Jargon Buster Civil Law Category - A-C

Adjourned Generally

Temporary suspension of the hearing of a case by order of the Court (maybe for a short period).

Adjournment

The postponing of the hearing of a case until a later date.

Adjudication

A judgment or decision of a court, tribunal or adjudicator in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) cases where disputes are resolved outside of the court.

Administrative Court

The Administrative Court is part of the High Court. It deals with applications for judicial review.

Administration order

An order by a County Court directing a debtor to pay a specified monthly installment into Court in respect of outstanding debts. The Court retains the payments made and at intervals distributes it between the creditors on a pro-rata basis.

Admission (including part admissions)

A party involved in a claim may admit the truth of all or part of the other party’s case, at any stage during proceedings. For example, a defendant may agree that he or she owes some money, but less than the amount being claimed. If the defendant makes an admission, the claimant may apply for judgment, on the admission.

Advocate

A barrister or solicitor representing a party in a hearing before a Court.

Affidavit

A written statement of evidence confirmed on oath or by affirmation to be true and taken before someone who has authority to administer it

Affirmation

Declaration by a witness who has no religious belief, or has religious beliefs that prevent him/her taking the oath. They declare by affirmation that the evidence he/she is giving is the truth

Allocation

The process by which a judge assigns a defended civil case, to one of three case management tracks, the small claims track, the fast track or the multi-track.

Allocation Questionnaire

A case (claim) is allocated to a case management track, when an allocation questionnaire has been returned completed by the people involved (parties) in the case. Reponses to the questionnaire provide a judge with information on case value and other matters, to assist him or her to allocate the case to the correct track

Alternative dispute resolution

These are schemes such as arbitration and mediation which are designed to allow parties to find a resolution to their problem, without legal action. A party’s refusal to consider ADR could lead to sanctions (penalties) against that party, by a judge, even if the party wins the case

Amendment

The process by which corrections to court documents, such as statements of case, can be made. A statement of case can be amended at any time, before it is served or with permission of all other parties or the court, (once served). The court may reject the amendment, even if the party concerned has permission of other parties to the case

Amount offered in satisfaction

An amount of money offered by a defendant to pay a debt or to settle another type of claim, for example in a personal injury case

Appeal

Application to a higher court or other body for review of a decision taken by a lower court or tribunal. The higher court may overturn or uphold (i.e. reject) the lower court’s decision. Often, permission (leave) is required, to for an appeal to occur.

Appellant

A person appealing to a higher court or body against a decision made in a lower court or body

Applicant

Person making the request or demand, e.g. person who issues an application

Application

The act of applying to a civil court to ask it to do something, for example to start proceedings

Apportioning

To place or assign

Appraisement or appraisal

Valuation of goods seized under warrant of execution prior to sale

Arbitrator or Arbitration

A process in which both sides agree to use an independent arbitrator (an impartial person) who gives a binding decision in the matter. The person making the claim (claimant) has to choose between going to arbitration and court – it is not usually possible to take a claim to court after it has been through arbitration

Assisted person (legally)

A party to legal proceedings who is receiving legal aid

Assured tenancy

A tenancy defined by the Housing Act 1996 where the tenant enjoys security of tenure

Attachment of earnings order

An order that instructs an employer to deduct a regular amount, fixed by the court, from a debtor's earnings and to pay that money into court. The court pays the money to the person or people to whom it is owed

Automatic transfer

Providing that a number of criteria are met, proceedings must be transferred automatically to the court nearest to the defendant’s home.

Award

Result of an arbitration hearing or the amount of damages assessed by a Court

Bailiff

Bailiffs and enforcement officers are people authorised to remove and sell possessions in order to pay the money a debtor owes to a person or an organisation. They may also conduct evictions, and arrest people.

A bailiff can also serve (deliver) court documents on people

Bankrupt

Insolvent - unable to pay creditors and having all goods/effects administered by a liquidator or trustee and sold for the benefit of those creditors; as a result of an order under the Insolvency Act 1986

Bar

The collective term for Barristers

Barrister

(see Counsel; Silk) A member of the bar: a lawyer entitled to represent clients in all the courts

Bench warrant

A warrant issued by the judge for an absent defendant to be arrested and brought before a Court

Bill of costs

(see Taxation of costs, Summary assessment and Detailed assessment.)

Bound / binding

A binding decision is one that must be obeyed by the people concerned. For example, it is not possible to go to court after a binding decision has been issued by an arbitrator

Brief

Written instructions to counsel to appear at a hearing on behalf of a party prepared by the solicitor and setting out the facts of the case and any case law relied upon

Business address

Premises or place from which business activities take place

Case

An action, suit or claim in a court of law. It can also mean the arguments put forward by parties in a court of law

Case disposal

The case is taken out of the court process (see Disposal).

Case Management Conference (CMC)

This is a meeting between all parties to a case and the Judge to check the progress of the case, with regards to costs and other matters. The numbers of CMCs held depend on the complexity of the case

Case management tracks

Civil cases are allocated to one of three case management tracks, depending on financial value, issues of law and the likely duration (length) of the case. The three tracks are (i) the small claims track in which cases to the value of five thousand pounds can be considered and the claimant does not have to have legal representation (ii) the fast track for cases of value between five and fifteen thousand pounds and (iii) the multi- track for cases of value over fifteen thousand pounds. Legal representation is advisable in the fast and multi-tracks

Case number

A unique reference number allocated to each case by the issuing Court

Case value

The financial value of a case - known as case value - is one of the factors used to asses which track a case (claim) should be allocated to. See also case management tracks

Caveat

A notice given to the registrar that effectively prevents action by another party without first notifying the party entering the caveat

Certificate of service

A document stating the date and manner in which the parties were served (given) a document. For example where a claim form is served by the claimant court rule requires the claimant to file a certificate of service within seven days of service of the claim form otherwise he may not obtain judgment in default.

Chambers

i) Private room, or Court from which the public are excluded in which a District Judge or Judge may conduct certain sorts of hearings

ii) Offices used by a barrister

Chancery Division

The Chancery Division is part of the High Court It deals with cases involving land law, trusts and company law.

Charging Order

A court order directing that a charge be put on the judgment debtors’ property, such as a house or piece of land to secure payment of money due. This prevents the debtor from selling the property or land - without paying what is owed to the claimant

Circuit Judge

A judge between the level of a High Court Judge and a District Judge, who sits in the County Court and/or Crown Court.

Civil

Matters concerning private rights and not offences against the state

Civil case or claim

A civil dispute that involves court action. See claim

Civil Justice or civil law

A branch of the law which applies to the rights and dealings of private citizens, (including such matters as unpaid debts, negligence and the enforcement of contracts). It does not include criminal, immigration, employment or family matters

Civil Procedure

The rules and procedures to be followed for civil cases in the county courts and High Court

Civil Procedure Rules

The rules and procedures for proceedings in civil courts England and Wales. An important feature is active case management by the courts.

Claim

Proceedings issued in the County or High Court. Previously know as an Action. See also Civil case or claim

Claimant

The person issuing the claim. Previously known as the Plaintiff

Claim form

Proceedings in a civil court start with the issuing of a claim form. The form, which is issued by the court (after the claimant has filed the form in court), includes a summary of the nature of the claim and the remedy (compensation or amends) sought

Common Law

The law established, by precedent, from judicial decisions and established within a community

Compensation

Usually a sum of money offered in recompense (to make amends) for an act, error or omission that harmed someone. The harm suffered may have been loss, personal injury or inconvenience

Complainant

A person who makes a complaint

Complaint

Expressing discontent for something

Contempt of Court

Disobedience or wilful disregard to the judicial process.

In civil cases, for example, failing to appear as a witness without informing the court or the party that called you. A person found to be in civil contempt of court could be fined.

 

Contents of trial (civil)

see trial contents

Contributory Negligence

Partial responsibility of a claimant for the injury in respect of which he/she claims damages

Co-respondent

A person named as an adulterer (or third person) in a petition for divorce

Corroboration

Evidence by one person confirming that of another or supporting evidence, for example forensic evidence (bloodstain, fibres etc) in murder cases

Costs (civil)

In civil proceedings the general rule is the person who wins the case is entitled to his or her costs. The court may decide to reduce the costs to be paid by the losing side if it feels that the winner has behaved unreasonably. The award of costs is at the court’s discretion

Counsel

A Barrister or solicitor in legal proceedings

Counterclaim

A claim made by a defendant against a claimant in an action. There is no limit imposed on a counterclaim, but a fee is payable according to the amount counterclaimed

County Court

County courts deal with civil matters such as disputes over contracts, unpaid debts and negligence claims. County courts deal with all monetary claims up to £50,000. There are 218 county courts in England and Wales. The county court is a court of the first instance – where civil cases start

County court judgment (CCJ)

A judgment of the county court that orders a defendant to pay a sum of money to the claimant. CCJs are recorded on the Register of County Court Judgments for six years and can affect a defendant’s ability to borrow money

Court

Body with judicial powers (see also Courtroom)

Court of Appeal

Divided into:

i) civil and

ii) criminal divisions and hears appeals:

i) from decisions in the High Court and county courts and,

ii) against convictions or sentences passed by the Crown Court, (see also Public trustee Monies held in Court, in the name of the Accountant General, for suitors, minors, Court of Protection patients etc)

 

Court fees

The County Court will charge to issue a claim in a civil case and to launch enforcement proceedings if the defendant ignores the judgment of the court. You will also be charged if you make applications to the court

Creditor

A person to whom money is owed by a debtor

Cross-examination

The questioning of a witness for the other side in a case.