1) Panel – the list of people who have been summoned for jury service.
2) Pardon – releasing someone from a court’s punishment. The Crown has the right to alter, cancel or reduce the penalties imposed by the courts.
3) Pari passu – equally. (This term is Latin.)
4) Parole – release from prison early. If someone is given parole they may be returned to prison if they offend again.
5) Party – the claimant (‘plaintiff’ before April 1999) or defendant in a lawsuit. It is also someone who has taken out a contract or agreement.
6) Passing off – pretending that the goods and services offered are those supplied by another business.
7) Patent – an official right for a specified period of time to be the only person (or organisation) to make or sell something.
8) Patricide – the killing of a father by his own son or daughter.
9) Pawn – to pledge goods as security for a loan.
10) Payee – the person money is being paid to.
11) Payment into court – money paid to the court by the defendant for payment to the claimant (‘plaintiff’ before April 1999).
12) Penalty – is:
- a sum of money which has to be paid if the terms of a contract are broken; or
- a punishment given to someone who commits a
13) Penalty points – points given by a court as punishment for driving offences. If enough penalty points have been collected the offenders may have their driving licences taken off them.
14) Per – through or by. (This word is Latin.)
15) Performance – doing what is required under a contract.
16) Perjury – lying to a court after you have been sworn in.
17) Perpetuity – forever. The law prevents property being tied up in perpetuity because it could stop owners disposing of it.
18) Per pro – on behalf of. (This term is Latin.)
19) Per quod – in accordance with or whereby. (This term is Latin.)
20) Per se – in itself or by itself. (This term is Latin.)
21) Personal guarantee – a pledge, by a person to a bank, to repay a debt owed to the bank if the bank’s customer fails to pay it.
22) Personal injury – an injury caused to a person.
23) Personal property – all property except land.
24) Personal representative – a person who is appointed to deal with a dead person’s estate. If there is a will, the executors appointed will be the personal representatives. If there is no will, the courts will appoint someone called the administrator.
25) Personalty – another word for personal property.
26) Personation – pretending to be someone you are not.
27) Per stirpes – describes property divided equally between the offspring. If a parent who is a beneficiary under a will dies and the legacy goes to the children in equal shares, the legacy has been divided per stirpes. (This term is Latin.)
28) Perverting the course of justice – doing something to interfere with the justice system (such as misleading the court or intimidating
29) Plaintiff – the person who goes to court to make a claim against someone else. (Since April 1999, this term has been replaced with ‘Claimant’.)
30) Plea – the defendant’s answer to the accusations.
31) Plea bargain – when the defendant pleads guilty instead of not guilty in return for a concession by the prosecution (such as dropping another charge).
32) Plead – to declare to the court whether you are guilty or not guilty.
33) Pleadings – statements of the facts prepared by both sides in a civil case. Each side gives the other its pleadings so that they are both aware of what arguments will be used during the trial. (This term was replaced with statement of case’ in April 1999).
34) Pledge – letting someone take possession of goods but the ownership does not change. It is often done to give security for money owed or to make sure that something is done as promised.
35) Plenipotentiary – someone who has been given complete authority to act.
36) Poaching – taking game from someone else’s land without permission.
37) Polygamy – being married to more than one person at once.
38) Possess – to have property under your control.
39) Possession – having something under your control even though you may not own it.
40) Possessory title – gaining title through possession. If you have possession of something for a long time you may gain title to it even though you do not have documents to prove that it is yours.
41) Post – mortem – the examination of a dead body to establish the cause of death.
42) Power of appointment – a person giving a second person the power to dispose of the first person’s property.
43) Power of attorney – a document which gives power to the person appointed by it to act for the person who signed the document.
44) Practising certificate – certificates showing a person is entitled to practise law. Every year the Law Society issues these certificates to the solicitors who can practise law.
45) Preamble – an explanation of a proposed law. At the beginning of each Act of Parliament there is an explanation of what the Act is intended to achieve.
46) Precedent – Lower courts have to follow the decisions of the higher courts. This is called precedent, binding precedent or judicial precedent.
47) Precept – an order given by an official body or person. It is used:
- by a county council to tell a body to levy (charge) rates for the benefit of the county Council;
- by a sheriff to call an election; or
- to order payment of a sum of money, such as by a writ or a
48) Pre – emption – the right to buy property before others are given the chance to
49) Preference – when insolvent, paying one creditor while leaving other creditors unpaid.
50) Preference shares – a share entitled to a fixed dividend. Holders of preference shares are treated more favourably than ordinary shareholders. The preference dividend is at a fixed rate and must be paid in full before a dividend can be paid on the ordinary shares. When the company is wound up the preference shares must be fully paid out before the ordinary shareholders can be paid.
51) Preferential creditor – a creditor who has to be paid in full before unsecured creditors can be paid anything.
52) Prima facie – on the face of it. (This term is Latin.)
53) Principal – is:
- someone who authorises another person to act for them;
- the actual person who committed a crime; or
- an amount of money lent or invested, not Including the
54) Privilege – special rights which some people have because of the job they do or their special status. For example, diplomats of foreign countries are immune from arrest in the UK.
55) Privity of contract – only the parties to a contract can sue each other over breaches of contract.
56) Privy Council – – a body of people appointed by the Crown. Its members include members of the royal family, present and former cabinet ministers and people who hold or have held high office. Its main duties are advising the Queen.
57) Privy Purse – money given to the Crown for royal household expenses.
58) Probate – authority to deal with a dead person’s estate. When someone has died and left a will, the executors of the estate apply to the court for this authority.
59) Probate Registry – a registry which deals with the forms which are needed when someone applies for probate.
60) Probation – If a court convicts someone of an offence, the court may order that the offender is supervised by a probation officer for a period of at least six months but for no more than three years. This is known as probation and it is an alternative to sending the person to prison.
61) Process – In law a process is:
- a summons or writ which is used to order someone to appear in court;
- the whole of a case from beginning to end; or
- the total number of summonses or writs issued during a
62) Procurator – a person who has been given authority to manage another person’s affairs, such as under a power of attorney.
63) Procurator fiscal – under Scottish law, a person who acts as public prosecutor and coroner.
64) Product liability – the liability of manufacturers and sellers to compensate people for unsafe goods which have caused injury to people or property.
65) Promisee – a person who has been promised something.
66) Promisor – a person who has promised something.
67) Promissory note – a written promise to pay an amount of money to someone at a given time.
68) Property – the name for anything which can be owned.
69) Pro rata – in proportion. For example, if 10 items cost £100 you would expect three items to cost £30 if they were priced pro rata. (This term is Latin.)
70) Prosecution – the name for the team of people (lawyers and so on) bringing proceedings against someone else. Also when legal proceedings are taken against someone it is called a prosecution.
71) Prosecutor – the person who brings legal proceedings, on behalf of the Crown, against the accused.
72) Prospectus – a formal document giving details of a company’s past performance and of its plans for the future. If a public company wants people to invest in it, it prepares a prospectus.
73) Prostitution – selling sexual services for money.
74) Protected tenancy – a tenancy agreement for a house. It gives the tenant the right to a fair rent and protection from eviction as long as the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement are kept to.
75) Proviso – a clause in a legal document which qualifies another section of the agreement.
76) Provocation – causing someone to lose their self – control by doing or saying something (such as threatening to harm a baby) which would cause a reasonable person to temporarily lose their self – control.
78) Proxy – a person appointed by a shareholder to go to a meeting of shareholders. The proxy can vote at the meeting for the shareholder.
79) Proxy form – a form for shareholders by which, if it is delivered to a company at least 48 hours before the shareholders’ meeting, the person who is the proxy will be able to vote at that meeting.
80) Public mischief – something that someone does which damages the general community.
81) Public nuisance – a crime by which the general public is put in danger or suffers damage to its health, property and so on.
82) Putative father – the man found by a court to be the father of an illegitimate child.