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Legal Terms Beginning with C

Cabotage

Trade transit of a vessel along the coast (coastal trading), from one port to another within the territorial limits of a single nation. Read the full definition of Cabotage on Duhaime.org

Canon Law

The law of the Church; based on religious beliefs. Has little or no legal effect today except in full or partial theocracies. Read the full definition of Canon Law on Duhaime.org

Capital Punishment

The most severe of all sentences: that of death. Read the full definition of Capital Punishment on Duhaime.org

Carrier's Case

A monumental 1473 English case which extended the offence of theft (then called larceny) to include a carrier of goods who, initially lawfully in possession, converts goods to his own use. Read the full definition of Carrier's Case on Duhaime.org

Carry

The observation or declaration by the chair of a meeting that a member's motion has passed or attained the requisite majority vote, and is thus converted into a resolution of the whole meeting or organization. Read the full definition of Carry on Duhaime.org

Case Law

The entire collection of published legal decisions of the courts which, because of stare decisis, contributes a large part of the legal rules which apply in modern society. Read the full definition of Case Law on Duhaime.org

Causation

The but-for link between a harmful action and another's injury. Read the full definition of Causation on Duhaime.org

Caveat

Latin: let him beware. A formal warning. Read the full definition of Caveat on Duhaime.org

Caveat Emptor

Let the buyer beware or that the buyers should examine and check for themselves things which they intend to purchase and that they cannot later hold the vendor responsible for the broken condition of the thing bought. Read the full definition of Caveat Emptor on Duhaime.org

Centrocon Clause

A clause in an arbitration agreement which bars a claim if not made in writing and an arbitrator appointed within a set time frame. Read the full definition of Centrocon Clause on Duhaime.org

Certificate of Independent Legal Advice

A document that attests that a person has received legal advice on a proposed contract, from a lawyer not associated with the other contracting party. Read the full definition of Certificate of Independent Legal Advice on Duhaime.org

Certificate of Pending Litigation

A registration or/of a notice or warning that litigation is ongoing as to ownership of a particular piece of land or other real property; also known as a certificate of lis pendens. Read the full definition of Certificate of Pending Litigation on Duhaime.org

Certiorari

A writ of certiorari is a form of judicial review whereby a court is asked to consider a legal decision of an administrative tribunal, judicial office or organization (eg. government) and to decide if the decision has been regular and complete or if there has been an error of law. Read the full definition of Certiorari on Duhaime.org

Cestui Que Trust or Cestui Que Use

Latin: the beneficiary of a trust. Read the full definition of Cestui Que Trust or Cestui Que Use on Duhaime.org

Ceteris paribus

Latin: all things being equal or unchanged. Read the full definition of Ceteris paribus on Duhaime.org

Champerty

When a person agrees to finance someone else's lawsuit in exchange for a portion of the judicial award. Read the full definition of Champerty on Duhaime.org

Chancery

The English law court with exclusive jurisdiction over equity; now phased-out and merged with the common law courts. Read the full definition of Chancery on Duhaime.org

Charterparty

A transportation contract which includes the full and exclusive use of the airplane, vehicle or vessel for the duration of the transportation of either goods or persons. Read the full definition of Charterparty on Duhaime.org

Chaste

A person who has never voluntarily had sexual intercourse outside of marriage such as unmarried virgins. Read the full definition of Chaste on Duhaime.org

Chattel

Moveable items of property which are neither land nor permanently attached to land or a building, either directly or vicariously through attachment to real property. Read the full definition of Chattel on Duhaime.org

Chattel Mortgage

When an interest is given on moveable property other than real property (in which case it is usually a 'mortgage'), in writing, to guarantee the payment of a debt or the execution of some action. Read the full definition of Chattel Mortgage on Duhaime.org

Check or cheque

A form of bill of exchange where the order to pay is given to a bank which is holding the payor's money. Read the full definition of Check or cheque on Duhaime.org

Child Support

Periodic money payments payable by a non-custodial parent, to the custodial parent, for the care of his or her child. Read the full definition of Child Support on Duhaime.org

Chinese Wall

A screening barricade established within a law firm to prevent conflicts of interests between associates. Read the full definition of Chinese Wall on Duhaime.org

Chose In Action

A property right in something intangible, or which is not in one's possession, but enforceable through legal or court action. Read the full definition of Chose In Action on Duhaime.org

Circumstantial evidence

Evidence which may allow a judge or jury to deduce a certain fact from other facts which have been proven Read the full definition of Circumstantial evidence on Duhaime.org

CIF

Transportation contract acronym for cost, insurance and freight usually in reference to the sale price being inclusive thereof. Read the full definition of CIF on Duhaime.org

Citation

An order of a court to either do a certain thing or to appear before it to answer charges. Read the full definition of Citation on Duhaime.org

Citizen's Arrest

Detainment of a person suspected of having committed a crime, by a person other than a police officer. Read the full definition of Citizen's Arrest on Duhaime.org

Civil Code

A document in civil law jurisdictions that purports to be a compendium of the applicable law as it pertains to the citizen. Read the full definition of Civil Code on Duhaime.org

Civil Covenant of Solidarity

A contract by two individuals of the age of majority, of different or same gender, to provide legal rights and obligations as a result of their cohabitaton. Read the full definition of Civil Covenant of Solidarity on Duhaime.org

Civil Law

A body of law derived and evolved directly from Roman Law, the primary feature of which is that laws are struck in writing; codified, and not determined, as is common law, by the opinions of judges based on historic customs. Read the full definition of Civil Law on Duhaime.org

Civil Liability

Civil law (responsabilité civile): a legal requirement to compensate another because of an unlawful injury to his/her person or property. Read the full definition of Civil Liability on Duhaime.org

Civil Union

A formal union between two people, of the same or of different genders which results in, but falls short of, marriage-like rights and obligations. Read the full definition of Civil Union on Duhaime.org

Clandestine

Something that is purposely kept from the view or knowledge of others either in violation of the law or to conduct or conceal some illegal purpose. Read the full definition of Clandestine on Duhaime.org

Class action

When different persons combine their lawsuits because the facts and the defendant are so similar. Read the full definition of Class action on Duhaime.org

Clayton's Case

An English case which established a presumption that monies withdrawn from a money account are presumed to be debits from those monies first deposited; first in, first out. Read the full definition of Clayton's Case on Duhaime.org

Clean Hands

A maxim of the law to the effect that any person, individual or corporate, that wishes to ask or petition a court for judicial action, must be in a position free of fraud or other unfair conduct. Read the full definition of Clean Hands on Duhaime.org

Clear Days

Full and complete days. Read the full definition of Clear Days on Duhaime.org

Client-solicitor privilege

A right that belongs to the client of a lawyer that the latter keep any information or words spoken to him during the provision of the legal services to that client, strictly confidential. Read the full definition of Client-solicitor privilege on Duhaime.org

Coastal Trading

Trade transit of a vessel along the coast, from one port to another within the territorial limits of a single nation. Read the full definition of Coastal Trading on Duhaime.org

Codicil

An amendment to an existing will. Does not mean that the will is totally changed; just to the extent of the codicil. Read the full definition of Codicil on Duhaime.org

Collateral

Property which has been committed to guarantee a loan. Read the full definition of Collateral on Duhaime.org

Collateral descendant

A descendant that is not direct, such as a niece or a cousin. Read the full definition of Collateral descendant on Duhaime.org

Collateral source rule

A rule of tort law which holds that the tortfeasor is not allowed to deduct from the amount he or she would be held to pay to the victim of the tort, any goods, services or money received by that victim from other 'collateral' sources as a result of the tort (eg. insurance benefits). Read the full definition of Collateral source rule on Duhaime.org

Collective Bargaining

Trade agreement negotiation between an employer and a person(s) representative of a larger unit of employees, to govern hiring, work, pay and dispute resolution. Read the full definition of Collective Bargaining on Duhaime.org

Collective Bargaining Agreement

A contract on hiring, working conditions and dispute resolution between an employer and a union, the latter representing employees of a defined group. Read the full definition of Collective Bargaining Agreement on Duhaime.org

Collision

An accidental contact between two or more vehicles or ships which causes damage. Read the full definition of Collision on Duhaime.org

Collusion

A secret agreement between two or more persons, who seem to have conflicting interests, to abuse the law or the legal system, deceive a court or to defraud a third party. Read the full definition of Collusion on Duhaime.org

COLREGS 1972

Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972; an international set of standard rules to prevent collisions at sea. Read the full definition of COLREGS 1972 on Duhaime.org

Commercial Arbitration

Arbitration of a dispute as to a trade transaction for the supply or exchange of goods or services. Read the full definition of Commercial Arbitration on Duhaime.org

Commission

A formal group of experts brought together on a regular or ad hoc basis to debate matters within that sphere of expertise, and with regulatory or quasi-judicial powers such as the ability to license activity in the sphere of activity or to subpoena witnesses Read the full definition of Commission on Duhaime.org

Commissioner of Oath

A formal appointment or commission governments give to individuals empowering them to certify the oath of another upon documents, such as affidavits. Read the full definition of Commissioner of Oath on Duhaime.org

Committee

A term of parliamentary law which refers to a body of one or more persons appointed by a larger assembly or society, to consider, investigate and/or take action on certain specific matters. Read the full definition of Committee on Duhaime.org

Commodum Ex Injuria Sua Nemo Habere Debet

Latin: a wrongdoer should not be enabled by law to take any advantage from his actions. Read the full definition of Commodum Ex Injuria Sua Nemo Habere Debet on Duhaime.org

Common Land

Land that, ownership notwithstanding, is available for the use and enjoyment of all, or for the use or enjoyment of a class of persons. Read the full definition of Common Land on Duhaime.org

Common Law

Judge-declared law. Law which exists and applies to a group on the basis of customs and legal precedents developed over hundreds of years in Britain. Read the full definition of Common Law on Duhaime.org

Common Law Relationship

Two unmarried persons living together as though married. Read the full definition of Common Law Relationship on Duhaime.org

Common Share

The basic share in a corporation. Read the full definition of Common Share on Duhaime.org

Communism

A utopian state of government where specified property or means of production are owned by the state and not citizens or persons, and which may also provide for a form of equal distribution of national production. Read the full definition of Communism on Duhaime.org

Community Property

A marriage property legal term; property acquired or owned during a marriage or, where recognized, a marriage-like relationship, and which belongs, notwithstanding title, as in a partnership and as tenants in common ("hence "community"), to each spouse equally and subject to division on that basis in the event of separation or divorce. Read the full definition of Community Property on Duhaime.org

Company

A legal entity, allowed by legislation, which permits a group of people, as shareholders, to apply to the government for an independent organization to be created, which can then focus on persuing set objectives, and empowered with legal rights which are usually only reserved for individuals, such as to sue and be sued, own property, hire employees or loan and borrow money. Read the full definition of Company on Duhaime.org

Comparative negligence

A principle of tort law which looks at the negligence of the victim and which may lead to either a reduction of the award against the defendant, proportionate to the contribution of the victim's negligence, or which may even prevent an award altogether if the victim's negligence, when compared with the defendant, is equal to or greater in terms or contributing to the situation which caused the injury or damage Read the full definition of Comparative negligence on Duhaime.org

Conciliation

A form of alternate dispute resolution (ADR) in which a neutral third-party hears both sides and then isues a non-binding suggested resolution. Read the full definition of Conciliation on Duhaime.org

Concubinage

Civil law term for an unmarried couple living nonetheless as husband and wife or, where same-sex relationships are recognized by law, such similar cohabitation relationships. Read the full definition of Concubinage on Duhaime.org

Condition Precedent

A contractual condition that suspends the coming into effect of a contract unless or until a certain event takes place. Read the full definition of Condition Precedent on Duhaime.org

Condition Subsequent

A condition in a contract that causes the contract to become invalid if a certain event occurs. Read the full definition of Condition Subsequent on Duhaime.org

Conditional Discharge

A sentence of a person found guilty of a crime in which upon completion of specified actions by the accused, no criminal record issues as regards the offense for which a conditional discharge was granted. Read the full definition of Conditional Discharge on Duhaime.org

Conditional Sentence

A sentence of a person convicted of a crime which allow that person to serve his sentence whilst continuing to reside within his/her community, subject to supervision and reporting, and fully recoverable in the event of breach of those conditions. Read the full definition of Conditional Sentence on Duhaime.org

Condonation

Obvious or implied forgiveness. Read the full definition of Condonation on Duhaime.org

Cone of Silence

An oath by a solicitor or other employee in a law firm not to disclose any information in regards to a previous client otherwise placing that lawyer or employee in a conflict of interest with other clients of the same law firm. Read the full definition of Cone of Silence on Duhaime.org

Confederation

A loose association of states in which a central, subordinate and limited government structure is created for some common purpose, except in Canada where it is used to describe a federal system in which the central government is not so subordinate to the provincial or regional governments. Read the full definition of Confederation on Duhaime.org

Confession

A statement made by a person suspected or charged with a crime, that he (or she) did, in fact, commit that crime. Read the full definition of Confession on Duhaime.org

Conflict of Laws

A specialized branch of law which resolves cases which have an element of conflicting foreign law. Read the full definition of Conflict of Laws on Duhaime.org

Consensus

A result achieved through negotiation whereby a hybrid solution is arrived at between parties to an issue, dispute or disagreement, comprising typically of concessions made by all parties, and to which all parties then subscribe unanimously as an acceptable resolution to the issue or disagreement. Read the full definition of Consensus on Duhaime.org

Consensus Ad Idem

Latin: an agreement - a meeting of the minds between the parties where all understand the commitments made by each. A basic requirement for a contract. Read the full definition of Consensus Ad Idem on Duhaime.org

Consideration

Some right, interest, profit or benefit accruing to the one party of a contract, or some forbearance, detriment, loss or responsibility given, suffered or undertaken by the other. Read the full definition of Consideration on Duhaime.org

Consign

To leave an item of property in the custody of another. Read the full definition of Consign on Duhaime.org

Conspiracy

An agreement between two or more persons to commit a criminal act. Read the full definition of Conspiracy on Duhaime.org

Constitution

The basic law or laws of a nation or a state which sets out how that state will be organized by deciding the powers and authorities of government between different political units, and by stating and the basic principles of society Read the full definition of Constitution on Duhaime.org

Construction

The legal process of interpreting a phrase or document; of trying to find it's meaning Read the full definition of Construction on Duhaime.org

Constructive Dismissal

Under the employment law of some states, judges will consider a situation where there has been a fundamental violation of the rights of an employee, by the employer, so severe that the employee would have the right to consider himself as dismissed, even though, in fact, there has been no act of dismissal on the part of the employer. Read the full definition of Constructive Dismissal on Duhaime.org

Constructive Eviction

An implied eviction where the landivord's act or omission justifies the immediate departure of the tenant. Read the full definition of Constructive Eviction on Duhaime.org

Constructive Total Loss

Insured property that has been abandoned because its actual total loss appears to be unavoidable, or because it could not be preserved or repaired without an expenditure which would exceed its value. Read the full definition of Constructive Total Loss on Duhaime.org

Constructive Trust

A trust which a court declares or imposes onto participants in very specific circumstances such as those giving rise to an action for unjust enrichment, and notwithstanding the lack of any willing settlor to declare the trust. Read the full definition of Constructive Trust on Duhaime.org

Consuetudo Volentes Ducit, Lex Nolentes Trahit

Customs leads the willing, law drags the unwilling. Read the full definition of Consuetudo Volentes Ducit, Lex Nolentes Trahit on Duhaime.org

Contempt of Court

Conduct that is disobedient, obstructive or contemptuous to the Court. Read the full definition of Contempt of Court on Duhaime.org

Contingency Fee

A method of payment of legal fees represented by a percentage of an award. Read the full definition of Contingency Fee on Duhaime.org

Continuance

An adjournment of a trial or some other legal hearing. Read the full definition of Continuance on Duhaime.org

Contract

An agreement between persons which obliges each party to do or not to do a certain thing. Read the full definition of Contract on Duhaime.org

Contract Law

That body of law which regulates the formation and enforcement of contracts. Read the full definition of Contract Law on Duhaime.org

Contributory Negligence

The negligence of a person which, while not being the primary cause of a tort, nevertheless combined with the act or omission of the primary defendant to cause the tort, and without which the tort would not have occurred. Read the full definition of Contributory Negligence on Duhaime.org

Conversion

A legal action against a person who found and converted someone else property to his own use. Read the full definition of Conversion on Duhaime.org

Conveyance

A written document which transfers property from one person to another, usually real property. Read the full definition of Conveyance on Duhaime.org

Conviction

The formal decision of a criminal trial which finds the accused guilty. Read the full definition of Conviction on Duhaime.org

Co-operative

A group of people formed as a separate organization and which has as a stated purpose either in regards to the public at-large or in regards to the common interests of the members. Read the full definition of Co-operative on Duhaime.org

Coparcenary

An obsolete co-ownership mechanism of English law where property, if there was no will, always went to the eldest son. Read the full definition of Coparcenary on Duhaime.org

Copyright

The exclusive right to produce or reproduce (copy), to perform in public or to publish an original literary or artistic work, pursuant to a statute usually called the Copyright Act, or some similar name. Read the full definition of Copyright on Duhaime.org

Coroner

A public official who holds an inquiry into violent or suspicious deaths. Read the full definition of Coroner on Duhaime.org

Corollary Relief

Relief sought from a Court which is incidental, consequential or apitional to another principal relief. Read the full definition of Corollary Relief on Duhaime.org

Corporal Punishment

A punishment for some violation of conduct which involves the infliction of pain on, or harm to the body Read the full definition of Corporal Punishment on Duhaime.org

Corporate Secretary

Officer of a corporation responsible for the official documents of the corporation such as the official seal, records of shares issued, and minutes of all board or committee meetings. Read the full definition of Corporate Secretary on Duhaime.org

Corporation

A legal entity, created under the authority of a statute, which permits a group of people, as shareholders, to apply to the government for an independent organization to be created, which then pursues set objectives, and is empowered with legal rights usually only reserved for individuals, such as to sue and be sued, own property, hire employees or loan and borrow money. Read the full definition of Corporation on Duhaime.org

Costs

A court order that the losing party in litigation must pay the successful party's expenses plus an apitional allowance, the latter as a contribution towards the winner's legal fees. Read the full definition of Costs on Duhaime.org

Costs Follow The Event

An award of costs will generally flow with the result of litigation; the successful party being entitled to an order for costs against the unsuccessful party. Read the full definition of Costs Follow The Event on Duhaime.org

Council

A formal group of experts brought together on a regular basis to debate matters within that sphere of expertise, and with advisory powers to government Read the full definition of Council on Duhaime.org

Counterclaim

A defendant's claim against a plaintiff. Read the full definition of Counterclaim on Duhaime.org

Court martial

A military court set up to try and punish offenses taken by members of the army, navy or air force. Read the full definition of Court martial on Duhaime.org

Court of Admiralty

A rather archaic term used to denote the court which has the right to hear shipping, ocean and sea legal cases; jurisdiction over maritime law cases. Read the full definition of Court of Admiralty on Duhaime.org

Court of Pie Powder

A special court that sat in times of public markets or fairs in England in medieval times, with exclusive jurisdiction over disputes between merchants and consumers and any other dispute arising as a result of the market or fair and on fair grounds. Read the full definition of Court of Pie Powder on Duhaime.org

Covenant

A written document in which signatories either commit themselves to do a certain thing, to not do a certain thing or in which they agree on a certain set of facts. Read the full definition of Covenant on Duhaime.org

Creditor

A person to whom money, goods or services are owed by the debtor. Read the full definition of Creditor on Duhaime.org

Crime

An act or omission which is prohibited by criminal law and punished, usually by fine or imprisonment. Read the full definition of Crime on Duhaime.org

Crimen Omnia Ex Se Nata Vitiat

Latin: property obtained by crime is tainted (vitiated). Read the full definition of Crimen Omnia Ex Se Nata Vitiat on Duhaime.org

Crimes Against Humanity

An international criminal justice offence; the perpetration of acts of war upon a civilian, non-soldier population. Read the full definition of Crimes Against Humanity on Duhaime.org

Criminal Bankruptcy

The forced bankruptcy of a convicted person. Read the full definition of Criminal Bankruptcy on Duhaime.org

Criminal Code

A statute which purports or attempts to set out all prohibited or criminal offences, and their various punishments. Read the full definition of Criminal Code on Duhaime.org

Criminal Conversation

Criminal conversation: synonymous with adultery. Read the full definition of Criminal Conversation on Duhaime.org

Criminal Harassment

Unsolicited annoying, alarming or abusive conduct or words which are threatening. Read the full definition of Criminal Harassment on Duhaime.org

Criminal Law

That body of the law that deals with conduct considered so harmful to society as a whole that it is prohibited by statute, prosecuted and punished by the government. Read the full definition of Criminal Law on Duhaime.org

Criminal Libel

A criminal offence; deliberate publication of defamatory lies which the publisher knows to be false. Read the full definition of Criminal Libel on Duhaime.org

Criminal Negligence

Reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons. Read the full definition of Criminal Negligence on Duhaime.org

Cross Examination

In trials, each party calls witnesses. Ask questions of the other party's witness(es) allowing considerably more latitude then when you question your own witnesses (called an 'examination-in-chief'). Read the full definition of Cross Examination on Duhaime.org

Crown

The word refers specifically to the British Monarch, where she is the head of state of Commonwealth countries. Read the full definition of Crown on Duhaime.org

Cruelty

Conduct that causes bodily or mental injury, or apprehension to such injury, to a person or an animal, without legitimate purpose. Read the full definition of Cruelty on Duhaime.org

Crumbling Skull Rule

A legal theory, companion to the thin skull rule, which limits a tort defendant's exposure to a plaintiff's injuries to the plaintiff's condition at the time of the tort. Read the full definition of Crumbling Skull Rule on Duhaime.org

Cuius Est Solum Ejus Est Usque Ad Caelum

Latin: who owns the land, owns down to the center of the earth and up to the heavens. Read the full definition of Cuius Est Solum Ejus Est Usque Ad Caelum on Duhaime.org

Culpa Lata

Latin: gross negligence. Read the full definition of Culpa Lata on Duhaime.org

Curtesy

Curtesy: widower's right to an interest in his deceased wife's real property. Read the full definition of Curtesy on Duhaime.org

Curtilage

The yard surrounding a residence or dwelling house which is reserved for or used by the occupants for their enjoyment or work. Curtilage may or may not be inclosed by fencing and includes any outhouses such as stand-alone garages or workshops. Read the full definition of Curtilage on Duhaime.org

Custodia Legis

In the custody of the law; the taking, seizing or holding of something by lawful authority. Read the full definition of Custodia Legis on Duhaime.org

Custody

Charge and control of a person or item of property. Read the full definition of Custody on Duhaime.org

Cy-pres

'As near as may be': a technical word used in the law of trusts or of wills to refer to a power that the courts have to, rather than void a vague gift, to read in what is necessary to carry out the settlor or testator's intentions as near as possible. Read the full definition of Cy-pres on Duhaime.org