Alphabetical Jargon Buster


Acknowledgement of Service

A form sent by the Court to the Respondent and any Co-Respondent together with the divorce petition. The Respondent is required to complete the questions in respect of the divorce petition and return a Form of Acknowledgement of Service to the Court to confirm they have received the papers.

Additional Enquiries

Specific enquiries that are sent to the Seller's Solicitors based on the information contained in the pre-Contract documentation.


If you do not leave a Will, Administrators are people appointed to sort out your affairs according to the law.


A married person voluntarily entering into sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite sex to whom he or she is not married.


A formal written statement which is sworn on oath and informs the court that everything in the divorce petition is true and accurate. An affidavit has to be taken to another solicitors or Commissioner for Oaths who will ask you to sign it, say a form of words and will then witness your signature. An Affidavit is the same as giving evidence on oath without having to go to court.


Alternative to swearing a document on oath to promise that it is true.

Agreement for lease

An obligation to enter into a lease once certain preconditions e.g. completion of works on the premises by the landlord, are satisfied. (A written agreement to which a copy of the lease is attached)

AGA – Authorised guarantee agreement

An agreement requiring a tenant to act as a guarantor for the party to whom a lease is assigned.


The ability of a Tenant to dispose of the lease if they no longer want it by an Assignment (passing the lease on to a third party); Sub or Underlease (continue to be liable under the lease but allowing a third party to occupy in exchange for picking up your obligations under the lease – you have control and the responsibility is still yours)

Ancillary relief

A general term for the possible financial orders a court can make to resolve financial issues arising out of the marriage in addition to a petition for divorce or judicial separation.


The Respondent's formal written defence to a divorce petition.


An application to a higher court for a review of the decision of a lower court


The person who is bringing the proceedings to the Court

Application/Notice of Application

The document by which the proceedings are brought to the Court


Determination of disputes by decision of arbitrator (a person appointed by agreement of the parties to decide on the dispute)


Transfer of a lease to another party. A correctly executed assignment of the lease passes all associated costs and liabilities onto the new tenant.



Officer of the court appointed to seize goods owned by the debtor upon issue of a warrant of execution


An individual unable to pay debts in full.

Beneficial Interest

Entitlement to have or share of proceeds of a property.


An individual or organization eg a charity who is left something in a Will. An Executor can be a beneficiary but they must not witness a Will or the gift will fail.

Break clauses

The ability for one or both parties to end the lease early on the service of notice.

Building surveyor

A surveyor specialising in building surveys, preparation of schedules of condition or dilapidations and planned maintenance.



The Children and Family Court Advisory & Support Services for England and Wales. A meeting will be held with a CAFCAS Officer should an application be made to the Court for anything affecting your child

Caveat Emptor

Buyer beware

Chambers (In Chambers)

When a District Judge considers an application to be private


A charge on a property similar to a mortgage. The purpose is to give the holder of the charge additional security if they are to be paid out of the eventual sale proceeds.

Chartered surveyor

The generic term for surveyors who have achieved the professional standards set out by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).


Your furniture car and personal possessions

Child Abduction

To illegally remove a child from its home. This may also be relevant if the removal is by a parent who lives with the child, if another person with the rights to make decisions about the child has not given their permission.

Child maintenance/support

Payment from the absent parent to the parent with day to day care of the children, for ongoing financial support on a regular basis for the benefit of the child(ren).

Child Support Agency

A Government Agency which assesses the level of maintenance the absent parent should pay to the parent with care for the benefit of the children of the family.

Civil Partnership

A legal union between same sex couples, giving them the same legal rights as their heterosexual counterparts.

Clean break

A one off order attending to the financial matters agreed by the husband and wife in full and final settlement. There is no ongoing financial arrangement between them either in terms of income or capital, even if circumstances change.


A minor change or addition to an existing Will


Parties who live together as man and wife who have not gone through a ceremony of marriage.

Collaborative Law

An approach whereby both parties and their legal representatives pledge to work together to negotiate an agreement without the necessity of the Court.

Commercial property surveyor

A surveyor specialising in property agency, rent reviews, lease renewals, landlord and tenant issues and commercial property management.

Completion/completion date

The point in a sale and purchase transaction when the Buyer's Solicitor sends the purchase price to the Seller's Solicitor and the Seller hands over the keys. The date on which the Seller is obliged to move out of the property and the Buyer moves in as the ownership of the property passes from the Seller to the Buyer.

Compulsory Purchase

A forced sale to a government department or statutory authority.


A type of mediation usually in court which helps couples to sort out arrangements for children rather than financial issues.

Consent Order

An order which is negotiated and agreed by both parties and sanctioned by the Court

Contact (formerly access)

Time spent by the children of the family with the non-resident absent parent. Indirect contact involves the exchange of letters and telephone.

Contact Order

An order made by the court in terms agreed by both parties as to when the non-resident parent can see the children. It may contain other provisions such as staying contact, which allows for children to stay with the other parent at regular intervals, eg weekends and school holidays.


A written and signed agreement made between the buyer and the seller. It will give full details of the property and all of the other terms and conditions of the sale that have been agreed.

Co Respondent

A person joined as party to divorce proceedings with whom it is alleged the Respondent has committed adultery.

Costs orders

An order in court proceedings determining who should pay for each party's costs.


A barrister

Court Order

The recorded decision of a judge, once he has heard and considered the evidence from all parties in the matter.


Promises that one party in a lease makes to the other.

Cross Petition

A respondent argues different grounds for the divorce than those of the Petitioner


Decree Absolute

The legal ending of the divorce; a final order in divorce proceedings. Once granted your marriage has been dissolved and you are legally single. It cannot be granted less than six weeks and one day following the Decree Nisi.

Decree Nisi

Once an affidavit has been sent to Court the Judge will read the petition and all other papers and if he confirms there is sufficient cause for the marriage to be ended will send a certificate to say the divorce will be granted. The Judge will fix a date for the Decree Nisi to be pronounced. This does not end the marriage you have to wait another 6 weeks before the divorce is finalised.


The party against whom proceedings are brought


The extent of the premises.

Demised premises

Land or property leased for a term of years.


Also known as a rent bond. The Landlord asks for a deposit which it holds until your liability ends


A list showing the ways in which a tenant has failed to comply with their covenants to keep the property in repair.


Instructions given by a judge to proceed the case once he has considered the facts presented by the parties.

Directions for Trial

The stage in the divorce proceedings when the judge certifies that, having considered the petition and evidence filed, he is happy that the Petitioner has sufficiently proved the contents of the petition and fixes a date to pronounce decree nisi.


Fees that are paid to third parties such as Local Authorities and Land Registries


The process by which the parties provide their full financial details, including income, assets and liabilities. This is either done voluntarily, or within an application for ancillary relief.


The legal process by which a marriage is ended. The divorce itself does not include settling finances or arrangements for any children of the marriage.


Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

This forms part of the Home Information Pack and rates a home on how efficiently it uses energy.


The final version of a document


The part of the value of a property that is free of mortgage or other charge.


Everything you own including money and property that are left when you die after all debts have been taken into account.


People who are responsible for the winding up of someone's affairs and distribution property in according with a Will.

Exchange of Contracts

The point in a sale and purchase when the seller agrees to sell and the buyer agrees to buy at the price and n the completion date outlined in the contract.


A document which is attached to and sworn with an affidavit.

Ex parte

Without notice or the knowledge of the party against whom the action is being brought



Documents sent to the court for sealing and service.

Financial Dispute Resolution Appointments/FDR

The second court hearing in the ancillary relief application when the judge considers offers made by the parties and gives an indication as to likely settlement without hearing any evidence.

First directions appointment/FDA

The first court hearing when the judge considers what other information is needed to determine financial matters.

Fittings and Contents Form

A prescribed list on which the Seller shows the items included or excluded in the sale


The right of a landlord to terminate the lease early if the tenant fails to comply with the lease. In practice, this right is rarely exercised as a Court will generally give a tenant 'relief from forfeiture' if they remedy the breach of the lease.

Form E

A sworn financial statement which contains details of a parties income, capital assets and liabilities.

Former matrimonial home/family home

The last dwelling in which the parties resided together.

Freehold Title

A type of land ownership that in effect runs forever.

FRI Lease

A full repairing and insuring lease where the costs of all repairs and insurance are borne by the tenant. 



To be responsible for another party's obligations under a lease, should that party default.


A party that agrees to be responsible for a tenant's obligations under a lease, should the tenant default.



Unacceptable behavior such as acts of violence, pestering, unwanted attention or the unpleasantness associated with the breakdown of a close relationship.


The lease agreement between a freeholder and his immediate tenant.

Headline Rent

The rent apparently being paid, which may not take account of concessions such as rent-free periods.    

Heads of Terms

A summary of the key points to be included in a lease that can be set out clearly and simply on no more than two sides of A4.


Industrial Tribunal

Industrial Tribunals have powers to hear unfair dismissal, discrimination and other cases in relation to statutory employment rights as well as some breach of contract actions. Most cases must be brought within three months of the complained of event.

Inheritance Tax

A tax which must be paid to HM Revenue & Customs when the value of a total Estate exceeds a certain amount.


A court order which tells someone to do or refrain from doing something. Breaking the order can have serious consequences

Interest (in property)

A right, legal share, or financial involvement.

Interim order

An order during the course of court proceedings which is not the final order

Internal repairing (IR) Lease 

An Internal Repairing Lease (IR Lease) whereby the landlord retains responsibility for structural and external repairs without reimbursement.  The tenant's only responsibility is for repairing the inside of the let premises and contributing towards the maintenance of any common parts via a traditional service charge.

Intestate and Intestacy

If you die without leaving a valid Will you die intestate and law decides who your possessions should be share out.

Ipso facto

The Latin term "Ipso facto" means, "by that very fact".


Joint Venture/Joint Venture Agreement

When two independent businesses wish to combine forces in a business project, they may form a joint venture to operate the new project as a separate enterprise. This can take the form of a simple contractual arrangement, a partnership or a joint venture company.

Joint & Several Liability

Where two or more people enter into an obligation such as a guarantee together, joint and several liability means that the lender or creditor can recover the whole indebtedness from any one of them. They are then left to sort out their respective contributions between themselves


A Judge's final decision

Judicial Separation

A court order ending in a decree of judicial separation which enables the court to make orders about finances and other orders similar to divorce cases.


The power of a court to entertain an action, petition or other proceedings.



Know-how as a term often covers matters such as new product plans, costings, materials, production information, financial status, accountancy information, consumer lists and business information. If such information is particularly sensitive, it may constitute a genuine trade secret where the law will imply obligation upon employees and ex-employees to prevent disclosure. Most other forms of know-how and confidential information can only be restricted, other than during employment, by means of a valid confidentiality undertaking or confidentiality agreement.


Land Registry

The government department that is handles the registration of land titles in England and Wales.


The person who grants the lease or who has the right to enforce the terms of the lease. Sometimes known as the "Lessor"

Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (applying to England and Wales only)

The act of parliament that gives tenants security of tenure (the right to renew a tenancy on essentially the same terms when it comes to an end) on a commercial lease. Your lease is usually referred to as being inside' or 'outside; the act. Inside means that you will have a right to a new lease when your current lease ends, 'outside means that you will not.


A legal agreement between the landlord and tenant that sets out the terms of the tenancy.


A party that has been granted the right to occupy a property for a given length of time.

Leasehold Title

The interest created out of a freehold estate by which a Tenant is granted a right of ownership for a fixed term on payment on an annual ground rent.


A specific sum or item left in a Will

Legal Title

The legal ownership of a property is usually held by owner occupiers or trustees who hold on behalf of others.


One who leases property from another.


One who leases property to another.

Licence (1)

A contract granting permission to occupy a property. This is usually a less formal and shorter term agreement than a lease.

Licence (2)

A landlords consent. Under a lease, certain actions by a tenant, such as altering the premises or assigning or sub-letting the lease, will require the landlord's consent. When this consent is given, the landlord grants the tenant a licence to undertake the activity.


A party to whom a licence is granted.


The party granting the licence.

Lump sum order

Order for the payment of a capital sum from one party to another



A sum of money paid by one party to support financially on a regular basis the other party.

Maintenance pending suit

An interim maintenance order before the final order


A legal contract between two individuals which creates the concept of joint assets and liabilities.


The process by which separating couples seek to reach an agreement about such things as their children, finances and property in discussions in the presence of a trained, independent third party, the mediator.

Mezzanine Floor 

Is an intermediate floor that can be installed post construction, height permitting, to provide additional storage /office space.

Minutes of Order

Draft terms of agreement which go before the court with a request that they be made into a Consent Order

Mortgage offer

The formal document making an offer of a loan under a mortgage which will say how much the loan is for, the period and the amount of repayment and all the terms and conditions attached to the loan.


Nominal Maintenance

A maintenance order consisting of a very small amount that it is not anticipated will be paid but is simply to keep maintenance rights alive

Non-molestation order

An order to prohibit someone using or threatening violence or intimidating or pestering

Notice of application

The document by which the proceedings are brought to the Court


Occupation Order

Regulates the occupation rights to the matrimonial home; excluding a spouse from all or part of it.

On Notice

Where the other party is given notice of and served with the application


A Judge's final decision


Parent with care

The parent with whom children normally reside and who has day to day responsibility for them.

Parental responsibility

This refers to the established rights and responsibilities a parent has for his or her child before, during and after the divorce proceedings in respect of education, religion where they live and whom they see. Mothers automatically have parental responsibility however non married fathers can acquire it by marriage to the child's mother entering into a parental responsibility agreement with the child's mother by being named on the birth certificate after 1st December 2003 or applying to the court

Party Cited

A person joined as a party to a defended divorce with whom the Respondent is alleged to have committed adultery.

Pension Sharing

Division of pension between two parties

Periodical payments, maintenance

Final order for payments to be made by one party to the other, usually weekly or monthly to provide maintenance for the other.


This is the main document in divorce proceedings. It will contain factual details of the parties, full names and addresses, date and place of marriage and brief details why the marriage broke down. The document also contains a request for the court to dissolve the marriage and may contain claims for maintenance and other details regarding assets of the marriage.


The party who files the petition at court is known as the Petitioner.

Power of Attorney

A legal document in which one person gives another person power to carry out actions on their behalf.


Part of the Petition or Answer which asks the court to make an order(s) in favur of the Petitioner or Respondent

Prenuptial agreement/Premarital agreement

Formal agreement which a couple record their rights in relation to the division intentions to any property, debts, income and other assets purchased together or acquired individually (possibly through inheritance) or that they have bought into a relationship, should the marriage break down. There is no obligation upon the Court to enforce such agreement although the courts are moving towards accepting them.

Probate (Grant of Probate)

A legal procedure to establish the title of Executors to administer an estate. Without the Grant of Probate generally bank accounts cannot be closed or property sold.

Prohibited steps

A court order that specifies prohibited actions of the parents such as moving out of the country or changing the child's surname.

Property Adjustment Order

An order within divorce proceedings providing for the transfer of the property from one part to another.



In a damages claim the amount determined by the court

Quid pro quo

Consideration of something for something

Quiet Enjoyment

Implied obligations of a landlord that a tenant's peaceful enjoyment of the premises shall not be interfered with by the landlord or by any person who claims under him. The Tenant's remedies for breach of his/her quiet enjoyment are damages and injunction


The number of shareholders or directors at board meetings who must be present at a meeting to allow proceedings to be validly and effectively conducted. The quorum required for a meeting of a company's shareholders and directors is usually two persons present in person or for shareholder's meetings by proxy. The quorum can be varied to suit particular needs and the requirements are contained in the Articles of Association. Any resolutions passed at a meeting without the required quorum are invalid, but may be notified at a subsequent quorate meeting.


Rack Rent

The best market rent obtainable


The amount you pay to use the property. Rent is separate to service charge or insurance premiums which are charged on top of rent.

Rent Review

After a period of time rents can be reviewed by the Landlord and generally move upwards.


Tenants are required to keep the property leased in good or substantial repair and repair clauses are included in the lease

Residence Order

A Court Order that indicates the living arrangements for the child.


The sum left when all debts costs and gifts have been deducted from the estate


The party against whom proceedings are brought



Standard questions which are raised with the Local Authority, Water Authority, Environmental, Planning, Mining, Tin, Chancel Repair and other searches made prior to agreement of contracts.

Security of Tenure

The right to renew lease when they end.

Property Information Form/Additional Property Information Form

A prescribed set out questions completed by the Seller of a property to provide information about alterations, boundaries, disputes, services and guarantees to the property etc

Separate households

Living apart under one roof so that there is no shared cooking, cleaning etc.

Separation agreement

This is for couples who may or may not have been married but who intend to separate and want a legal document drawn up to confirm arrangements for their finances


Process by which court documents are set to the spouse

Service charge

An amount the Tenant pays to the Landlord for managing the premises

Share Capital

Under the Companies Act 1985 shares may be issued by the company to shareholders in return for cash or other value equal to or greater than its nominal value. Shares in the authorised share capital are available to be issued. The issued share capital refers to shares which have been allotted and issued and held by shareholders. Not all of the authorised share capital needs to be issued. When shares are issued the person subscribing must pay cash or equivalent value of at least the nominal amount. Where the share is worth more than its nominal amount, a premium may also be paid

Shareholders Agreement

An agreement between shareholders of a company containing their agreement on the regulation of their relationship and on the administration of the company. There will be an overlap with the Articles of Association but it is not, unlike the Articles of Association, subject to public scrutiny.

Special Resolution

In relation to a company, a resolution passed by a majority of not less than three-fourths of such members as, being entitled to do so, vote in person or where proxies are allowed, by proxy at a general meeting of which not less than 21 days` notice, specifying the intention to propose the resolution as a special resolution has been duly given: Companies Act 1985, section 378(2). Special resolutions are required (i) to alter the Articles of Association of the company; (ii) to alter the objects of the company; (iii) to change the name of the company; and (iv) to reduce the capital of the company with the leave of the court. A copy of every special resolution must within 15 days after it has been passed be forwarded to the Registrar of Companies and recorded by him.

Specific issues order

An order by the court to resolve a specific issue concerning a child, eg schooling, holidays etc.


Husband or wife you are married to

Stamp Duty Land Tax

Tax payable to the government on the transfer of ownership of property or land, subject to certain tax rate bands and exemptions.

Statement of Arrangements for Children

A document used in divorce proceedings to provide the Court with information regarding the children's future arrangements e.g., housing, schooling etc.


If a landlord is not the freeholder then the tenant has been granted a sub-lease and they are known as sub-tenants. Generally this means the tenant has two landlords.

Summary Dismissal

Gross misconduct should ideally be defined in the employment contract and, where committed should allow the employer to dismiss without notice or prior warnings ("Summary" or "Instant" dismissal). Such conduct will normally include theft, violence, falsification of records and other serious matters.


To make a solemn declaration in confirmation of and witness to the honesty

or truth of such a declaration.

Sworn Statement/Affidavit

A written statement which is sworn and used as evidence



The person who rents the property from the Landlord (also known as "Lessee")

Tenants in common

Where more than one party owns a property and each party has a specified share.

Term (Lease Period)

The period of time the property is rented

Terms and Conditions of Employment

Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, an employee must receive key particulars of his employment in writing within two months of commencing employment. These are known as the Terms and Conditions of Employment

Testator or Testatrix

The person who is making the Will

Title Deeds

If a property is registered title the deeds may contain a set of title registers and a plan. If the property is unregistered the deeds may comprise individual documents giving the title over a number of years

Transfer of Shares

A transfer of shares is where an existing shareholder transfers issued shares to another person who is then registered as the holder of those shares.

Trial/Final hearing

The examination and decision of a matter of law or fact by a Court of law at which the Judge hears evidence and makes a decision which is the final order.


An arrangement you can make to set aside assets which people only receive or benefit from under specific circumstances such as them reaching a certain age. Trusts may also be used to protect the value of possessions or investments.


The person who looks after any part of your estate that you have left in a continuing Trust


Undefended divorce

Proceed by agreement or when there is no answer.

Underwriting Agreement

An underwriting agreement in one under which, before a company issues shares to the public, a person undertakes in consideration of a commission to take up the whole or a portion of such (if any) of the offered shares as may not be subscribed for by the public

Unfair Dismissal

A statutory claim under the Employment Rights Act 1996. An employee who has been dismissed can make a claim to an Industrial Tribunal that he has been unfairly dismissed. If the employer is unable to show that the dismissal was fair, based on a limited number of grounds, the Industrial Tribunal will award compensation up to a statutory maximum to be paid by the employer to the former employee. Unfair dismissal applies irrespective of any contractual period of notice.


Vicarious Liability

An employer is vicariously liable for negligent acts or omissions by his employee in the course of employment whether or not such act or omission was specifically authorised by the employer. To avoid vicarious liability, an employer must demonstrate either that the employee was not negligent in that the employee was reasonably careful or that the employee was acting in his own right rather than on the employer's business.


Wayleave Agreement

An agreement with a utility company to keep or run its equipment on or through land.

Without Prejudice

A form by which you can prevent the court at the final hearing from knowing about negotiations which did not result in agreement. It is usually stated at the top of correspondence

Wrongful Dismissal

A common-law claim based on breach of employment contract and, as such, wrongful dismissal is distinct from unfair dismissal. Where an employee is summarily dismissed in breach of his contractual entitlement to notice and other contractual entitlements he will have a claim for damages unless the dismissal was justified under the terms of his contract of employment. Damages are based on the employee's loss.

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