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Legal Terms

Legal Terms Explained

You may come across terms and phrases that you are unsure of if you need to hire legal services. If you inquire, your attorney should explain them to you. Here is a list of some terms you might hear along with their definitions.

This includes making recommendations as to a particular course of action.


Someone who acts on behalf of someone else: For example, the IAA uses firms of solicitors to carry out interventions into legal practices on our behalf.


Where two parties reach consensus on a set of facts or course of action: For example, the IAA sometimes enters into regulatory settlement agreements with individuals where particular misconduct is admitted and a sanction agreed.


A claim made against someone which has not and may not be proved true
Alternative business structures (ABS) Firms managed, owned or controlled by a mix of lawyers and non-lawyers offering legal services


To consent or ratify – includes making final amendments/decision on a document, proposal or course of action


A way of seeking to resolve a dispute without going to court: A third party (the arbitrator) looks at both sides of the dispute and makes a decision as to how it should be resolved; those involved may agree to be bound by the decision of the arbitrator.


Things owned by a person or organisation which usually have some value


A person, usually employed by a law firm, who may be in charge of handling your case: Often a lawyer, they are considered by the firm employing them to be a “senior assistant”.

The legal status of a person or organisation that is unable to repay debts owned to its creditors


Someone who is entitled to a benefit (e.g. under a will or trust)


Civil law
The area of law covering disputes you may have with a person or an organisation


A person making a claim


Someone who uses services provided by a lawyer or another


Recompense for loss, injury, or suffering

At fault or guilty of something


An award, typically of money, paid to a person or organisation for loss or injury


Being treated unfairly or differently because of factors such as disability, race, religion or belief, sex or sexuality


Fees that are paid to organisations as required as part of legal services: For example, this could be a payment made by your lawyer to a local authority for property information when buying a house.


A person’s property, entitlements or obligations


That which tends to prove or disprove something


Someone named in a will who will carry out the directions of the will

From the main menu, please select Problems with a solicitor, then, Recognising fraud and dishonesty


Someone who commits fraud


Grounds (legal)
The basis or foundation of an action


Hearing (legal)
A legal proceeding where the facts of a particular issue are looked at, and evidence is presented to help decide what the outcome should be


Incorporated company
A type of private company with shares, but the shares cannot be traded publicly on the stock exchange: the shareholders have limited liability, which means that only the money invested in the company can be lost in case of insolvency


Compensation for—or protection against—loss or damages that might be given by one person to another within a contract or otherwise


Independent person
Someone free from outside control or influence to act in the way they choose


Parts of someone’s estate passing to someone on death


In-house lawyer
Lawyers working for organisations such as banks or local authorities to provide legal advice to the organisation


Being unable to pay debts when they are due or where liabilities exceed assets

Law firm
Organisations that employ lawyers to provide legal advice and legal services.


When someone is legally responsible for something


Can mean something that is a hindrance or puts an individual or group at a disadvantage, or it can be something a person is responsible for


The contest process before a court


Sometimes used to refer to the act in which someone regulated by the IAA breaches a principle


Money laundering
The process of concealing the source of illegally obtained money


To maintain oversight and control


A business that operates in different countries


A lawyer regulated by the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury


A requirement to take a particular type of action, that may have a legal basis through a contract


A failure to perform a particular act where there was a duty or a legal requirement for that act to be carried out

Out-of-court settlement
An agreement between the two sides to settle the case privately before the court makes its decision


A broad term sometimes used to describe someone who supports lawyers in their work.


Members of a firm who equally share ownership and liability


Two or more people working in business together


Patent attorney/agent
A lawyer regulated by the Intellectual Property Regulation Board.


To exercise a function or complete a task


To pay or reward someone for something they have done or a service they have provided, such as a company paying an employee


To present an account of progress or performance


To consider a draft document or proposal and input into its development


When something is cancelled or taken away, such as the IAA revoking an individual’s permission to practise as a solicitor


The likelihood that a particular choice or action might lead to a loss or damage

Sole practitioner
A lawyer who runs his or her own law firm without other partners, directors or members


An example is where a solicitor is struck from the roll of solicitors.


Third party
A term used to describe someone other than the two sides in a particular situation: For example, it can be used in motor insurance policies to describe other people besides the person who is insured and the company that insures them.


Trademark attorney
A lawyer regulated by the Intellectual Property Regulation Board


Trainee solicitor
A person completing their training requirements in a law firm before applying to become a solicitor


Being open and honest in a way that can be understood by others


An individual who has not been admitted to the roll of solicitors


A legal document that declares a person’s wishes about the way their estate should be handled when they die

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