Table of Contents
Legal terms are complicated and common people find it difficult to comprehend. This glossary provides short definitions of several legal terms.
Have a look at some of the commonly used legal terms.
Abstract : A summary of a record or document, such as an abstract of judgment or abstract of title to real property.
Acquit : When a court lets a person go without any penalty.
Acquittal : The court’s decision that a person is innocent of the crime they were charged with.
Adjudication: The act of giving a judicial ruling such as a judgment or decree. The term is used particularly in bankruptcy proceedings, in which the order declaring a debtor bankrupt is called an adjudication.
Admission of evidence : A judge’s acceptance of evidence in a trial.
Admission to bail : An order of a court in a criminal case allowing an accused defendant to be freed pending trial if he/she posts bail (deposits either cash or a bond) in an amount set by the court.
Admonition : Reprimanding of a defendant by a judge even though the case against the defendant has been discharged (dropped).
Advocate : A law graduate entered in any roll under the provisions of the Advocates Act, 1961.
Affidavit : A written statement which is sworn to be true by the person signing it. It is sworn before someone authorized by the court.
Antenuptial agreement : A legal agreement between two people who are about to get married.
Appeals : Legal proceedings in which a case is brought to or before a higher court for the reconsideration of the decision of a lower court.
Appearance : A coming into court by a party, either in person or through an attorney.
Appellate jurisdiction : The authority a court has to hear an appeal against a decision made by a lower court.
Arbitrator : The independent referee who settles a dispute without the need to use the courts.
Bailiff : An officer of the court who carries out the court’s orders, such as taking a debtor’s goods and selling them to get money to pay the debtor’s debts
Bar : The collective term for barristers.
Barrister : A lawyer who can speak in the higher courts, which a solicitor is not allowed to do.
Case Number : A unique identification number for each case, made up of three components: a case type, the said number, and the year in which the case was instituted.
Case Status : The stage at which a case is, within the process in the court.
Certiorari : A writ issued by the Supreme Court or High Court to quash the order already passed by an inferior court, tribunal or quasi-judicial body.
Challenge to a jury : When either side in a case objects to the people who have been selected to serve on the jury before they are sworn in.
Challenge to the array : When the defence objects to all the jurors.
Chancery Division : A section of the High Court that deals with cases involving trusts, land, company law, patents and so on.
Civil Procedure Code : Codified procedural law related to administration of Indian civil law.
Civil : That part of the law that encompasses business, contracts, estates, domestic (family) relations, accidents, negligence, and everything related to legal issues, statutes, and lawsuits, that is not criminal law.
Contempt of court : The offence of:
• disobeying a court order;
• abusing a judge during a court case; or
• interfering in the administration of justice.
Copyright : A legal right which stops things being copied without permission.
Criminal Procedure Code : The main legislation on procedure for administration of substantive criminal law in India.
Criminal : That which pertains to crimes, and requires the administration of penal justice. Involving those cases that deal with a violation of a law in which a citizen inflicts injury upon another citizen or the state. Punishable with the curtailment of liberty, via imprisonment or detention, or fines.
Cross examine : Questioning of a witness by the attorney for the other side.
Date of Hearing : The date on which a case appears in the court.
Decree : An order by a court.
Defendant : A person defending a court action which has been taken against them.
Dispute : A conflict of claims or rights that has given rise to the subject of litigation.
Divorce Petition : An application for the legal ending of a marriage.
Ex post facto : Describing a law which is retrospective.
Extradition : The handing over of a criminal to the country the crime was committed in.
Family Division : The part of the High Court dealing with marriage breakdowns and probate.
Final judgement : The court’s final decision in a civil case.
Fundamental Rights : A charter of rights contained in the Constitution of India. The fundamental obligations of the state to its citizens prescribed in the Constitution.
Garnishee order : A court order to a third party who owes money to a judgement debtor to pay the money to the judgement creditor.
Guilty : A court’s verdict that the person charged with a crime committed it.
Habeas Corpus : A court order that commands an individual or a government official who has restrained another to produce the prisoner at a designated time and place so that the court can determine the legality of custody.
Hearsay evidence : Evidence given in court of something said to the witness by another person.
Hostile Witness : a witness who:
• refuses to testify in support of the people who called them; or
• testifies in a way which differs from their previous statement.
Indian Penal Code : Main criminal code of India that covers all aspects of substantive criminal law in India.
Indict : Using legal means, to officially accuse someone of committing an offence.
Indictable Offence : An offence which can be tried by jury in the Crown Court.
Interpretation : The process of determining the intended meaning of a written document, such as the constitution, or a statute.
Judge : A public officer authorized to hear and decide cases in a court of law.
Judiciary : The judiciary is one of the three main organs of the government (also known as the judicial system or court system). It is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state.
Judgement : A decision by a court.
Judicial Immunity : Immunity that a judge normally has from being sued for damages when acting as a judge.
Jurisdiction : The defined area of authority granted to a court to make pronouncements on legal matters, and administer justice.
Lawsuit : A claim made in a court of law.
Lawyer : A person who practices or studies law.
Legislature : A branch of the government having the power to make laws in a country.
Magistrate : A Justice of the Peace who presides over (is in charge of) minor cases heard in the magistrates’ court.
Malice : Intending to do something which is against the law.
Mistrial : A trial that has been made invalid.
Notary : A person (usually a solicitor) who is authorized to certify documents, take affidavits and swear oaths.
Notice : The legal notification by which a party or person is made aware of a legal process affecting their rights, obligations, or duties.
Not guilty : A court’s verdict that the person charged with a crime did not commit it.
Oath : Swearing the truth of a statement.
Orders : Direction of a court or judge normally made or entered in writing during the proceedings of a case.
Outlaw : Formerly, a person who was not protected by the law.
Panel : The list of people who have been summoned for jury service.
Payment into court : Money paid to the court by the defendant for payment to the claimant.
Perjury : Lying to a court after you have been sworn in.
Petition : A formal written request presented to a court of law.
Petitioner : The party who presents a petition in court of law.
Plaint : A written complaint filed in a cause of action stating accusation or charge.
Plaintiff : The party who initiates a lawsuit (also known as an action) before a court of law.
Plea : The defendant’s answer to the accusations.
Pleadings : Statements of the facts prepared by both sides in a civil case.
Power of attorney : A document which gives power to the person appointed by it to act for the person who signed the document.
Prima Facie : On the face of it.
Preamble : An explanation of a proposed law. At the beginning of each Act of Parliament there is an explanation of what the Act is intended to achieve
Precedents : A precedent or authority is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case that is either binding on a court or other tribunal when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts.
Procedural : Procedural law comprises the rules by which a court prescribes the steps for having a right or duty that is judicially enforced, and determines what happens in civil lawsuit, criminal or administrative proceedings.
Prosecution : The name for the team of lawyers bringing proceedings against someone else.
Quo Warranto : A writ issued with a view to restrain a person from holding a civil office to which he/ she is not entitled.
Registry : An office of the court which receives and maintains documents for filing with the court.
Repeat Offender : A person who continues to commit the same offence.
Restraining Order : An order which a court may issue to prevent a person from doing a particular thing.
Respondent : A party against whom a petition is filed. Often dealing with appeals. Can be the plaintiff or defendant from lower court.
Separation Order : A court order that a husband and wife can live separately if they wish.
Sequestration : A court order for the seizure of someone’s property.
Solicitor : A person who can deal with legal matters for the public and give advice on legal matters.
Solicitor General : The assistant of the Attorney General.
Statute : A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs a state, city, or country. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy.
Statute Law : The law created by Acts of Parliament.
Stay of execution : The suspension of the carrying out of a court order
Suit : A civil action brought by a party/parties against another in a court of law.
Summons : A legal document issued by a court requiring a party or witness to appear before it.
Supervision Order : A court order that a child should be supervised by a probation officer or a local authority.
Transcript : The official record of a court case.
Treason : The crime of betraying your country such as helping your country’s enemies in wartime.
Trial : An examination of the evidence in a case and the law which applies.
Void : Unable to be enforced by the law.
Ward of court : A person who is protected by the High Court, such as a minor.
Will : A legal document which people use to bequeath (leave as a gift) money and property when they die.
Writs : A writ is a formal written order issued by a court asking the addressee to refrain from or perform a specific act.
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