- A cash compensation ordered by a court to offset losses or suffering
caused by another's fault or negligence. Damages are a typical request made of
a court when persons sue for
breach of contract or
- Death penalty
- Also known as
capital punishment, this is the most severe form of
corporal punishment as it is requires law enforcement officers to kill the
offender. Forms of the death penalty include hanging from the neck, gassing,
firing squad and has included use of the guillotine.
- de bonis non
- Latin and short for de bonis non administratis. A word used
exclusively in estate matters and refers to situations where an estate is
abandoned by an administrator only partially administered and someone must be
appointed to complete the administration of the residue of the estate; those
assets not yet administered.
- A person who owes money, goods or services to another, the latter being
referred to as the
- The act of beheading a person, usually instantly such as with a large and
heavy knife or by guillotine,
as a form of capital punishment. This form of
capital punishment is still in use in some Arab countries, notably Saudi
- Decree absolute
- The name given to the final and conclusive court order after the condition
of a decree nisi is met.
- Decree nisi
- A provisional decision of a court which does not have force or effect
until a certain condition is met such as another petition brought before the
court or after the passage of a period time, after which it is called a
decree absolute. Although no longer required in
many jurisdictions, this was the model for divorce
procedures wherein a court would issue A decree nisi, which would have no
force or effect until a period of time passed (30 days or 6 months).
- A written and signed document which sets out the things that have to be
done or recognitions of the parties towards a certain object. Under older
common law, a deed had to be sealed; that is, accompanied not only by a
signature but with an impression on wax onto the document. The word deed is
also most commonly used in the context of real estate because these
transactions must usually be signed and in writing.
- To accept a document or an event as conclusive of a certain status in the
absence of evidence or facts which would normally be required to prove that
status. For example, in matters of child support, a decision of a foreign
court could be "deemed" to be a decision of the court of another for the
purpose of enforcement.
- De facto
- Latin: as a matter of fact; something which, while not necessarily lawful
or legally sanctified, exists in fact. A common law spouse may be referred to
a de facto wife or de facto husband: although not legally
married, they live and carry-on their lives as if married. A de facto
government is one which has seized power by force or in any other
unconstitutional method and governs in spite of the existence of a de jure
- 1. Defaulting on a debt or other obligation such to account for public or
trust funds. Usually used in the context of public officials. 2. Defalcation
has another legal meaning referring to the setting-off of two debts owed
between two people by the agreement to a new amount representing the balance.
I owe you $7 and you owe me $3; we agree to "defalk"; the result is that I owe
you $4. This is a type of novation.
- An attack on the good reputation of a person, by
- A side-contract which contains a condition which, if realized, could
defeat the main contract. The common English usage of the word "defeasance"
has also become acceptable in law, referring to a contract that is susceptible
to being declared void as in "immoral contracts are susceptible to defeasance."
- The person, company or organization who defends a legal action taken by a
and against whom the court has been asked to order damages or specific
corrective action redress some type of unlawful or improper action alleged by
- French for outside. In the context of legal proceedings, it refers to that
which is irrelevant or outside the scope of the debate.
- De jure
- Latin: "of the law." The term has come to describe a total adherence of
the law. For example, a de jure government is one which has been
created in respect of constitutional law and is in all ways legitimate even
though a de facto government may be in control.
- Delegatus non potest delegare
- One of the pivotal principles of administrative law: that a delegate
cannot delegate. In other words, a person to whom an authority or
decision-making power has been delegated to from a higher source, cannot, in
turn, delegate again to another, unless the original delegation explicitly
- Demand letter
- A letter from a lawyer, on behalf of a client, that demands payment or
some other action, which is in default. Demand letters are not always
prerequisites for a legal suit but there are exceptions such as legal action
promissory notes or if the contract requires it. Basically, a demand
letter sets out why the payment or action is claimed, how it should be carried
out (e.g. payment in full), directions for the reply and a deadline for the
reply. Demand letters are often used in business contexts because they are a
courtesy attempt to maintain some goodwill between business parties and they
often prompt payment, avoiding expensive
A demand letter often contains the "threat" that if it is not adhered to, the
next communication between the parties will be through a court of law in the
form of formal legal action.
- A word coined by the diplomatic community and referring to a strongly
worded warning by one country to another and often, either explicitly or
implicitly, with the threat of military consequence. Demarches are often
precursors to hostilities or war. In September, 1996, for example, US
President Clinton issued a demarche to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein when
intelligence reports showed troops massing along the border of Kurd
- De minimis non curat lex
- Latin: a common law principle whereby judges will not sit in judgment of
extremely minor transgressions of the law. It has been restated as "the law
does not concern itself with trifles".
- This is a motion put to a trial judge after the plaintiff has completed
his or her case, in which the defendant, while not objecting to the facts
presented, and rather than responding by a full defense, asks the court to
reject the petition right then and there because of a lack of basis in law or
insufficiency of the evidence. This motion has been been abolished in many
states and, instead, any such arguments are to be made while presenting a
regular defense to the petition.
- De novo
- Latin: new. This term is used to refer to a trial which starts over, which
wipes the slate clean and begins all over again, as if any previous partial or
complete hearing had not occurred.
- The removal of a foreign national under immigration laws for reasons such
as illegal entry or conduct dangerous to the public welfare. The grounds for
deportation varies from country to country.
- The official statement by a witness
taken in writing (as opposed to testimony
which where a witnesses give their perception of the facts verbally).
are the most common kind of depositions.
- Those person who are born of, or from children of, another are called that
person's descendants. Grandchildren are descendants of their grandfather as
children are descendants of their natural parents. The law also distinguishes
collateral descendants and
- A common law action similar to
and also involving the possession of property by the
defendant but belonging to the
but in which the
plaintiff asks the court for the return of the property, although the
may also ask for damages for the duration of the possession.
- Latin for "he has wasted." This is the technical word referring to a
personal representative who has mismanaged the estate and allowed an
avoidable loss to occur. This action opens the
personal representative to personal liability for the loss.
- The transfer or conveyance of real property
- Dicta or dictum
- Latin: an observation by a judge on a matter not specifically before the
court or not necessary in determining the issue before the court; a side
opinion which does not form part of the judgment for the purposes of
May also be called "obiter
- An official representative of a state, present in another state for the
purposes of general representation of the state-of-origin or for the purpose
of specific international negotiations on behalf of the diplomat's
- Miscellaneous expenses other than lawyer fees and court costs (i.e. filing
fees) which paid on behalf of another person and for which reimbursement will
eventually be demanded of that person. In a personal liability case, for
example, typical disbursements might be expert medical reports, private
investigator reports, photocopying and courier costs and the like.
- Discretionary trust
- A trust
in which the
settlor has given the
full discretion to decide which (and when) members of a group of beneficiaries
is to receive either the income or the capital of the
- A term of
law where an officer or other seaman is either demoted in rank or deprived
of a promotion.
- To disagree. The word is used in legal circles to refer to the minority
opinion of a judge which runs contrary to the conclusions of the majority.
- The act of ending, terminating or winding-up a company or state of
affairs. For example, when the life of a company is ended by normal legal
means, it is said to be "dissolved". The same is said of marriage or
partnerships which, by dissolution, ends the legal relationship between those
persons formally joined by the marriage or partnership.
- The right of a
to seize the property of a
is in the premises being rented, as
against a tenant that has not paid the rent or has
otherwise defaulted on the lease, such as wanton disrepair or destruction of
the premises. A common way to "distrain" against a tenant is by changing locks
and giving notice to the
legal action to reclaim goods that have been distrained is called
- A proportionate distribution of profits made in the form of a money
payment to shareholders, by a for-profit corporation. Dividends are declared
by a company's board of directors.
- The final, legal ending of a
by Court order.
- Abbreviation for deoxyribonucleic acid. A chromosome molecule which
carries genetic coding unique to each person with the only exception of
identical twins (that is why it is also called "DNA fingerprinting"). Through
laboratory process, DNA can be extracted from body tissue such a strand of
hair, semen, blood and matched against DNA discovered at a crime scene or on a
victim to scientifically implicate an accused. Can also be used to match DNA
between parents in a
- An official court record book which lists all the cases before the court
and which may also note the status or action required for each case.
- A rule or principle or the law established through the repeated
application of legal precedents.
- The permanent residence of a person; a place to which, even if he or she
were temporary absent, they intend to return. In law, it is said that a person
may have many residences but only one domicile.
- Dominant tenement
- Used when referring to
to specify that property (i.e.
or piece of land that benefits from, or has the advantage of, an
- Dominion directum
- Latin: the qualified ownership of a
not having possession or use of property but retaining ownership. Used in
feudal English land systems to describe the King's ownership of all the land,
even though most of it was lent out to lords for their exclusive use and
- Dominion utile
- Latin: the property rights of a
While not owning the property in a legal sense, the
having dominion utile, enjoys full and exclusive possession and use of
- Donatio mortis causa
- A death-bed gift, made by a dying person, with the intent that the person
receiving the gift shall keep the thing if death ensues. Such a gift is
exempted from the estate of the deceased as property is automatically conveyed
upon death. In most jurisdictions, real property
cannot be transferred by these death-bed gifts.
- Another word to describe the
of a trust.
Also used to describe the person who is the recipient of a
of attorney; the person who would have to exercise the
- The person who donates property to the benefit of another, usually through
the legal mechanism of a trust. The
law books of some countries refer to the trust donor as a "settlor."
Also used to describe the person who signs a
- Duces tecum
- Latin: bring with you. Used most frequently for a species of
(as in "subpoena
duces tecum") which seeks not so much the appearance of a person before a
court of law, but the surrender of a thing (e.g. a document or some other
evidence) by its holder, to the court, to serve as evidence in a trial.
- Due process
- A term of US law which refers to fundamental procedural legal safeguards
of which every citizen has an absolute right when a state or court purports to
take a decision that could affect any right of that citizen. The most basic
right protected under the due process doctrine is the right to be given
notice, and an opportunity to be heard. The term is now also in use in other
countries, again to refer to basic fundamental legal rights such as the right
to be heard.
- Dum casta
- Latin: for so long as she remains chaste.
Separation agreements years ago used to contain dum casta clauses which
said that if the women were to start another relationship, she forfeited her
- Dum sola
- Latin: for so long as she remains unmarried.
- Dum vidua
- Latin: for so long as she remains a widow.
- A house which has separate but complete facilities to accommodate two
families as either adjacent units or one on top of the other.
- Where a person is prevented from acting (or not acting) according to their
free will, by threats or force of another, it is said to be "under duress".
signed under duress are voidable and, in may places, you cannot be convicted
of a crime if you can prove that you were forced or threatened into committing
the crime (although this defense may not be available for serious crimes).