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Legal explanations - Law terms
Category: Legal
Date & country: 25/02/2010, SG
Words: 2578


A Fortiori
prep. latin phrase meaning "from the stronger" - loosely used to mean "with even stronger reason". Often used to lead from a less certain proposition to a more evident inference that follows directly from the other proposition.

A Priori Assumption
n. a priori is a latin phrase, meaning "from the former". A-priori-assumption denotes propositional knowledge; something that comes beforehand without experience; something that is assumed to be true. The opposite is a posteriori assumption.

A.K.A.
prep. short for "also known as". Used while addressing someone with a name other than legal name like nickname, middle name.

Ab Initio
prep. Latin phrase meaning "from the start"; literal meaning being something done 'from scratch'. In legal parlance it stands from: 1.) if any legal agreement is void ab initio then it stands null and void from the very beginning of its intended existence and not just from the instant its declared as void. 2.) if a person enters onto some...

Abandon
v. to desolate or forsake. It denotes giving up of one's legal authority over something by free will, like giving away a claim to property. It is used in multiple contexts, for example 1.) in property disputes it means to leave behind one's legally owned movable or immovable property for a long period. 2.) it may be in the context of a man or a wom...

Abandoned Property
n. under common property law abandoned property is/are item(s) which are apparently given up by the owner(s) and he/she/they do not intend to return to claim it back. There is unwritten but apparent surrender of legal right over that property. Common law of property allows anyone who first finds the item to own it.Though some items (like wrecked sh...

Abandonment
n. in broad legal terms it stands for relinquishment of an interest, claim, privilege or possession. Several different contexts are covered by this term with variable meanings, like plaintiff's discontinuance of proceedings (in cases of abandonment of an legal action), surrender of a ship or goods to the insurer (in cases of marine insurance), rele...

Abate
v. literal meaning is to diminish or doing away with. It is used in the context of putting an end to a problem, such as a public or private nuisance, say, for example this might involve a cause loud noise, a breach of privacy, an encroachment on property by animals, garbage or other unwanted things, or a construction that violates building and safe...

Abatement
n. abatement has different contexts of usage, which are, 1) chancery practice, is a suspension of all proceedings in a suit, from the want of proper parties capable of proceeding therein 2) reduction made by the creditor, for the prompt payment of a debt due by the payor or debtor 3) deductions made at the custom-house from the duties chargeable up...

Abduction
n. the carrying away of any person by luring, by force or by fraud. This is a misdemeanor punishable by indictment. A near synonym in criminal law is kidnapping but it is restrictive in its meaning as it refers to abduction by force or the threat of force.

Abet
v. to encourage or set another on to commit a crime. This word is always taken in a bad sense. To abet another to commit a murder, is to command, procure, or counsel him to commit it.

Abeyance
n.abeance in old french means gaping. It is a state of expectancy in respect of property, title, etc in cases where the sole right is not vested in one person, but awaits the appearance or determination of the true owner.

Able-Bodied
adj. physically capable of, say being able to earn and pay to support child or spouse after separation.

Abortion
n. an abortion is the termination of a pregnancy associated with the death of an embryo or a fetus. In legal terms the word is understood to mean deliberate abortion and not accidental abortion. When dont with a mala fide intention it becomes a misdemeanor, and the party causing it may be indicted and punished. . . . Wade ruling (1973) as given by ...

Abrogate
v. literal meaning is formal annulling. In civil law the word is used to describe the destruction or annulling of a former law, by an act of the legislative power. Annullment only when total is called abrogate.

Abscond
v. to travel covertly out of the jurisdiction of the courts, or to conceal oneself in order to avoid their process or to avoid arrest or prosecution by hiding.

Absolute
n without any condition or encumbrance; in distinction from a conditional bond; an absolute estate is the one which has no conditions imposed and no incumbrance.

Abstention Doctrine
n. an abstention doctrine refers to one of the many doctrines which can be used by US Federal Courts to refuse to hear a case, when hearing the case would potentially intrude upon the powers of the state courts.

Abstract
n. it is a brief statement of the most important points of a long legal document or of several related legal papers. Most common usage involves real estate transactions enlisting all the owners of a property before it came into possession of the present owner.

Abstract Of Judgment
n. an abstract is a brief summary of a judicial judgment, usually written by a Barrister or academician for publication in law reports. They condense the essential points of long, complex judgments into a few paragraphs.

Abstract Of Title
n. it is a brief account of all the deeds upon which the title to an estate rests; a condensed history to a particular parcel of real estate; consists a summary of the original grant and all subsequent conveyances and encumbrances affecting the property.

Abuse Of Discretion
n. if a judge and not a jury have decided issues of fact, an appellate court will apply an abuse of discretion standard of review. Examples would include very harsh sentences, unrealistic fines or punishments, stopping a witness from testifying, etc. The appellate might reverse lower court's decisions if and only if it clearly becomes a abuse of di...

Abuse Of Process
n. it is the malicious and deliberate misuse or perversion of regularly issued court process (civil or criminal) not justified by the underlying legal action. the word "process" could mean official summons or other notice issued from a court which in case of abuse are used with a bad intention that offends or hinders justice.

Abut
v. the properties being close to each other and up against each others' borders as in, the sides of land, are adjoining and the ends abutting to the contiguous thing.

Acceleration Clause
n. this is a term used in law of contracts (for mortgages and real estate) which stands for full maturing of the performance due from a party upon a breach of one of the contract terms or non payment of one of the installations. Say for example, if any one of the installments go unpaid on time the holder may demand entire amount being unpaid and de...

Acceptance
n. it is the indication by one person to another of their willingness to contract on certain terms.

Acceptance Of Service
n. it is a substitute for personal service. Some jurisdictions encourage voluntary acceptance of service in cases like for example the documents are mailed to the concerned party with a request to sign and return a form of acknowledgement. Acceptance of service means that the served party agrees to have received the complaint or petition without th...

Access
n an approach that a person can has, used in the sense of a parent having a level of contact with the child, or the opportunity of communicating and contacting together. Sometimes by access is understood sexual intercourse.

Accessory
n. not the chief actor in the perpetration of the offence, or someone who is not present on the scene of crime, but is related to crime either from before its happening or from afterwards. Say for example, a person who assists in or conceals a crime, but does not actually participate in the commission of the crime.

Accommodation
n. an act of help done towards a person, by (usually, a merchant for the convenience of other) by accepting or endorsing his paper, or by lending him his notes or bills.Under US contract laws it stands for delivery of nonconforming goods meant as a partial performance of a contract for the sale of goods.

Accomplice
n. someone party in a crime. Someone who has not committed, yet is involved in some way concerned in the commission of a crime.

Accord And Satisfaction
n. a mutual consent to discharge the obligation and fulfillment of the legal consideration which binds the parties to the agreement. Lke for example, a satisfaction agreed upon between the party injuring and the party injured, between a debtor and payee.

Account Stated
n. account stated is a agreement between the parties, by which a balance is struck in favor of one of them.

Accounts Payable
n. a liability which has a credit balance, covering payments to suppliers owed money for goods and services

Accounts Receivable
n. accounting transactions related to cutomers' bills, of the money they owe to a person, company or organization for goods and services that have been provided to them. eg. writing and delivering of invoice to each customer. In balance sheets, the accounts receivable, is the amount that customers owe a business. Also called as trade receivables.

Accretion
n. the increase of land by the washing of the seas or rivers i.e. deposition. Also used to refer to growth in assets. eg. in trusts, a beneficiary's increase in benefits is termed accretion. In reference to discount bonds, it describes the accumulation of value until maturity.

Accrue
v. to grow by addition to. It could be the interest that has accumulated on the principal amount. It also means to arise, to happen or to come to pass. eg. one's right to sue on a contract may only accrue when the contract is breached or when the opposing party repudiates the contract. It may not accrue on the mere suspicion that the contract may b...

Accusation
n. charge made against someone who has committed a crime, so that he may be brought to justice and punishment. It is worth nothing that no man is bound to accuse himself, or to testify against himself in a criminal case.

Accused
n. the person on whom the charges are made.

Acknowledge
v. to give legal validity to it, by declaring something or to avowal one's own act.

Acknowledgment
n. acknowledgment is a declaration or avowal of one's own act, to give it legal validity. It is the act of the grantor going before a competent officer and declaring some action or deed to be recorded legally as his own. Also the certificate of the officer who that such a declaration has been made to him is an acknowledgement. The officer having th...

Acquit
v. in criminal law, to acquit is to give a verdict of not guilty; opposite of convict.

Acquittal
n. under criminal law practices the absolution of a party charged with a crime or misdemeanor is acquittal. Acquittals could be "in fact" and "in law". Former is when the trial results in the person being not guilty; whereas the latter occurs when the person is merely an accessary, and the principal has been acquitted.

Act
n. in legal context, the word could signify the result of a public deliberation, a decision of a legislative body, of a council, of a court of justice, or of a magistrate. Act also is an instrument in writing to verify facts, say for example an act of parliament. In the context of civil laws or contracts an act is a writing which states that a thin...

Act Of God
n. act of God is a legal term for those events which are outside of control of humans and for which no one can be held responsible and which cannot be prevented. If a duty, to be performed, is casted by law on a party and its execution is hindered by Act of God, then the party can be excused. But someone who put others in danger by his/her negligen...

Action
v. a person's conduct, behaviour or something that he has done or participated in.n. Actions are divided into 2 categories viz, 1.) criminal action- prosecution in a court of justice in the name of the government, against one or more individuals accused of a crime, and 2.) civil action - legal demand of one's right, or it is the form given by law f...

Actionable
adj. actionable stands for a case, in which sufficient preliminary evidence or reason exist to make it into a legitimate lawsuit. Apart from set guidelines many a times it is upto the court of law to consider a case as actionable or not, based on prima facie evidence(s) and logical reasoning.

Actual Controversy
n. it is an actual dispute between adverse parties which is capable of being resolved by the court. Article III of US Constitution requires US courts to hear cases which pose actual controversy. This means a court cannot issue advisory opinions, or hear unripe or moot or resolved cases.

Actual Notice
n. an intimation which has been expressly given by which knowledge of a fact hos been brought home to a party directly ; it is opposed to constructive notice. Receiving a notice requires a person to acknowledge the receipt.

Actus Reus
A wrongful act which is used to indicate an event in which a criminal offense is based.

Ad Hoc
adj. latin phrase meaning "for this purpose only." It signifies a solution that has been tailored to a specific purpose, say for example an ad-hoc committee or an ad-hoc attorney.

Ad Litem
adj. it is a latin phrase meaning "for the purpose of the legal action only." It refers to a party appointed by a court to act in a lawsuit on behalf of another party, who is deemed incapable of representing themselves. eg. a child or physically/mentally incapable adult need help of a third person not involved in lawsuit but to only serve...

Ad Seriatim
adj. latin phrase with literal meaning, "one after another" or in a series; eg. the judges delivered their opinions seriatim.

Ad Valorem
adj. latin phrase for "according to the value." It is used in reference to certain duties, called ad valorem duties, which are levied on commodities at certain rates per centum on their value. Ad-valorem taxes can be property tax, duties on imported items. Typically these are imposed at the time of a transaction or sometimes in connection...

Addendum
n. a supplement added to a complete legal document, thereby explaining or introducing a change in the original document. These are used primarily for the purpose of documenting the ongoing negotiations, say for example, in property sales.

Adeem
v. adeem is a term used in the law of wills which stands for annulling of a gift made in will in case of its non-existence after the testator's death. This could be from various reasons like destruction (act of god or willful), sale, etc. When property bequested under a will is no longer in the testator's estate when the testator dies the court may...

Ademption
v. a taking away or revocation of a legacy, by the testator. It is either express or implied. It is the former when revoked in express terms by a codicil or later will; it is implied when by the acts of the testator it is manifestly his intention to revoke it; for example, when a specific legacy of, a chattel is made, and afterwards the testator se...

Adequate Remedy
n. remedies are the means employed to enforce a right or redress an injury caused by wrong, i.e. they pertain to 1.) The enforcement of contracts. 2.) The redress of torts or injuries. Adequate remedies are the ones which obtain satisfactory compensation/redressal of suffering, pain or loss/punishment to the parties involved (in ase of private reme...

Adhesion Contract
n. a term used in contract law adhesion contract is a contract between two unequal bargaining partners and does not allow for negotiation. It can be thought of as take it or leave it kind of contract where one party is tied down to accept whatever terms of conditions are put forth by the other powerful party. For example, suppose an individual has ...

Adjourn
v. to dismiss, by some court, legislative assembly, or properly authorized officer, the business or proceedings. Two kind of adjourning could be possible, 1.) sine die which is final dismissal, upon resolution of the thing being considered or, 2.) temporary adjourning in which the parties involved decide to meet again at some other time. The need t...

Adjudication
n. literal meaning is giving or pronouncing a judgment in a cause. In legal terms it means certain proceedings, by ways of action, against debtors, before the court.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage
(ARM) n. also called as variable rate mortage or re-negotiable rate mortgage these are the loans secured on some property whose interest rate and hence the monthly repayment installment vary over time. These are practised where the interest rates are unpredictable thereby making fixed rate loans inapprpriate. The borrower be...

Adjusted Basis
n. during the ownership, an asset loses or gains values because of costs of improvements, damage, devaluation, etc. The original cost is therefore, adjusted for all these losses or gains while calculating the worth, and is an adjusted basis. It is used in assessing the worth of a property for such purposes as auctioning, calculation of tax and reba...

Adjuster
n. a negotiator who talks out a damage settlement, like for an insurance company or an out-of-court settlement by mutual agreement between the parties involved. Adjusters could be good or bad to deal with depending on the intention of his working. Being a company's employee an adjuster might try to settle the case in company's favour, thereby not g...

Administration Of An Estate
The settlement of an estate that is left by someone who did not write a will or have an executor for their estate.

Administrative Hearing
n. it is a proceeding before a court of law or other decision-making body or officer. Its worth noting that it is less formal and shorter than a trial. Mainly targetted towards settling some such issue that can be dealt without getting into legal modalities, administrative hearing involves hearing evidence and/or arguments and reaching an acceptabl...

Administrative Law
n. administrative law is the body originating because of the activities of administrative agencies of government like rulemaking, adjudication, or the enforcement of a specific regulatory agenda. It might also apply to review of decisions of so-called quasi-public bodies, such as non-profit corporations, disciplinary boards, basically those which a...

Administrative Law Judge
n. this refers particularly to the setup of Administrative Law in USA referring to an official who presides at an administrative trial-type hearing. He is the initial trier of fact and a decision maker. The designation is also known as "hearing examiner," "hearing officer" or "trial examiner,". Under the powers vested ...

Administrative Procedure Act
n. it is an act of 1946, brought out in USA, to define ways in which administrative agencies the federal government may propose and establish regulations for applications, claims, hearings and appeals that involve government agencies.

Administrator
n. administrator is a person lawfully appointed, with his assent, by an officer having jurisdiction. The terms is used in the context of trusts. Herein an administrator is the person who is needed to manage and settle the estate of a deceased person who has left no executor, or one who is for. the time incompetent or unable to act. Usually the admi...

Admiralty
n. also referred to as admiralty law, maritime law or Law of the Sea, it is a distinct body of law which governs maritime questions and offenses. Admiralty law was introduced into England. In the USA, it is under the jurisdiction of the US district courts and appeal from judgments in admiralty case lies to the US courts of appeals.

Admissible Evidence
n. in a court, any testimonial, documentary, or tangible evidence that may be introduced to a judge or jury is called admissible evidence. The use is to establish or to bolster a point put forth by a party to the proceeding. The submitted evidence is admissible only when it is relevant, is not prejudicial, and it have some indicia of reliability. I...

Admission
n. an admission is a statement by an adverse party which can be admitted into evidence over a hearsay objection. In general, an adverse party is a party against whom judgment is sought. Hence an admission support the position of the other side or diminish the party's own position. Also in order to save expenses as to mere formal proofs, the attorne...

Admission Against Interest
n. just as hearsay admission against interest describe a statement offered to establish the facts asserted in that statement, and which proceeds to do harm to the interests of the party itself.

Admission Of Guilt
n. an act of someone transferring the property and possession of lands, tenements,to other party. The term is commonly used in reference to lands or tenements. Alienations may be made by deed; by matter of record; and by devise. In another context, the term (mental) alienation is a generic expression to express the different kinds of aberrations of...

Admission To Bail
v. it is the convincing of a partner who is inside a marriage, to deceive their partner and elope from the marriage. n. Alienation of affections is also the case brought against the third person responsible for a broken marriage, by a deserted spouse. Usually the defendant in such a case is the adulterous spouse's lover but ideally defendant could ...

Admit
n. The financial support which a husband is bound to give to his wife after divorcing her; though used in loose terms for the support which parents are bound to give to their children, but in this case the financial support is called maintenance rather than alimony. Though awarding an alimony to parting wife is conditional, the causes being deserti...

Adoption
adj. the latin word aliquotus means contained an exact number of times in something else. Aliquot means something of or relating to or being a fraction or percentage of a whole. Legally the term is used to define a share when a deceased's estate is being divided.

Adultery
n. it denotes the wealth and property which a deceased person owned at the time of his/her death and not at the time of writing a will.

Advance
n. allegations are the facts intended to be relied on in support of the contested suit are set forth in the plea. These are submitted to the counsel of the adverse party for their inspection and admission, and, if it appear to them objectionable in form or substance, they oppose the allegations and have to prove them wrong. The plaintiff is suppose...

Advance Directive
A written expression of a person's desire for medical treatment used in cases where the person becomes incapacitated and is no longer capable of making his or her own decisions. Examples include Living Wills and Durable Power of Attorney.

Advancement
v. to report or stand for a fact claimed to be true, usually indicating some wrong done by the other party.

Adverse
n. the increase of the earth on a shore or bank of a river by the force of the water, as by a current or by waves. It is a part of the definition that the addition, should be so gradual that no one can judge how much is added at each moment of time.

Adverse Interest
n. the latin 'alter ego' stands for 'other I'. It is used to mean another self or a second personality within a person. Legally it is used to refer to some entity set up to act in the name of another person or corporation in legal matters. It is usually used as a cover to save the defendant from disgrace or to save some firms' reputation. Proving t...

Adverse Party
n. pleading is one of the papers filed with a court in a civil action, such as a complaint, a demurrer, or an answer. Alternative pleading permits a party to argue two mutually exclusive possibilities. Say for example, submitting an injury complaint alleging that the harm to the defendant caused by the plaintiff was so outrageous that it must have ...

Adverse Possession
n. a situation in which an expression may be understood in more than one sense. ambiguitas latens and ambiguitas patens are the two different kind of ambiguities in words, first one referring to the ambiguity caused by some external factor, the deed being free from any ambiguous expressions. The second or patent ambiguity occurs when a clause in a ...

Adverse Witness
n. ACLU was founded by Roger Baldwin, Crystal Eastman, Albert DeSilver and others in 1920. It is a nonprofit and nonpartisan organisation fighting to provide protection towards and guarantee of fundamental rights and civil liberties of people. ACLU work to extend rights to segments of society who have been denied their rights traditionally, like Na...

Advisory Opinion
n. abbreviated as ADR, American Deposit Receipt is issued by U.S. depositary banks and represents one or more shares of a foreign stock or a fraction of a share. Trading is done in terms of ADR, for the sake of convenience, instead of trading of actual foreign shares The price of an ADR is often close to the price of the foreign stock in its home m...

Affiant
n. a friend of the court. One, who as a stander by, when a judge is doubtful or mistaken in a matter of law, may inform the court; someone who is not a party to a case but who volunteers to offer information on a point of law or some other aspect of the case to assist the court of law. The nature of help could be legal opinion, testimonial or learn...

Affidavit
n. it is an act of oblivion of past offences, granted by the government to those who have been guilty of any neglect or crime. Amnesty could be express when explicitely mentioned or is implied indirectly in some cases say of a peace treaty being signed. An amnesty has the effect of destroying the criminal act, so that it is as if it had not been co...

Affirm
n. it is the reduction of the property of lands or tenements to mortmain. Mortmain is an unlawful alienation of lands, or tenements to any corporation, sole or aggregate, ecclesiastical or temporal. It also stands for reduction, liquidation, or satisfaction of a debt.

Affirmative Action
n. an administration that is subordinate on, or is subordinate to, some other administration's decisions. Commonly used in real estate where it denotes the administration of someone's assests in a state or in a different land that he belongs to.

Affirmative Defense
n. ancillary jurisdiction allows a federal court to assert jurisdiction over claims that are not sufficiently related or subordinated to an action properly within the court's subject matter jurisdiction. Usually, it is invoked to permit a federal court to adjudicate claims that technically are jurisdictionally defective so that the court can pass i...

Affix
conj. a conjunction used to combine two different words or phrases together. In law "and" is used to bring together of two different entities into a legal binding. Like in a bank account, in wills, in real estate, etc. use of and denotes indulgence of ALL the parties in the deal and not just one.

After-Acquired Property
n. an anuity is a, fixed sum of money granted by one party to another in fee or payment for something, to be paid regularly over a period of time, sometimes a lifetime. An annuity may be created by contract, or by will

After-Acquired Title
n. A defence in writing made by a defendant, to the charges contained in a bill or information, filed by the plaintiff against him in a court of equity. The word answer involves a double sense; it is one thing when it simply replies to a question, another when it meets a charge; the answer in equity includes both senses, and may be divided into an ...

After-Discovered Evidence
n. commonly abbreviated to prenup, it is an agreement made between a man and a woman prior to their marriage, in contemplation of marriage. The content of a prenuptial agreement can vary widely, but commonly includes provisions for the division of property should the couple divorce and any rights to spousal support during or after the dissolution o...

Age Discrimination
n. also called anticipatory repudiation, it is a term used in law of contracts that describes a declaration by one party (the promissing party) to a contract that they do not intend to live up to their obligations under the contract.

Agency
n. antitrust or competition laws are laws which prohibit anti-competitive or unfair business practices. The term "antitrust" derives from the U.S. law which was originally formulated to combat "business trusts". Most antitrust activity affects such areas as, Bid rigging, Monopolization and oligopolization, Price fixing, Tying Ve...

Agent
n. it describes a situtation in which a principle leads a third party to believe that an agent has authority to bind the principle, even where the agent lacks the actual authority to bind the principle, hence the authority is seemingly clear but not necessarily so. There must be some act or some knowing omission on the part of the principle - if th...