Legal Dictionary

                                                            Ab initio

 Definition

Latin for “from the beginning.”

As a legal term refers to something being the case from the start or from the instant of the act, rather than from when the court declared it so.

This term is used by lawyers intent upon getting their money’s worth from a liberal arts education by uttering such statements as “The judge was against me ab initio.”

A judicial declaration of the invalidity of a marriage ab initio is a nullity.

                                                           Abuse

Definition

Abuse refers to the use or treatment of something (a person, item, substance, concept, or vocabulary) that is harmful. It can be classed by the target of abuse or the type of abuse.

Classes of abuse:-

Classed by targets of abuse include:

Animal abuse: Abuse or cruelty directed at animals.

Child abuse: Abuse, usually physical, emotional or sexual, directed at a child.

Elder abuse: Abuse, most often physical or in the form of psychological threats, directed at the elderly, especially in nursing homes and similar institutions.

Spousal abuse (or domestic violence): Abuse, usually physical, or psychological abuse, directed at one’s domestic partner.

Some grammarians use the word “abuse” or “abusive” to refer to wrong use of a word or grammatical form.

Classed by type of abuse include;

Psychological abuse: coercion, humiliation, intimidation, relational aggression, parental alienation or covert incest: Where one person uses emotional or psychological coercion to compel another to do something they do not want, or is not in their best interests; or when one person manipulates another’s emotional or psychological state for their own ends (see battered person syndrome), or commits psychological aggression using ostensibly non-violent methods to inflict mental or emotional violence or pain on another.

Physical abuse: Where one person inflicts physical violence or pain on another.

Sexual abuse: The improper use of another person for sexual purposes, generally without their consent or under physical or psychological pressure (also, child sexual abuse, whether abused by parents, those in loco parentis or strangers).

Sometimes colloquially “abuser” is used to mean “self-abuser”, i.e. “someone who masturbates”.

Spiritual abuse: abusive or aberrational practices identified in the behavior and teachings of some churches, spiritual and religious organizations and groups. These type of groups or organizations could be more accurately defined as a cult.

Verbal abuse: When a person uses profanity, demeaning talk, or threatening statements.

 

                                                             A mensa et thoro

Definition :-

From bed and board.

                                                              A vinculo matrimonii

Definition:-

From the bond of matrimony.

                                                            Ab extra

 

Definition:-

From outside.

Abandonment

Definition:-

Abandonment is when you give up all your rights or claims to property which you rightfully own. This property might include patents, leases, inventions, copyrights or trademarks.

Abandonment, in law, is the relinquishment or renunciation of an interest, claim, privilege, possession or right, especially with the intent of never again resuming or reasserting it. Such intentional action may take the form of a discontinuance or a waiver. This broad meaning has a number of applications in different branches of law.

                                                            Abandonment (of a child)

 

Definition:-

A parent’s failure to provide any financial assistance to or communicate with his or her child over a period of time. When this happens, a court may deem the child abandoned by that parent and order that person’s parental rights terminated. Abandonment also describes situations in which a child is physically abandoned — for example, left on a doorstep, delivered to a hospital or put in a trash can. Physically abandoned children are usually placed in orphanages and made available for adoption.

                                                 Abandonment (of trademark)

 

Definition:-

Abandonment of trademark is understood to happen when a trademark is not used for three or more years, or when it is deliberately discontinued; trademark law protects only trademarks being actively used and defended. An example of an abandoned trademark is aspirin, once a mark of the Bayer company, now considered a generic term.

A situation in which the owner of a trademark or service mark does not use the mark for an extended period of time, fails to protest the unauthorized use of the mark by others or lets others use the mark without adequate supervision. If a trademark is abandoned, the owner loses her exclusive rights to the mark.

                                                         Abandonment of an easement

Definition:-

Abandonment of an easement is the relinquishment by a nonuser, for a specified period, of some accommodation or right in another’s land, such as right of way or free access of light and air.

                                                      Abandonment of domicile

 Definition:-

Abandonment of domicile occurs when one ceases to reside permanently in a former domicile, coupled with the intention of choosing a new domicile. The presumptions which will guide the court in deciding whether a former domicile has been abandoned or not must be inferred from the facts of each case. In the United States, a tenant is generally understood to have abandoned a property if he or she has fallen behind in rent and shown a lack of interest in continuing to live there. The landlord must then send notice of the intent to sell the property and wait a certain number of days to take action on it. How long the landlord has to wait depends on the value of the property. The landlord can keep the money up to the costs incurred as a result of the abandonment; the rest must be set aside for the former tenant, should she or he eventually return.

                                                    Abatement

Definition:-

A reduction. After a death, abatement occurs if the deceased person didn’t leave enough property to fulfill all the bequests made in the will and meet other expenses. Gifts left in the will are cut back in order to pay taxes, satisfy debts or take care of other gifts that are given priority under law or by the will itself.

Abatement of action: A suit which has been quashed and ended.

Abatement of debts and legacies, a common law doctrine of wills that holds that when the equitable assets of a deceased person are not sufficient to satisfy fully all the creditors, their debts must abate proportionately, and they must accept a dividend.

Abatement in pleading, a legal defence to civil and criminal actions based purely on procedural and technical issues involving the death of parties and changes in their status.

Abatement (heraldry), a modification of the shield or coat of arms that supposedly can be imposed by authority (in England supposedly by the Court of Chivalry) for misconduct.

Tax Abatement (aka Tax holiday) is used in the field of economic development to encourage businesses to relocate, expand, and more currently to retain facilities in a community by means of lowering the local property taxes due to a local taxing authority. This in effect reduces the cost of operations over- typically- a 10-20 year horizon.

                                                     Abeyance

Definition:-

Abeyance (from the Old French abeance meaning “gaping”), a state of expectancy in respect of property, titles or office, when the right to them is not vested in any one person, but awaits the appearance or determination of the true owner. In law, the term abeyance can only be applied to such future estates as have not yet vested or possibly may not vest. For example, an estate is granted to A for life, with remainder to the heir of B. During B’s lifetime, the remainder is in abeyance, for until the death of A it is uncertain who his heir is. Similarly the freehold of a benefice, on the death of the incumbent, is said to be in abeyance until the next incumbent takes possession.

                                          Absoluta sententia expositore non indiget

Definition:-

An absolute judgment needs no expositor.

                                                Absolute immunity

Definition:-

Absolute immunity is a form of legal immunity in contrast to qualified immunity. While qualified immunity, by its very nature, carries with it a set of conditions that must be fulfilled in order for the immunity to attach, an absolute immunity is unconditional.

                                          Abstract

Definition:-

A summary of a larger work, wherein the principal ideas of the larger work are contained

                                      Abstract of record

Definition:-

A short, abbreviated form of the case as found in the record.

                                  Abstract of title

Definition:-

A short history of a piece of land that lists any transfers in ownership, as well as any liabilities attached to it, such as mortgages.

An abstract of title is the condensed history of title to a particular parcel of real estate, consisting of a summary of the original grant and all subsequent conveyances and encumbrances affecting the property and a certification by the abstractor that the history is complete and accurate. In the United States, the abstract of title furnishes the raw data for the preparation of a policy of title insurance for the parcel of land in question.

An abstract of title should be distinguished from an opinion of title. While an abstract states that all of the public record documents concerning the property in question are contained therein, an opinion states the professional judgment of the person giving the opinion as to the vesting of the title and other matters concerning the status of the chain of title.

Many jurisdictions define the giving of an opinion of title as the practice of law, thus making it unlawful for a non-attorney to do so

                                                           Abstract of trust

Definition:-

A condensed version of a living trust document, which leaves out details of what is in the trust and the identity of the beneficiaries. You can show an abstract of trust to a financial organization or other institution to prove that you have established a valid living trust, without revealing specifics that you want to keep private. In some states, this document is called a “certification of trust

                                                    Abundans cautela non nocet( Should be deleted from site)

Definition:-

Abundant caution does no harm.

                                                                Accession

Definition:-

Accession (from Lat. accedere, to go to, to approach), in law, a method of acquiring property adopted from Roman law (see: accessio), by which, in things that have a close connection with or dependence on one another, the property of the principal draws after it the property of the accessory, according to the principle, accessio cedet principali. Accession may take place either in a natural way, such as the growth of fruit or the pregnancy of animals, or in an artificial way. The various methods may be classified as (i) land to land by accretion or alluvion; (2) moveables to land (fixtures); (3) moveables to moveables; (4) moveables added to by the art or industry of man; this may be by specification, as when a new “species” or thing is made out of a pre-existing thing (e.g. when wine is made out of grapes), or by confusion (when two things are inseparably mixed together and one cannot tell which is the principal and which is the accessory), or commixture, which is the mixing together of substances but where the mixture is separable. In the case of industrial accession ownership is determined according as the natural or manufactured substance is of the more importance, and, in general, compensation is payable to the person who has been dispossessed of his property.

                                                          Bad faith

Definition :-

Bad faith (Latin: mala fides) is a legal concept in which a malicious motive on the part of a party in a lawsuit undermines their case. It has an effect on the ability to maintain causes of action and obtain legal remedies. Generally speaking, courts will not just look at the legal rights of parties in pursuing a transaction or a lawsuit, but will look behind the activity at the motives of the persons attempting to obtain the assistance of the court. If a court feels that the reasons behind the transaction or lawsuit have the effect of abusing the power of the law, or the court, it will generally deny a party the ability to rely on a legal remedy that they will otherwise be entitled to. It is related to the equitable powers of common law courts to look beyond the law.

                                                            Bail

Definition :-

Traditionally, bail is some form of property deposited or pledged to a court in order to persuade it to release a suspect from jail, on the understanding that the suspect will return for trial or forfeit the bail (and be guilty of the crime of failure to appear). In most cases bail money will be returned at the end of the trial, if all court appearances are made, no matter whether the person is found guilty or not guilty of the crime accused. In some countries granting bail is common. Even in such countries, however, bail may not be offered by some courts under some circumstances; for instance, if the accused is considered likely not to appear for trial regardless of bail. Countries without bail imprison the suspect before the trial only if deemed necessary.

Legislatures may also set out certain crimes to be unbailable, such as capital crimes.

                                                             Bail bond

Definition :-

The money posted by a “bondsman” for a defendant who cannot afford his bail. The defendant pays a certain portion, usually 10%. If the defendant fails to appear for a court hearing, the judge can issue a warrant for his arrest and threaten to “forfeit,” or keep, the money if the defendant doesn’t appear soon. Usually, the bondsman will look for the defendant and bring him back, forcefully if necessary, in order to avoid losing the bail money.

                                                             Bailor

Definition :-

Someone who delivers an item of personal property to another person for a specific purpose. For example, a person who leaves a broken VCR with a repairman in order to get it fixed would be a bailor.

One who bails property to another.

                                                              Balloon payment

 Definition:-

A balloon payment is a large, lump sum payment made either at specific intervals, or more commonly, at the end of a long-term balloon loan. Balloon payments are most commonly found in mortgages, but may be attached to auto and personal loans as well.

A large final payment due at the end of a loan, typically a home or car loan, to pay off the amount your monthly payments didn’t cover. Many states prohibit balloon payments in loans for goods or services that are primarily for personal, family or household use, or require the lender to let you refinance the balloon payment before forcing collection.

                                                          Ballot

Definition:-

A ballot is a device (originally a small ball—see blackball) used to record choices made by voters. Each voter uses one ballot, and ballots are not shared. In the simplest elections, a ballot may be a simple scrap of paper on which each voter writes in the name of a candidate, but governmental elections use pre-printed to protect the secrecy of the votes. The voter casts his/her ballot in a box at a polling station. In British English, this is usually called a “ballot paper”. The word “ballot” is used for an election process within an organisation (such as a trade union “holding a ballot” of its members).

(1) A method or process of casting a vote, called voting “by ballot.” (2) The actual paper, card or machine you use to indicate your choices in an election. (3) The total number of votes cast in an election. (4) A list of candidates running for office.

                                                                 Bankruptcy

Definition:-

Bankruptcy is a legally declared inability or impairment of ability of an individual or organization to pay its creditors. Creditors may file a bankruptcy petition against a debtor (“involuntary bankruptcy”) in an effort to recoup a portion of what they are owed or initiate a restructuring. In the majority of cases, however, bankruptcy is initiated by the debtor (a “voluntary bankruptcy” that is filed by the bankrupt individual or organization).

A legal proceeding that relieves you of the responsibility of paying your debts or provides you with protection while attempting to repay your debts. There are two types of bankruptcies — liquidation, in which your debts are wiped out (discharged) and reorganization, in which you provide the court with a plan for how you intend to repay your debts.

                                                                Bankruptcy estate

Definition:-

All interests of the debtor in property at the time of the bankruptcy filing. The estate technically becomes the temporary legal owner of all of the debtor’s property.

All of the property you own when you file for bankruptcy, except for most pensions and educational trusts. The trustee technically takes control of your bankruptcy estate for the duration of your case.

                                                                  Bankruptcy trustee

 

Definition:-

A trustee in bankruptcy is an entity, often an individual, in charge of administering a bankruptcy estate.

A person appointed by the court to oversee the case of a person or business that has filed for bankruptcy.                                                          Bar examination

Definition:-

A bar examination is an examination to determine whether a candidate is qualified to practice law in a given jurisdiction.

An examination for law school graduates who want a license to practice law. Once licensed in a particular state, an attorney can practice law in that state and in federal courts in that state. If the attorney moves to another state, he or she will need to take that state’s bar exam, unless the new state allows the attorney to practice without further examination after he or she has established legal residence. Lawyers from one state may occasionally practice in another with the consent of the court alone. Typically, bar exams are multi-day tests of endurance and knowledge, covering a wide range of legal topics.

                                                             Basis

Definition:-

For income and capital gains tax purposes, the value that is used to determine profit or loss when property is sold. Often the basis is what you paid for the property, “adjusted” to reflect improvements made or damage incurred while you own the property. See stepped-up basis, carryover basis.

                                                              Battery

Definition:-

Battery is concerned with the right to have one’s body left alone by others.

Battery is both a tort and a crime. Its essential element, harmful or offensive contact, is the same in both areas of the law. The main distinction between the two categories lies in the penalty imposed. A defendant sued for a tort is civilly liable to the plaintiff for damages. The punishment for criminal battery is a fine, imprisonment, or both. Usually battery is prosecuted as a crime only in cases involving serious harm to the victim.

A crime consisting of physical contact that is intended to harm someone. Unintentional harmful contact is not battery, no mater how careless the behavior or how severe the injury. A fist fight is a common battery; being hit by a wild pitch in a baseball game is not.

                                                         Bench

Definition:-

Bench in legal contexts means simply the location in a courtroom where a judge sits. The historical roots of that meaning come from the fact that judges formerly sat on long seats or benches (freestanding or against a wall) when presiding over a court. [1] In modern courtrooms, the bench is usually an elevated desk area that allows a judge to view the entire courtroom .

But the word also has a broader meaning in the law – the term “bench” is a metonymy used to describe members of the judiciary collectively, or the judges of a particular court, such as the Queen’s Bench or the Common Bench in Great Britain, or the federal bench in the United States.[1] The term is also used when all the judges of a certain court sit together to decide a case, as in the phrase “before the full bench” (also called “en banc”).[2] Additionally, the term is used to differentiate judges (“the bench”) from attorneys or barristers (“the bar”). Although the phrase “bench and bar” denotes all judges and lawyers collectively.

The seat (usually a comfy chair rather than a bench) where a judge sits in the courtroom during a trial or hearing. Sometimes the word “bench” is used in place of the word “judge” — for example, someone might say she wants a bench trial, meaning a trial by a judge without a jury.

                                                              Bench trial

Definition:-

A bench trial is a trial held before a judge sitting without a jury. In U.S. law, most civil trials are bench trials unless a party requests a jury. But a criminal bench trial will only occur if the right to a jury trial is waived.

A trial before a judge with no jury. The term derives from the fact that the stand on which the judge sits is called the bench.

                                                             Beneficiary

 

Definition:-

A person or organization legally entitled to receive benefits through a legal device, such as a will, trust or life insurance policy.

A beneficiary (also, in trust law, referred to as the homo cestui que use) in the broadest sense is a natural person or other legal entity who receives money or other benefits from a benefactor. For example: The beneficiary of a life insurance policy, is the person who receives the payment of the amount of insurance after the death of the insured. The beneficiaries of a trust are the persons with equitable ownership of the trust assets, although legal title is held by the trustee. The term can also be described as an “inheritance” used in the context for the party (heir or heiress) receiving the property related thereto. Beneficiaries in other contexts are known by other names: for example, the beneficiaries of a will are called devisees or legatees according to local custom.

Most beneficiaries, may be designed to designate where the assets will go once the owner(s) ceases to exist. However, if the primary beneficiary or beneficiaries are not alive or do not qualify under the restrictions, then the assets will likely pass to the contingent beneficiaries. Other restrictions such as being married or more creative ones can be used by a benefactor to attempt to control the behavior of the beneficiaries. Some situations such as retirement accounts do not allow any restrictions beyond death of the primary beneficiaries, but trusts allow any restrictions that are not illegal or for an illegal purpose.

The concept of a “beneficiary” will also frequently figure in contracts other than insurance policies. A third party beneficiary of a contract is a person who, although not a party to the contract, the parties intend will benefit from its provisions. A software distributor, for example, may seek provisions protecting its customers from infringement claims. A software licensor may include provisions in its agreements which protect those who provided code to that licensor.

                                                              Bequeath

Definition:-

A legal term sometimes used in wills that means “leave” — for example, “I bequeath my garden tools to my brother-in-law, Buster Jenkins.”

                                                            Bequest

Definition:-

The legal term for personal property (anything but real estate) left in a will.

A bequest is the act of receiving property by will. Strictly, “bequest” is used of personal property, and “devise” of real property. It means the same thing as bequeath in legal terminology.

                                                           Berne Convention

Definition:-

An international treaty that standardizes basic copyright protection among all of the signatory countries, which currently number over 100. A member country will afford the same treatment to an author from another country as it does to authors in its own country. In addition, each member country is obligated to protect an author’s moral rights in her work.

                                                              Best evidence rule

Definition:-

A rule of evidence that demands that the original of any document, photograph or recording be used as evidence at trial, rather than a copy. A copy will be allowed into evidence only if the original is unavailable.

The rationale for the best evidence rule can be understood from the context in which it arose: in the eighteenth century a copy was usually made by hand by a clerk (or even a litigant). The best evidence rule was predicated on the assumption that, if the original was not produced, there was a significant chance of error or fraud in relying on such a copy.

In the age of digital facsimiles, etc. the rule is more difficult to justify. The likelihood of actual error (as opposed to mere illegibility) through copying is slight. The balance of convenience favours avoiding needless effort and delay where there is no dispute about the fairness and adequacy of a digital facsimile. Further, it is by no means clear what the ‘original’ of an electronic communication such as an e-mail actually is: as a great many electronic ‘copies’ of a message might come into existence from creation to receipt.

The best evidence rule is also thought to be the basis for the rule precluding the admissibility of hearsay evidence, although the two rules are now quite distinct.

                                                          Cadit quaestio

Definition:-

The matter admits of no further argument.

                                                              Call of Duty (legal)

Definition:-

Call of Duty is a legal term describing the necessity to carry out a job or duty, such as a police case, military assault/wartime actions, or other military or highly important jobs. Once again, a call to/of duty can be a highly important position of work, (Doctor/Fireman/Civil Service/Governing) but otherwise and more commonly used for wartime legal terminology.

                                                             Capital case

Definition:-

A prosecution for murder in which the jury is also asked to decide if the defendant is guilty and, if he is, whether he should be put to death. When a prosecutor brings a capital case (also called a death penalty case), she must charge one or more “special circumstances” that the jury must find to be true in order to sentence the defendant to death. Each state (and the federal government) has its own list of special circumstances, but common ones include multiple murders, use of a bomb or a finding that the murder was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel.

                                                       Capital gains

Definition:-

The profit on the sale of a capital asset, such as stock or real estate. If you sell your primary residence, you can exclude $250,000 in profit from capital gains tax. A couple can exclude $500,000.

                                                      Capital punishment

Definition:-

The decision by a jury, in the second phase of a captital case, that the convicted defendant should be put to death.

                                                         Capitalized interest

Definition:-

The accrued interest that is added to the principal balance of a loan while you are not making payments or your payments are insufficient to cover both the principal and interest due. When this happens, you end up paying interest on interest, sometimes called “negative amortization.”

                                                       Caption

Definition:-

A heading on all pleadings submitted to the court. It states basic information such as the parties names, court and case number.

                                                             Carryover basis

Definition:-

The tax basis of someone who receives a gift. The recipient’s basis is the same as the giver’s; it simply “carries over” when the gift is made.

                                                            Case

Definition:-

A legal case is a dispute between opposing parties resolved by a court, or by some equivalent legal process. A legal case may be either civil or criminal.There is a defendant and an accuser.

                                                              Cash surrender value

Definition:-

The amount of cash available upon voluntary termination of an insurance policy before the insurance benefits become payable.

                                                           Cash surrender value

Definition:-

The amount of cash available upon voluntary termination of an insurance policy before the insurance benefits become payable.

                                                         Casus fortuitus non est spectandus

Definition:-

A fortuitous event is not to be foreseen and no person is bound to divine it.

                                                         Catalla reputantur inter minima in lege

Definition:-

Chattels are considered in law among the minor things.

                                                         Causa proxima, non remota spectatur

Definition:-

The immediate, and not the remote cause is to be considered.

                                                       Cause of action

Definition:-

A specific legal claim — such as for negligence, breach of contract or medical malpractice — for which a plaintiff seeks compensation. Each cause of action is divided into discrete elements, all of which must be proved to present a winning case.

                                                           Caveat emptor

Definition:-

Let the purchaser beware.

                                                           Caveat venditor

Definition:-

Let the seller beware.

                                                           CCCS

                                                       Census

Definition:-

An official count of the number of people living in a certain area, such as a district, city, county, state, or nation. The United States Constitution requires the federal government to perform a national census every ten years. The census includes information about the respondents’ sex, age, family, and social and economic status.

                                                              Cepi corpus et est languidum

Definition:-

I have taken the body and the prisoner is sick.

                                                            Damages

Definition

In a lawsuit, money awarded to one party based on injury or loss caused by the other. There are many different types or categories of damages that occasionally overlap, including compensatory damagesDamages that cover actual injury or economic loss. Compensatory damages are intended to put the injured party in the position he was in prior to the injury. Compensatory damages typically include medical expenses, lost wages and the repair or replacement of property. Also called “actual damages.” general damages Damages intended to cover injuries for which an exact dollar amount cannot be calculated. General damages are usually composed of pain and suffering, but can also include compensation for a shortened life expectancy, loss of the companionship of a loved one and, in defamation cases (libel and slander), loss of reputation. nominal damages A term used when a judge or jury finds in favor of one party to a lawsuit–often because a law requires them to do so–but concludes that no real harm was done and therefore awards a very small amount of money. For example, if one neighbor sues another for libel based on untrue things the second neighbor said about the first, a jury might conclude that although libel technically occurred, no serious damage was done to the first neighbor’s reputation and consequentially award nominal damages of $1.00. punitive damages Sometimes called exemplary damages, awarded over and above special and general damages to punish a losing party’s willful or malicious misconduct. special damages Damages that cover the winning party’s out-of-pocket costs. For example, in a vehicle accident, special damages typically include medical expenses, car repair costs, rental car fees and lost wages. Often called “specials.” statutory damages Damages required by statutory law. For example, in many states if a landlord doesn’t return a tenant’s security deposit in a timely fashion or give a reason why it is being withheld, the state statutes give the judge authority to order the landlord to pay damages of double or triple the amount of the deposit. treble damages Lawyerspeak for triple damages. To penalize lawbreakers, statutes occasionally give judges the power to award the winning party in a civil lawsuit the amount it lost as a result of the other party’s illegal conduct, plus damages of three times that amount.

                                                              Damnum sine injuria

Definition

damage without legal injury

                                                             DBA

Definition

See doing business as.

                                                           De bonis asportatis

Definition

Of goods carried away

                                                         De bonis non administratis

Definition

Of goods not administered

                                                            De die in diem

Definition

From day to day

                                                            De facto

Definition

In fact

                                                           De futuro

Definition

In the future

                                                             De integro

Definition

As regards the whole

                                                             De jure

Definition

Rightful, by right

                                                             De minimis lex non curat

Definition

The law does not notice trifling matters

                                                             De novo

Definition

Starting afresh

                                                              Death taxes

Definition

Taxes levied at death, based on the value of property left behind. Federal death taxes are called estate taxes. Some states levy inheritance taxes on people who inherit prop

                                                              Debenture

Definition

A type of bond (an interest-bearing document that serves as evidence of a debt) that does not require security in the form of a mortgage or lien on a specific piece of property. Repayment of a debenture is guaranteed only by the general credit of the issuer. For example, a corporation may issue a secured bond that gives the bondholder a lien on the corporation’s factory. But if it issues a debenture, the loan is not secured by any property at all. When a corporation issues debentures, the holders are considered creditors of the corporation and are entitled to payment before shareholders if the business folds.

                                                         Debile fundamentum fallit opus

Definition

Where there is a weak foundation, the work fails

                                                           Debit card

Definition

A card issued by a bank that combines the functions of an ATM card and checks. A debit card can be used to withdraw cash at a bank like an ATM card, and it can also be used at stores to pay for goods and services in place of a check. Unlike a credit card, a debit card automatically withdraws money from your checking account at the time of the transaction. Debit cards are regulated by the Electronic Funds Transfer Act.

                                                          Debita sequuntur personam debitoria

Definition

Debts follow the person of the debtor

                                                           Debitor non praesumitur donare

Definition

A debtor is not presumed to make a gift

                                                          Debitum et contractus sunt nullius loci

Definition

Debt and contract are of no particular place

                                                             Debitum in praesenti, solvendum in futuro

Definition

A present debt is to be discharged in the future

                                                                 Easement

Definition

A right to use another person’s real estate for a specific purpose. The most common type of easement is the right to travel over another person’s land, known as a right of way. In addition, property owners commonly grant easements for the placement of utility poles, utility trenches, water lines or sewer lines. The owner of property that is subject to an easement is said to be “burdened” with the easement, because he or she is not allowed to interfere with its use. For example, if the deed to John’s property permits Sue to travel across John’s main road to reach her own home, John cannot do anything to block the road. On the other hand, Sue cannot do anything that exceeds the scope of her easement, such as widening the roadway.

                                                            Easement by prescription

Definition

A right to use property, acquired by a long tradition of open and obvious use. For example, if hikers have been using a trail through your backyard for ten years and you’ve never complained, they probably have an easement by prescription through your yard to the trail.

                                                          Eavesdropping

Definition

Listening to conversations or observing conduct which is meant to be private, typically by using devices that amplify sound or light, such as stethoscopes or binoculars. The term comes from the common law offense of listening to private conversations by crouching under the windows or eaves of a house. Nowadays, eavesdropping includes using electronic equipment to intercept telephone or other wire communications, or radio equipment to intercept broadcast communications. Generally, the term “eavesdropping” is used when the activity is not legally authorized by a search warrant or court order; and the term “surveillance” is used when the activity is permitted by law. Compare electronic surveillance.

                                                               EEOC

Definition

See Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

                                                             Effluxion of time

Definition

The normal expiration of a lease due to the passage of time, rather than due to a specific event that might cause the lease to end, such as destruction of the buildin

                                                          Eggshell skull

Definition

A hypothetical medical condition used to illustrate the idea that if you are at fault when you injure someone, you are responsible for all the consequences, whether you could have foreseen them or not. For example, if you cause an injury to a hemophiliac who begins to bleed severely, you are responsible for whatever happens to him, even though you had no way of knowing that the injury would be so severe.

                                                           Egress

Definition

An exit, or the act of exiting. The most famous use of this word was by P.T. Barnum, who put up a large sign in his circus tent saying “This Way to the Egress.” Thinking an egress was some type of exotic bird, people eagerly went though the passage and found themselves outside the circus tent. Compare ingress.

                                                             Ei incumbit probatio qui

                                                               Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat

Definition

The burden of the proof lies upon him who affirms, not he who denies

                                                          Elective share

Definition

See statutory share.

                                                         Electronic Funds Transfer Act

Definition

A federal law that gives you certain rights in the event that mistakes occur on your ATM or bank statements or if your ATM card is lost or stolen. Generally, you have a duty to report the mistake or lost card–and the sooner the better. If you notify the bank in a timely manner, it is under a duty to rectify the mistake or not charge you for withdrawals made by someone else with your card. If you delay in reporting your card lost or stolen, however, you can be liable for up to $500, or an unlimited amount if you don’t report the problem for more than 60 days.

                                                            Electronic signature

Definition

A paperless method of entering into an electronic contract. To “sign” a contract electronically, a person may be asked to click an “I Accept” button or use a “key” to encrypt (scramble) information that uniquely identifies the signer using a method called Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). Electronic signatures are as binding as those in ink.

                                                       Electronic surveillance

Definition

A highly advanced form of eavesdropping. Electronic surveillance employs sophisticated electronic equipment to intercept private conversations or observe conduct that is meant to be private. It includes the use of radio equipment to intercept broadcast communications, the use of small radio transmitters or “bugs” to listen in on telephone or in-person conversations, the use of lasers to intercept conversations inside a room from the slight vibrations of the window glass, and the use of thermal imaging scopes for observing conduct inside a structure. Many of these sophisticated forms of surveillance require a search warrant because they violate a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy. This area of law is in a constant state of flux as courts interpret the use of new technologies.

                                                              Electronic ticket

Definition

An airline ticket in the form of a computer entry. An electronic ticket, or e-ticket, is supposed to function like an actual paper ticket by reserving you a space on a flight; all you need to do is give an identification number and show an ID at the airport. But you should also bring the written receipt sent by the airline in the event the airline’s computer system has crashed or the airline has lost your reservation.

                                                          Elements (of a case)

Definition

The component parts of a legal claim or cause of action. To win a lawsuit, a plaintiff must prove every element of a legal claim. For example, here are the elements of a breach of contract claim: 1. There was a valid contract. 2. The plaintiff performed as specified by the contract. 3. The defendant failed to perform as specified by the contract. 4. The plaintiff suffered an economic loss as a result of the defendant’s breach of contract.

                                                      Elements (of a crime)

Definition

The component parts of crimes. For example, “Robbery” is defined as 1. the taking and carrying away 2. of property of another 3. by force or fear 4. with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property. Each of those four parts is an element that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

                                                     Emancipation

Definition

The act of freeing someone from restraint or bondage. For example, on January 1, 1863, slaves in the confederate states were declared free by an executive order of President Lincoln, known as the “Emancipation Proclamation.” After the Civil War, this emancipation was extended to the entire country and made law by the ratification of the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution. Nowadays, emancipation refers to the point at which a child is free from parental control. It occurs when the child’s parents no longer perform their parental duties and surrender their rights to the care, custody and earnings of their minor child. Emancipation may be the result of a voluntary agreement between the parents and child, or it may be implied from their acts and ongoing conduct. For example, a child who leaves her parents’ home and becomes entirely self-supporting without their objection is considered emancipated, while a child who goes to stay with a friend or relative and gets a part-time job is not. Emancipation may also occur when a minor child marries or enters the military.

                                                               Embassy

Definition

U.S. embassies are agencies that represent the U.S. government in other countries. The United States has embassies located in many countries around the world. Most U.S. embassies accept and process green card and visa applications.

                                                        Emergency protective order

Definition

Any court-issued order meant to protect a person from harm or harassment. An emergency protective order is issued by the police, when court is out of session, to prevent domestic violence. An emergency protective order is a stop-gap measure, usually lasting only for a weekend or holiday, after which the abused person is expected to seek a temporary restraining order (tro) from a court.

                                                         Eminent domain

Definition

The power of the federal or state government to take private property for a public purpose, even if the property owner objects. The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution allows the government to take private property if the taking is for a public use and the owner is “justly compensated” (usually, paid fair market value) for his or her loss. A public use is virtually anything that is sanctioned by a federal or state legislative body, but such uses may include roads, parks, reservoirs, schools, hospitals or other public buildings. Sometimes called condemnation, taking or expropriation.

                                                        Faciendum

Definition

Something which is to be done

                                                          Factum

Definition

An act or deed

                                                          Facultas probationum non est angustanda

Definition

The right of offering proof is not to be narrowed

                                                                 Failure of consideration

Definition

The refusal or inability of a contracting party to perform its side of a bargain.

                                                               Failure of issue

Definition

A situation in which a person dies without children who could have inherited her property.

                                                         Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA)

Definition

A federal law that gives you rights when an error occurs on your credit card statement. You must notify the credit card company of the mistake within 60 days after it mailed the bill to you. The company must then correct the mistake, or at least acknowledge receipt of your letter within 30 days, and must correct the error within 90 days or explain why it believes the credit card statement is correct.

                                                              Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA)

Definition

A federal law that gives you rights when an error occurs on your credit card statement. You must notify the credit card company of the mistake within 60 days after it mailed the bill to you. The company must then correct the mistake, or at least acknowledge receipt of your letter within 30 days, and must correct the error within 90 days or explain why it believes the credit card statement is correct.

                                                          Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Definition

A federal law that is designed to prevent inaccurate or obsolete information from entering or remaining in a credit report. The law requires credit bureaus to adopt reasonable procedures for gathering, maintaining and disseminating information and bars credit bureaus from reporting negative information that is older than seven years, except a bankruptcy, which may be reported for ten. If you notify a credit bureau of an error in your credit report, the FCRA requires the bureau to investigate your allegations within 30 days, review all information you provide, remove inaccurate and unverified information and adopt procedures to keep the information from reappearing. In addition, the law requires that creditors refrain from reporting incorrect information to credit bureaus.

                                                           Fair Debt Collections & Practices Act (FDCPA)

Definition

A federal law that outlaws unfair debt collection practices, including lying, harassing, misleading and otherwise abusing debtors, by debt collectors working for collection agencies. The law does not apply to creditors collecting their own debts. This law has greatly improved conditions for debtors, although more than a few debt collectors ignore the law. If a collection agency violates the law, debtors can contact the Federal Trade Commission for help.

                                                          Fair Housing Act & Fair Housing Amendments Act

Definition

Federal laws that prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of race or color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability. The federal Acts apply to all aspects of the landlord/tenant relationship, from refusing to rent to members of certain groups to providing different services during tenancy.

                                                             Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Definition

A federal law that guarantees a worker’s right to be paid fairly. The FLSA defines the 40-hour workweek, sets out the federal minimum wage, states requirements for overtime and places restrictions on child labor.

                                                          Falsa demonstratio non nocet

Definition

A false description does not vitiate

                                                           False arrest

Definition

See false imprisonment.

                                                          False imprisonment

Definition

Intentionally restraining another person without having the legal right to do so. It’s not necessary that physical force be used; threats or a show of apparent authority are sufficient. False imprisonment is a misdemeanor and a tort (a civil wrong). If the perpetrator confines the victim for a substantial period of time (or moves him a significant distance) in order to commit a felony, the false imprisonment may become a kidnapping. People who are arrested and get the charges dropped, or are later acquitted, often think that they can sue the arresting officer for false imprisonment (also known as false arrest). These lawsuits rarely succeed: As long as the officer had probable cause to arrest the person, the officer will not be liable for a false arrest, even if it turns out later that the information the officer relied upon was incorrect.

Family allowance

Definition

A certain amount of a deceased person’s money to which immediate family members are entitled at the beginning of the probate process. The allowance is meant to help support the surviving spouse and children during the time it takes to probate the estate. The amount is determined by state law and varies greatly from state to state.

                                                             Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Definition

A federal law that requires employers to provide an employee with 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a year’s time for the birth or adoption of a child, family health needs or personal illness. The employer must allow the employee to return to the same position or a position similar to that held before taking the leave. There are exceptions to the FMLA: the most notable is that only employers with 50 or more employees are covered–about half the workforce.

                                                          Family court

Definition

A separate court, or more likely a separate division of the regular state trial court, that considers only cases involving divorce (dissolution of marriage), child custody and support, guardianship, adoption, and other cases having to do with family-related issues, including the issuance of restraining orders in domestic violence cases.

                                                         Family pot trust

Definition

See pot trust.

                                                       Fatetur facinus qui judicium fugit

Definition

He who flees judgment confesses his guilt

                                                             Fault divorce

Definition

A tradition that required one spouse to prove that the other spouse was legally at fault, to obtain a divorce. The “innocent” spouse was then granted the divorce from the “guilty” spouse. Today, 35 states still allow a spouse to allege fault in obtaining a divorce. The traditional fault grounds for divorce are adultery, cruelty, desertion, confinement in prison, physical incapacity and incurable insanity. These grounds are also generally referred to as marital misconduct.

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