Glossary of Legal Terms and Phrases - Legal Dictionary
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Glossary

Last updated: August 2020
Here at the Law Training Centre, we understand you might come across words and phrases that you’re not sure about while reading our content. Here is a summary of words that you would have come across and what they mean. If you can’t find the term you’re looking for, contact us so that we can add it to this glossary.

Contents

A

Agent
Someone who acts on behalf of someone else.
Agreement
Where two parties reach consensus on a set of facts or course of action.
Allegation
A claim made against someone which has not and may not be proved true.
Apprentice
Someone who has agreed to work for a skilled person for a particular period of time and often for low pay, to learn that person’s skills.
Assets
Things owned by a person or organisation which usually have some value.
Associate
A person, usually employed by a law firm, who may be in charge of handling your case: Often a lawyer, they are considered by the firm employing them to be a “senior assistant”.
Attorney
A lawyer; attorney-at-law.
Barrister
A lawyer regulated by the Bar Standards Board, often specialising in courtroom representation, drafting pleadings and expert legal opinions.
Beneficiary
Someone who is entitled to a benefit (e.g. under a will or trust).

C

Civil law
The area of law covering disputes you may have with a person or an organisation.
Claimant
A person making a claim.
Client
Someone who uses services provided by a lawyer or another.
Compensation
Recompense for loss, injury, or suffering.
Conditions
Requirements, restriction or permission added onto a document.
Consumer law
Consumer law provides protection to the consumer against issues like fraud or misselling when they purchase a product or service.
Contract
An agreement signed by two or more parties setting out the terms of an arrangement—for example, between a buyer and a seller in a property transaction.
Conveyancing
The processes involved in buying, selling or remortgaging a property to transfer its legal title from one person to another.
Counsel
A term used to describe a barrister.
Creditor
A person or organisation to whom money is owed.
Crown Prosecutor
A lawyer (generally a solicitor or a barrister) working for the Crown Prosecution Service.

D

Deed
In common law, a deed (anciently “an evidence”) is any legal instrument in writing which passes, affirms or confirms an interest, right or property and that is signed, attested, delivered, and in some jurisdictions, sealed.
Defendant
A person who is accused of committing a crime. Defending Counsel – a qualified lawyer who defends someone charged with a crime in a court of law.
Discrimination
Being treated unfairly or differently because of factors such as disability, race, religion or belief, sex or sexuality.
Disbursement
Fees that are paid to organisations as required as part of legal services: For example, this could be a payment made by your lawyer to a local authority for property information when buying a house.
Duty
A duty is a commitment or expectation to perform some action in general or if certain circumstances arise. A duty may arise from a system of ethics or morality, especially in an honour culture.

E

Estate
A person’s property, entitlements or obligations.
Evidence
That which tends to prove or disprove something.
Executor
Someone named in a will who will carry out the directions of the will.

F

Fraud
In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain, or to deprive a victim of a legal right.
Fraudster
Someone who commits fraud.
Freehold
In common law jurisdictions like England and Wales, Australia, Canada, and Ireland, a freehold is the common ownership of real property, or land, and all immovable structures attached to such land.

G

Government
The group of people with the authority to govern a country or state, a particular ministry in office.
Grounds (legal)
The basis or foundation of an action.

H

Hearing (legal)
A legal proceeding where the facts of a particular issue are looked at and evidence is presented to help decide what the outcome should be.

I

Inheritance
Parts of someone’s estate passing to someone on death.
In-house lawyer
Lawyers working for organisations such as banks or local authorities to provide legal advice to the organisation.
Instructing
Authorising a lawyer to represent you: An instruction describes the type of work that you want them to do.
Interest (legal)
A right, claim or privilege.

J

Judge
A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as a part of a panel of judges.
Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a legal body to administer justice, as defined by the kind of case, and the location of the issue.
Jury
A jury is a sworn body of people convened to render an impartial verdict officially submitted to them by a court, or to set a penalty or judgment.
Jury service
Jury duty or jury service is service as a juror in a legal proceeding.

K

King’s Counsel
In the United Kingdom and some Commonwealth countries, a Queen’s Counsel during the reign of a queen, or King’s Counsel during the reign of a king, is a lawyer who is appointed by the monarch of the country to be one of’ Her [His] Majesty’s Counsel learned in the law’.

L

Law firm
Organisations that employ lawyers to provide legal advice and legal services.
Law Society of England and Wales
The Law Society is the organisation that represents solicitors and their interests in England and Wales.
Lawyer
A lawyer is a general term used to describe people who provide legal services. Unlike terms such as solicitor or barrister, a lawyer has no defined meaning in UK law. Anyone can call themselves a lawyer, regardless of whether they have any professional legal qualifications or not.
Legal aid
Government funding can help people meet the costs of legal services they require if they are eligible to receive it. It is also used to support legal assistance being provided at police stations where someone is arrested.
Legal executive
A lawyer regulated by CILEx Regulation.
Legal Ombudsman
An independent body set up to deal with complaints of poor service about all lawyers and law firms of England and Wales.
Legal services
Services provided to clients, such as legal advice or representation in court.
Liability
Can mean something that is a hindrance or puts an individual or group at a disadvantage, or it can be something a person is responsible for.
Licensed Conveyancer A lawyer specialising in property law and in some cases other areas of law and regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.
Litigation
The contest process before a court.

M

Magistrate
A magistrate is used in a variety of systems of governments and laws to refer to a civilian officer who administers the law.
Mortgage
A mortgage is a loan taken out to buy property or land.

N

Next of kin
Next of kin refers to a person’s closest living blood relative. The next-of-kin relationship is important in determining inheritance rights if a person dies without a will and has no spouse and/or children.

O

Obligation
A requirement to take a particular type of action that may have a legal basis through a contract.
Oath
A solemn promise, often invoking a divine witness, regarding one’s future action or behaviour.

P

Paralegal
A broad term sometimes used to describe someone who supports lawyers in their work.
Partner
Members of a firm who equally share ownership and liability.
Probate
Legal permission provided by a Probate Registry for someone to deal with someone else’s estate after they die: A Probate Registry is an office where someone can be interviewed in order to be provided with probate permission.
Power of attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that allows someone to make decisions for you, or act on your behalf, if you’re no longer able to or if you no longer want to make your own decisions.

Q

Queen’s Counsel
In the United Kingdom and in some Commonwealth countries, a Queen’s Counsel (post-nominal QC) during the reign of a queen, or King’s Counsel (post-nominal KC) during the reign of a king, is a lawyer (usually a barrister or advocate) who is appointed by the monarch of the country to be one of’ Her [His] Majesty’s Counsel learned in the law’.

R

Risk
The likelihood that a particular choice or action might lead to a loss or damage.

S

Silks
A Silk or a Queen’s Counsel is an eminent lawyer. Usually, a barrister who is appointed by the Queen to be one of “Her Majesty’s Counsel learned in the law.”
Sole practitioner
A lawyer who runs his or her own law firm without other partners, directors or members,
Solicitor A lawyer who has been admitted as a solicitor by the SRA and whose name appears on the roll of solicitors.
Stamp duty
Stamp Duty is a tax you might have to pay if you buy a residential property or a piece of land in England and Northern Ireland.

T

Trainee solicitor
A person completing their training requirements in a law firm before applying to become a solicitor.
Trial
In law, a trial is a coming together of parties to a dispute, to present information (in the form of evidence) in a tribunal, a formal setting with authority to adjudicate claims or disputes.

U

V

Verdict
The definition of a verdict is a decision, opinion or judgment, especially on a disputed issue.

W

Will
A legal document that declares a person’s wishes about the way their estate should be handled when they die.

X

Y

Z