Acronyms and initialisms in legal writing

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 initials rather than a word. For example, BBC is an initialism for British Broadcasting Corporation.

Both initialisms and (to a lesser extent) acronyms used to be punctuated with full stops, as would other abbreviations (eg Mr used to appear as Mr.) and this may be how they appear in older law reports and commentary.

This entry lists some common and less common legal acronyms, initialisms and other abbreviations used in England and Wales.

Note that it does NOT include the abbreviations commonly used in legal citations, or in corporate names, which we have listed elsewhere.


Admin Ct – Administrative Court (part of the Queen’s Bench Division)

ACL – Association of Costs Lawyers

ADR – Alternative Dispute Resolution

AG – Advocate General (in European Court of Justice)

AG or A-G – Attorney General

AKA – Also known as (alias)

ASBO – Anti-social behaviour order

ATE – After the Event (insurance)

BAME– Black and Minority Ethnic

BSB – Bar Standards Board, created by the Bar Council as the regulator of barristers

BTE – Before the Event (insurance)

C – Chancellor (after the surname of the Chancellor of the High Court, Chancery Division)

CA – Court of Appeal

CBA – Criminal Bar Association

CACD – Court of Appeal, Criminal Division

CFA – Conditional Fee Agreement

Ch – Chancellor (as a judge of an ecclesiastical court)

Ch D – Chancery Division (of the High Court)

CIPA – Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys

CLSA – Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association

CJ – Chief Justice

CJEC – Court of Justice of the European Communities (in Luxembourg)

CJEU – Court of Justice of the European Union (in Luxembourg)

CLC – Council for Licensed Conveyancers, the regulator for licensed conveyancers

CLSB – Costs Lawyer Standards Board, regulator for the ACL

Const Ct – Consistory Court

CoP or COP – Court of Protection

COP – Code of Practice

CPD – Continuing professional development, a system for ensuring professionals maintain their standards of competence

CPR – Civil Procedure Rules

CPS – Crown Prosecution Service

Crim PR – Criminal Procedure Rules

Ct of Sess – Court of Session (in Scotland)

DBA – Damages Based Agreement

DC – Divisional Court (usually, but not exclusively, of the Queen’s Bench Division)

DFJ – Designated Family Judge

DoLS – Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

DPA – Data Protection Act

DPP – Director of Public Prosecutions

EAT – Employment Appeal Tribunal

EC – European Commission

ECHR – European Convention on Human Rights

ECtHR (or ECHR) – European Court of Human Rights (in Strasbourg)

ECJ – European Court of Justice (in Luxembourg; aka Court of Justice of the European Communities / Union)

ECLI – European Case Law Identifier

EEC – European Economic Community

ET – Employment Tribunal

EU – European Union

EW or E&W – England and Wales

FC or Fam Ct – Family Court

Fam D – Family Division (of the High Court)

FLBA – Family Law Bar Association

FPR – Family Procedure Rules

GDPR – General Data Protection Regulaton (EU)

HC – High Court (of England and Wales)

HC – House of Commons (sometimes HoC)

HL – House of Lords

HMSO – Her Majesty’s Stationery Office – official printers of government publications

ICO – Information Commissioner’s Office

ICTA – Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988

IPReg – Intellectual Property Regulation Board, the regulator for ITMA and CIPA

IPS – Ilex Professional Standards, the regulator of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives

IT – Industrial Tribunal (former name of Employment Tribunal)

IT – Information Technology

ITMA – Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys

J – Justice (after a High Court judge’s name, as an abbreviation for Mr / Mrs Justice)

JAG – Joint Advocacy Group, consisting of representatives of the BSB, SRA and IPS

JC – Judicial Committee (of the Privy Council)

JJ – Justices (plural, after listing their surnames)

JSC – Justice of the Supreme Court (after his or her title)

JJSC – Justices of the Supreme Court (plural, after listing their titles)

KCPO – Knife crime prevention order

LASPO – Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (sometimes LASPOA)

LCCSA – London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association

LCJ – Lord Chief Justice

LIP – Litigant in person (sometimes known as self-represented litigant)

LJ – Lord Justice, Lady Justice (appearing after the surname)

LJJ – Lords and/or Ladies Justices (plural, after listing their surnames)

LPS – Liberty Protection Safeguards

LSA 2007 – Legal Services Act 2007

LSB – Legal Services Board, the regulator (or super regulator) of legal regulators

LSS – Litigation and Settlements Strategy (of HMRC)

MLA – Member of the Legislative Assembly (of Northern Ireland)

MP – Member of Parliament

MSP – Member of the Scottish Parliament

MWA – Member of the Welsh Assembly

NIRC – National Industrial Relations Court

NTA – Non Trial Advocate (see also POA), an advocate who can only represent a client who pleads guilty (eg for mitigation).

OCOF – One Case One Fee: the system under which an advocate is paid a flat fee regardless of the complexity or duration of the case

P – President (after a the surname of the President of a High Court division)

PACE – Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984

PATAS – Parking and Traffic Appeals Service, hears appeals from motorists against penalty charge notices etc

PC – Privy Council

PCN – Penalty Charge Notice, usually for parking in the wrong place, driving in the Congestion Zone without paying, or some other fixed-penalty infringement

PCT – Price Competitive Tendering

PDA – Probate, Divorce and Admiralty (former division of the High Court)

PI – Personal injury (in the context of claims for damages)

PM – Prime Minister

POA – Plea Only Advocates: an advocate qualified only to represent a client who wishes to plead guilty (now renamed NTAs or Non Trial Advocates).

POC – Person of colour (North American usage).

QASA – Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates

QBD – Queen’s Bench Division (of the High Court)

SC(E) – Supreme Court, when hearing appeals from the courts of England and Wales

SC(NI) – Supreme Court, when hearing appeals from Northern Ireland

SC(Sc) – Supreme Court, when hearing appeals from Scotland

Sen Cts – Senior Courts (ie High Court and Court of Appeal, replacing the former term Supreme Court)

SEO – Search engine optimisation (for better ranking in results)

SME – Small and Medium sized Enterprises

SRA – Solicitors’ Regulation Authority, created by the Law Society to regulate solicitors

Sup Ct – Supreme Court (either as former title of Senior Courts, or since 2009 for the highest appellate court in the UK)

T/A – Trading as (in a case name)

TPD – Third Party Debt (order)

UCP – Universal Customs & Practice (for documentary credits)

UK – United Kingdom

UKPC – United Kingdom Privy Council

UKSC – United Kingdom Supreme Court

V-C – Vice-Chancellor (after the surname of the Vice-Chancellor of the Chancery Division, the title formerly given to the most senior judge in that Division of the High Court.)

WCWF – Western Circuit Women’s Forum


Related Posts