Glossary of Legal Terms

The legal world can be confusing. We hope this legal glossary helps clear up any legal terms that you may have been previously unfamiliar with.

The solicitors and legal experts at Trethowans are experienced in working alongside clients with little to no previous understanding of the law. We don’t overcomplicate our legal services, so you can rely on us to give you clear, honest legal advice at all times. Don’t hesitate to contact our dedicated lawyers today.

Legal Glossary

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There are currently 85 names in this directory
Accused
The individual being charged with breaking the law.

Affirmation
An affirmation has the same legal effect as taking an oath on the stand, without the religious implications.

Agent
Someone who acts on the behalf of someone else. Your solicitor is often considered your agent.

Agreement
When two parties reach a consensus on a set of facts or a course of action.

Allegation
A legal accusation made against someone that has not yet been proved.

Appeal
To request that a legal sentence or conviction be revoked or reconsidered.

Arbitration
A type of dispute resolution that involves using an arbitrator to settle a case without going to court.

Assets
Things, either physical or otherwise, that hold value to a business or individual.

Associate
Solicitors that are not of a Partner level but are more experienced than an assistant solicitor.

Assured tenancy
Tenants on an assured tenancy agreement have more rights to stay on after the end of the agreed tenancy period than in a short assured tenancy agreement.

Barrister
A barrister works at higher levels of court than a solicitor. They are the ones who stand in court and advocate on the behalf of their clients to judge and jury.

Beneficiary
Someone who is entitled to certain assets (usually as a result of a will or trust.)

Civil Law
The branch of law concerned with private legal matters – not crime.

Claimant
The person seeking compensation in their claim case.

Codicil
Allows you to make amendments to an existing will instead of completely re-writing it.

Common Law
Common Law is a set of unwritten laws based on legal precedents established by the courts. Existing governing acts or laws do not factor into a Common Law decision.

Compensation
Reparations, usually money, awarded to the successful claimant.

Conveyancing
Legally transferring the ownership of a property from one person to another.

Conviction
The legal conclusion of a jury that someone is guilty of a crime.

Counter Claim
When the accused refuses legal liability for a claim and launches their own claim against the claimant.

Court of Protection
Since the Mental Capacity Act 2005, the Court of Protection has acted to safeguard vulnerable people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions themselves.

Creditor
An individual or business to which money is owed.

Culpable
To be found guilty of something.

Damages
Monetary compensation for loss or injury caused by a wrongful act.

Deed
A legal document, usually regarding the ownership if a property, that is signed and delivered.

Dilapidations
Money for property repair work required by the renter, as specified in their lease.

Disbursement
Payments made by an agent on the behalf of a client when carrying out a legal service. This is very common when looking to buy a home, for example, local authority searches.

Disclosure
Sharing relevant documents with the opposition in a legal dispute.

Dispute resolution
The process of concluding a legal dispute between two bodies.

Dissolution
The act of officially disbanding a partnership, official body or assembly.

Due diligence
Extensive research into a business, investment or deal to confirm all facets are correct before entering into an agreement.

Estate
All property and money owned by an individual.

Executor
Usually heard in the context of: ‘executor of the will’. The executor is a named person in a will who ensures the directions of the will are carried out as instructed.

Freehold
As opposed to a leasehold property, the owner of a freehold property has outright ownership with no time limit.

Gross misconduct
Unacceptable behaviour of a very serious nature, especially by an employee or employer.

Indemnity
Exemption – compensation - for liability of damages.

Informed consent
Officially giving your consent for a service or action to be carried out, having been fully informed of the potential risks and benefits.

Insolvency
The state of being unable to pay debts or compensation owed.

Insolvent
Unable to pay debts or compensation owed.

Instructing
Telling a solicitor to act on your behalf. The instruction specifies what kind of legal service you’d like them to carry out.

Interim proceedings
Preliminary stages of civil proceedings, occurring between the first and final hearing.

Intestate
If a person dies without leaving a Will, they are said to have died intestate.

Judicial
Involving a court of law.

Judiciary
Judges collectively – the legal authorities in the country.

Jury
A group of people allocated to provide a legal verdict in court.

Lasting Powers of Attorney
The next step on from a power of attorney in that they endure even after you become unable to manage your own affairs. An agreement that allows another individual to act on your behalf.

Leasehold property
A property held by a lease.

Legal 500
A leading independent legal directory detailing of worldwide law firms and practicing solicitors. The Legal 500 is regularly updated and is the go-to resource for law firm rankings across a wide range of practices.

Legal aid
Government funding issued to help meet the cost of legal services.

Legally binding
Affirmation that an agreement or contract has be consciously made and that certain actions are now either required or prohibited by law.

Liability
Can either mean that someone is a hindrance to something or has a responsibility for something.

Liable
When an individual has is legally responsible for something.

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)
A partnership where all partners have limited liability in terms of financial and legal obligation.

Litigant
A person involved in a court case.

Litigant in person
An individual or company representing themselves in court, without a legal representative.

Litigation
The process of taking a case to court.

Mediation
An alternative way of resolving legal disputes without going to court. Usually employed during family law cases.

Misconduct
Unlawful behaviour by an individual, especially an employee or employer.

Misdiagnosis
Failure to identify an illness or disease correctly.

Money laundering
The act of concealing the origins of money obtained illegally.

Negligence
Breach of a duty of care or acts that fall short of the standard to be expected.

No win no fee
In a no win no fee case, if the solicitor does not win the case for you, you don’t need to pay your solicitor’s fees.

Notary
A lawyer authorised to perform certain legal actions (like the authentication of contracts and deeds) by the Court of Faculties of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Notary Public
Another term for a Notary.

Obligation
The need to take a legally required action.

Omission
Failing to perform a legally required action.

Paralegal
An individual, usually with a law degree but no practicing qualification, that supports solicitors in their work.

Partner
Part-owner of the firm with shared responsibilities sand liabilities.

Practicing Certificate (PC)
A document issued by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, allowing a solicitor to provide certain legal services.

Pro bono
Legal work undertaken without payment or at a reduced cost.

Probate
Before an executor or next of kin can start to deal with someone’s estate after death, they will need to seek legal permission as routine. This process is known as Probate.

Remunerate
To pay someone for a service they have provided.

Revocation
The official cancellation of a promise or decision.

Rights of audience
Usually, the right of a legal representative of a client to appear before the court.

Solicitor
A lawyer confirmed by the SRA and whose name appears on the roll of solicitors.

Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
The regulatory body for solicitors practicing in England and Wales.

Tenancy
A contract between a landlord and tenant.

Third party
An individual separate from the two contesting sides in a certain situation.

Trainee solicitor
Someone in the process of completing their legal training in a law firm before applying to become a qualified solicitor.

Tribunal
A body with the authority to determine the outcome of legal claims or disputes.

Trust
A trust is a way of managing assets, such as money or property, on the behalf of someone else.

Trustee
An individual with responsibility for administrating assets set aside for someone else in a trust.

TUPE
Acronym for the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations. They preserve employees’ terms and conditions during the transfer of a business to a new owner.

Unfair dismissal
An employee, usually of two years or more, seeking compensation for being sacked from their position.

Will
A legal document written by an individual before they die, detailing what they want done with their estate when they die.