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Dictionary of legal terms - G-H
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[Home][Index - Dictionary][Dictionary of legal terms - G-H]

UK Law Dictionary - English Legal System

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To declare false; deny. To oppose, to contradict.




So in Attorney General's References (Nos 89 and 90 of 2007) [2008] CA,

"Neither the prosecution nor the judge was bound to agree facts merely because, the prosecution could not ’gainsay’ the defendant’s account."



The seizing of a person's property, credit or salary, on the basis of a law which allows it, and for the purposes of paying off a debt.




The person who possesses the assets of the debtor and is the subject of the seizure is called a "garnishee".




This is frequently used in the enforcement of court awards and child support where delinquent debtors will be subjected to salary garnishment. A percentages of their wages is subtracted directly off their paycheque and directed to the person in need of support (the employer being the garnishee).



A third party who has been ordered by a court not to pay a debt to anyone other than the first party who has obtained judgment against the debtor's own creditor. 




Proceedings: by which a judgment creditor may obtain an order against another party who owes money to, or holds money for the judgment debtor.  Usually obtained against a bank or similar requiring them to pay money held in the account of the debtor.



A wooden mallet used by a judge to bring proceedings to a start or to an end or to command attention in his or her court.  No judge in the UK uses a gavel, but sometimes they are used at public enquiries.   2.  Payment of tribute, for example rent, to a superior.



Short for Grievous Bodily Harm.  




An assault causing really serious harm.  It should be noted that there are 2 forms of GBH one under Section 18 Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and a second under Section 20.  The main difference being under the more serious Sec 18 GBH the prosecution is required to prove D intended to cause GBH, or prevent arrest.




Under Sec 18 the injury is caused.
Under Sec 20 the injury is inflicted.
see also under wounding

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 


Multilateral international treaty first created in 1947 and frequently amended (most recently in 1994) to which 125 countries subscribe. GATT provides for fair trade rules and the gradual reduction of tariffs, duties and other trade barriers. The 1994 amendment created a World Trade Organization, which oversees the implementation of the GATT.

General counsel 


USA: The senior lawyer of a corporation. This is normally a full time employee of the corporation although some corporations contract this position out to a lawyer with a private firm.

Gift over 


A device used in wills and trusts to provide for the gift of property to a second recipient if a certain event occurs, such as the death of the first recipient. For example, I give you my car but on your death you must give it to your child; that is a gift over to the benefit of your child.



An intangible business asset which includes a cultivated reputation and consequential attraction and confidence of repeat customers and connections.

Gordian Knot 


Intricate knot tied by Gorius, king of Gorduim in Phyrgia; an oracle declared that whoever loosened it should rule Asia. Alexander the Great, unable to undo it, cut it with his sword; hence, a difficult problem or task 'cut the Gordian knot' means to solve problem by force or by evading conditions. An expression sometimes used by judges, e.g. Viscount Dilhorne in  Davis v Johnson.

Grant of probate


This is a certificate proving that the executors are entitled to deal with the estate. When a person dies the executors fill in various forms for the Probate Registry. The forms are sent to the registry together with the will and the death certificate. A registrar examines all the documents and, once satisfied with everything, arranges the issue of the grant of probate.

Grand Jury 


An American criminal justice procedure whereby, in each court district, a group of 16-23 citizens hold an inquiry on criminal complaints brought by the prosecutor and decide if a trial is warranted, in which case an indictment is issued. If a Grand Jury rejects a proposed indictment it is known as a "no bill"; if they accept to endorse a proposed indictment it is known as a "true bill".  




There is no equivalent in the UK where grand juries have been abolished.

Gross negligence 


Any action or an omission in reckless disregard of the consequences to the safety or property of another. Sometimes referred to as "very great negligence" and it is more then just neglect of ordinary care towards others or just inadvertence. Also known as the Latin term culpa lata.



A person who pledges collateral for the contract of another, but separately, as part of an independent contract with the obligee of the original contract. Compare with "surety."   By the Statute of Frauds 1677 s.4 a guarantee must be evidenced in writing.   Independent consideration is also required.



An individual who, by legal appointment or by the effect of a written law, is given custody of both the property and the person of one who is unable to manage their own affairs, such as a child or mentally disabled person.  A guardian looks after the interests of people who cannot look after their own affairs, such as children or people with mental health problems. See CAFCASS

Guardian ad Litem


(In some cases known as Children's Guardian) An independent person appointed by the Court to represent the interests of a child or young person or mentally incapable defendant or claimant, or any such incapacitated person that may be a party in a legal action. during court proceedings.




The guardian will appoint a solicitor to speak for the young person in court and will be involved with him/her during the Court case. The Guardian ad Litem is longer involved when the court proceedings have finished. See CAFCASS



1.   A device developed in France to inflict the death penalty through decapitation by the dropping of a weighted and sharp metal blade onto the restrained neck of a convict. 




2.   A procedure used to speed up the passage of legislation.   The time allotted to a committee is allocated by the government, at the specified time the guillotine falls and votes are immediately taken.


Habeas corpus 


Latin: phrase meaning 'may you have the body': legal remedy against being wrongly imprisoned.




Thus: writ of habeas corpus: writ to obtain the release of someone who has been unlawfully held in prison or in police custody, or to make the person holding him bring him to court to explain why he is being held and whether the detention is lawful.




A prerogative writ. Habeas corpus was one of the concessions the British Monarch made in the Magna Carta and has stood as a basic individual right against arbitrary arrest and imprisonment.

Habit and repute 


In Scotland - this is a very rough equivalent of the idea that one can be married at common law.

Habitual offender 


A person who is convicted and sentenced for crimes over a period of time and even after serving sentences of imprisonment, such as demonstrates a propensity towards criminal conduct.




Reformation techniques fail to alter the behaviour of the habitual offender. Many countries now have special laws that require the long term incarceration, without parole, of habitual offenders as a means of protecting society in the face of an individual that appears unable to comply with the law.



Unsolicited words or conduct which tend to annoy, alarm or abuse another person. An excellent alternate definition can be found in Canadian human rights legislation as: "a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome." Name calling ("stupid", "retard" or "dummy") is a common form of harassment. (See also sexual harassment.) 




Harassment is now a crime in the UK, and follows government action to prevent stalking and similar unwelcome activities.



Any evidence that is offered by a witness of which they do not have direct knowledge but, rather, their testimony is based on what others have said to them.




For example, if Bob heard from Susan about an accident that Susan witnessed but that Bob had not, and Bob attempted to repeat Susan's story in court, it could be objected to as "hearsay."




The basic rule, when testifying in court, is that you can only provide information of which you have direct knowledge. In other words, hearsay evidence is not allowed.




Hearsay evidence is also referred to as "second hand evidence" or as "rumour." You are able to tell a court what you heard, to repeat the rumour, and testify that, in fact, the story you heard was told to you, but under the hearsay rule, your testimony would not be evidence of the actual facts of the story but only that you heard those words spoken. 




There are special rules of evidence that allow hearsay evidence in some criminal cases. 




Hearsay evidence is always allowed in civil cases.



Inheritable rights in land.




Hereditaments are either:-

corporeal, which means they are tangible or physical, such as the soil or bricks, or a physical structure on the land; or




incorporeal which are not intangible but rights over land, such as easements and profits.



The Scottish version of the English 'immovable property' (The treatment of property is very different in each system).

High Court of Justiciary 


Scottish court.  Note not High Court of Judiciary

Holograph will 


A will written entirely in the testator's handwriting and not witnessed. Some foreign states recognise holograph wills, other do not. Still other states will recognise a will as "holograph" if only part of it is in the testator's handwriting (the other part being type-written).



The word includes all occasions where one human being, by act or omission, takes away the life of another. Murder and manslaughter are different kinds of homicides.




Executing a convicted criminal was another form of homicide, but one which was excusable in the eyes of the law. Another excusable homicide is where a police officer shoots and kills a suspect who draws a weapon or shoots at that officer.

Hostile witness 


During an examination-in-chief, a lawyer is not allowed to ask leading questions of their own witness. But, if that witness openly shows hostility against the interests (or the person) that the lawyer represents, the lawyer may ask the court to declare the witness "hostile", after which, as an exception of the examination-in-chief rules, the lawyer may ask their own witness leading questions.

Hung jury 


A jury is required to come to an unanimous verdict. When the jurors, after full debate and discussion, are unable to agree on a verdict and are deadlocked with differences of opinion that appear to be irreconcilable, it is said to be a "hung jury".




The result is a mistrial.  Majority verdicts of 10-2 are allowed to prevent a hung jury.

Husband wife privilege 


A special right that married persons have to keep communications between them secret and even inaccessible to a court of law.  




It does not apply in certain circumstances such as where one spouse commits a crime on the other. Similar to the client solicitor privilege.

Hybrid offences 


Sometimes called 'either-way offences' 




These are offences created by statute and may be tried either summarily (in the Magistrates Court) or on indictment (by a judge and jury).


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