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146 terms

General legal terms

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abatement
reduction, termination
abrogation
annulment of a former law by act of a legislative body, by constitutional authority, or by usage
acceptance
in contract law, consent to abide by the terms of an offer; taking or receiving a thing in good faith with the intention of retaining it.
accession
that which increases the size or value of property
accommodation
arrangement made as a favor to another rather than for consideration received
acknowledgment
an admission, affirmation, or declaration
acquittal
release or discharge of an obligation or liability; in criminal law, a finding of not guilty
ademption
satisfaction of a legacy by gift prior to testator's death
adhesion contract
standardized contract form in which a party with little or no bargaining power is forced to accept its terms
adjudication
judgment or decision of a court
adverse possession
acquiring title to real estate by hostile possession rather than by purchase
affidavit
sworn statement in writing taken before a notary public or other authorized office
affirmative defense
allegation of a responsive pleading which, if it can be proved, negates the allegations of the complaint
agreement
meeting of the minds, preliminary to contract formation
allegation
assertion made but not proved
amortization
gradual extinction of a monetary obligation by periodic payments that usually includes interest
amnesty
sovereign forgetfulness of past acts, usually available for a limited time
ancillary
auxiliary, supplemental, subordinate
annotation
remark, note, or commentary intended to illustrate or explain
annul
cancel, make void, destroy
answer
written pleading by which a defendant responds to the plaintiff's complaint
antitrust laws
federal and state laws to prevent restraint of trade, price-fixing, price discrimination, monopolies, or other conduct detrimental to free commerce
appeal
review by a higher court
appraisal
valuation or estimate of property value, made by qualified expert
arbitration
investigation and determination of dispute by neutral decision-maker, decision is binding on the parties
arraignment
in criminal law, hearing at which accused pleads guilty or not guilty
assault
in tort, threat of imminent bodily harm accompanied by apparent ability to carry out the threat; in criminal law, often defined as the tort equivalent of battery
asset
real or personal property owned by an individual, estate, business corporation, or other entity
assignment
transfer of any right, title, or interest to another
attestation
act of witnessing the signing (execution) of a document
assumption of risk
doctrine under which a person cannot recover for injuries received from a dangerous activity to which she voluntarily exposed herself
attachment
pre-judgment seizure of property based upon court order
attest
certify or affirm to be true or genuine
aver
assert, allege, claim
bailment
delivery of personal property to another to be held for a particular person and then returned
beneficiary
one who benefits from the act of another
bequest
gift of personal property by will
breach
failure (without legal justification) to perform when performance was due
brief
written argument of counsel concerning one or more legal issues in a case, sometimes called a memorandum of law
capacity
having legal authority or mental ability; being of sound mind
caption
that part of a pleading which states the name of the court, the name of the parties, the case number assigned, and the name of the pleading
cause of action
facts giving rise to a legal remedy
chattel
personal property
choate
perfected; complete
chose in action
a personal right not yet reduced to judgment
civil code
collection of laws or statutes relating to private rights or remedies
Code Civil
law of the State of Louisiana consisting of a collection of statutes and based upon the Napoleonic Code, distinguished from common law.
code
collection of laws or statutes
codicil
an addition or change to an original will
community property
property owned in common law by husband and wife, each owning an undivided 1/2 interest as a result of their marital status
commutation
substitution of a lesser punishment for a greater one
condemnation
the process of taking private property for public use under the government's right of eminent domain
consideration
the lawful price, motive, cause, impelling influence, or inducement for a contract
contract
agreement between competent parties, supported by consideration, to do or to refrain from doing some lawful act
conversion
wrongful taking of personal property with intent to deprive its owner of it permanently
copyright
a right to reap the financial benefits of literary property
covenant
agreement or promise, often restricting the use of real estate
debenture
bond given as evidence of corporate debt
decree
final order of an equity court
defamation
that which holds one up to contempt or ridicule; that which injures one's reputation
devise
gift of real property by will
discharge
to release, liberate, annul, disencumber, dismiss
duress
unlawful constraint exercised upon a person, forcing her to do an act which she would not have done otherwise
enjoin
to prevent or forbid by injunction
equity
justice administered by principles of fairness, distinguished from strict rules of law
escheat
reversion of property to the state when there are no heirs to inherit the property at a person's death
estop
to stop, bar, prevent
estoppel
doctrine under which a person's acts or failure to act prevents her from seeking legal relief, although she would have been entitled to relief otherwise
eviction
to recover real estate from a tenant by legal process; to force out or remove from real property
evidentiary
constituting evidence or proof, having the quality of evidence
exemptions
immunity from a general burden, tax, or charge; in bankruptcy or in judgment executions, that portion of the debtor's property that cannot be liquidated and applied to her debts
fraud
any artifice used by one person to deceive another
general denial
a pleading in the form of an answer, which denies allegations made by the opposing party but which contains no affirmative defenses
guarantor
one who agrees to undertake the financial obligation of another
guaranty
agreement to undertake the financial obligation of another
guardian
one charged with responsibility to mange the personal matters of another who is incompetent because of age, understanding, or lack of self-control
guardian ad litem
person appointed by the court to look after the interests of a child or incompetent person during the pendency of a litigation
inchoate
unfinished; incomplete
indemnify
to secure against loss or damage
indictment
written accusation issued by a grand jury against a defendant in criminal law
information
written accusation issued by a prosecutor against a defendant in criminal law
injunction
an order issued by a court of equity requiring a person to do or not to do a specific act
insolvent
condition of a person or entity that exists when total liabilities exceed total assets
interlocutory
provisional, interim, not final
judgment
final order of a court of law, based upon a jury verdict or upon findings of fact by the court
jurat
clause of a notary public or authorized officer attesting that a statement or document was sworn by a specific person on a specific date
jurisprudence
science of law; system of law
laches
a doctrine by which equitable relief is denied to one who has waited too long to seek relief
libel
written defamation
lien
a charge, security, or encumbrance on property
liquidated
property or claim that has been converted to its cash equivalent
magistrate
court officer with limited judicial authority; a public officer
malfeasance
evil doing; performance of an act with bad intent
memorandum opinion
very short opinion of a court
merger
absorption of one thing or right into another
metes and bounds
a method of describing real estate, using boundary lines with terminal points and angles
misfeasance
improper performance of an otherwise lawful act
mitigation
duty of parties to minimize damages after an injury is sustained or a breach occurs
mortgage
conditional conveyance of an interest in real estate, usually as security for a debt
motion
application (not a pleading) or request made to a court to obtain an interim ruling or order
motion in limine
application requesting a court to rule in advance that specific, unfairly prejudicial information will not be mentioned during trial
negligence
failure to use the care which a reasonable and prudent person would use in similar circumstances
novation
substitution of a new contract, debt, or obligation for an existing one between the same or different parties
nuncupative
oral; not written
oath
solemn pledge attesting the truth of a statement
offer
a promise; a commitment to do or to refrain from doing some specific act
option
a right supported by consideration to purchase property at an agreed price within a specified time
order
mandate, command, or direction authoritatively given; mandate of the court
ordinance
legislative enactment by a local government such as a county or a city
parol evidence
oral proof of contract terms which are not contained within the written contract document
patent
inventor's right to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention for 17 years
pecuniary
monetary; relating to money
perjury
false testimony given under oath
pleading
in federal court, complaint, answer to complaint, and reply to cross-claim.
precedent
holding of a case which guides the decisions in future cases involving similar facts and similar legal issues
probable cause
justification to believe that a crime was committed and that the accused is the person who committed it
promissory estoppel
a doctrine which prevents a party to a contract from denying that consideration was given for the contract
promissory note
a written promise to pay a specific sum of money at a future time
proximate cause
the last (negligent) act which leads to injury; legal cause
proxy
an instrument authorizing one to case the votes of another at a corporate meeting
punitive damages
damages awarded over and above the amount of losses, which are awarded as punishment of the wrongdoer
quash
suppress; stop; cease; abate
quiet title action
action to determine clear title to real estate
quitclaim deed
deed without warranty, which passes only that title which the grantor has
release
discharge of one party's obligation to another
replevin
action to recover possession of personal property
rescission
an equitable remedy which invalidates a contract on the basis of mutual mistake, fraud, impossibility, etc.
restitution
restoration of a thing to its rightful owner; a measure of damages according to the defendant's gains rather than the plaintiff's losses
settlor
one who creates a trust; a trustor
slander
spoken defamation
specific performance
equitable remedy in contract law which requires the breaching party to perform according to the specific terms of the contract
stipulation
agreement between parties to a lawsuit concerning matters related to the trial
survey
process by which a tract of land is measured and its contents determined with a map to scale created for it
testimonium clause
the clause of an instrument which begins, "In witness whereof,..."
tort
a civil wrong such as negligence or trespass, as distinguished from a criminal offense
trust account
account where client funds are kept separate from attorney funds
unconscionable
grossly unfair; unscrupulous, terms or conduct which shocks the conscience
usury
the excess over the lawful interest rate
verification
confirmation of accuracy; sworn oath by an authorized person that certain statements are true to the best of his or her knowledge and belief
void
having no legal force or effect
voidable
that which is capable of being declared void but which is valid until such declaration is made
warranty
a promise to defend the truth of a fact
warranty deed
a deed conveying land which guarantees that the title is free of defects to marketability
with prejudice
a declaration (usually in connection with an order of dismissal) which ends the right to further relief; it prevents either party from filing future complaints based on the same claim or cause of action
without prejudice
a declaration (usually in connection with an order of dismissal) which preserves any rights or privileges that a party may have to file a future complaint based upon the same claim or cause of action
writ of execution
order of a court after judgment commanding a court officer to seize property in satisfaction of the judgement