Glossary

Acronyms and initialisms in legal writing

Glossary

An acronym is a word or name composed of the first letters of each word of a title or description. For example, NATO is an acronym for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. An initialism is an abbreviated name or description composed of the first letters of the full name or description, pronounced as a set of Continue reading

Affidavit

Glossary

A document setting out evidence which the witness providing it has sworn to be true in the presence of someone legally qualified to administer an oath.   Continue reading

Appellant

Glossary

The person who brings an appeal in a civil or criminal case. An appellant’s notice is the document in which the appellant sets out why (the grounds on which) the decision of a lower court should be quashed (cancelled), reversed or varied (changed to a different decision) by the higher court.   Continue reading

Arbitration

Glossary

A system of alternative dispute resolution (ie resolution of a dispute otherwise than by a court) in which the disputing parties refer the matter to an arbitrator or a tribunal of arbitrators (usually 3) selected by a process determined in the arbitration agreement. An agreement to arbitrate (or arbitration clause) is often included in a Continue reading

Autrefois acquit, autrefois convict

Glossary

“Autrefois acquit” roughly translates as “previously acquitted”, and “autrefois convict” as  “previously convicted”. These expressions, in medieval law French, are used to describe pleas by a defendant in criminal proceedings asking the court to halt the proceedings on the ground that they have already been tried and acquitted (or convicted) in respect of the same Continue reading

Catchwords

Glossary

Also known as Keywords. Descriptive words or phrases used to categorise the subject matter of a case for indexing purposes. Usually presented at the top of the report in the form of a main, second and third heading, which may be followed by additional words or phrases, separated by dashes, describing the critical issues in Continue reading

Caveat emptor

Glossary

Latin maxim, meaning “let the buyer beware”. It refers to the idea that the onus is on the purchaser to check the quality of the goods or property which are the subject of a sale transaction, not on the seller to volunteer information. On its own, the word “caveat” refers to a warning or exception. Continue reading

Commissioner for Oaths

Glossary

A qualified lawyer who can administer an oath, take an affidavit or attest a signature where this is required by the court or for a specific type of document. Administering oaths is a reserved legal activity, by virtue of Part 3 of the Legal Services Act 2007 (LSA), which means that only a qualified practising Continue reading

Common law marriage

Glossary

The mistaken belief that cohabiting couples enjoy legal rights similar to those who are formally married or in a civil partnership. They don’t. There is no such thing as a “common law” wife or husband or marriage, no matter how long a couple may “live together as man and wife” or however one wants to Continue reading

Conditional fee

Glossary

A conditional fee (sometimes called a contingent fee) arrangement is a fee for legal services in pursuing a claim which is only payable if and when the claim is successful and costs recovered. It is one of a number of ways in which an impecunious claimant, who cannot otherwise afford to pursue their case, can Continue reading