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

UK Law Dictionary - English Legal System

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An exemption that a person (individual or corporate) enjoys from the normal operation of the law such as a legal duty or liability, either criminal or civil. For example, diplomats enjoy "diplomatic immunity" which means that they cannot be prosecuted for crimes committed during their tenure as diplomat. Members of parliament have immunity in respect of what is said in the House. 1. The quality or habit of being inadvertent.
2. An instance of being inadvertent; an oversight or slip.



Legal rights which are intangible such as copyrights or patents. See, corporeal and incorporeal hereditaments.



An instance of being inadvertent; an oversight or slip, see advertence.

Incorporeal hereditament 


An hereditament is real property which on an intestacy might devolve on an heir.


A corporeal hereditament is visible and tangible, such as land itself and property fixed to the land, for example buildings.


An incorporeal hereditament is intangible such as tithes and which is inheritable.


Easements and profits à prendre and hereditary titles are examples of incorporeal hereditaments.



A right or title in property that cannot be made void, defeated or cancelled by any past event, error or omission in the title. For example, certificates of title issued in England by the Land Registry or in Australia and Canada under a Torrens land titles system in the are said to be "indefeasible" because the government warrants that no interest burdens the title other than those on the certificate. This makes long and expensive title searches unnecessary.



"A right of someone to recover from a third party the whole amount which he himself is liable to pay. " 


(Civil Justice Rules)

Indictable offence 


Offences which can only be tried in the Crown Court (e.g. robbery and aggravated burglary), therefore is more serious than those which can proceed by summary trial in a Magistrates Court. This is the equivalent to the old term "felony" (still used in the USA). Murder and treason are examples of crimes which would be tried on indictment, and are therefore indictable offences. Other indictable offences are also tried in the Crown Court.



The document, equivalent to a charge sheet in the Magistrates' court outlining the offences for which a defendant is to stand trial. USA: a formal accusation returned by a Grand Jury, that charges a person with a serious crime. It is on the basis of an indictment that an accused person must stand trial.  The requirements are laid down in the Indictment Act 1915.

Indorsement, see Endorsement 



Murder of an infant soon after its birth.

Inheritance tax


This is a tax the Government charges on people's estates.



A court order that prohibits a party from doing something (prohibitive injunction) or compels them to do something (mandatory injunction).  "Injunction:  A court order prohibiting a person from doing something or requiring a person to do something. " (Civil Justice Rules)



An individual who cannot pay his debts.

Institution (of the EU)


Body set up under, and described as such, in the founding treaties for the purpose of carrying out tasks of the Community, namely the EU Council, the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance.



The result of the gathering and collating of information from a variety of sources to assist police officers in the prevention, reduction and detection of crime and other incidents. It also includes quality of life issues that impact on individuals and groups within communities.

Intent / Intention


Lord Hailsham in Hyam v DPP [1974] HL, said,




"I know of no better judicial interpretation of ‘intention’ or ‘intent’ than that given in a civil case by Asquith LJ... "  (Cunliffe v Goodman [1950] 1 All ER 720) when he said:




‘An "intention, " to my mind, connotes a state of affairs which the parry "intending" - I will call him X.-does more than merely contemplate. It connotes a state of affairs which, on the contrary, he decides, so far as in him lies, to bring about, and which, in point of possibility, he has a reasonable prospect of being able to bring about, by his own act of volition.’


If this be a good definition of ‘intention’ for the purposes of the criminal law of murder, and so long as it is held to include the means as well as the end and the inseparable consequences of the end as well as the means, I think it is dear that ‘intention’ is clearly to be distinguished alike from ‘desire’ and from foresight of the probable consequences.




Lesson notes here



An English Injunction is the equivalent of a Scottish interdict

Intergovernmental Conference (IGC)


Term used to describe negotiations between the member states' governments with a view to amending the Treaties. Normally conducted where changes in the institutional or legal structure are needed. The Single European Act, the Treaty on European Union, and the Amsterdam Treaty were all adopted as a result of an IGC.



In Scotland the formal minute of a Court's decision. It tends also to be used to mean the decision of the Court itself in relation to a particular hearing.



Dying without having made a will



This happens when someone dies without leaving a will. Their estate is divided up between their relatives following the rules set by law.

inter alia


[Latin: "amongst other things"] Often used by judges and legislators to refer to part of a list, or a warning that there was more than the limited item referred to.  So, "Donoghue v Stevenson was inter alia about widening the principle of duty of care (it was also about the duty of a manufacturer of ginger beer).
Usage: This expression can be hackneyed and should be used with care by students.  Used wrongly it is meaningless and irritating because few sentences are ever 'complete'.  Inter alia should only be used when there is good reason for using it.

Inter vivos 




[Latin: "between the living" (example: a gift between living persons). Used to describe a gift made during a person's lifetime, as opposed to being transferred by will after deathAn inter vivos trust takes effect while the testator is alive. whereas a testamentary trust takes effect upon the settlor's death. Another example is the sale of a life estate which can only occur between living persons. 

Islamic law 


The law according to the Muslim faith and as interpreted from the Koran. Islamic law is probably best known for deterrent punishment, which is the basis of the Islamic criminal system and the fact that there is no separation of church and state. Under Islamic law, the religion of Islam and the government are one.

Islamic law is controlled, ruled and regulated by the Islamic religion. Islamic law purports to regulate all public and private behaviour including personal hygiene, diet, sexual conduct, and child rearing. Islamic law now prevails in countries all over the middle east and elsewhere covering twenty per cent of the world's population.


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