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Dictionary of legal terms - A
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[Home][Index - Dictionary][Dictionary of legal terms - A]

UK Law Dictionary - English Legal System

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Abatement of nuisance

 

As an alternative to an action, self help is accepted.  For example by cutting off overhanging tree branches.  Sometimes it may be necessary to enter another's land to abate a nuisance, this normally requires permission except in an emergency. Local Authorities have a duty (for example under the Highways Act or the Environmental Protection Act 1990 ss 79-82) to secure abatement notices in respect of statutory nuisances.

 

 

 

A public nuisance can be abated, to the extent necessary to prevent injury, by a person specially injured.
Self help should be approached with caution.


Abduct

 

To take someone away from a place without that person's consent or by fraud. See also "kidnapping".


Abet

 

The act of encouraging or inciting another to do a certain thing, such as a crime. For example, a principal  will be equally liable to the same punishment as a person who aids or abets another to commit a crime.


Ab initio

[Latin] from the start or beginning


Abolition movement

 

Leading figures of the anti-slavery movement in Britain included the Yorkshire MP William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson (who devoted most of his life to the movement) and the former slave Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa).

 

 

 

The Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade was founded in 1787, and the Anti-Slavery Society in 1823. After vigorous campaigning, the British slave trade was abolished in stages, starting with the Atlantic slave trade in 1807. Slavery was abolished in the British West Indies and Cape Colony (South Africa) on 1 August 1834, leading the way to the abolition of slavery in other British colonies during the 19th and 20th centuries.


Absolvitor

 

A Scottish decree, or judgment, of Court, saying that the defender in a civil action has not done anything wrong - i.e. 'absolving him'.  The verb from this is to 'assoilzie', (with the “z” silent, as in Dalziel).


Abstracting electricity

 

Dishonestly using, wasting, or diverting electricity. Carries five years' imprisonment and/or a fine.   Bypassing an electricity meter or reconnecting  a disconnected meter or unlawfully obtaining a free telephone call (there is a more particular and less serious offence to deal with this). Computer hackers used to be charged with this offences, however the Computer Misuse Act 1990 made hacking a specific criminal offence.


ACAS

 

Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service: a statutory body that was established under the Employment Protection Act 1975; the composition and functions of ACAS are now governed by Parts IV and VI of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. ACAS was set up to promote the improvement of industrial relations and the development of collective bargaining. In its conciliation function it may intervene, with or without the parties' consent, in a trade dispute to offer facilities and assistance in negotiating a settlement.

 

 

 

It employs conciliation officers who may assist parties to an application to an employment tribunal to reach a settlement. Earlier legislation removed the necessity for binding settlements of employment disputes to involve an ACAS conciliation officer: settlements can now be made when the individual has had independent legal advice from a qualified lawyer.

 

 

 

ACAS may give free advice to employers, employees, and their respective representatives on matters of employment or industrial relations. It issues codes of practice giving guidance on such matters as disciplinary procedures and disclosure of information to trade unions.

 

 

 

It may also conduct inquiries into industrial relations problems, either generally or in relation to particular businesses, and publish the results after considering the views of parties directly affected. ACAS can charge for its services when it considers that this is appropriate. The law on conciliation generally is contained in the Employment Tribunals Act 1996.


Acceleration clause

 

A clause in a contract that states that if a payment is missed, or some other default occurs (such as the debtor becoming insolvent), then the contract is fully due immediately.


Acceptance

 

An ingredient of properly formed contract under common law (others include an offer and consideration).

 

 

 

A contract is a legally binding agreement between two or more parties which starts with an offer from one person but which does not become a contract until the other party signifies an unequivocal willingness to accept the terms of that offer.

 

 

 

The moment of acceptance is the moment from which a contract is said to exist, and not before. Acceptance need not always be direct and can, in certain circumstances, be implied by conduct (see acquiescence below).


Accord and Satisfaction

 

A term of contract law by which one party, having complied with its obligation under a contract, accepts some type of compensation from the other party (usually money and of a lesser value) in lieu of enforcing the contract and holding the other party to their obligation. This discharges the contract.

 

 

 

The definition cited by lawyers is usually that found in British Russian Gazette & Trade Outlook Ltd v Associated Newspapers Ltd. (1933) 2 KB 616:

 

 

 

 "Accord and satisfaction is the purchase of a release from an obligation arising under contract or tort by means of any valuable consideration, not being the actual performance of the obligation itself. The accord is the agreement by which the obligation is discharged. The satisfaction is the consideration which makes the agreement operative."


Accretion

 

The imperceptible and gradual addition to land by the slow action of water. Heavy rain, river or ocean action would have this effect by either washing up sand or soil or by a permanent retreat of the high water mark. The washing up of soil is often called avulsion although the latter term is but a variety of accretion.


a coelo usque ad centrum

 

Latin. From heaven to the centre of the earth] The theoretical rights of the owner of property. See cujust est solum.


Acquiescence

 

Action or inaction which binds a person legally even though it was not intended as such. For example, action which is not intended as a direct acceptance of a contract will nevertheless stand as such as it implies recognition of the terms of the contract.

 

 

 

For example, if I display a basket of fruit in a marketplace and you come by, inspect an apple and then bite into it, you have acquiesced to the contract of sale of that apple.

 

 

 

Acquiescence also refers to allowing too much time to pass since you had knowledge of an event which may have allowed you to have legal recourse against another, implying that you waive your rights to that legal recourse.


Act

 

For example the "Theft Act 1968" Synonymous to statute, legislation or law.

 

 

 

The written law of a country. An Act sets out legal rules, and has normally been passed by both Houses of Parliament in the form of a Bill and agreed to by the Crown.


Act of God

 

An event which is caused solely by the effect of nature or natural causes and without any interference by humans whatsoever.

 

 

 

Insurance contracts often exclude "acts of God" from the list of insurable occurrences as a means to waive their obligations for damage caused by hurricanes, floods or earthquakes, all examples of "acts of God". A natural event, not preventable by any human agency, such as flood, storms, or lightning. Forces of nature that no one has control over, and therefore cannot be held accountable.

 

 

 

Where the law casts a duty on a party, the performance shall be excused, if it be rendered impossible by the act of God, but where the party by his own contract engages to do an act, it is deemed to be his own fault and folly that he did not thereby provide against contingencies, and exempt himself from responsibilities in certain events and in such case, that is, in the instance of an absolute general contract the performance is not excused by an inevitable accident or other contingency, although not foreseen by, nor within the control of, the party.

 

 

 

Distinguish, inevitable accident.


Acts of Parliament

 

Referred to as primary legislation.

 

 

 

Part of the work of Parliament is to make laws. These are called Acts of Parliament. Usually the House of Commons and the House of Lords both debate proposals for new laws and at this stage they are called Bills.

 

 

 

If both Houses vote for the proposals then the Bill is ready to become an Act. It can only be described as an Act when it has received Royal Assent from the Monarch.


Actus reus

 

[Latin: the guilty act] "Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea" strictly means that a man is not liable (reum) for his acts alone, but only if he acts with a guilty mind.
Actus reus is sometimes used to describe the prohibited behaviour, the act.

 

 

 

Either way there is a presumption that there is behaviour independent of the mind which may be prohibited by law. Liability may also require mens rea.

 

 

 

Liability, for serious crimes is established by two findings
1) that the accused behaved in a way which was prohibited
2) he had mens rea in relation to that behaviour.

 

"For some centuries English law, like most civilised legal systems, has made liability to punishment for serious crimes depend not only on the accused doing the outward acts which the law forbids, but on his having done them in certain conditions which may broadly be termed mental, these mental conditions of responsibility are commonly referred to by lawyers as mens rea."

(Hart. Punishment, Guilt and Responsibility at p174


Adjournment

A temporary postponement of legal proceedings.


Advance decision ,also called advance directive, or a living will.

 

Used to indicate a patient's wish to refuse all or some forms of medical treatment if the patient loses mental capacity in the future. It can't be used to request treatment.

 

 

 

An advance decision has the same effect as a refusal of treatment by a person with capacity: the treatment cannot lawfully be given.  A doctor who treats a patient against his / her wishes may face civil liability or criminal prosecution, this includes treatment against the wishes contained in the advance decision.

 

 

 

Effective from 1st October 2007.  The Mental Capacity Act 2005 allows the ending of life of a patient by medical intervention. Bluntly, whilst euthanasia remains illegal it will be possible to kill patients by starving them to death or ceasing medical treatment.

 

 

 

More detail here


ad hominem

[Latin] Personal criticism of a judge, particularly his judgment.  Usually made by a more senior judge.


Definition of actus reus:

 

A person may incur criminal liability for failing to do that which the law requires him to do as much as by doing that which the law prohibits. The actus reus includes the state of affairs or circumstances surrounding the commission of the offence, together with the results or consequences (if any) that flow from that act or omission. It is essential that the defendant acted voluntarily and that he caused the injury, damage or harm.

In other words, actus reus includes all the elements of the offence indicated in the definition except the mens rea (the state of mind), if any.

Generally the accused's conduct must be a voluntary act or omission, and he will not be held liable for acts done in a state of automatism.

Automatism resulting from self-induced intoxication is no excuse.

The crime must be caused by some conduct by the accused.

That conduct need not be a direct cause of the crime, but can be through the agency of others.

The conduct need not be the sole or the effective cause of the crime, provided it cannot be dismissed as trivial, or as merely events leading up to the commission of the crime.

Generally there is no obligation on anyone to prevent harm or wrongdoing.

Omissions are only criminal where a duty to act arises at common law or is imposed by statute.


Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea

see Actus reus


Ad damnum

 

[Latin: refers to the parts or sections of a petition that speaks to the damages that were suffered and claimed by the claimant. The ad damnum part of a petition will usually suggest an amount in pounds that the claimant asks the court to award.


Addendum

 

[Latin:  attachment] to a written document. For example, affidavits may be addendums to a petition as a petition may be an addendum to a writ.


Ademption

 

Property identified in a will which cannot be given to the beneficiary because it no longer belonged to the deceased at the time of death. For example, the particular gift may have been destroyed, sold or given away between the time of the will and the time of death. Compare this with "abatement".


Ad hoc

 

[Latin: for this purpose; for a specific purpose]. An ad hoc committee, for example, is created with a unique and specific purpose or task and once it has studied and reports on the matter, it stands disbanded (compare with standing committee). 


Ad infinitum

[Latin: forever; without limit; indefinitely].


Adduce

to put forward (in evidence);


Ad litem

 

[Latin: for the suit]. A person appointed only for the purposes of prosecuting or defending an action on behalf of another such as a child or mentally-challenged person. Also called a guardian ad litem.


Administrative law

 

The body of law regulating the courts.  Synonymous with "natural justice." Administrative law is that body of law which applies for hearings before quasi-judicial or administrative tribunals. This would include, as a minimum, the principles of natural justice as embodied in audi alteram partem and nemo judex in sua causa. Many quasi-judicial organizations or administrative tribunals supplement the rules of natural justice with their own detailed rules of procedure.


Aegrotat  

 

[Latin, literally 'he or she is ill'] in some universities: a medical certificate, or a degree or credit awarded, when illness has prevented someone from taking examinations, etc. 


advertence   

 

Being advertent or heedfulness, attentive.  Attention or consideration.
From Latin advertere, to turn toward.


a fortiori

[Latin. Much more; with stronger reason]


Administrative tribunal

 

Hybrid adjudicating authorities which straddle the line between government and the courts. Between routine government policy decision-making bodies and the traditional court forums lies a hybrid, sometimes called a "tribunal" or "administrative tribunal" and not normally presided by judges. These operate as a government policy-making body at times but also exercise a licensing, certifying, approval or other adjudication authority which is "quasi-judicial" because it directly affects the legal rights of a person. Commonly used in relation to State Benefits.  Administrative tribunals are often referred to as "Commission", "Authority" or "Board." and of course "Tribunal".  As in Employment Tribunal.


Administrator

 

A person who administers the estate of a person deceased. The administrator is appointed by a court and is the person who would then have power to deal with the debts and assets of a person who died intestate. Female administrators are called "administratrix." An administrator is a personal representative.


Administratrix

A female administrator to whom letters of administration are granted.


ADR

Abbreviation for alternative dispute resolution.

 

Alternative Dispute Resolution. Methods of resolving disputes which do not involve the normal trial process.


Adultery

 

Voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and another person who is not their married spouse. In most countries, this is a legal ground for divorce,  in part. The person who seduces another's spouse is known as the "adulterer." In old English law, this was also known as criminal conversation.


Adverse possession

 

The possession of land, without legal title, for a period of time [e.g. 12 years] sufficient to become recognized as legal owner. The more common word for this is "squatters."  Title can be obtained by mere prescription or possession.

 

Since Part 9 of the Land Registration Act 2002, which was brought into force on 13 October 2003, it is no longer possible for a squatter to obtain land without first informing the registered owner.

 

A squatter is entitled to apply to the Land Registry to be registered as proprietor after ten years' adverse possession (s97 and Sched 6).

 

The Land Registration Act 2002, here.

 

The Land Registration Rules 2003, here.


Advocate

 

A lawyer, appearing in a court of law.


Affidavit

 

[Latin] A statement which before being signed, the person signing takes an oath that the contents are, to the best of their knowledge, true. It is also signed by a notary (now all solicitors) or some other judicial officer that can administer oaths, to the effect that the person signing the affidavit was under oath when doing so. These documents carry great weight in Courts to the extent that judges frequently accept an affidavit instead of the testimony of the witness.
Affidavit:  A written, sworn statement of evidence. (Civil Justice Rules).


Agent

 

A person who has received the power to act on behalf of another, binding that other person as if he or she were themselves making the decisions. The person who is being represented by the agent is referred to as the "principal."


Aggravated damages

 

Special and highly exceptional damages awarded by a court where the circumstances of the tortious conduct have been particularly humiliating or malicious towards the claimant/victim. "Aggravated damages:
Aggravated damaged: Additional damages which the court may award as compensation for the defendant's objectionable behaviour" (Civil Justice Rules).


Aggravating

 

Factors making a situation worse. For example, burglary is aggravated in the eyes of a court if the burglar is armed, or injures someone while committing the offence.


Aliexi juris

 

[Latin: words applied to persons who are subject to the authority of another]. An infant who is under the authority of his father or guardian, and a wife under the power of her husband, are said to be alieni juris.


Aliment

English “maintenance” or “alimony” in Scotland is “aliment”.


Alimony

An amount given to one spouse to another while they are separated.

Not now used and so of historical interest only.


Alliance

 

A military treaty between two or more states, providing for a mutually-planned offensive, or for assistance in the case of attack on any member.


Alienate

 

To sell or give completely and without reserve; to transfer title to somebody else. A voluntary conveyance of property, especially real property.


Allodial

 

A kind of land ownership that is unfettered, outright and absolute. It is the opposite of the feudal system and supposes no obligation to another (i.e. a lord).


Allonge

 

A piece of paper which has been attached to a contract, a cheque or any promissory note [for example a bill of exchange (Bills of Exchange Act 1882 s32(1))], on which to add signatures because there is not enough room on the main document.


Alternative dispute resolution

 

Also known as "ADR"; methods by which legal conflicts and disputes are resolved privately and other than through litigation in the public courts, usually through one of two forms: mediation or arbitration. It typically involves a process much less formal than the traditional court process and includes the appointment of a third-party to preside over a hearing between the parties. The advantages of ADR are speed and money: it costs less and is quicker than court litigation. ADR forums are also private. The disadvantage is that it often involves compromise.
Alternative dispute resolution: Collective description of methods of resolving disputes otherwise than through the normal trial process. (Civil Justice Rules).


Amalgamation

 

The merging of two things together to form one such as the amalgamation of different companies to form a single company.


Amity

[From Old French amitié, from Latin amicus ‘friend’]  Friendship; friendly relations.


Ambassador

 

A citizen that has been officially asked by their country to live in another country in order to legally represent it.
For example, the UK has sent ambassadors to live, and represent the UK, in almost all other countries.


Ambulatory

Something which is not cast in stone; which can be changed or revoked, such as a will.


Ambulatory will

This is a will which can be changed because its maker is still alive.


Amend

To change, to revise, usually to the wording of a written document such as legislation.


a mensa et thoro

[Latin. From board to bed]


Amicus curiae

 

[Latin: friend of the court]. Refers more specifically to persons asking for permission to intervene in a case in which they are neither claimant or defendant, usually to present their point of view (or that of their organisation) in a case which has the potential of setting a legal precedent in their area of activity. This is common, for example, in civil rights cases and, in some instances, can only be done with the permission of the parties or the court.


Animus contrahendi

[Latin: an intention to contract


Animus possidendi

[Latin: intentional possession]

 

An attitude of mind of the possessor of property; usually used to defeat proceedings for the repossession of land from squatters.

 

Possession contains an element of intention (animus possidendi), which distinguishes it from mere custody.

 

The animus possidendi is where the person who has custody of the property knows and intends that he is holding the property for his own benefit against the interests of another (the true owner).

 

Where there is detention of property but no animus possedendi, there is no possession but merely custody.


Annulment

 

To make void; to cancel an event or judicial proceeding both retroactively and for the future. Where, for example, a marriage is annulled, it is struck from all records and stands as having never transpired in law. This differs from a divorce which merely cancels a valid marriage only from the date of the divorce. A marriage annulled stands, in law, as if never performed.


Antedate

To date back; retroactively. To date a document to a time before it was written.


Antenuptial

 

An event or document which pre-dates a marriage. For example, an "antenuptial agreement" is one which is signed before marriage. A antenuptial gift is a gift given by one spouse to the other before marriage.  Often referred to as a pre-nuptial agreement.  These agreements have no force in English Law.


Anton Piller Order

 

Formerly an order by a court in a civil case allowing a party to inspect and remove a defendant's documents, especially where the defendant might destroy evidence. Called after the case of K.G. v Manufacturing Processes Ltd (1976).
Now called a
Search Order.


Anti-trust

 

(USA) "Anti-trust" legislation is designed to prevent businesses from price-setting or other secret collaboration which circumvents the natural forces of a free market economy and gives those engaging in the anti-trust conduct, a covert competitive edge. Also known as "anti-combines" or "competition" legislation.  In UK referred to as restrictive trade practices.


a posteriori

 

[Latin. From the effect to the cause] used to describe inductive reasoning.  See syllogism. cf a priori


Appeal

 

To ask a more senior court or person to review a decision of a subordinate court, body or person. In the UK the highest court of appeal is the House of Lords Appellate Committee.


Appearance

 

The act of showing up in court as either claimant, defendant, accused or any other party to a civil or criminal suit, in criminal cases a "mention" .

 

 

 

It implies that you accept the power of the court to try the matter (i.e. "jurisdiction").

 

 

 

Appearances are most often made by lawyers on their clients behalf and any appearance by a lawyer binds the client.

 

 

 

You can make a limited appearance called a "special appearance" in which your presence is not to imply acceptance of the court's jurisdiction but, rather, to challenge the jurisdiction of the court.

 

An example of the usefulness of a "special appearance" would be where you want to raise the fact that you were never properly served with the court papers.


Applicablity

 

Please see Direct Applicability, here


Apportionment

 

The division and distribution of something into proportionate parts; to each according to their share. For example, if a court ordered apportionment of a contract, the party would be required to perform only to a extent equal to the performance of the other side.


Appurtenance

 

Something that, although detached, stands as part of another thing. An attachment or appendage to something else. Used often in a land law context where an "appurtenance" may be, for example, a right-of-way over water, which, although physically detached, is part of the legal rights of the owner of another property.


a prendre

 

[French]. To take, to seize, in contracts, as 'profits a prendre'. A right to take something out of the soil or to profit from the land.. It differs from a right of way, which is simply an easement or interest which confers no interest in the land.


a priori

 

[Latin. From the cause to the effect] used to describe deductive reasoning.  See syllogism cf a posteriori


Arbiter

An English 'arbitrator' in Scotland would be called an 'arbiter


Arbitration

 

The process of deciding small claims in the County Court.   Claims under 5,000 pounds are automatically referred for Arbitration.   An alternative dispute resolution method by which an independent, neutral third person ("arbitrator") is appointed to hear and consider the merits of the dispute and renders a final and binding decision called an award. The process is similar to the litigation process as it involves adjudication, except that the parties choose their arbitrator and the manner in which the arbitration will proceed. The decision of the arbitrator is known as an "award." Compare with mediation.


Arraignment

 

In criminal law, the formal appearance of an accused person to hear, and to receive a copy of, the charge or indictment against him or her, in the presence of a judge, and to then enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. The arraignment is the final preparatory step before the criminal trial.


Arrears

 

A debt that is not paid on the due date adds up and accumulates as "arrears". For example, if you do not pay your rent, the debt still exists and is referred to as "arrears". The same word is used to describe child or spousal maintenance or support which is not paid by the due date


Arrestable offence

 

Until 1 Jan 2006 the concept of arrestable offence was relevant to powers of the police to arrest for serious offences.  Since that date "arrestable offence" had no meaning.

Lecture notes here


Arson

 

In the UK arson is simply committing criminal damage by fire.    Some countries define "arson" as the intentional setting of a fire to a building in which people live; others include as "arson" the intentionally setting of a fire to any building. In either case, this is a very serious crime and is punishable by a long jail sentence.


Arteriosclerosis

 

A chronic disease in which thickening, hardening, and loss of elasticity of the arterial walls result in impaired blood circulation. The relevance in the defence of insanity is that it can slow the blood circulation to the brain.
It develops with aging, and in hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and other conditions.


Assault

 

From the following definitions it can be establish that there must be an act (noting DPP v Santa-Bermudez (2003) DC) accompanied by a hostile intent calculated to cause apprehension in the mind of the victim. Where the hostile intent is not present, there will be no assault R v Lamb [1967] CA unless it is proved that the alleged assailant was reckless as to whether the complainant would apprehend immediate and unlawful violence.

 


James J in Fagan v Commissioner of Metropolitan Police[1968] DC

Per curiam

Definition of assault:

 

"An assault is any act which intentionally - or possibly recklessly - causes another person to apprehend immediate and unlawful personal violence."

 


Lord Lane in Attorney General's Reference (No 6 of 1980) (1981) CA

Per curiam

Definition of assault

 

"... the actual intended use of unlawful force to another person without his consent, or any other lawful excuse."

 


Goff LJ in Collins v Wilcock (1984) QBD:

 

"An assault is an act which causes another person to apprehend the infliction of immediate, unlawful, force on his person; a battery is the actual infliction of unlawful force on another person ... any touching of another person, however slight, may amount to battery."

 


Lord Slynn in R v Brown (1993) HL

Definition of assault:

 

"At common law, an assault is an act by which a person intentionally or recklessly causes another to apprehend immediate and unlawful personal violence and a battery is an act by which a person intentionally or recklessly inflicts personal violence upon another. However, the term 'assault,' is now, in both ordinary legal usage and in statutes, regularly used to cover both assault and battery."


Assent

 

In relation to wills, this is a document used by personal representatives to transfer property to a beneficiary.


Asset

This is something owned such as a building, a vehicle or money in the bank.


Assign

 

To give, to transfer responsibility, to another. The assignee (sometimes also called "assigns") is the person who receives the right or property being given and the assignor is the person giving.


Assizes

 

An assize trial was a trial by jury. In its most settled and enduring form 'the assizes' meant the routine of bringing royal justice to various parts of the country. Two commissioners travelled one of six circuits twice a year during the vacations of the royal courts at Westminster. The commissioners were given powers to 'hear and determine' criminal cases, try or release prisoners in gaols ('gaol delivery'), and hear civil cases that would otherwise have come to the royal courts. See also Oyer and Terminer.


Assumpsit

 

[He promised or undertook] A cause of action abolished by the Judicature Acts 1873 to 1875.  
A common law action that developed into an action in contract.
Originally it was a common law action which grew out of the action of trespass on the case.
If the defendant failed to perform an undertaking it gave rise to assumpsit, a cause of action analogous to deceit. It was later used for the action of debt. These were known as actions assumpsit of indebitatus (common or money counts) and used in contract cases.
If the agreement was under seal (a speciality contract), an action of covenant would be used.


Attainder

In medieval times, the extinction of civil rights took place when judgement of death or outlawry was recorded against a person who had committed treason or a felony. It involved the forfeiture and reversion to the Crown of the land and goods belonging to the person attainted. It could also result from a Bill of Attainder brought against an individual in Parliament.


Attest

This means to sign to witness a signature on a document.


Attorn or Attornment

 

To consent, implicitly or explicitly, to a transfer of a right. Often used to describe a situation where a tenant, by staying on location after the sale of the leased property, accepts to be a tenant of the new landlord; or where a person consents to ("attorns to") the jurisdiction of a court which would not have otherwise had any authority over that person.


Attorney

 

USA: An alternate word for lawyers or "barrister & solicitor".  A person that has been trained in the law and that has been certified to give legal advice or to represent others in litigation.


Attorney General

Government law officer.


Attorney General's Reference

 

36(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1972.
'Where a person tried on indictment has been acquitted...the Attorney-General may, if he desires the opinion of the Court of Appeal on a point of law which has arisen in the case, refer that point to the court, and the court shall, in accordance with this section, consider the point and give their opinion on it.'


Audi alteram partem

 

[Latin: a principle of natural justice which prohibits a judicial decision which impacts upon individual rights without giving all parties in the dispute a right to be heard]. Habeas corpus was an early expression of the audi alteram partem principle. In more recent years, it has been extended to include the right to receive notice of a hearing and to be given an opportunity to be represented or heard.


Autrefois acquit

[French: previously acquitted]

 

A principle of criminal law often entered as a defence that the accused has already been acquitted and cannot be tried for again.

 

Similarly "autrefois convict" can be pleaded that the defendant has previously been convicted on the same facts.

 

Both underlie the principle of double jeopardy which applies to all offences in the ELS except serious offences when significant new evidence comes to light.  This change occurred as a result of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 part 10.

See also Ne bis in idem and Double Jeopardy.


a verbis legis non est recedendum  

 

[Latin. You must not vary the words of a statute.]


a vinculo matrimonii

[Latin. From the bond of matrimony.] In the context of divorce.


Avizandum

 

[Latin] Used in Scots law and means 'to be considered'.  Either when matters are submitted privately to a judge, or when a Judge does not decide upon the result of a hearing straight away, he/she 'makes avizandum'.


Avulsion

 

Land accretion that occurs by the erosion or addition of one's land by the sudden and unexpected change in a river stream such as a flash flood.


Avunculus

[Latin: a mother's brother]. "Avuncular" refers to an uncle.


Award of judicial expenses

 

An English 'award of costs' in Scotland would be called an 'award of judicial expenses', or just 'expenses


 

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