Glossary of terms



Adjourn -a pause in court proceedings, or to put off the Hearing of a case to a later time or date.

Admissible -describes what evidence, that is live verbal testimony and documents may be given or referred to in court proceedings.

Affirmation – if you have no religious belief you wish to be asked before you give evidence to promise to tell the truth.

Allegation –an assertion or statement that someone has done something that has not yet been proven, which must be, as part of the proceedings.

Appeal -the process of asking a higher court to reconsider your case if you are not happy with the outcome. Usually you will need to be given permission before you can appeal, by the lower judge or if not the higher judge

Bar Council -the  Bar Council represents  barristers in England and Wales.. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board.

Barrister -a lawyer who can give specialist legal advice and who represents people in court.

Bench -the judge/ judges often called the ‘judicial bench’ or ‘magistrates’.

Bring a claim – to start legal proceedings.

Bundle-the file of papers you must take to court which includes any documents you want to refer to. Identical bundles must be sent to the judge  and the other party and must be numbered  by page (paginated) as one sing]e document.

Case -describes the legal proceedings generally or the particular claim or defence that is being put forward by one of the parties.

Civil law -the branch of law which deals with private disputes between individuals, organisations and companies.

Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) -the Court rules governing that all civil cases.

Claim -what you are asking for when you start legal proceedings.

Claimant -the person making and serving (sending) the claim.

Clerk -chambers staff responsible for generating and assigning work and managing barristers’ diaries. Also a term used to describe court assistants.

Client Care Letter -a letter sent to you by a solicitor who has agreed to assist you, which sets out their fees, whether you need to provide them with further information or documents. It may also include details of your instructions and the basic facts of your case which you have told them.

Closing submission – an oral summary of your main points, which you give at the end of your Hearing.

Compensation -money awarded to the winning party, usually paid by the losing party.

Conditional Fee Agreement (C FA) –This is a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement under which the fee is only payable by you if you are awarded compensation and can be only be enforced if ii complies with strict rules.

Contempt of court -when a party is in breach of a court Order and is liable to be fined or imprisoned.

Counsel -a barrister, or foreign lawyer

Counterclaim -if you are filing a defense and believe the claimant owes you something, then you can submit a claim of your own, along with your defense.

Court usher -a court official whose duties include swearing-in witnesses and keeping order.

Criminal law -the area of the law which deals with people who have broken the law, resulting in a penalty such as imprisonment or a fine.

Cross–examination -the questioning of a witness for the other party in a case.

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) – the primary (Government) body responsible for the prosecution of criminal offences in England and Wales.

Damages -another way of saying compensation.

Defence -the court document which sets out why you say you are not liable or not at fault when the claimant has stated that you are. It respond to the claims against you. When you send your defence to the court, this is called ‘filing a defence’.

Defendant -a person who appears in court because they are being sued, standing trial or appearing for sentence; sometimes also called a respondent.

Direction -instructions given by the judge, to manage the case.

Disclosure -the process of showing the other party documents that you intend to use in court to support your case or which are otherwise relevant, even if they do not support your case and might support the other party’s case.

Dispute -a disagreement.

Dispute resolution -the process of resolving disputes between parties outside of court, sometimes with the help of a mediator.

Duly solicitor -a solicitor paid for out of public funds to assist those facing Hearings who attend without representation.

Evidence-information which can prove what you are saying is true.

Evidence-in-chief -this is when a witness is asked questions by whichever party has called them to give evidence.

Expert evidence -any expert who can offer their specialist knowledge as evidence, for example a doctor who can vouch for illness.

Extension of time -when the court gives more time to a party to comply with or obey court procedures or orders.

Fixed-fee -costs which are capped at a certain level.

Floater -when a case does not have a specific Hearing date or time.

Hearing -proceedings held before a court.

Higher Rights of Audience -the right of a lawyer to represent someone in court. All barristers have higher rights of audience, and solicitors can also have these if they pass a training course.

Inadmissible -describes evidence or documents which cannot be referred to in court proceedings.

Injunction -a Court Order which stops someone from doing or continuing to do something, or which requires them to take certain positive action.

Instruct -agreeing with a lawyer that he or she will advise or represent you in relation a legal matter or dispute.

Issues -the main points, both factual and legal, which have to be decided in a case.

Issue a claim -formally start legal proceedings by sending (or ‘serving’) a claim.

Judge- an officer appointed to administer the law and who has authority to hear and try cases in a court of law.

Junior – a barrister who is not a Queen’s Counsel (QC).

LASPO -Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act.

Lay member of a panel -people who do not have a legal background.

Leading question -a question which suggests the answer to the witness; you  can ask leading questions when cross-examining but not when examining your own witnesses.

Leave -another word for permission.

Legal aid -public funding for legal advice and representation.

Legal costs-the costs that are incurred by a party as part of the process of obtaining legal advice., representation and going to court.

Legal problem -a problem where you require legal advice and/ or representation.

Legal proceedings -the process of a case from start to finish.

Listing- the court procedure for deciding when a case should be heard.

Litigant -a  person who is involved in legal proceedings as either a claimant or defendant.

Litigant-in-person -a litigant who does not have a legal representative like a lawyer) to act for him or her; sometimes referred to as self-represented litigants. Can be accompanied in court by a ‘McKenzie friend’.

McKenzie Friend -a person,  who can accompany you to your Hearing, take notes and help to explain the court process.

Mediation- the process of resolving disputes between parties outside of court.

Oath -a spoken promise in court that anything you say will be truthful and honest.

Open discussions -conversations with the other party about the management of the case (for example, which documents you will be using for evidence, which can be referred to in court).

Opponent – the person you are in a dispute with.

Order -an instruction of the court which must be obeyed.

Other party -another word for your opponent in a case.

Other side -another word for your opponent in a case.

Particulars of Claim -the court document setting out your case.

Pleadings -the court documents setting out the parties’ cases.

Point of law -an area of law, rather than fact, which may be relevant to your case.

Pre-Action Protocols – the steps that the court will expect to have been taken before a claim or case is ‘issued’, filed, or has started in court.

Private law -the law which covers disputes between individuals or organisations.

Privilege- a rule which excludes evidence or documents from being referred to in court because , for example, they relate to communications between a lawyer and his client.

Pro Bono -legal advice or representation provided for free by lawyers for people who cannot afford  to pay and where legal aid is not available.

Public Access -the scheme enabling you to instruct a banister directly rather than through a solicitor.

Putting your case -this is an expression which lawyers use to explain the process during cross-examination of witnesses, when they put their version of events to the witness, and then give the witness an opportunity to respond.

QC/Queen’s Counsel -a senior barrister who will generally only be instructed in serious and important cases.

Recorder -a part-time judge, who is often also a practicing barrister or solicitor.

Representation -the act of advising and speaking on behalf of a party in a case.

Self-representing Litigant -see ‘Litigant-in-person’.

Serve a claim -delivering (by post or in person) your claim form to the person you think is liable in your case.

Settle outside of court -coming to an agreement with the other side on how to resolve your dispute, without going to court.

Silk -informal term for a QC, so-called because they wear a silk gown in court.

Skeleton argument -a document summarizing the main issues and arguments in a case.

Standing –the legal way of saying that you have a sufficient interest in the decision that you want to challenge.

Statement of Truth -a signed statement, as follows: “I believe that the facts stated in this defense/claim form are true”. Has the force of an affidavit.

Statutory -from the word ‘statute’, which is a written law, statutory is a formal requirement to comply with the law.

Submission -giving submissions; the argument in a case either in writing or in a speech, as distinct from giving evidence.

Trial -when both sides of a dispute come together in a formal court process to present their evidence before a judge make a final  decision.

Tribunal -a Tribunal is a type of court which hears disputes relating to specific areas of law, and delivers judgment on them.

Underlying documents – documents, which might support your case such as letters, emails or bank statements.

Witness -a person called  to give evidence in court because they have knowledge or information about a relevant factual point in the case.

Witness box -place where the witness stands to give evidence.

Witness statements -a written account by a witness which sets out their evidence.

Witness summons -a court Order requiring a person to attend court

Without prejudice -a rule which prevents evidence about mediation and settlement discussions being disclosed in court.

Written submissions -a summary of your key points, which you  take to court. These can also be called ‘skeleton ar


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