Dictionary of legal terms #online #doctoral #programs


#law terms

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As an alternative to an action, self help is accepted. For example by cutting off overhanging tree branches. Sometimes it may be necessary to enter another’s land to abate a nuisance, this normally requires permission except in an emergency. Local Authorities have a duty (for example under the Highways Act or the Environmental Protection Act 1990 ss 79-82) to secure abatement notices in respect of statutory nuisances.

A public nuisance can be abated, to the extent necessary to prevent injury, by a person specially injured.
Self help should be approached with caution.

Liability, for serious crimes is established by two findings
1) that the accused behaved in a way which was prohibited
2) he had mens rea in relation to that behaviour.

For some centuries English law, like most civilised legal systems, has made liability to punishment for serious crimes depend not only on the accused doing the outward acts which the law forbids, but on his having done them in certain conditions which may broadly be termed mental, these mental conditions of responsibility are commonly referred to by lawyers as mens rea.

(Hart. Punishment, Guilt and Responsibility at p174

A temporary postponement of legal proceedings.

Used to indicate a patient’s wish to refuse all or some forms of medical treatment if the patient loses mental capacity in the future. It can’t be used to request treatment.

An advance decision has the same effect as a refusal of treatment by a person with capacity: the treatment cannot lawfully be given. A doctor who treats a patient against his / her wishes may face civil liability or criminal prosecution, this includes treatment against the wishes contained in the advance decision.

Effective from 1st October 2007. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 allows the ending of life of a patient by medical intervention. Bluntly, whilst euthanasia remains illegal it will be possible to kill patients by starving them to death or ceasing medical treatment.

A person may incur criminal liability for failing to do that which the law requires him to do as much as by doing that which the law prohibits. The actus reus includes the state of affairs or circumstances surrounding the commission of the offence, together with the results or consequences (if any) that flow from that act or omission. It is essential that the defendant acted voluntarily and that he caused the injury, damage or harm.

In other words, actus reus includes all the elements of the offence indicated in the definition except the mens rea (the state of mind), if any.

Generally the accused’s conduct must be a voluntary act or omission, and he will not be held liable for acts done in a state of automatism.

Automatism resulting from self-induced intoxication is no excuse.

The crime must be caused by some conduct by the accused.

That conduct need not be a direct cause of the crime, but can be through the agency of others.

The conduct need not be the sole or the effective cause of the crime, provided it cannot be dismissed as trivial, or as merely events leading up to the commission of the crime.

Generally there is no obligation on anyone to prevent harm or wrongdoing.

Omissions are only criminal where a duty to act arises at common law or is imposed by statute.

Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea

Hybrid adjudicating authorities which straddle the line between government and the courts. Between routine government policy decision-making bodies and the traditional court forums lies a hybrid, sometimes called a tribunal or administrative tribunal and not normally presided by judges. These operate as a government policy-making body at times but also exercise a licensing, certifying, approval or other adjudication authority which is quasi-judicial because it directly affects the legal rights of a person. Commonly used in relation to State Benefits. Administrative tribunals are often referred to as Commission , Authority or Board. and of course Tribunal . As in Employment Tribunal.

A person who administers the estate of a person deceased. The administrator is appointed by a court and is the person who would then have power to deal with the debts and assets of a person who died intestate. Female administrators are called administratrix . An administrator is a personal representative.

[Latin] A statement which before being signed, the person signing takes an oath that the contents are, to the best of their knowledge, true. It is also signed by a notary (now all solicitors) or some other judicial officer that can administer oaths, to the effect that the person signing the affidavit was under oath when doing so. These documents carry great weight in Courts to the extent that judges frequently accept an affidavit instead of the testimony of the witness.
Affidavit: A written, sworn statement of evidence. (Civil Justice Rules).

A person who has received the power to act on behalf of another, binding that other person as if he or she were themselves making the decisions. The person who is being represented by the agent is referred to as the principal .

Special and highly exceptional damages awarded by a court where the circumstances of the tortious conduct have been particularly humiliating or malicious towards the claimant/victim. Aggravated damages:
Aggravated damaged: Additional damages which the court may award as compensation for the defendant’s objectionable behaviour (Civil Justice Rules).

The process of deciding small claims in the County Court. Claims under 5,000 pounds are automatically referred for Arbitration. An alternative dispute resolution method by which an independent, neutral third person ( arbitrator ) is appointed to hear and consider the merits of the dispute and renders a final and binding decision called an award. The process is similar to the litigation process as it involves adjudication, except that the parties choose their arbitrator and the manner in which the arbitration will proceed. The decision of the arbitrator is known as an award. Compare with mediation.

In criminal law, the formal appearance of an accused person to hear, and to receive a copy of, the charge or indictment against him or her, in the presence of a judge, and to then enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. The arraignment is the final preparatory step before the criminal trial.

A debt that is not paid on the due date adds up and accumulates as arrears . For example, if you do not pay your rent, the debt still exists and is referred to as arrears . The same word is used to describe child or spousal maintenance or support which is not paid by the due date

An assize trial was a trial by jury. In its most settled and enduring form ‘the assizes’ meant the routine of bringing royal justice to various parts of the country. Two commissioners travelled one of six circuits twice a year during the vacations of the royal courts at Westminster. The commissioners were given powers to ‘hear and determine’ criminal cases, try or release prisoners in gaols (‘gaol delivery’), and hear civil cases that would otherwise have come to the royal courts. See also Oyer and Terminer.

[He promised or undertook] A cause of action abolished by the Judicature Acts 1873 to 1875.
A common law action that developed into an action in contract.
Originally it was a common law action which grew out of the action of trespass on the case.
If the defendant failed to perform an undertaking it gave rise to assumpsit, a cause of action analogous to deceit. It was later used for the action of debt. These were known as actions assumpsit of indebitatus (common or money counts) and used in contract cases.
If the agreement was under seal (a speciality contract), an action of covenant would be used.

In medieval times, the extinction of civil rights took place when judgement of death or outlawry was recorded against a person who had committed treason or a felony. It involved the forfeiture and reversion to the Crown of the land and goods belonging to the person attainted. It could also result from a Bill of Attainder brought against an individual in Parliament.


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