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Law is a very complicated subject, and legal terms are not easy to learn in any language, especially when you’re just starting out in English.

In this English vocabulary worksheet you will find:

  • The definition of law;
  • The most common and most used vocabulary words related to law.

Let’s begin!

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What is The Right Definition of Law?

Law is the main official embodiment of objective right. In a broad sense, law describes any general and non-personal rule, derived from a collective will and endowed with binding power.

Who Needs to Learn the Legal Terms in English?

People working closely with the law, such as judges, lawyers, administrators… should be well versed in legal terms, or at least have the facility to consult them.

Other than that, anyone can learn some basic legal terms for their own general culture and wealth.

a judge's brown gavel

Law Vocabulary: Glossary of Most Important Legal Terms

Letter A
AbandonmentThe waiving of a right or procedure
AborningIt is the operation whereby, the owners of two adjoining plots of land have agreed on the dividing line between their properties, they place boundary marks, such as stones, stakes, or concrete blocks
AbrogateIt’s the cancellation from a given date of the application of a legislative or regulatory text
AbstentionThe position one takes when refusing to be involved in a legal act or situation in which one is required, or when one is prevented from doing so by law, by regulation, or by contract.
AbuseThe act of being at fault by overstepping the limits of the exercise of a right conferred on us
AcceditIn the context of judicial evaluation procedures, an inter partes encounter during which the expert briefs the parties on the progression of the case, while the parties have the option to submit arguments
AdjournmentTo postpone the case, either to a fixed date or without fixing one, according to the circumstances
AppealA means of obtaining recourse to the courts, to review a case.
ArticleThe smallest part of a contract, law or administrative regulation that allows a clear interpretation of its meaning
Letter B
BarA collective term for lawyers who practise before a court of law
BarristerChairperson and representative of the Bar before a court
BoundariesThe separation lines between two or more parcels of land
Branch (estates)The legal department in charge of estate matters
Letter C
CabinetIt’s the office in which the President and the judges work. Magistrates sit in it alone or occasionally share with other magistrates within the courthouse. The word is used for the offices of judges and prosecutors. To a lesser extent, it may refer to a partnership between two or more lawyers
Capital (company law)The total amount of resources and money provided by the members in exchange for company shares
CassationWhen, after an appeal, a court sets aside the judgment or decision appealed against, the sentence for the defect that the court has decided is called ‘cassation’
ClaimA legal action to recover a possession
ClauseA text referring to a legal act which establishes the rights and duties of the parties concerned by that act
ConciliationProcedure for the amicable settlement of disputes, to which the adverse parties are under obligation to submit prior to any legal action
ConclusionsA document drawn up by the lawyer and submitted to the court, containing the arguments and claims, which enables the judge to acknowledge the case before trying it
ConstitutionA law that prevails over any other, it’s a set of legal texts that establishes the different institutions constituting the State and structures their relation
CounterclaimIt examines the substantive elements of the case and checks that there were no legal errors. It can either confirm the decision made by the first judges or overturn it in whole or in part
Letter D
DebtsSum of money or goods which a debtor must return to his or her creditor
DismissalA decision of the judge to adjourn or transfer a case to another court
DebarmentThe presiding magistrate may strike the case from the list if the adverse parties have failed to respect the procedures.
DecreeDecrees are regulatory legal texts, issued by the executive authority
De facto, de jureThese are Latin expressions which mean ‘it’s a fact’ or on the contrary, ‘a right’
Letter E
EndorsementA current holder, named endorser, writes notes on the back of the promissory note, which allows the drawee to make payment to another beneficiary called endorsee
Enforcement (Ways of -)The reasons of fact or law on which a judge must base his or her decision and those on which the parties base their claims or defence
ExequaturA procedure by which the beneficiary of a foreign court order intends to have it executed on the national territory
Letter F
FideicommisIt refers to a will provision by which the testator transmits an asset, the whole or part of his or her patrimony, to an ostensible beneficiary, who ’ll transmit the asset (ies) to a third person specifically designated in the will
FiducieA contract by which the donor transfers all or part of his or her property to another person, the trustee, instructing him or her to act in favour of one or more beneficiaries
ForclusionIt’s the civil sanction which, on the expiry of the time limit granted in court, ends the recognition of a person’s right of action
Letter G
GratificationIt’s a sum of money paid as a bonus to the employee by the employer, to reward work done or to celebrate family events
Gré à gréTransfer of a right or property by the freely expressed will of the parties
GuaranteeIt’s the obligation imposed on the party transferring ownership or use of property or a claim to provide protection so that a third party won’t be able to challenge the transaction
Letter H
HeirAny person who has an inheritance right
Letter I
IllicitSynonym of illegal, something against the law
In extensoA term of Latin origin meaning ‘in its entirety’, as opposed to ‘by excerpt’
Letter J
JurisdictionA court acting as a public service of the State with the function of judging disputes that are referred to it
JurisprudenceThe whole range of decisions and judgements that the Courts and Tribunals have rendered for the settlement of a given legal matter.
Letter L
LegitimacyThe recourse on a higher principle that in a society and at a given time is thought to be fair
LiquidationThe fact of shutting down a stock or business for lack of cash resources or funds
Letter M
MagistrateAny person in a position of authority. In common law countries, particularly in Great Britain, magistrates are nominated for life from amongst the most prominent ranks of the bar
Letter N
Ne varieturLatin word meaning ‘let nothing be changed’, used in the legal field to indicate the definitive, immutable character of a document after the events mentioned previously
NotaryIt’s a lawyer with public authority who drafts agreements in legal form on behalf of his clients
Letter O
Opine‘to consent to’, ‘to be of the opinion that’. It is found in judgments or decisions when the writer wants to emphasise a magistrate’s approval of the other participants’ opinions.
Letter P
PrejudiceA harm that is intentionally or unintentionally caused to another individual
Letter Q
QuorumThe minimum number of present or delegated votes fixed by the law or by the statutes, for a company’s shareholders or unit holders to be allowed to debate.
Letter R
RebuttalA rhetorical method by which a party to a lawsuit intends to justify its opponent’s argument as containing false allegations
RetractIt’s the decision taken by a person, an authority or a magistrate to withdraw a decision already taken
Letter S
SealAn imprint made on a document, usually by means of a greasy ink-coated stamp or other marking process to stamp an identifying badge, sign, shield, or text
SplitIt’s an operation intended to separate the branches activity of a firm into several companies
Letter T
TacitusFrom the conclusion of legal acts or the performance of material acts which establish their authors’ will
Third partyNon-parties or non-represented individuals in a convention
Letter U
UsufructThe right to use an asset and earn income from it, without owning it
Letter V
VacantIt means in employment law or administrative that a job is not filled
Letter W
Warrantis a natural or legal individual, who has subscribed to a legal engagement that binds him or her to act as a guarantee

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