Professional negligence legal glossary

QualitySolicitors believe in providing clear information, without using confusing legal jargon. The law in plain English is a tool to help translate legal jargon into modern English. It is NOT intended to provide “full technical legal definitions” but simply to give a practical plain English meaning.

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AccrueBe added to/gather
AdducePut forward.
AffidavitA document where the law requires the person making a document to confirm what they have said is true. This is confirmed in front of a solicitor or other qualified professional.
AffirmationA promise made by someone who is not religious, that their evidence will be the truth. This is promised in front of a judge, solicitor or other qualified professional.
AgreementWhere two or more people or businesses, reach a shared view on a set of facts or what will happen. It does not need to be in writing. It will usually be binding if one side gives something (such as money) in exchange for receiving something in return.
AuthorityFormal permission given by someone (or the court) to take action on behalf of someone else.
BankruptcyThe legal status of a person or business who is unable to repay the debts it owes to others (its creditors).
BarristerA type of lawyer who usually specialises in court room representation, drafting court documents and providing expert legal opinions.
BeneficiaryPerson receiving a benefit or gift.
Bi annualTwice a year
BiennialEvery two years
CaseLegal claim or legal transaction.
CaveatWarning or exception.
ChronologyA summary of the main events relevant to a dispute. They are set out in date order.
CiteMention or quote.
Co-respondentAny other person involved in the situation that led someone to get a divorce. Perhaps the person who had an improper relationship with their partner.
CompensationThe financial remedy claimed from the person or business that caused a dispute for their loss, injury or suffering. The amount payable (if anything) will either be resolved by negotiation or be awarded by a judge. It is usually calculated to be the amount of money needed to put the person claiming, back in the situation they were in before the dispute. It is also known as ‘damages’.
Consent orderAn agreement reached between the parties of a dispute that a judge then approves. This means that neither side can simply ignore it, without any comeback. Being an order of the court there are legal consequences if either side does not follow the terms of the agreement.
ConsiderationAmount paid.
ContingentDepending on.
ContractA binding agreement between the people or businesses who reach agreement (and usually sign to confirm their agreement). Usually one side gives something (such as money) in exchange for receiving something in return.
ConveneCall together.
CounselA barrister – a type of lawyer who usually specialises in court room representation, drafting court documents and providing expert legal opinions.
CreditorA person or business who is owed money.
CulpableAt fault or guilty of something.
CurtailShorten or limit.
DefaultFailure to.
DeferPut off or delay.
DenoteShow or indicate.
DepositAn advance payment of money to show an intention to complete the transaction in accordance with the terms of the contract. Usually you will not get the money refunded if you then pull out of the transaction or do not comply with the contractual terms.
DisbursementAdditional expenses payable to someone other than your lawyer, needed as part of the legal process. For example, taxes, registration fees, local authority fees, court fees and expert charges. They will usually be the same whichever firm you use.
DomicileThe country you treat as your permanent home. The country where you usually live when you are not on holiday, visiting relatives or working abroad.
ElucidateExplain or clarify.
EngrossmentThe preparation of a final version of a document that covers all agreed amendments.
ErroneousWrong or mistaken.
ExemplaryGood example.
ExpediteSpeed up.
Fair copyFinal copy.
Form of authorityAn agreement where someone (for example a client) signs it to give permission to someone else (for example a solicitor) to take action on their behalf.
FraudActing in a way that will mislead others in order to receive a financial benefit or other personal gain. The main examples are through false statements or documents or withholding information.
HenceforthFrom now on.
HMRC or Her Majesty’s Revenue and CustomsThis is the UK government body which collects the taxes and duties payable under the laws made by Parliament. It used to be called the Inland Revenue.
IndemnifyFully protect against suffering a loss or paying the compensation due to someone else.
IndemnityThe compensation paid to someone else or the protection given against suffering a loss.
InsolventBeing unable to pay the debts due to someone else or where a person’s or business’s ‘financial liabilities’ are greater than their ‘assets’.
InstructionsGiving someone authority to act on someone else’s behalf. An example is a client authorising a lawyer to represent them.
IntegrityActing honestly and with morals.
Inter aliaAmong other things.
InvalidDoes not comply with the applicable rules and so it does not have legal force. It is not effective and is not binding.
Issue feeThe fee charged by the government (payable to HMCTS) for starting the court or tribunal process for resolving a dispute. People on very low incomes or receiving certain state benefits can apply to not pay court fees.
JurisdictionThe legal district that applies to a legal case. England and Wales is one jurisdiction. Scotland is another and Northern Ireland is another. Often different rules and laws apply in each jurisdiction.
Law firmAn organisation which employs lawyers to provide legal advice and legal services – such as the independent QualitySolicitors firms of solicitors.
LawyerA solicitor, barrister, licensed conveyancer, legal executive, notary, para-legal, patent attorney, legal clerk, legal advisor, trademark attorney, or trainee who provides legal advice and provides legal services.
Legal feesThe cost of sorting out a legal matters, including the charges of a solicitor and any additional charges needed (disbursements).
Legal matterA legal transaction or legal case.
Legal ombudsman or LeOAn independent body who deals with complaints about poor legal services of lawyers and law firms in England and Wales.
Legal servicesServices provided to the clients of law firms such as one-off legal advice, full representation with a case or transaction and representation at court.
Liability or liabilitiesResponsibility. This is used in two senses:
•Financial responsibility – to pay tax, debts and loans such as a mortgage.
•Legal responsibility – such as the legal blame for causing harm to someone else.
Lump sum paymentA one off payment agreed to be paid to settle all or part of a dispute, rather than regular monthly or annual payments being made.
Negotiate or negotiationsOff the record discussions between the two sides of a dispute or transaction. The aim is to reach an agreement that protects your position. Legal negotiations are usually carried out by each side’s lawyers. They can be in writing, by phone or at a ‘face to face’ meeting. When the negotiations relate to a dispute, then the aim is to also avoid the delays, expense and stress of taking the dispute to a court hearing. Any offers made or points accepted (for the purpose of the dispute negotiations) remain private and cannot be referred to in court.
OathA declaration of truth made by a person with a religious belief. It is made in front of a judge, solicitor or other qualified professional.
ObligationA legal requirement to take a particular type of action.
Out of court settlementAn agreement reached by those involved in a dispute, usually after negotiations. The agreement is reached before the court makes a final decision.
Per annumEvery year.
Periodic paymentsRegular payments, often each month or year. They can be agreed or be ordered by the court to resolve all or part of a dispute.
PrecedentPrevious legal decision.
Prima facieSomething that, subject to checking, appears to be true.
Pro rataAt the same rate.
RemissionA reduction. With court fees it means a reduction or even that no court fees are payable (if you are on a very low income or receive certain state benefits).
Remuneration or remuneratePay or salary.
RepresentationThis is when you have agreed for someone else to act on your behalf to present your views. Legal representation is instructing a solicitor to provide on-going support and advice throughout a legal case or transaction (and is different from the one-off help).
RestitutionPayment for loss.
RiskThe chance that a decision or choice might result in a loss or damage. With disputes the ‘litigation risk’ is the chance that a court might award compensation lower than has been offered by the other side.
Small claimA dispute with another person or business where the amount at issue is under £10,000. It could be a faulty product or item bought from a shop or online. It could be a service provided by a shop or perhaps builder or garage where the quality of the work was not good enough or caused damage. It could just be that someone owes you money. There is a special small claims court process for dealing with disputes where an ‘out of court’ agreement has not proved possible.
SolicitorA type of qualified lawyer who usually provides specialist legal advice and also representation (support throughout a case or transaction). Using a solicitor or firm of solicitors provides their clients with the protection that a solicitor must act with honesty, morality, independence and in the best interests of their client. They must also have full insurance to protect clients against errors.
Statement of truthWith some legal documents, the person completing them is often asked to sign a ‘statement of truth’ where they confirm the information they have given is true. There are legal consequences (fines or even imprisonment) if it is later shown the person lied or provided intentionally misleading information.
Statutory declarationA written declaration of truth, which has to be made in front of a solicitor or other qualified professional.
Subsequent toAfter.
Swearing an oathMaking a declaration of truth whilst holding the appropriate religious book (such as the Bible or Koran). It is made in front of a judge, solicitor or other qualified professional. People without a religious belief can choose to make an ‘affirmation’ of the truth.
TrialA hearing at court in front of a judge. Both sides to the dispute get an opportunity to present their case and evidence. This usually includes witnesses giving evidence at court (with the judge and the other side being given the chance to ask them questions). The judge will then decide the on the facts and decide what outcome is appropriate as a result. In a few situations the deciding of the facts is made by a jury.
UndertakingA promise to do or stop doing something, made to someone else who relies on it. It does not need to be in writing. When given by a solicitor as part of a legal case they must fulfil or comply with the promise. If not, the courts will enforce compliance and the solicitor can face disciplinary action for failing to honour it.
ValuationAssessing the financial value of something. This could be the price a property could be expected to achieve or how much compensation a claimant might be awarded by a court.
WaiveGive up.

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