76 terms

NCTJ Law - Key Words


Terms in this set (...)

Absolute Discharge
A decision by a court after conviction that the offender should not be punished for the crime
A statement given on oath to be used in court procedings
A claim by an accused that he/she can show he/she was not at the scene when a crime was committed and is therefore innocent
The procedure at magistrates' courts to determine whether an either-way criminal case is dealt with by magistrates or by a Crown court. Also known as the mode of trial hearing
The procedure at Crown courts when charges are put up to defendants for them to plead guilty or not guilty.
Automatic, automatically
Terms used for reporting restrictions which ban publication of certain information if not court order is needed to put them into effect in respect of a particular case or individual. Statutes specify the circumstances in which they operate.
The system by which a person awaiting trial, or appeal, may be freed by a court pending the next hearing.
A court official who enforces its orders.
Case law
The system by which report of previous cases and the judges' interpretations of the common law are used as precedents where the legally material facts are similaw
Circuit judge
A judge appointed to sit at a Crown court or county court within a circuit - one of the regions of England and Wales into which court administration is divided. Unlike High Court judges, circuit judges do not go on circuit - that is, travel to various large centres dispensing justice.
Claim form
The document which begins many forms of civil action
The person who brings an action in the civil court
Committal for sentence, committed for sentence
When a defendant at a magistrates' court who has admitted an offence or been convicted at trial is sent to the crown court to be sentenced because the magistrates decide their powers of punishment are insufficient. (there are no reporting restrictions on committals for sentence).
Common law
Law based on the custom of the realm and the decisions of judges through the centuries rather than on Acts of Parliament
Community punishment
An order that an offender must carry out unpaid work in the community under a probation officer's supervision
Concurrent sentences
Two or more sentences of imprisonment imposed for different offences; the longest one is the sentence actually served
Conditional discharge
A decision by a court that a convicted defendant should not be punished unless he/she re-offends - the condition of the discharge being that if he/she commits another crime within a specified period, he/she can be punished for both the new and original offences
Conditional fee agreements (CFA's)
'No win, no fee' agreements - their use was extended to defamation cases in 1998 under the Conditional Fee Agreements Order 1998.
Contra mundum
An injunction or order which binds all those who are aware that it has been made. The Latin means 'against the world', but such orders only have effect within the jurisdiction in which they are made
The law which protects the rights of the creators of original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, including photographs
Barrister (singular or plural), not solicitor
Disclosure and inspection
The process whereby each side in a court action serves relevant documents on the other, which has the right to inspect them
District judge
A county court judge who also decides smaller cases, family law cases, presides at public examinations in bankruptcy and deal with cases under the informal arbitration procedure
District judge (magistrates' court)
A full-time legally qualified magistrate
Editors' Code of Practice
Code of ethics enforced by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) as regulator for newspapers, magazines and their websites
Either-way offence
One triable either summarily at magistrates' court or by a jury at Crown court. In an either-way case a defendant who has indicated a plea of guilty or not guilty has the right to opt for jury trial at Crown court. But if he/she opts for summary trial, the magistrates may decide that the case is too serious for them to handle and must be dealt with at Crown court.
The main evidence given by a witness before he/she is cross-examined
Excluded material
Material that is exempt from compulsory disclosure under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE). It includes journalistic material that a person holds in confidence and which consists of dicuments or records.
Fair dealing
The limited use of copyright material or reporting news or current affairs, or for criticism or review or quotation, under which the work is properly identified and attributed to its author.
Honest opinion
A defence to a libel action, formerly known as 'honest comment' or 'fair comment'; the defendant does not have to show the words were fair, but must show they were an honestly held opinion
In camera
Proceedings in a courtroom which are heard in secret, with the media and public excluded (for example in Official Secrets Acts or terrorism cases).
In chambers
Used to describe the hearing of an application which takes place in the judges' room. If there is no legal reason for such a hearing to be held in private, journalists who want to report it should be admitted if 'practicable'
Indictable offence
A charge which may be tried by a jury at Crown court, which will therefore be either an indictable-only offence or an either-way offence
Indictable-only offence
One which can only be tried by a jury at Crown court
A written statement of the charge(s) which is put to the defendant at the arraignment at Crown court
A written statement alleging an offence which is presented or laid before a magistrate who is then asked to issue a summons or warrant for arrest.
Inherent jurisdiction
The powers of a court deriving from common law rather than statute. The inherent jurisdiction of lower courts, for example magistrates' courts, is more limited than that of higher courts, for example the High Court
A court order requiring someone, or an organisation, to do something specified by the court, or forbiding a specific activity or act
Journalistic material
Material acquired and created for the purposes of journalism. Special protection is given to journalistic material in the sections of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 that lay down the procedure whereby the police may search premesis for evidence or serious arrestable offences.
Judicial review
A review by the Queen's Bench Divisional Court, part of the High Court, of decisions taken by a lower court, tribunal, public body or public official
Legal aid
Public money provided to pay for legal advice and legal representation in court for a party in a civil case, if his/her income is low enough to qualify for such aid
In law not only spite or ill-will but also a dishonest or improper motive. Proof of malice can be used by a claimant in a libel action to defeat a defence of qualified privilege.
A plea for leniency in the sentence due to be imposed, citing extenuating circumstances, which is made in court or on behalf of a convicted offender
Mode of trial hearing
The hearing at a magistrates court to decide whether an either-way case is dealt with by that court or proceeds to a Crown court. Also known as the allocation procedure.
Narrative verdit/narrative conclusion
A short statement by a coroner or inquest jury detailing the circumstances and manner of a person's death which takes the place of the traditional 'short-form' verdicts
Newton hearing
A hearing involving a defendant who has pleaded guilty but offers a substantially different version of events to that alleged by the prosecution, at which the court hears evidence so it can decide which version it accepts as forming the basis for sentence. Newton was the defendant's name in the relevant precedent case.
Ofcom Broadcasting Code
Code of ethics used by Ofcom to adjudicate on complaints against broadcasters
Police Bail
The system administered by police whereby a person under on-going investigation can be released from arrest on conditions, including that they return to a police station on a later date, at which time they may be questioned again, charged, or be told there will be no charge. They can be arrested if they breach the conditions. After being charged, they can be bailed by police to attend court or may be taken there in custody
Preliminary hearing
A hearing, before any trial, at a magistrates' or Crown court
Prima facie
Literally, 'at first site'. In criminal law a 'prima facie case' is one which a preliminary examination by a court has established that there is sufficient prosecution evidence for it to proceed to trial. In journalism ethics the term 'prima facie grounds' means that the prelimianary inquiries have established there is sufficient evidence or sufficient ground of suspicion to justify use of deception or undercover tactics in an investigation
Prior restraint
The power which courts have to stop material being published. In defamation law, there is a general rule against prior restraint, and judges are extremely reluctant to ban publication of material which the media argue can be successfully defended in any future trial
A defence, absolute or qualified, against an action for libel which attaches to reports produced from certain events, documents or statements
Public interest
The phrase 'in the public interest' is used by judges to define when an individual's rights, for example to privacy, can legally be infringed if this produces a sufficiently major benefit to society, for example from investigative journalism. But judges may also decide that a general 'public interest', for example in the confidentiality of medical records, needs to be upheld against media activity. Codes of ethics use the phrase too, to indicate when journalists may be justified in infringing people's rights
An assistant judge at Crown court who is usually appointed to sit part-time (for example for spells of a fortnight). Barristers and solicitors are eligible for appointment as recorders.
An individual awaiting trial can be remanded in bail custody
Theft by force or threat of force. The word 'robbery' is often wrongly used to describe simple theft.
Sending for trial
The procedure by which an indictable-only offence and, in the allocation procedure, some either-way offences are sent from the magistrates' court to a Crown court
Skeleton arguments
The documents in which each side in civil or criminal court proceedings sets out the bases of their cases. Journalists should normally be allowed to see them to help report the proceedings
Spent conviction
A conviction that is no longer recognised after the time (varying according to sentence) in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. After this time, a media organisation referring to the conviction might not have available some of the normal defences in the law of libel
Statements of case
Documents including the claim form, particulars of claim, defence, counterclaims, reply to the defence and 'further information documents' in a civil action - reports of which are now protected by privilege.
An act of parliament - that is, primary legislation created by parliament
Statutory instrument
Secondary legislation which can be enacted without parliamentary debate by a Minister to make detailed law or amendment to the law, under powers given earlier by a statute.Statutory instruments are also used to phase in gradually, for administrative convenience, legal changes brought about by acts
Strict liability
A strict liability offence does not require the prosecution to show intent on the part of the accused. Statutory contempt of court is a strict liability offence
Sub judice
Literally, 'under law'. Often applied to the risk which may arise in reporting forthcoming legal proceedings. Frequently used by authority as a reason for not disclosing information. But this is not the test for strict liability under the Contempt of Court Act 1981.
A court order compelling a person to attend court to give evidence
Summary offence
A comparatively minor offence which can usually only be dealt with by magistrates.
Summary proceedings
Cases dealt with by magistrates. At the end of a summary trial of an either-way offence, however, magistrates can, if they consider their powers of sentence insufficient, commit for sentence
Summary trial
A trial at a magistrates' court
Supreme court
The name originally given to the Court of Appeal, the High Court and the Crown courts as a combined system. However, from October 2009 the House of Lords appellate committee (the court commonly referred to merely as 'the House of Lords') became the UK Supreme Court
A person, usually a friend or relative of the defendant, to whom a court entrusts the responsibility to ensure that the individual, having been released on bail, returns to court on the due date. The surety may pledge a sum of money as the guarantee that the defendant will answer bail and risks losing it if the defendant fails to do so
Taken into consideration
The system under which a defendant admits having committed offences with which he/she has not been charged, thus clearing the slate and avoiding risk of subsequent prosecution for those offences
Dishonest appropriation of another's property with the intention of permanently depriving the other if it
A civil wrong, such as defamation or medical negligence, for which monetary damages may be awarded
The defence in defamation actions that the word complained of are substantially true
Term used in the Ofcom Broadcasting Code to indicate that an ethical norm can be breached if there is a public interest justification or some other exceptional justification
Without notice
Previously known as ex parte, meaning 'of the one part'. An injunction without notice is one granted after a court has heard only one side of the case. An order granted inter partes is one made after a hearing at which all sides involved were represented.