Dmitry’s Tips: Legal English Vocabulary 

English dictionary
Learn English
Learn Legal English

Introduction

In my last blog post I talked about the pilot episode of ‘Judge John Deed’ called ‘Exacting Justice’. Watching TV series is a great way to learn new Legal English vocabulary. In today’s post I’m giving you some examples of words the Legal English and General English which I learnt in this pilot episode. Louise explains some of these terms in this week’s podcast

Legal terms and phrases

PLEAD

To make a statement of what you believe to be true, especially in support of something or someone or when someone has been accused in a law court. Read more.

DIMINISHED RESPONSIBILITY

The condition in which someone’s mental state, etc. causes them not to be in full control of their actions. Read more.

LORD CHANCELLOR’S DEPARTMENT (LCD)

The oldest UK government department dealing with justice, which was replaced by the Ministry of Justice. Read more.

COLLUSION

An agreement between two or more people to defraud a person of his or her rights or to obtain something that is prohibited by law. Read more.

COSTS ORDER (AN ORDER BE MADE FOR COSTS)

Costs orders (or orders as to costs) refer to costs incurred by one party to pay the other party’s legal costs. Read more here and here.

RED JUDGE

A High Court judge because of the colour of his or her robes. Read more.

LISTING OFFICER

An officer of the court who is responsible for the allocation of cases between parties and scheduling of the cases. Read more.

TO TRY

To examine or hear (evidence or a case) by judicial process. Read more.

SUSPENDED SENTENCE

A legal term for a judge’s delaying of a defendant’s serving of a sentence after they have been found guilty, in order to allow the defendant to perform a period of probation. Read more.

CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE (CPS)

The Crown Prosecution Service is the public prosecuting agency which carries out criminal prosecutions in England and Wales. Read more.

PREMEDITATED MURDER

The crime of wrongfully and intentionally causing the death of another human being (also known as murder) after rationally considering the timing or method of doing so, in order to either increase the likelihood of success, or to evade detection or apprehension. Read more.

PROVOCATION

A set of events that might be adequate to cause a reasonable person to lose self-control, whereby a criminal act is less morally culpable than a premeditated act. Read more.

MANDATORY LIFE SENTENCE

A term used to describe the obligatory punishment of having to spend the rest of your life in prison. In some jurisdictions, a mandatory life sentence must be given to a person convicted of certain crimes, such as murder.
Read more.

A SURETY OF BAIL

A surety or sureties will put a sum of money in the hands of the court as a guarantee that the defendant will not abscond during a case if they are granted bail. Read more.

HIT-AND-RUN-DRIVER

A driver in a motor-vehicle accident in which they leave the scene without stopping to give assistance, inform the police, etc. Read more.

TO GIVE A RULING

To pass a judgment. Read more.

ALMALGAMATION

A merger or consolidation of two or more companies. Read more.

CLOSURE OF BUSINESS

The term used to refer to the actions necessary when it is no longer necessary or possible for a business or other organization to continue to operate. Read more.

POORLY DRAFTED CONTRACT

A contract which is not written well.

NON-CUSTODIAL SENTENCE

A punishment given by a court of law that does not involve a prison term, such as a fine or a restriction order. Read more.

SOUND EVIDENCE

Reliable evidence.

TO CITE AUTHORITY

To cite the law while addressing the court. Read more here and here.

NO CASE TO ANSWER

No case for the defendant to answer (sometimes shortened to no case to answer) is a term in British criminal law, whereby a defendant seeks acquittal without having to present a defence. The plea is also occasionally, although rarely, used in civil cases where it is alleged that the pleaded case and/or evidence do not meet the minimum threshold to establish liability. Read more.

General phrases

TOUGH/HARD ROW TO HOE

A difficult situation to deal with. Read more.

JIGGERY-POKERY

Secret or dishonest behaviour. Read more.

CANDOUR 

The quality of being honest and telling the truth, especially about a difficult or embarrassing subject. Read more.

WING-AND-A-PRAYER MERCHANT
On a wing and a prayer – if you do something on a wing and a prayer, you do it hoping that you will succeed, although you are not prepared enough for it. Read more.

SLIPSHOD APPROACH
Slipshod – (especially of a piece of work) showing little care, effort, or attention. Read more.

A SPATE OF (X e.g. revenge killings)
A larger number of events than usual, especially unpleasant ones, happening at about the same time. Read more.

TO SPEAK OUT OF TURN

To say something that you should not have said. Read more.

THE WORD IS THAT…

Used to refer to something that has been reported but not officially stated (=I have heard…). Read more.

NO-WIN SITUATION

One where a person has choices, but no choice leads to a net gain. Read more.

TO STALK 

To follow an animal or person as closely as possible without being seen or heard, usually in order to catch or kill them. Read more.

TO BE ON SHAKY GROUND

Likely to fail. Read more.

MAKE A MOCKERY OF SOMETHING 

To make something seem stupid or without value. Read more.

COOL HEELS

To wait, sometimes so that one becomes calmer or more composed. Read more.

IT WILL KEEP

Used to say that you can tell someone something or do something later. Read more.

SWEAT IT OUT 

To wait for something that you are nervous or worried about to end. Read more.

TO BE OUT OF IT

To be sedate, confused, drunk or disoriented; to be, feel, or seem disconnected from reality. Read more.

BESIDE ONESELF

Very shocked or distraught. Read more.

BE IN A SPOT OF BOTHER

To be in a position of trouble, danger, difficulty, or unpleasantness, usually one which is not severe. Read more.

DO I TAKE IT THAT…

Am I correct to say that…

QUITE A BIT OF…

A considerable number or amount of something, quite a lot. Read more.

TO TROUNCE

To defeat a competitor by a large amount. Read more.

RAISE THE ANTE

To increase what is at stake or under discussion, especially in a conflict or dispute.

TO IMPRESS UPON SOMEBODY 

To make someone understand or be familiar with the importance or value of something. Read more.

TO STAY CLEAR OF

To keep one’s distance from something, usually something dangerous. Read more.

WAY OFF BEAM 

On the wrong track; mistaken. Read more.

DOPE FIEND

Drug addict.

ERRAND

A short journey undertaken in order to deliver or collect something, especially on someone else’s behalf. Read more.

SALIENT FACTS
The salient facts about something or qualities of something are the most important things about them. Read more.

TO FOOT THE BILL

To pay for something. Read more.