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Coles Miller Legal Glossary


Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) – a procedure for settling disputes without litigation, such as arbitration, mediation, or negotiation. ADR procedures are usually less costly.

Aneurysm – an excessive localised swelling of the wall of an artery.

Arbitration – a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). The outcome of the dispute will be decided by one or more persons (the "arbitrators", "arbiters" or "arbitral tribunal"), which renders the "arbitration award". An arbitration award is legally binding on both sides and enforceable in the courts.

Asset – an item of property owned by a person or company, regarded as having value and available to meet debts, commitments, or legacies.

Associate – a partner or companion in business or at work.

Attachment of earnings – a legal process in civil litigation by which a defendant's wages or other earnings are taken to pay for a debt. This collections process is used in the common law system.


Barrister – a barrister works at higher levels of court than a solicitor and their main role is to act as an advocate in legal hearings, which means they stand in court and plead the case on behalf of their clients in front of a judge. They can be distinguished from solicitors because they wear a wig and gown in court. 

Bequeath – to arrange for money or property to be given to someone following your death. 

Biopsy – an examination of tissue removed from a living body to discover the presence, cause, or extent of a disease.

Breadwinner – a person who earns money to support their family. They may be the sole earner in the family.


Cauda equina – a bundle of spinal nerve roots at the base of the spine. Cauda Equina syndrome occurs when these nerves are compressed, which can result in a life-changing, crippling back condition if not treated very quickly.

Chartered Legal Executive – a Chartered Legal Executive is a lawyer who has completed all the elements of the route to qualification at the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx). A Chartered Legal Executive often specialises in a particular area of law, usually alongside solicitors or CILEx Practitioners.

Codicil – an instruction that is added to a will after the main part of it has been written.

Consent – permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.

Consultation – a meeting with an expert to seek advise

Contributory negligence – failure of an injured party to act sensibly; considered to be a contributory factor in the injury which they have suffered.

Conveyancing – the process of moving the legal ownership of property or land from one person to another.

Compensation – something, typically money, awarded to someone in recognition of loss, suffering, or injury.

Court of Protection – the Court of Protection in English law is a superior court of record created under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. It has jurisdiction over the property, financial affairs and personal welfare of people who lack mental capacity to make decisions for themselves.


Deed – a legal document that is signed and delivered, especially one regarding the ownership of property or legal rights 

Diagnosis – the identification of the nature of an illness or other problem by examination of the symptoms.

Dilapidations – damage to a building which someone renting the building is responsible for repairing as part of their lease. 

Diminution – a reduction in the size, extent, or importance of something.

Disbursement – a payment, especially one made by a solicitor to a third party and then claimed back from the client.

Dispute – a disagreement or argument.

Dissolution – the action of formally ending or dismissing an assembly, partnership, or official body.


Encephalitis – inflammation of the brain, caused by infection or an allergic reaction.

Enduring Power of Attorney – under English law an enduring power of attorney (EPA) is a document appointing a person (an ‘Attorney’) to manage the property and financial affairs of another person (the ‘Donor’). It is legal authorisation to act on someone else's behalf in legal and financial matters only, which can continue in force after the person granting it loses mental capacity (unlike other kinds of power of attorney), and so can be used to manage the affairs of people who have lost the ability to deal with their own affairs, without the need to apply to the Court of Protection.

Estate administration – the administrator of an estate is a legal term referring to a person appointed by a court to administer the estate of a deceased person who left no will. 

Executor – commonly used in the context ‘the executor of a will’, an executor is the person who manages a deceased person's estate in accordance with that person's will. 


Fee earner – a term used to describe the person who is carrying out the legal work which will deliver a fee to a law firm.

Freehold – outright ownership of the property and land on which it stands. A freehold estate in land (as opposed to a leasehold) is where the owner of the land has no time limit to his period of ownership.



Hydrocephalus – a condition where there is a fluid build-up in the brain. This causes the skull to expand, typically occurring in infants.


Informed consent – permission granted in full knowledge of the possible consequences, typically that which is given by a patient to a doctor for treatment with knowledge of the possible risks and benefits.

Inheritance – property, title rights, debts, etc. which are passed on to an individual following someone’s death. 

Inheritance Tax (IHT) – a tax on the estate (the property, money and possessions) of someone who has died. There is normally no Inheritance Tax to pay if either:

  • The value of the estate is below the £325,000 threshold
  • The deceased leaves everything above the £325,000 threshold to their spouse, civil partner, a charity or a community amateur sports club.

Insolvency – the state of being unable to pay the money owed, by a person or company, on time; those in a state of insolvency are said to be insolvent.

Interim – the time or period between two points in time.

Intestacy – the condition of the estate of a person who dies without having made a valid will or other binding declaration.

Intestate – when a person dies having not made a will. 


Judicial – involving a law court.

Judiciary – the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state.



Lasting Powers of Attorney – the most common form of Power of Attorney. It is an ongoing arrangement with no expiry date that will allow another person to make decisions on your behalf.

Lease extension – a legal agreement that extends the term of a rental agreement. The lease extension document should name the parties to the agreement, provide the dates on which the extension begins and ends, and reference the earlier agreement that is being extended.

Leasehold – instead of owning the land or property, you rent it from a freeholder (or landlord) to use the space for a number of years. Leases are usually long-term – often 90 years or 120 years, but they can be as long as 999 years, or much shorter.

Leasehold covenants – promises made between a landlord and tenant.

Legal 500 – an independent directory of worldwide law firms which analyses their capabilities, with a comprehensive research programme revised and updated every year to bring the most up-to-date vision of the global legal market. The Legal 500 assesses the strengths of law firms in over 150 jurisdictions, the results of which can be viewed free of charge. The rankings are based on a series of criteria, but simply put, the Legal 500 highlight the practice area teams who are providing the most cutting edge and innovative advice to corporate counsel.

Legal Secretary – the main role of a legal secretary is to provide administrative support and services for lawyers, solicitors and legal executives. 

Legally binding – a phrase indicating that an agreement has been consciously made, and certain actions are now either required or prohibited, which are enforceable by law.

Litigation – the process of taking legal action to enforce or defend a legal right.


Managing Partner – a member of a business partnership who is in charge of the day-to-day running of the business.

Mediation – where there is intervention, often by a third party, to try to resolve a dispute by getting those in conflict to agree on a fair result.

Mirror will – similar documents created on behalf of a married, civil partnership or unmarried couple. They are virtually identical wills, where one member of the couple leaves their estate to other in the event of their death.

Misdiagnosis – a failure to identify the cause of an illness or other problem.


Negligence – where the standard of care or treatment expected was not met, and by which that duty of care is deemed to have been breached.

Neurologist – someone who studies the nerves and the brain.


Obligation – an act, duty or commitment to which a person is morally or legally bound.

Omission – something or someone that has been left out or excluded.


Paralegal – a person trained in subsidiary legal matters but who is not fully qualified as a lawyer; they provide support to solicitors and barristers in a variety of law firms, chambers and in private, public sector and not-for-profit organisations.

Power of Attorney – if you want someone to act on your behalf in financial or medical decisions, you'll need to give them Power of Attorney over your affairs. Power of Attorney is a legal document where one person (the donor) gives others (their attorneys) the right to make decisions on their behalf. 

Prenuptial agreements – a written, formal agreement of two partners made prior to their marriage. The agreement is made so that financial aspects and assets can divided (as agreed beforehand) in the event of a marriage split. 

Private client – a private client solicitor typically handles a large number of cases at any one time, acting on behalf of individual clients or trustees, planning and managing various aspects of their personal wealth, for example wills and probate, onshore and offshore trusts, and tax matters.

Probate – applying for the legal right to deal with someone’s property, money and possessions (their ‘estate’) when they die is called ‘applying for probate’.

Property management – the process of taking care of property that is available for lease by maintaining and handling all the day-to-day activities that are centred around the property, for example, finding tenants to occupy the space, collecting monthly rental payments, maintaining the property, and upkeep of the grounds.

Psychological injuries – an injury that affects the mental and emotional state of a person.

Psychologist – an expert or specialist in psychology (the study of the human mind).



Restrictive covenants (employment contracts) – a clause in a contract which forbids an employee from competing with their ex-employer for a certain period after the employee has left the business, or prevents the ex-employee from soliciting or dealing with customers of the business by using knowledge of customers gained. 

Revocation – the cancellation of a promise or decision.

Right of first refusal – a contractual right that gives tenants of flats the right to purchase the freehold from their landlord before the landlord is able to sell the building on the open market. A first refusal right must have at least three parties: the owner, the third party or buyer and the option holder. 


Senior Partner – the head or joint head of a business partnership.

Statutory – relating to rules or laws which have been formally written down. 


Third party debt orders – A third party debt order is usually made to stop a defendant taking money out of his or her bank or building society account. The money owed is paid to the defendant from the account. A third party debt order can also be sent to anyone who owes a defendant money.

Trustees – anyone in the position of trust i.e. someone that holds property, authority, money, assets or responsibilities for the benefit of another. 

TUPE – an acronym for the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations which preserve employees’ terms and conditions when a business (or part of a business) is transferred from one owner to another. 




Warrants of control – authorises a bailiff to attend a debtor's home or business address. They will try to take control of the debtor’s possessions to encourage them to pay what they owe under the judgment debt.