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Glossary of legal terms

Commonly-used legal terms in steel sector litigation work include:

  • Acquittal: Verdict of a judge or jury that the accused is not guilty (or a case is not proven).
  • Advocate: A lawyer who defends another party (a person, or an organisation) in a law court.
  • Affidavit: A written or printed statement that is made under oath.
  • Appellant: A person who applies to a higher court for a reversal of the decision of a lower court.
  • Arraignment: The first court appearance of a person accused of a crime.
  • Bailiff: An officer of the court.
  • Bench: Term that refers to all the judges of a certain court, or to the members of a judiciary.
  • Case law: Law as established by previous court decisions (cases). Essentially a synonym for legal precedent.
  • Chambers: Offices of a judge, or of barristers - and their staff.
  • Chapter 11: American term referring to bankruptcy with restructuring, usually involving a U.S. corporation or partnership. Steelmakers in the USA who have been involved in Chapter 11 reorganisation have included the LTV Steel Corporation, the Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corporation, Rouge Steel and Essar Steel Minnesota.
  • Consignee: The person that goods have been sent to.
  • De jure: Latin term meaning 'in law'. A matter that is 'de jure' is one that is covered by the operation of the law.
  • Defendant: A person (or other entity) against whom a lawsuit is filed.
  • Deposition: Testimony of witness taken under oath, usually in response to another party's questions.
  • European Court of Justice: The European Union's highest court. The ECJ was founded in 1952. The court is based in Luxembourg.
  • Force majeure: French term meaning 'superior force'. Also known as 'casus fortuitus' (Latin). This is a common term used in contracts to refer to chance occurrences, unavoidable accidents etc.
  • Habeas corpus: Latin term, meaning 'that you have the body'. Commonly refers to a writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court, especially to secure the person's release unless lawful grounds can be shown for their detention.
  • In camera: Latin term, meaning 'in a chamber' or 'in a room'. Usually means 'in private', meaning away from the jury or the public.
  • Injunction: A court order preventing one or more named parties from taking some specific action.
  • Intestate: Legal term for a situation when someone dies without making a will.
  • Jurisdiction: Power and authority of a court to make a judgment on a case.
  • Lien: A right to keep possession of an asset belonging to another person until a debt owed by that person is discharged.
  • Litigant: A person who is involved in a civil legal case.
  • Malfeasance: Unlawful act.
  • Mitigating circumstances: Circumstances that can be considered to reduce the guilt of a defendant.
  • Oath: A promise to tell the truth in court (often made with a religious underpinning).
  • Official Journal of the European Communities: Official publication of the European Union, which contains legislation, proceedings and the decisions of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
  • Plaintiff: A person who brings a case against another in a court of law.
  • Pleadings: Documents filed with a court by the parties in a civil or criminal case.
  • Probate: The judicial process whereby a will is 'proved' in a court of law.
  • Probation: A sentence in a criminal cases whereby an offender is supervised by a social worker for a set period of time.
  • Quantum: Reasonable value of services. Quantum of damage refers to the sum of money a successful claimant might receive in a court action.
  • Queen's Counsel (QC): Title conferred by the Crown on well-respected advocates giving right of audience in the highest courts of the land.
  • Remand: Refers to custody of a person in a prison or police cell prior to a court appearance.
  • Respondent: Defendant against whom a petition or complaint is filed in court.
  • Statute: Alternative name for a UK Act of Parliament. Statutes are the main form of primary legislation in England & Wales.
  • Subpoena: Command to appear in court to testify as a witness.
  • Summons: A court order requiring a person to attend court at a stated time and place.
  • Suspended sentence: A sentence that is postponed until the offender is convicted of some other offence.
  • Testify: To give evidence to a court of law.
  • Toll rolling: An arrangement whereby a company (e.g. a steel rolling mill) processes semi-finished goods for another firm (e.g. rolling of steel billet into bar), usually without taking ownership of the materials. Another common name for this is 'hire rolling'.
  • Transcript: Official written record of everything said at a court hearing.
  • Trial: The legal proceedings in a court case.
  • Trustee: A person who holds a property or other asset and looks after it on behalf of someone else.
  • Ultra vires: Latin term meaning 'beyond ones powers'. If an entity does something ultra vires, what it has done is legally invalid.
  • Undertaking: A promise which can be enforced by law.
  • Void: Reference to a matter or issue that cannot be enforced by the law.
  • Writ: Court order telling someone to do (or not do) something.

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