Legal Jargon

The process at a hearing whereby a party’s solicitor or barrister can ask follow up questions to issues that were raised during the cross examination.

The statutory time limit for making a claim. This varies depending on the case type.

A witness statement is a formal document, addressed to the Court, in which a witness sets out all the facts that they are aware of that apply to the case. They are normally treated as ‘evidence in chief’.

The ‘without prejudice’ rule means that statements made in discussions or communications as part of a genuine attempt to settle a dispute are private and cannot later be put before the Court as evidence of admissions against the interests of the party that made them. For example, a suggestion of a way to settle a dispute made by one party during mediation cannot later be used to indicate that the party had accepted responsibility or to frame any compensation or damages. ‘Without prejudice’ exists to encourage parties to negotiate an agreement rather than depend on the court to make a judgement, both to save cost and reduce pressure on Court. The contents of ‘without prejudice’ communications cannot be divulged to the Court unless it is “without prejudice save as to costs”, when it can then be divulged after the final hearing has been dealt with or the case has been settled.

In the context of an employment dispute, ‘without prejudice’ refers to private settlement discussions that should not be referred to in regular correspondence or to the Employment Tribunal. These can be to settle the dispute, or sometimes employers use this term to discuss possible exit packages with an employee.

A contract term that, if breached, gives the aggrieved party the opportunity to terminate the contract and/or make a claim for damages or losses.

Undertakings are a common part of the legal process, and are defined as a legally-binding promise to do, or not do, something.

A ‘tort’ is a civil wrong that occurs where someone unfairly causes another person to suffer loss or harm and, in the law of England and Wales, tort describes all civil claims that are not contractual disputes. A person committing a tort is legally liable to the party injured, who may claim financial compensation/damages or an injunction to compel or prevent certain conduct.

The collective term for the Claim Form, Particulars of Claim and (if appropriate) a Reply.

Special damages describe a range of costs reclaimed as part of a successful claim. These may be out-of-pocket expenses such as travel and accommodation to attend medical appointments, but may also include lost earnings/revenues that are directly attributable to the event, accident or dispute for which the claims has been made.

The standard of proof refers to the amount of evidence that is necessary and needed to prove an assertion or claim in a trial in court – what needs to be established in order to win a case. The standard of proof required varies depending on the type of case. For example, in a medical negligence case, the standard of proof is “on the balance of probabilities”. The claimant must prove that their injury is more likely than not to have been caused by the “breach of duty”. Another way of looking at it is in percentage terms, i.e. 51% or more. This is a much lower standard than in a criminal case where the standard if “beyond reasonable doubt”.

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