Law Jargon Buster

Embarking on your law journey at university is exciting, but it comes with a plethora of unfamiliar jargon and abbreviations. While you can always turn to Google for quick answers, having a solid grasp of the fundamentals will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed. To ensure you hit the ground running, we present our A-Z guide of essential law terminology. Say goodbye to confusion and embrace a confident start to your legal education.

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The verdict of a trial where the defendant is found not guilty, meaning they are cleared of any charges or accusations brought against them.


In legal terms, an appeal is the process of requesting a higher court to review and potentially change the decision made by a lower court, typically in hopes of overturning or modifying the original ruling based on errors, new evidence, or legal issues.


An alibi is like having a solid backup story or evidence to prove that you were somewhere else when a crime or incident took place, giving you a strong defence against being accused of involvement.



The temporary release of a person who has been accused of a crime, typically by providing a specified amount of money or collateral as a guarantee that they will appear for future court proceedings. 


An officer of the court who maintains order, provides security, and carries out various administrative and enforcement tasks within the courtroom.


A legal professional who specialises in advocacy and represents clients in court, providing expert advice, preparing legal arguments, and presenting cases on behalf of individuals or organisations.



The state of being detained or held in confinement, typically by law enforcement or authorities, either as a form of pretrial detention or as a result of a court order.


In a legal sense, a constitution is a written document that establishes the structure, powers, and rights of a government or organisation, protecting the fundamental rights of its citizens or members.

Circumstantial Evidence

Refers to indirect evidence that implies certain facts or conclusions but does not directly prove them.



An individual or party who is accused or charged with a crime or wrongdoing in a court of law and is required to defend themselves against the allegations.


The monetary compensation awarded by a court to a person or party who has suffered harm, loss, or injury as a result of another party's wrongful actions or negligence.


the act of making false statements about a person or entity, harming their reputation, and exposing the individual or entity to potential legal liability.



The official process of transferring an accused or convicted individual from one jurisdiction to another to face trial or serve a sentence.


In a legal sense, an executor is a person or entity appointed in a will to carry out the administration and distribution of a deceased person's estate according to the terms of the will.


The information, documents, objects, or testimonies presented in court to support or prove facts relevant to a case, helping to establish the truth or support legal arguments.



A serious criminal offence, typically punishable by imprisonment for more than one year, such as murder, robbery, or burglary.


Intentional deception, misrepresentation, or deceit for personal or financial gain, resulting in harm or loss to another individual or entity.

Force majeure

Unforeseeable events or circumstances beyond the control of parties involved in a contract, which excuse or suspend their contractual obligations due to the impossibility or impracticability of performance.



A person or entity appointed by a court to make legal and/or personal decisions on behalf of someone who is unable to make those decisions themselves, typically a minor or an incapacitated individual.

Grand jury

A grand jury is a panel of citizens convened by a court to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against a person, usually in cases involving serious offences.


Habeas corpus

The right of an individual to challenge the legality of their detention or imprisonment, seeking a court order to release them if there is no lawful basis for their confinement.


A proceeding conducted before a judge or administrative body to listen to arguments, consider evidence, and make decisions on issues such as motions, disputes, or matters related to a case.



A court order that prohibits a person or entity from engaging in certain actions or requires them to perform specific acts to prevent harm or enforce rights


A formal charging document issued by a grand jury that accuses an individual of committing a serious crime and initiates criminal proceedings against them.



The authority of a court or other legal body to hear and decide legal cases within a particular geographic area or over specific types of matters.


A group of individuals selected from the community who are sworn to listen to evidence presented in a trial and render a verdict based on the facts and the law.



The unlawful act of forcibly or unlawfully taking and detaining another person against their will, often involving the intention to demand a ransom or commit other criminal acts.


individuals who are related by blood or marriage, and is often used to determine rights, inheritance, and familial connections within the legal system.



A type of defamation that involves making false and damaging statements about a person in written or printed form, harming their reputation.


The process of resolving disputes between parties through the court system, involving the presentation of evidence, legal arguments, and ultimately a judgment or decision by a judge or jury.


being legally responsible or accountable for a wrongdoing or legal obligation, typically involving the duty to compensate for damages or fulfill certain obligations.



The unlawful killing of another person without premeditation or malice aforethought, typically categorised as voluntary or involuntary based on the level of intent or negligence involved.


A process of resolving disputes outside of court, facilitated by a neutral third party who helps



Failure to exercise reasonable care, resulting in harm or injury to another person or property.


A public official authorised to witness and authenticate legal documents, administer oaths, and perform other official acts.


The legal act of declaring a law, decision, or contract as invalid or without legal effect.



A formal protest during a legal proceeding to challenge evidence, questioning, or procedures.


A solemn declaration affirming truthfulness or duty, often administered before testimony or assuming authority.


The action taken by a higher court or a presiding judge to reject or invalidate a decision, ruling, or objection made by a lower court or opposing party, thereby determining that it does not have legal effect.



The party who initiates a lawsuit by bringing a claim or complaint against another party, seeking a legal remedy or resolution.


A previous court decision or ruling that serves as a guiding principle or authority in subsequent cases with similar facts or legal issues.


The court-supervised process of validating and administering the estate of a deceased person, including distributing assets, settling debts, and resolving any disputes.


Qualified immunity

Legal doctrine that shields government officials from personal liability for actions performed within their official capacity, unless they violate clearly established constitutional rights.


To nullify, invalidate, or set aside a legal proceeding or document, typically done by a court order.

Qui tam

A legal provision that allows private individuals, known as whistleblowers, to bring lawsuits on behalf of the government to expose fraud, often resulting in financial rewards if successful.



The legal requirement for an offender to compensate or make amends to the victim or the affected party, typically by returning stolen property or providing monetary compensation for losses or damages.


The act of sending a case or a defendant back to a lower court or a different court for further proceedings, often done when there is a legal error or when additional steps are necessary before a final decision can be made.



A legal document issued by a court that commands an individual to appear in court or produce certain documents as evidence in a legal case.


A written law enacted by a legislative body, such as a government or parliament, that outlines rules and regulations governing a particular jurisdiction.


The oral or spoken defamation of a person, characterised by making false and damaging statements that harm the reputation of an individual.



A civil wrong or harm committed against an individual or their property, resulting in legal liability and potential compensation.


Oral or written statements given under oath in a legal proceeding, such as a trial or deposition, to provide evidence or information regarding a case.


A person or entity appointed to manage and administer assets or property on behalf of others, known as beneficiaries, in accordance with the terms of a trust.



The illegal practice of charging excessive or exorbitant interest rates on loans, often regulated by law to protect borrowers from unfair lending practices.

Unlawful detainer

Legal action taken by a landlord to regain possession of a property when a tenant remains on the premises without legal right or after the expiration of their lease.


Referring to a law, act, or government action that violates the provisions or principles outlined in a constitution, rendering it invalid or unenforceable.


Voir dire

The process of jury selection in which potential jurors are questioned and evaluated to determine their suitability and impartiality for a specific case.


The geographical location or jurisdiction where a legal case is heard and decided, typically based on factors such as the residence of the parties involved or where the events giving rise to the case occurred.


The final decision or judgment reached by a judge or jury at the conclusion of a trial, determining whether the accused is found guilty or not guilty, or resolving the issues in a civil case.



A legal document issued by a court that authorises law enforcement to perform a specific action, such as conducting a search or making an arrest.


A person who provides testimony or evidence in a legal proceeding, based on their firsthand knowledge or observations of the events related to the case.


A legal document that outlines a person's wishes regarding the distribution of their assets and the handling of their affairs after their death.



The letter can be used as a signature when an individual is unable to write their name and indicates their intent to authenticate the document or agreement.


Youth court

A specialised court system that handles cases involving juvenile offenders, focusing on rehabilitation rather than punitive measures.

Yellow dog contract

A type of employment agreement in which a worker agrees not to join or support a labor union as a condition of their employment, which is generally unenforceable as they restrict workers' rights.



Showing great passion, dedication, and enthusiasm in advocating for a client's interests or in the pursuit of legal objectives.


A strict policy or approach that allows no exceptions or tolerance for a particular behavior or violation, often leading to automatic and severe consequences or penalties.

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Hi, my name is Michael and I'm a Law student.

Within UK Law. There's a lot of confusing terminology and words that you might not understand. So today my job is to unscramble it and make sense of it all.

'Novus actus intervenions'. It's a word used in the break of the chain of causation. So for example, if I was driving along and crashed into someone and on their way to hospital they got into another accident. Bad luck - I know. But in that second accident, they have sustained further injuries that essentially could trump my injuries, that there can break this chain of causation, which could move the liability for me to whoever crashed into the ambulance car. 

The next phrase is 'intent'. 'Mens rea' or 'intent' (as it's commonly known). So you see a grandma walking down the street with a purse sticking out of her bag. You've decided you're going to take that purse and you're going to do it. That's intent.

The next phrase is 'actus, reus'. 'Actus reus' is the other half to proving something - it's the act of committing. So when you picked that wallet out of the bag, you are essentially committing theft because you've thought about it and you've gone and taken the purse, you've got intent and committing act and that there is theft with intent.

'Hearsay' - it's a term you've all probably heard before. It's essentially one word against another argument. And it usually happens when a defendant or the prosecution have something to say and it's not backed up with any evidence.

'Objection'. This is a word used by either the prosecution or the defence side. One side's giving an argument and they say something, for example, hearsay evidence. It's down to the judge to decide if they agree with it or if they disagree with it.

Objection! Overruled. That means to disagree or to move on.

'Adjourn' or 'adjournment'. This is a posh word for break. This means the court is going on a break and will be back in session soon.

That last phrase I just mentioned - 'back in session' is exactly what it means. The court has come back and they're going to start the next part of the proceedings.

So, 'particulars of claim' or 'POC'. In every firm, every single case that goes through a firm has a POC. It's just an essential term that means - what are the facts of your case? Black and white on paper.

Forgot what I was gonna say...

'Under oath', this is a thing you might have heard or you've seen on TV, but it's to do with lying in court. If we were in, say, a court session and you were under oath, if you've sworn on the Bible to not tell any lies and you do, you can be faced with an offence of perjury. Perjury can carry prison time. It can carry fines, and it can carry probation for people that do. Because essentially you're trying to mislead the court into an incorrect result from what it would have been.

'Litigation executive', or 'solicitor'. These two terms are used a lot. They're relatively the same. But again, quite different. A solicitor has done their law degree. They've gone up and done either a training contract or an LPC. They've qualified and now they work under the name 'solicitor'. Litigation executive will do their law degree if they want to, or CILEX programme and move up through the ranks again doing a similar thing. But they specialise in an area of law.

Hopefully this video has helped you understand a little bit more about law. If you'd like to find out more information about our law courses, click on the link in the bio.