Jargon Buster Civil Law Category - D-F


An amount of money claimed as compensation for physical/material loss, e.g. personal injury, breach of contract

Date of service (civil claims)

The date of service of the claim is the date upon which the defendant receives the claim form issued by the court on behalf of the claimant. If the ‘particulars of claim’ section is completed or the particulars of claim are attached, the defendant must acknowledge receipt within 14 days

Debt recovery after judgment

See Enforcement


A person who owes money to someone or to an organisation


Court order setting out the rights of a party in the form of a statement

Default Judgment

May be obtained without a hearing by the claimant if the defendant fails to reply or pay within a 14 day period after service of the claim. A claimant can apply for a default judgment if the amount claimed is specified or for a judgment on liability if the amount claimed is unspecified.

Defence or defending a claim (civil)

When the defendant disputes the claim made by the claimant


Person giving evidence by affidavit


A statement of evidence written down and sworn on oath, or by affirmation

Designated Civil Judge

A Judge designated to deal with the Civil Justice Reforms for a group of courts

Detailed Assessment (of costs)

When a court makes a costs order it may make a detailed assessment of costs, usually at the conclusion of proceedings. A costs officer would carry out the assessment. See also Summary assessment.

Determination (civil)

If the defendant offers to pay to the claimant an amount by instalments and the claimant refuses the offer, an officer of the court will make an assessment of what would be reasonable for the defendant to pay

Directions (civil)

case management instructions given by the judge which give a time-table for pre-trial procedures. In cases allocated to the small claims track the judge will usually give standard directions, in cases allocate to the multi-track, there may be several hearings on directions


Parties to a civil case must disclose (show to the other party) documents they intend to rely on in court to support their case

Discovery of documents

(see INSPECTION OF DOCUMENTS) Mutual exchange of evidence and all relevant information held by each party relating to the case


Notice given by the Court, on instruction by the claimant, that they no longer wish to proceed with the case


To make order or decision that a claim be ceased

District Judge

A judicial officer of the Court whose duties involve hearing applications made within proceedings and final hearings subject to any limit of jurisdiction Previously known as Registrars

District Registry

see High Court

Divisional Court

As well as having an original jurisdiction of their own, all three divisions of the High Court have appellate jurisdiction to hear appeals from lower Courts and tribunals. The Divisional Court of the Chancery Division deals with appeals in bankruptcy matters from the County Court. The Divisional Court of the Queen's Bench Division deals largely with certain appeals on points of law from many Courts. The Divisional Court of the Family Division deals largely with appeals from Magistrates Courts in matrimonial matters a 'next friend' or 'guardian ad litem'


Method of pursuing a civil action after judgment has been made in favour of a party. Process carried out by Magistrates Court to collect fines and other monetary orders made in the Crown Court

Enforcement / enforcing a judgment

When a judgment/order has not been paid or terms obeyed with, enforcement proceedings can be issued to ensure compliance. A court can order such action as the seizure of a defendant’s property for sale

Entering judgment on admission

The claimant can ask the court to enter judgment on admission when the defendant has admitted all or part of the case and offered payment or other restitution

Entry of Judgment

Decision of the Court in favour of one or other of the parties


Documentary or other material which is used to support a person’s case in a court of law


Item or document referred to in an affidavit or used as evidence during a Court trial or hearing

Expert Witness

Person employed to give evidence on a subject in which they are qualified or have expertise

Family Division

see High Court

Fast Track

The path to which defended claims of not more than £15,000 are allocated. See also: Allocation; Case Management tracks


A decree or command

Fieri-Facias (FI-FA)

(see Sheriff) High Court version of warrant of execution in County Court. A directive by a High Court to a sheriff to seize sufficient goods of a debtor to satisfy judgment debt


The process of delivering or presenting forms and other documents to a court. For example a claim or a defence to a claim must be filed

Fixed costs

Costs in civil cases that are set at a certain level and can be claimed in specific circumstances. For example, if a defendant does not acknowledge a claim, the claimant can obtain judgment and an order for fixed costs to offset the cost of beginning the claim