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Legal Speak – We Break Down the Jargon

Working with lawyers can be tricky if you don’t understand all the terminology they use. We want you to feel confident when you chat with our legal team, so we’ve compiled an easy-to-read glossary of common terms.

Action – An action is a judicial proceeding started by one party against another. One party brings an action against another for a wrong done. An action can also be made for protection of a right or prevention of a wrong.

Cause of action – A cause of action is the reason you would file a claim against another party. This will generally be linked back to the legal term this relates to, such as negligence or malpractice.

Claim – We use the word claim a lot, but what does it mean? A claim is a demand for money or property. It is an assertion that you are entitled to that money or property.

Compensatory damages – These are damages paid to a party to rectify a loss, a detriment or an injury. This provides the party with an amount equivalent to what they lost, and not anything extra.

Contract – A contract is an agreement between 2 parties. While contracts can be written or verbal, in order to be enforceable by law, there must be certain elements in place. These elements include an offer, acceptance, intent, consideration (payment), legal capacity of the parties involved, consent and legality of the agreement. If any of those are not fulfilled, a legal contract is not formed.

Depose – To testify or give under oath or sworn affidavit. This is often a written statement.

Diligence – This is the degree of care or attention that can reasonably be expected from a party.

Letter of demand – A letter of demand is a letter sent from one party to another when the first party wishes to claim money they believe is owing to them. The letter typically states the following:

  • The amount that is outstanding
  • A timeframe for action
  • Advice that further proceedings may be commenced without further notice if the debt is not paid.

Punitive damages – These are damages awarded that exceed compensatory damages. Punitive damages are often awarded in order to punish the party in the wrong.

Tort – A tort is a civil wrong. It results in a party suffering loss or harm, and that party then has grounds to take legal action. The area of law that surrounds this is known as tort law.

Tribunal – A tribunal is an assembly of people with special knowledge about a subject.These people are brought together to resolve a dispute. It is usually both less formal and faster than a judge and jury trial.

If there is anything in here you would like further clarification on, or if you would like us to add more definitions to the list, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team of legal experts.

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