their differences.

Condition

A fundamental ingredient of an agreement which can be breached if not met (e.g. Requirements/restrictions/permissions required etc)

Condition precedent

Something or event which must happen prior to a contract starting.

Conditional agreement

An agreement which is conditional on a certain thing or event happening in the future. If the thing or event does not happen then the agreement will not be effective.

Consent

To agree to something which means that any agreement would not be valid without it.

Consideration

The price in money or other required value (e.g. Goods) you pay for something.

Consignee

The person goods have been sent to.

Consignor

The person who sent the goods

Constructive dismissal

Where an employer has acted in such a way that fundamental terms of the contract of employment have been failed or not met such that the employee felt the need to resign. The employee can apply for remedies from an industrial tribunal.

Consumer credit agreement

An agreement between a creditor, such as a bank, and a consumer to provide up to £25,000 of credit.

Contract

An agreement often in writing by two or more parties setting out the terms of an arrangement.

Contract for exchange

As above but a contract to exchange goods without money being involved (known as barter).

Contract for service

The contract where a party agrees to provide services to another party.

Contract of service

The contract between employer and employee.

Contributory negligence

Where someone’s own careless actions or lack of action might contribute to damage or a situation. This could result in any damages award set by a court reduced by a percentage.

Copyright

A legal form of protection which prevents things being copied without the owner’s permission. This is particularly important in areas of books and music.

Corporation (body corporate)

A group of people acting together, such as an association or a club where there is certain separate legal identity away from the individual members' identities. A company is a prime example of this.

Corporation tax

A tax which companies pay on their profits.

Counterclaim

A respondent issuing a claim in court in response to a claim in court already received.

Counterpart

An exact copy of a document often signed separately

Court of protection

A court of law available for people mentally incapable of making an important decision at a required time where there is no relevant power of attorney, and the decision can’t be made informally. The court can make the decision itself or delegate it to someone else for deciding.

Covenant

A contract or legally binding promise.

Creditor

A person or organisation to whom money is owed.

Creditor’s voluntary winding up

When members of a company that cannot pay its debts and is insolvent pass a special resolution to have the company wound up (liquidated).

Culpable

At fault, responsible or guilty of something.

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Damages

An award, typically of money, paid to a person or organisation for loss or injury.

De facto

In fact or in reality.

De jure

Rightfully.

Debenture

A document providing security over assets in favour of a lender. It is also used to describe long-term loans to companies.

Decree

An order by a court.

Decree absolute

The court order which finally terminates a marriage.

Deed

A legal document which obliges those signing it to do something.

Deed of arrangement

A written agreement between debtor and creditors used to avoid bankruptcy when a debtor is in financial trouble. It is intended to safeguard the creditors to an extent as they get a proportion of the money owing to them.

Default

Failing to do something which had been agreed to.

Dependant

Someone depending on someone else for financial support.

Deponent

A person who swears on oath that the contents of a statement is true and correct.

Depreciation

The reduction in value of an asset owing to wear and tear and age which can be recognised in an organisation's accounts.

Derogation

Damaging someone's rights or entitlements.

Director

A person appointed to manage a company's business direction and affairs and who may be registered as such at companies house if required.

Disbursement

Fees that are paid to third party organisations as required under a contract. E.g. Mileage expenses or hotel costs.

Disclaim(er)

A notice or clause to deny or to limit responsibility.

Discrimination

The unfair or different treatment of someone because of reasons such as disability, race, religion or belief, sex or sexuality.

Dispose

Getting rid of, selling, transferring or giving away something.

Domicile

The place where a person has their permanent principal home to which they return or intend to return even if they don’t live there at the present.

Drag Along

where majority shareholders receive an offer for their shares which is accepted and the remaining minority shareholders must sell their shares too (at the same price per share).

Duress

Threatening, coercing or forcing someone to do something they wouldn’t otherwise do.

Duty

A government tax usually imposed on the purchase of certain items e.g. Houses (stamp duty).

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Easement

A right to use someone else's land, such as a right of way.

Enduring power of attorney

A power of attorney for some time in the future to be used when needed. For example, a person who is currently capable of managing their own affairs at present can sign an enduring power of attorney to come into effect when they are no longer capable.

Engrossment

A final version of a legal document ready for it to be signed or sealed (executed).

Escrow

A deed which is ready and executed but which will not become effective until a future date or event happening.

Estate

The entirety of a person's property, chattels, entitlements or obligations.

Estoppel

A rule of law that prevents a person denying something they previously did or said, if someone else acted in reliance on what was done or said and there was a worse situation as a result.

Ex gratia

Is something done out of discretion or as a favour rather than as a legal obligation.

Exclusion

Matters which a contract will not provide for.

Exclusive licence

A licence under which only the licence holder has those rights.

Execute

To carry something out or sign/seal a contract or deed.

Executive director

A director who usually is employed full time as a director of

Executor

Someone named in a will to carry out the wishes and directions set out in it.

Extraordinary general meeting (egm)

A general meeting of the owners (shareholders) of a company and which is not the annual general meeting.

Extraordinary resolution

A resolution by the owners (shareholders) of a company at a general meeting of the members.

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Fiduciary

In a position of financial responsibility and/or trust. For example, trustees looking after monies for a beneficiary under 18 or directors responsible for running a company on behalf of shareholders.

Fixed charge

A charge over a specific property like a mortgage which provides security for a loan.

Floating charge

A charge not secured against property but company assets which provides security, and which is only called in if the company goes into liquidation.

Forbearance

Means when one party to an agreement decides not to chase its rights under an agreement even though the other has not done what it should have, eg when one party hasn’t paid an invoice on time.

Force majeure

An event which cannot be controlled by anyone and which prevents contractual obligations from being performed.

Forfeited

Means losing possession permanently e.g. An estate to the crown where there are no beneficiaries/invalid will or losing a leased property if the tenant has broken the conditions of the lease.

Fraud

Deliberate lying or hiding of an important fact upon which the victim relied and lost out as a result.

Fraudster

Someone who commits fraud.

Free of incumbrance

No one else having any mortgage or other rights over something. Eg a house which is mortgage free can be this.

Frustration

Stopping a contract because something outside the parties’ control has happened which means it’s impossible to perform the contract. This would be ‘frustration of

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General damages

Damages a court will give as compensation for a harm done to someone which are not linked to precise areas of lost monies. E.g. General damages for libel as opposed to medical bills being refunded to a claimant.

General meeting

A meeting of the owners (shareholders/members) of a company to make decisions about the company.

Goodwill

the established reputation of a business which itself may be a valuable asset

Grants of representation

A general type of will procedure eg a grant of probate if there is a will or a grant of letters of administration if there is no will. Both situations are often simply known as ‘probate’.

Grounds

The basic roots or foundation of a legal case

Guarantee

A promise by a person (the guarantor) to repay a debt on behalf of someone else. If the person with the loan doesn’t pay it then the guarantor has to instead.

Guarantor

The person or organisation that makes the promise to pay a debt taken out by someone else.

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Hearing

A legal court case before a judge or magistrate which listens to allegations/facts and evidence. It will eventually make a decision.

Hire

To pay to borrow rather than own something for a time.

Hire purchase

This is a type of credit when a loan is taken out against goods which the purchaser can have and use but doesn’t own until the very last payment has been made.

Hm land registry

The registry where records of registered land are kept.

Holding company

A company which controls another company, usually by owning more than half of its shares.

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Incorporated company

A privately owned company registered at companies house and where the shares cannot be bought and sold on the stock exchange. The shareholders have limited liability, which means that only the money invested in the company can be lost in case of insolvency.

Incumbrance

a mortgage, charge or other restriction placed on something eg a property which will affect the asset value and sometimes will restrict the ability to sell.

Indemnity

A promise to protect or reimburse someone for loss or damages which might happen in a contract for example.

Independent person

Someone unconnected with an organisation in that he or she is free from being controlled by that organisation and can act or vote in any way they choose.

Inheritance

Parts of someone's estate passing to someone on death.

Injunction

A court order stipulating that someone either must do something or must not do something. These are normally phrased requiring someone against doing something.

Insolvent

Being unable to pay debts when they are due or where liabilities exceed assets.

Instructing

Giving a lawyer work asking for representation.

Intellectual property (ip)

This means ideas someone has created and legally own whether through copyright, trademark or patent. Ip can include ideas, drawings, code, inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, symbols, names and images.

Interest

A legal right or claim or ownership or right to use something.

Intestacy

When someone dies without leaving a will or the will is invalid, the estate is divided up in accordance with a list of relatives decided by the law.

Intestate

A person who dies without leaving a will or the will is invalid.

Issue

It can be another word for children, or a term describing the matter to be decided by a court of law.

Issued share capital

Those shares which have been allocated to shareholders.

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Joint and Several

This is where a party to a contract can enforce breaches against any one or more of the other parties at fault

Joint and several liability

This is where two or more people are liable for a debt. The person chasing the debt can go against either or both people for some or all of the debt. In practice the person with the most assets will be the one chased.

Joint tenancy

Two or more people owing property identically and on the death of one, his or her interest is passed immediately to the other surviving joint tenants regardless of what any will might try to say.

Judgement

A decision by a court.

Judicial separation

A court order which is short of divorce and permitting two married people to separate. This is rare nowadays.

Jurisdiction

He area where a court can operate in and control with judgements.

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Lasting power of attorney (lpa)

A lpa is more robust than an ordinary power of attorney, because it continues (lasts) after the individual becomes unable to manage, whether temporarily or permanently, or because of an illness, disability or accident. Lpas have replaced enduring powers of attorney. Old enduring powers of attorney made before 1 october 2007 are still valid to use.

Lawsuit

A claim made in a court of law.

Lease

A contract between the owner of a property and a tenant, giving the tenant sole use of the property for an agreed duration.

Leasehold

Property held by a tenant by way of a lease.

Legacy

A non-land gift left to someone in a will.

Legal professional privilege (lpp)

Means that information which a client shares with his or her lawyer is confidential and should never be released without the client's consent.

Legal services

Services provided to clients, such as legal advice or representation in court.

Legatee

A person who receives a legacy in a will.

Lessee

The person a property has been leased to

Lessor

The person who lets a property by lease.

Letter of credit

A letter one bank might send to another bank requesting them to pay money to someone named in the letter.

Letters of administration

Means an authority given to someone to process a dead person’s estate where it is intestate (no will).

Liability

An issue or other area of responsibility that someone or an organisation is responsible for.

Liable

When someone is legally responsible for something.

Licence

An authority or permission to do something.

Licensee

The holder of a licence.

Lien

The right to keep hold of something which is owned by another person who owes a debt. The lien is no longer effective when the debt is paid.

Life insurance policy

A contract between the policyholder and the insurance company. The insurance company pays out when the policyholder dies. Sometimes called life assurance.

Life interest

An interest which someone holds for the duration of his over her lifetime and which will pass to another person on death.

Life tenant

Someone with a life interest (described above).

Limited company

A company which is ‘limited by shares’ and which means limits how much its shareholders will have to pay if the company is ever wound up. The shareholders of most limited companies will only have to pay money which is unpaid on their shares. Its possible to have a company limited by guarantee, which means on winding up, members only pay that amount shown in the company’s memorandum of association.

Limited liability partnership (llp)

A business partnership where the partners typically have limited liability if it is wound up.

Liquidated damages

Damages which are agreed in a contract at the outset if a party breaks the contract.

Liquidation

The procedure of winding up a company by disposing of its assets, paying its creditors in a strict order of priority and distributing any money left among the shareholders.

Loan capital

Funds which are borrowed by an organisation.

Loan creditor

A person or organisation which has lent the money to an organisation.

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Maintenance

This is the payment of money or for services to support a husband or wife on the collapse of a marriage or children.

Malfeasance

Quite simply an unlawful act.

Mandate

An authority to act given by one party to another. An example might be a customer providing a direct debit mandate to a bank.

Material facts

Key facts which are an important part of a court case.

Matrimonial home

The house where a married husband and wife live.

Matter

A sort of issue that needs to be considered or decided by a person in authority or a court.

Mediation

Mediation and arbitration are alternative cheaper and quicker ways in which a dispute can be resolved, without going to court.

Memorandum of articles of association

These are founding documents of a company. The memorandum gives details of a company's name, objects (purposes) and share capital. It also limits the shareholders' liability if the company is wound up. The articles set out the members' rights and the directors' powers.

Merchantable quality

This means goods sold by a business will be of decent quality worthy of being purchased.

Mesne profits

This means rent monies lost by a landlord because he cannot rent out his property as it is unlawfully occupied without his permission. E.g. A tenant refuses to leave a property at the end of a tenancy. It can also be the profits lost by a landowner when wrongly deprived of the use of his or her land.

Minutes

A written note of shareholder and director board meetings of companies.

Misconduct

This is normally a reference to professional people breaching their own professional standards.

Misrepresentation

A lie or untruth purposely to persuade someone to enter into a contract.

Money laundering

The process of converting illegally obtained money into acceptable money.

Mortgage

Means using a property as a debt security, or it can be the name for the contract signed by the borrower and lender when money is lent using property as security (e.g. Someone’s house).

Mortgagee

The provider of the mortgage monies.

Mortgagor

The borrower of the mortgage monies.

Multinational

A business that operates in different countries.

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Negligence

Means failing to do something properly through lack of care or skill.

Next-of-kin

Means the person chosen by an individual to be a point of contact in times of emergency or death and authorise decisions. If none is appointed, it can be next the next family member in line.

No win no fee

This is where a solicitor receives no payment for work done unless the claim is successful, and in which case the solicitor would claim fees which are higher than normal as reward for taking on the risk.

Non Solicitation

normally relating to employees this prevents the poaching of staff

Nondisclosure

Where one side (deliberately or otherwise) fails to show or disclose any fact to another side in a contract, and that fact was important and might have had an influence in the contract being signed.

Nonexclusive licence

An agreement giving someone the right to use something, but which isn’t exclusive and does not prevent other people being given similar or identical rights.

Notary (sometimes a notary public)

Usually a solicitor who is specially authorised to witness or certify certain documents or swear affidavits and oaths.

Notice

A warning of something which is going to occur.

Notice to quit

A notice to end a tenancy on a particular date in the future. It is usually sent by the landlord, but a tenant can end a tenancy this way too.

Novation

This means replacing an existing agreement or contract with a new one

Nuisance

This can be private or public but means doing something or behaviour that harms or affects other people's rights. E.g. The playing of extremely loud music constantly by a neighbour might be a private nuisance.

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Oath

Means the swearing of the truth of a statement. E.g. Swearing on the bible.

Objects clause

A clause which is part of a company's memorandum of association and which sets out the purposes the company was formed for. These are no longer required but old companies till have them.

Obligation

A requirement to do something often found in contracts.

Obligee

The person who benefits from an obligation.

Obligor

The person who must carry out the obligation.

Occupation (of land or property)

Taking control or residence of land or property which belongs to someone else.

Occupational pension scheme

Is a pension scheme arranged by an employer for its employees.

Occupier

The person who takes control or residence of land or property, e.g. A tenant.

Offer

This means a promise or offer to do something, or maybe not to do something.

Offeree

The person who receives the offer

Offeror

The person who makes the offer

Official receiver

This is the person who acts as a receiver in the process of bankruptcies and company winding-up cases. It is the department of trade and industry who appoints official receivers who normally have financial experience.

Omission

A failure to do something where there was a contractual obligation, duty or a legal requirement to do so.

Option

This is a type of agreement or contract where money is payable for a right to buy or sell goods at an arranged price at a future date.

Order

An instruction, or requirement or command of a court or tribunal.

Ordinary power of attorney (opa)

This means giving someone else the ‘power’ to manage someone’s financial affairs when they are struggling to do so themselves owing to some form of hardship or disability. Opas can only be voluntary and given freely and willingly. The chosen ‘attorney’ is normally a close friend or family member or local solicitor. Opas can be cancelled at any time.

Out

F-court settlement - an agreement between two sides in dispute who have privately settled their differences either before a court case started or during it.

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Partners

Owners of a firm who share ownership and liability.

Partnership

A collection of partners.

Party

One of the sides in a court case or someone who has entered into a contract or agreement.

Passing off

Pretending that goods and services offered to someone are those of another business.

Patent

An official protection giving the owner the right to be the only person to make or sell

Payee

Means somebody who money is being paid to.

Penalty

An amount of money which must be paid if a contract is broken or a punishment given to someone who commits a crime.

Per

Through or by.

Per se

Itself or by itself

Performance

Means performing tasks required under a contract.

Periodical Payments

payments of maintenance by a spouse or parent on a regular basis

Personal Data

information which can identify a living person

Personal guarantee

A promise or pledge by someone to a lender to repay a debt

Personal property

Any property apart from land.

Personal representatives (prs)

Means appointed people who help in the process of probate and who will be called executors or administrators. If more than one is appointed, its important to work together to avoid costly delays.

Possession

Means controlling something whether you own it or not.

Possessory title

Obtaining ownership of something through possessing it. If you have had possession of something for a long period, it’s possible to have title to it even though you do not have papers to show someone that it is yours.

Power of appointment

Means someone authorising someone else to dispose of that someone’s property.

Power of attorney

A document giving authority to a named person to deal with the affairs of the person who signed it.

Precedent

This is where lower courts must follow the decisions of the higher courts. This can also be known as binding precedent or judicial precedent.

Pre-emption

Is the right to buy something e.g. Property or shares in a company before anyone else is given the opportunity.

Preference shares

Means shares which if paid for in full, are entitled to a fixed dividend, and which on a winding up of a company are paid out before the ordinary shareholders can be paid.

Preferential creditor

A creditor who must be paid in full prior to any unsecured creditors getting anything.

Prima facie

Means on the face of it or at first glance.

Principal

This means first in order of importance or an original sum of money lent or invested (not the interest).

Privity of contract

Means that only the parties in a contract have got certain rights in that contract such as to sue for breaches.

Pro bono

His is a latin phrase for professional work (normally a lawyer) provided free of charge or at a discount.

Pro rate

Means in proportion.

Probate

Is a stage in the wills process when someone dies, namely a legal permission from the probate registry for someone to deal with someone else's estate.

Probate registry

A registry which deals with the forms which are needed when someone applies for probate.

Process

This has a few meanings including a summons used to order the attendance of someone at court, or the whole of a case from beginning to end.

Product liability

This is the liability of manufacturers and sellers to compensate the public for goods made which are unsafe and which have caused injury or damage to people or property.

Promisee

Is the person who has been promised something.

Promisor

Is the person making the promise

Promissory note

Means a promise in writing to pay a certain amount of money to someone at a certain time.

Property

Means absolutely anything which can be owned.

Protected Disclosure

facts disclosed by employees against their employers which are considered to be in the public interest and results in the employee being protected against dismissal and victimisation

Protected tenancy

This a residential tenancy agreement which gives the tenant the right to a fair rent and protection from eviction so long as the tenant complies with the tenancy terms.

Proviso

Is a clause in a legal document which makes another clause conditional upon it e.g. In a will leaving someone’s house to fred provided that he lets albert live there.

Proxy

A person appointed by a shareholder to attend and vote at a shareholders meeting in place of the shareholder.

Public interest

The all-embracing welfare of the general public.

Public nuisance

A behaviour or incident which causes annoyance, damage, risk or unpleasantness to the general public or their property.

Pursuant

Means ‘in accordance with’ or ‘following’.

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Quiet enjoyment

Allowing the use of something without interference. This basically means without interference with the best example being a tenant enjoying quiet enjoyment of the property rented with no interference from the landlord.

Quiet possession

Similar to above but using property without interference. For example, a buyer of a property should be able to use the property with no interference from the seller.

Quorum

This is the minimum number of people needed for a meeting to be valid and decisions made.

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Real

Relating to physical, namely fixed or immovable property such as land and buildings.

Real estate

Means land and buildings together with all natural or commercial resources which might be present.

Receiver

Someone appointed on a liquidation or winding up to sell assets to raise money to repay lenders or protect property.

Recovery

Regaining possession of land by taking court proceedings.

Redemption

Paying off all the money borrowed under an agreement, e.g. A mortgage.

Redundancy

This means being dismissed from work when the job role no longer exists.

Registered land

Any land which is registered and recorded at the land registry and has a title number.

Registered office/address

The officially recognised address of a company which is registered at companies house.

Registrar of companies

The government official at companies house which keeps records

Regulated individual

An individual who performs business and who is authorised by and therefore regulated by a regulatory body.

Release

Means to give up a valid claim against someone, or is a document used to cancel a claim one person may have against another person.

Remainder

This means a property interest which starts when someone else’s interest finishes. E.g. If someone has been left a property under a will but which is subject to someone else living there under a life interest.

Remedy

This means using the law to get relief for damage done or for rights tampered with, or to prevent a course of action from happening.

Remunerate

Means to pay or reward someone.

Rent

This is payment to a landlord by a tenant for being allowed to possess and use the landlord's property.

Repossession

Is where the mortgagee recovers vacant possession of a property which it had mortgaged.

Reserves

Money put to one side in accounts for spending on a particular area or for spending later on.

Residual legacy

The money left in someone’s estate to be paid out after all debts, taxes and specific legacies have been paid.

Residue

What is left of an estate after all debts, taxes, expenses and specific legacies have been dealt with.

Resolution

A decision taken by the members (owners) of a company in a meeting.

Respondent

This describes the person who is facing a court case.

Revocation

Is when something is removed or cancelled e.g. Someone’s licence.

Revolving credit agreement (a revolver)

A continuous loan agreement where a person or business can borrow repeatedly against the credit limit.

Rights issue

S where a company decides to issue extra shares. Existing shareholders may purchase extra new shares in the same proportion to the shares they have already. The shares are normally at a discount against the stock market price to encourage shareholders to buy. Those shareholders not wishing to purchase the shares cam still sell on their rights to buy.

Risk

The likelihood of something leading to something negative.

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Sale or return

Means an arrangement where a buyer can keep goods for a period of time whilst efforts are made by the buyer to sell them on. Those goods which the buyer hasn’t sold on can be returned to the original seller.

Satisfaction

This generally means paying a debt but can also mean settling an obligation by doing something.

Schedule

a part of an agreement typically at the end of it where references,data, and information can be stored

Scheme of arrangements

This is an agreement reached between a person who cannot pay debts as and when due and those creditors who are owed the money.

Securities

A general word for stocks, shares, debentures etc.

Security of tenure

This is protection for a tenant against a landlord attempting to obtain possession of the property the tenant is renting.

Service Levels

those expected levels of service provided by a supplier within an agreement

Severability

this refers to the ability of clauses to be treated separately from each other and survive if one clause in an agreement is void and ineffective.

Shadow director

Means someone who has not been formally appointed a director of a company but still gives orders and directions to the directors and controls the company.

Share capital

The money received by a company from its members buying shares. A private company can fix the price of its shares.

Share certificate

A document which is evidence that someone owns shares and sets out the type and number of shares owned.

Shorthold tenancy

Is a residential tenancy where the landlord is permitted to repossess the house at its conclusion.

Special Category Data

information identifying a living individual concerning certain categories such as health, sex,sexual preferences,race,religion (or philosophical beliefs), trade union membership, criminal convictions, biometric or genetic data and political opinions.

Special resolution

This means a resolution which must be approved by shareholders of at least 75% of the voting rights shares. (not all shares have the right to vote).

Specific performance

A court order to complete a contract or do something particular in a contract. Courts can order specific individuals to do specific tasks.

Statute

Is an act of parliament.

Statutory accounts

These are company accounts which must be filed at companies house and which have to show certain information required by the companies acts.

Statutory books

Means those books of a company which must keep by law to show and explain all their transactions.

Statutory demand

Is a written demand for payment of an established debt of more than £750.

Subject to contract

Is a term used to ensure that an agreement is not binding until a contract has been signed.

Subsidiary

A company controlled and maybe owned by another company. The control is normally a result of having more than 50% of the voting rights.

Supersedes

means ranks in priority, is ahead of or overtakes

Surety

This is someone who assumes responsibility for someone else's debts or commitments and will guarantee that debts will be paid, and actions carried out. The term also describes the sum of money put up as security for someone.

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Tag Along

where majority shareholders of a company sell their shares and the remaining minority shareholders have the right to join the deal and to sell their shares at the same terms and conditions.

Tax

Is money paid to the government to pay for those services it provides. Tax can be direct e.g. Income tax or corporation tax, or it can be indirect e.g. Vat on goods.

Tenancy

Is a form of a contract between a tenant and a landlord. Tenancies can be written or verbal. Written contracts are good evidence of terms agreed.

Tenant

Is a person or organisation who is granted a lease of property.

Tenure

Is the definition of how land is held by the owner (e.g. Freehold or leasehold).

Testator

A person who makes a will.

Third party

Is a term used to describe someone who is not one of the two sides in a situation. E.g. It could be a named driver on a car insurance policy or it could be the name of an occupier of a property who is not a tenant but listed as living in the property.

Time is of the Essence

This is where where time limits in an agreement must be adhered to

Trademark

This is a mark identifying a business and which is registered at the hm trademark registry/ it is used on products produced by the owner and it’s unlawful for anyone else to use the mark.

Transferee

Is a person receiving something in a transfer.

Transferor

Is a person who transfers something to someone else.

Transparent

Means open, clear, honest and nothing to hide.

Tribunal

An office consisting of officers with authority to decide certain areas of disputes and claims.

Trust

An arrangement where named individuals hold property or monies for someone e.g. A minor.

Trust deed

Is the legal document which is used to create and evidence the trust.

Trustee

Is a named person who holds the property or monies and looks after it for someone else.

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Ultra vires

This is a latin phrase which means ‘outside or beyond someone’s powers or authority’. Anything done ultra vires will be invalid.

Underlease

Is where a tenant leases the lease to someone else.

Undertaking

A promise (verbal or written) which is binding in law and can be enforced by a court.

Unfair contract terms

Attempts to prevent a party to a contract unfairly limiting its liability. It’s normally relevant in contracts between companies and consumers and such clauses can be challenged.

Unfair dismissal

Is where an employee has been employed continuously for 2 years or more whether full or part time and has been dismissed without proper reason or procedure.

Unliquidated damages

Is an amount of damages decided by a court when the parties to a contract had not agreed in advance how much the damages could or would be for breaching any terms of the contract.

Unregistered company

Is a company which is not registered at companies house under the companies acts.

Unsecured creditor

Is someone who has lent money without receiving any security for the debt.

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Vendee

Is someone or a business that buys something.

Vendor

Is someone or a business that sells something

Vicarious liability

Is where someone becomes responsible for acts committed by someone else. The most obvious example is where an employee does something wrong at work which turns into the employer's responsibility.

Void

Something which is unable to be enforced by the law.

Voluntary arrangements

Is an agreement restructuring debts between a debtor and its creditors where debts cannot be paid as and when due. This will permit an individual to carry on working, or a business to carry on trading and avoids bankruptcy or liquidation.

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Will

A legal document showing how someone wishes to leave their estate when they die.

Winding up

Happens when a company ceases trading and involves disposing of its assets and paying all its debts, with anything left over being divided among the shareholders.

Without prejudice

Is a term used on a document to make sure that it cannot be treated as an agreed contract or agreement.

Witness

Is someone who watches a document being signed and then signs as well to confirm the signature's authenticity; or someone who gives evidence at court about known events.

Worker

any individual who agrees to personally work for another party who is not a client/customer (does not include self employed)

Working Time Directive

a regulation giving all EU workers the right to at least 4 weeks paid holiday each year, a maximum of 48 hours work each week and guaranteed rest breaks

Wrongful dismissal

Is dismissing an employee in contravention of the employment contract terms e.g. Wrong notice period given.

Wrongful trading

Is where a company continues to operate knowing that it is not likely to be able to pay its debts