Legal - Lawyers
Abatement A decrease in the payment to a creditor when the assets of the debtor or estate are insufficient to
meet all the payments in full.
Ab Initio Latin word meaning from the beginning.
Bankruptcy Law that allows individuals, married couples, and businesses to eliminate or restructure their debts
when they have financial difficulties. Many different types, or chapters, of bankruptcy exist.
The act of giving property through a will.
Capital gains The profit obtained from buying or exchanging a long term asset used to operate a business.
Cause of action A group of facts that give rise to the rights of action; a lawsuit.
Codicil An addition to a will modifying, explaining, changing the terms of, or otherwise qualifying the terms of
Damages Money compensation paid through the courts to persons who have suffered an injury or detriment due to
the negligence or omission of another.
Debenture A promissory note or bond backed by the credit and earnings history of a corporation and not secured
by a mortgage or lien on specific property.
A person that owes a debt to another, called the creditor.
Decree A declaration of a court announcing the legal consequences of the facts.
Decree nisi This tells you that your divorce is almost completed. When the court gives you your Decree Nisi you
have to wait 6 weeks and 1 day before you can make your divorce final. This is to allow time for anyone who objects
to the divorce to tell the court why they object. After 6 weeks and 1 day you can apply for the "Decree Absolute".
This means your divorce is completed and you are no longer married to your partner.
Decree absolute The decree absolute is the legal end of a marriage that allows the two individuals to legally
remarry. It usually follows the decree nisi, which is issued six weeks beforehand, but in modern divorce
proceedings this has been replaced by a final divorce order.
Easement An easement is a legal right the owner of a piece of land to use another person’s land for a particular
purpose, like a sewer line to get to the dominant estate or a thruway. Although an easement lasts in perpetuity, it
doesn’t give the owner of the easement the right to improve or modify the subservient land.
Entrapment Entrapment is where a police officer or other law enforcement officer induces a person to commit a
crime that the person wouldn’t have committed otherwise for the purpose of bringing a criminal prosecution against
Estate planning is the process of arranging for an orderly disposition of assets after death, in a way so as to
avoid legal and financial complications, excessive fees and expenses, and, in some cases, taxes.
Forgery Forgery is the act of creating a false document or modifying a real one so that it can be used as if it
were the original, real deal.
Finding of fact In a lawsuit, a court will listen to the facts on both sides of an argument – the finding of
fact is what the court (judge or jury) determines the actual facts are in the case after listening to the
Guardian A guardian is one who has been entrusted by the law for the care of another person or for his estate or
Guilty Guilty means having committed or being responsible for a crime or civil wrong.
Habeas corpus A habeas corpus is a court order to bring a person before a court, in most cases, to ensure that
the person’s imprisonment is not illegal.
Harassment is words, conduct, or actions directed at a specific person that annoys, alarms, or causes a lot of
emotional distress for no legitimate purpose.
Hung jury A hung jury is one that cannot agree on a verdict by the necessary voting margin.
Illegal alien An illegal alien is a person who is not a citizen of the country they are in.
Illegal entry An illegal entry is the unlawful act of going into a building with the intent to commit a
Immigration Immigration is the act of entering a country with the intention of staying there permanently.
Joint custody Joint custody is the arrangement of the parents of a child after a divorce or separation to both
have authority and responsibility for the child at all times.
Joyriding is the illegal driving of somebody else’s vehicle without permission, but with no intention of taking
the car permanently.
Jumping bail Jumping bail is where a person doesn’t show up to court at the specified time even after the person
paid bail or posted a bond.
Kidnapping The act of taking or carrying away a person without his or her consent, by force or fraud, and
without any justified reason
Kindred Kindred is the relationship between people by blood or descent.
Lawyer A lawyer is someone who is licensed to practice the law.
Lease A lease is a temporary transfer of the right to use a land or premises from a landlord to a tenant in
exchange for rent.
A legacy is money or other personal property gifted by a will.
Legalese Legalese is what you are trying to avoid by reading these definitions – it is the complicated language
used by some lawyers, especially in legal documents.
Malice Malice is the intent to commit a wrongful act without justification for doing so.
Malpractice Malpractice is negligence or incompetence on behalf of an individual, usually applied to
Manslaughter Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without premeditation
Negligence Negligence is the committing an act which a person exercising ordinary care would not do under
similar circumstances definition - or the failure to do what a person exercising ordinary care would do under
No fault divorce is where neither spouse is considered responsible for the breakup of the marriage and neither
spouse has to prove that the other spouse did something wrong.
Nominal damages Nominal damages are a very small sum awarded to a plaintiff in a lawsuit where a wrong occurred
but there is no compensable injury.
Nuisance A nuisance is some condition on your property or some use of your property that interferes with a
neighboring owner’s ability to enjoy their property.
Oath An oath is the calling on a supreme being to witness the truth of what one says or promises.
Opening statement At the beginning of the trial, each side has the opportunity to make an opening statement
explaining its case but is not required to do so. Generally in an opening statement, attorneys for each party will
explain the claims and outline the evidence they will use to prove their party's claim.
Paralegal A paralegal is a person qualified through education, training or work experience to perform
substantive legal work requiring knowledge of legal concepts. A paralegal may be retained or employed by a lawyer,
law office, governmental agency or other entity or may be authorized by administrative, statutory or court
authority to perform this work. Paralegals are also known as legal assistants.
Paternity is the state of being a father.
Personal injury Personal injury refers to the area of law that seeks to protect victims who are harmed by the
action or inaction of another person or entity. Personal injury lawyers represent individuals who have been injured
or have a loved one that has been injured due to the fault of someone else. Examples of personal injury law topics
include motor vehicle accidents, dog bites, slip and fall accidents.
Power of attorney A power of attorney is a legal way to have one person act on behalf of another.
Prenuptial agreement Prenuptial agreements, are agreements that are entered into prior to marriage and dictate
the distribution of property in the event of a dissolution.
Prima facie Prima facie means "on its face".
Quantum meruit Quantum meruit, in contract law, is the defined as the reasonable value of services.
Quid pro quo
Quid pro quo is the exchange of one valuable thing for another of more or less equal value.
Reasonable doubt Reasonable doubt is generally termed as something more than a preponderance of the evidence,
but less than an absolute certainty.
Repossession Repossession is the process by which creditors can reclaim property from debtors.
Res ipsa loquitur Res ipsa loquitur is a Latin phrase meaning "the thing speaks for itself. Res ipsa loquitur is
used in certain limited types of cases when the circumstances surrounding an accident constitute sufficient
evidence of a defendant’s negligence to support such a finding by the jury
Restraining order A restraining order is an order made by a court to protect an adult from physical pain or
injury, or from being threatened with pain or injury.
Self-defence Self defence is the use of force to protect oneself or one’s family from harm; self defence is
generally justified if it is proportional to the danger posed.
A separation is where a husband and wife agree informally or legally to live apart.
Settlor A settlor is a person that sets up a trust.
Shared custody Shared custody is where a child spends at least 40 percent of the time with the parent he or she
doesn't live with. This parent will have access to or have the child stay with him or her at least this much of the
Summons A summons is a written notification to a defendant that an action has been commenced against him or her,
and requiring that the defendant appear in court within a specific period of time to answer.
Tenancy in common A tenancy in common is a tenancy by two or more people who each have a right to posses the
Testator A testator is someone that leaves a will when he or she dies.
Trustee A trustee is a party who is given legal responsibility to hold property in the best interest of or for
the benefit of another.
An uncontested divorce is a divorce in which there are no disputes over property issues, support or child
Unsecured debt An unsecured debt is any loan or debt that has no tangible assets or property attached to it. The
most common types of unsecured debt are credit cards, department store cards, student loans, medical bills, old
utility bills, and personal loans.
Verdict A verdict is a jury’s finding or decision on a particular issue in a lawsuit.
Warrant A warrant is a court order directing a law enforcement officer to make an arrest, a search, or a
Will A will is a legally binding document that states how all your property is to be distributed at your death
compensation paid through the courts to persons who have suffered an injury or detriment due to the negligence or
omission of another.
With prejudice When a judge says that a case is dismissed "with prejudice," the judge means that the case is
dismissed for good reason and the litigant cannot bring an action on the same claim again.
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