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Jargon Buster

Please scroll down for an A-Z glossary of legal terms including:

1. Residential Property


 Absolute title

See title absolute

 Abstract of title

A summary of the documents and facts showing ownership - used to prove title in cases when title is unregistered




This ia a disposal or transfer of property.   It is most commonly used in relation to the transfer of the benefit of a lease, which will be accomplished by a deed called 'an assignment'

 Beneficial owner

Land ownership where the person is entitled to it for his/her own benefit

Chancel repair liability

If a property is located within the boundaries of a tithe district (a sub-division of an historical parish) there is a continuing potential to charge for chancel repairs it may be subject to Chancel Repair Liability. We can insure you against this


A liability burdening land securing the payment of money e.g. a mortgage charge


This is an alternative way to own flats and other interdependent properties under a lease. It is not a new estate in land but a new form of freehold ownership - see freehold


The amount of cash (or monies worth) of a transaction


A legal agreement between parties


This document is now referred to as a transfer but historically it was a document effecting the transfer of property from the vendor to the purchaser.


It is common for a lease to be prepared in counterpart. The part, or copy, signed by the person granting the lease is called the 'original', and the part signed by the tenant is called the 'counterpart'


A promise given by a deed


Written or printed instrument (i.e. a document) effecting legal disposition.


A right owned by one landowner over the land of another, e.g. a right of way


This can have dual meaning:

(1) in land - the extent of a person's ownership
(2) the estate of a deceased person - all the property owned by that person at their death


The signing of a document

Floating charge

A charge on all assets of a company which does not affect the company's power of disposal unless and until the charge becomes payable


Tenure (possession) by which land is held

Ground rent

This is another term used for 'rent'

Joint tenants

Co-owners of land - when one of them dies, his/her rights of ownership pass to the survivor(this contrasts with tenants in common)

 Joint and several

Together as one, and also separately, e.g. of liability under a covenant


Land (or property) held under a lease


A contract by which a lessor, usually for rent, leases land and/or buildings to a lessee

 Term of a lease

This is the length of the lease which is usually measured in years

 Legal charge

A mortgage


Holder of or tenant of a lease


Person who grants a lease to a lessee

 Local search

Local Authority search ( i.e. council )


To give a lender important rights over property, including the power of sale, as security for the loan


Net Present Value which is a formula applied to the term of a lease, the annual rental and a discounting constant

 Official copies

A term referring to physical hard paper copies of Land Register entries produced by the Land Registry thus being 'Official Copies' (as opposed to copies being obtained via the internet for example)

 Overriding interest

The rights of a person in actual occupation of the land e.g. they have an overriding interest

 Particulars of sale

This is normally prepared by an Estate Agent and comprises of the descriprion of the property to be sold and the terms and conditions on which the sale is to take place

 Power of attorney

Authority given by one person to another (the attorney) to act for him/her (e.g. to execute a deed) in his/her absence

 Private treaty

A sale not by auction


The person or body buying a property/lease


The HM Land Registry records property ownership throughout England and Wales on a register

 Registered title

The Register holds the official record of ownership, covenants and charges


A periodic payment in respect of land, e.g.
ground rent - the sum payable under a lease or a rent charge - rent payable in respect of freehold property

 Restrictive covenant

A promise under seal restricting the use of land - see covenant. This can restrict the purchaser from various developments on the property and these should be checked over before exhange

 Root of title

A vendor's ownership is traced vis this document


Stamp Duty Land Tax. A lengthy form (an SDLT1) describing the details of a property transaction. This is normally filled out by a Solicitor acting as an agent for the purchaser which accompanies the payment of stamp duty to the Inland Revenue


Enquiries usually made, usually made by a purchaser's Solicitor to find out what incumbrances affect a property



 Subject to contract

When an offer is made 'subject to contract' this means that either party is at liberty to decide not to go ahead with the transaction


The temporary possession or holding by a tenant of land or property owned by another


Person or body who occupies land or building under a lease

 Tenants in common

Where two or more people are entitled to the proceeds of sale in land in distinct shares. On the death of one, his/her interest will not pass to the survivor(s) but will become part of their estate


The terms on which land is held e.g. freehold or leasehold

 Title absolute

The highest quality of ownership in land recognised by the system of registration of title


The evidence of a person's right to land


The name for the conveyance, also known as a the TR1 document describes various details about the transaction


Body to whom a transfer is made


Body making the transfer

 Trust for sale

A trust which requires the trustees to sell the property. Co-owners of land will hold it as joint tenants on trust for sale perhaps for the benefit of themselves


Where property is transferred to a person on the understanding that they will apply it to a particular purpose

 Unregistered title

A person proves his/her ownership by producing deeds as it will not be on the land registry register.

 Vacant possesion

A term used to describe property being sold free from any leases or tenancies, usually an empty property


The person or body selling a property/lease


A legal document stating the person's wishes regarding the disposal of his/her property after his/her death

2. Family Law

  Coming soon

3. Personal Injury




The person making the Claim

Claim Form


A formal document used to issue Court Proceedings against the at-fault third party

Contributory Negligence


A portion of blame that may be alleged against you for partly causing the accident.


The compensation you may be entitled to receive


This is what is required to prove any aspect of your personal claim, such as a medical report to prove your injuries


The amount you must pay towards the cost of repairs to your vehicle if you are insured under a comprehensive policy. This is generally recoverable from the at-fault third party.

Insured Losses

Losses that are covered by your insurance policy

Legal Expense Cover

This covers losses that are not covered by your standard insurance policy, including personal injury.

Limitation Deadline


You have three years (if you are over 18) from the date of the accident to negotiate the settlement of a claimor issue a claim form in either the County Court or High Court. If you are under 18 at the time of the accident, you have until you are 21


The name of the legal process once you have issued a Claim form at Court.



You must be able to prove the other party owed you a duty of care, was in breach of that duty, and that the breach caused your injury or damage. The injury or loss must also be a consequence of the breach. Even if the other party was only partly to blame, you may still be entitled to compensation

Third Party


This is the person you are claiming against. If you issue a Claim form they then become known as the Defendant.

Uninsured Losses


These are losses that are not covered by your insurance policy. These can include personal injury, excess and loss of earnings

4. Employment Law




The Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service is a Government-funded public agency providing a conciliation and mediation service.

Annual Leave


This is another phrase for your holiday entitlement. As an employee or a worker, if you work a five-day week, you are entitled to a minimum of 28 days per year including bank holidays.



You can appeal against your dismissal if you have been dismissed otherwise this could affect the amount of compensation you receive if your claim is successful


This can be direct and indirect.  Direct discrimination is less favourable treatment on one or more of the prohibited grounds (race, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation or religious belief). Indirect discrimination occurs for example when your employer applies a provision or practice to all its staff, but that provision or practice disproportionately impacts upon persons of a specific race including yourself.

Employment Tribunal


Employment issues are heard in a court of law called a tribunal




A claim form used to lodge your claim with the employment Tribunal.



Your employer’s defence to your claim. The employer has 28 days from receipt of the ET1 (sent to them by the Employment Tribunal) to respond to your claim



A letter to your employer detailing the matters you are complaining of (such as unlawful deduction of wages or a discriminatory act).

 Mitigating your Loss


If you are dismissed, you will need to satisfy the Employment Tribunal that you have made all reasonable attempts to find alternative work.  This includes things like keeping a record of all job applications, any visits to the job centre and if you join an employment agency, a record of the initial appointment and any subsequent job offers

National Minimum Wage


The minimum amount your employer is obliged to pay you per hour

Notice Pay


You are usually entitled to receive notice pay if your employer terminates your contract. The minimum period of notice after one month of service is one week for each complete year of service, to a maximum of 12 weeks for 12 years of service.



This is usually your employer or the person who will respond to your claim. If it is a complaint of discrimination, this can also be a named individual who would normally be the alleged perpetrator of the discrimination.

Unlawful deduction from wages


If your employer holds back your pay for no reason, you may be able to bring a claim. You would first need to raise a grievance with your employer setting out your complaint

5. Wills & Probate




The administrator is the person entitled to manage and settle the deceased's affairs when there is no will in place. The Rules of Intestacy dictate who the administrators can be


A statement in writing made upon oath


Assets are anything you own which has value; such as land, property, cash, savings and investments, cars and family heirlooms


Someone who is named in the Will to receive inheritance from the estate.


This is to leave money or property to a beneficiary named in a Will.


A gift of money or property in a Will.



These are any personal belongings including cars, jewellery, collections and household items such as antiques and furntiure 

Civil partner

Someone with whom you have registered a same sex Civil Partnership with under the Civil Partnership Act 2004


This is a legal document which can be used to make minor changes to a Will. To be valid the same formalities have to be adhered to as a Will.


Crown is another term for the government.


Your estate includes your home, car, bank accounts, investments and anything else you owned in your sole name such as jewellery. Anything you owned jointly will automatically pass to the surviving joint owner when you die.



An Executor is the person or people named in a Will to manage and administer an estate

Grant of Probate


This is the legal document issued to the Executors by the Probate Registry, granting them the legal authority to deal with a deceased's estate.


The people nominated in a Will to look after any children under the age of 18 in the event of their parent's death.

Inheritance Tax (IHT).

The tax payable on an estate when someone dies. Everyone has an Inheritance Tax free allowance called the 'nil rate band'.


This is the term used when someone dies without a valid Will in place. They die Intestate.


'Issue' are the children, grandchildren and remoter descendents of a person, whether born within or outside marriage, including adopted children.

 Joint tenancy

This is a form of property ownership where all the joint owners own the property together. On the death of one owner, their interest passes to the remaining owner(s) by survivorship.

Letters of Administration


This is the legal document issued by the Probate Registry to the administrator of an estate of a person who has died Intestate

Life interest

A gift that gives someone the right to any income generated from an asset or the right to occupation of a property for the duration of their life

Pecuniary gifts

These are gifts of a specific sum of money

Residuary Beneficiary

Someone nominated in a Will to receive the remainder or residual part of a deceased's estate after all other Beneficiaries have received their inheritance and all debts have been paid



This is the part of an estate which is left after the payment of all debts, funeral expenses, Inheritance, Income and Capital Gains Tax and specific and pecuniary gifts are paid.

Specific gifts

These are specific gifts which are either of financial or sentimental value.

Rules of Intestacy


When someone dies without a Will (see Intestate), strict inheritance laws called the Rules of Intestacy apply. These rules determine who administers and who will inherit from the deceased's estate (see estate) and in what proportions.


A spouse is a married partner (not a cohabitee).

Substitute beneficiary

This is a person who is named as an alternative beneficiary in case another beneficiary predeceases the person making the Will.


When someone dies any jointly held assets, including property and savings passes automatically to the surviving joint owner by survivorship.

Tenants in Common

This is a form of property ownership where each joint tenant owns a separate share of the property. On the death of one of the part owners, their share passes to the Beneficiaries in line with the Will or the Rules of Intestacy

Testator (or Testatrix, if female)

This is the person who is writing the Will.


A legal arrangement where one or more people (Trustees) are made legally responsible for assets which are placed in the Trust for the benefit of the named Beneficiaries


A Trustee is the person responsible for administering a Trust. This involves looking after property and/or assets for the benefit of the named Beneficiaries. Trustees have a duty to act in good faith, which means they cannot enrich themselves at the expense of their Beneficiaries. Solicitors make good independent trustees for that reason.


A Will is a legal document declaring their intention as to what they would like to happen to their estate after their death.


A witness is someone who verifies the signing of a Will. A Will must have two witnesses who verify the signature of the testator. They must sign the Will in the presence of each other for the will to be valid and the testator and must not benefit from the Will.