The Most Confusing Legal Terms Explained (Part 1)

In General

Just 20% of individuals and only 11% of businesses use a legal service provider each year. That is despite the fact that 50% of individuals and 40% of businesses admit to experiencing a legal issue.

Market research has shown that there are a number of reasons why people are choosing not to access legal services. But one of the issues that comes up time and again is that legal terms and official legal phrases are too confusing and cause people to shy away from official legal documents whenever possible.

In recent years, many law firms have worked hard to talk to clients in plain English and help to make the law more accessible to both individuals and businesses. Nevertheless, there are still many legal phrases that can confuse and scare the man and woman on the street.

In this article we will explain some of the most confusing legal terms.

Abscond
This term is used when a person fails to present themselves before the court when required.

More info: an example of this might be when a defendant is released on bail but does not return to court for an arranged hearing.

Affidavit
An affidavit is a written statement written under oath. The individual signing an affidavit must do so before an authorised magistrate or another person authorised to witness the signature by the court.

More info: An affidavit is like a written court testimony in many ways and can be used in a variety of court cases.

Arbitration
Arbitration is a way of seeking to resolve a dispute without resorting to going to court: In an arbitration case, a third party known as the ‘arbitrator’ will look at both sides of a dispute in order to work towards a resolution. In some cases the parties involved may agree to be bound by the decisions made by the arbitrator.

More info: This form of alternative dispute resolution may be used in commercial disputes or employment disputes.

Conveyancing
Conveyancing is the term given to the processes involved in buying or selling land – typically with a property on it. It is also applicable in remortgaging a property to transfer the asset from one person to another.

More info: This is a service commonly offered by legal service providers. Conveyancing can be carried out by a solicitor or by a dedicated conveyancer.

Disbursements
These are the fees that are paid out as part of legal services by a legal service provider on behalf of the client. Typically, the legal service provider will list disbursements in their invoice to a client and claim it back in due course.

More info: A common example of disbursements would be the payments made by a solicitor or conveyancer on a client’s behalf to a local authority for property information as part of the house-buying process.

Intestate
It is not uncommon for a person to die without leaving a will. In this scenario, they are said to have died intestate.

More info: There are laws in place to handle cases where an individual dies intestate and their estate must be distributed. Assets are typically divided between relatives, although it is possible to instruct a legal expert to challenge the division of an estate.

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