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The information below gives general guidance. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law or treated as a substitute for specific legal advice concerning individual situations. Read our full Legal Notice.

You can find further legal glossaries from the Law Society and the Plain English Campaign here.


An adjournment is a postponement to a later date of the hearing that has been adjourned.


A party can admit part or all of the claims made against them willingly or inadvertently. A judgment on admission can then be entered.


The process of deciding which track the case should follow.

Allocation questionnaire

A questionnaire that helps the court decide how to deal with your case and which track to allocate (assign or transfer) your case to.


This is a hearing of a case or issue by a Judge at a higher level where a party has been successful in applying to the Court to review the decision of a lower Court judge. A right of appeal is not automatic and permission to appeal must be applied for. There are strict time limits.

Burden of Proof

In civil proceedings the party who raises an issue bears the legal of proof in relation to that issue (e.g. the burden of proving the issue rose). A Claimant who claims that he sold a car to B must prove that he did. If B fails to pay the second instalment because the car if faulty B must prove that the car is faulty. If A states that the fault occurred due to B’s misuse of the Car then A must prove that so the burden can shift thought the proceedings. A mere denial does not impose a burden of proof. Therefore if  B says he simply did not buy a car from A it is for A to prove that he did not  for B to prove that he did not but the sensible thing for B to do would be to present any evidence he has.

Case Law/Precedent

Also referred to as common law. The law that has been built up by reference to past cases. You may rely on a previous case as a precedent to help you in your case.

Case Management

Case management refers to a subset of law practice management and cover a range of approaches and technologies used by law firms and courts to leverage knowledge and methodologies for managing the life cycle of a case or matter more effectively. Generally, the terms refer to the sophisticated information management and workflow practices that are tailored to meet the legal field's specific needs and requirements.

Case management hearing

A hearing where the court decides or the parties agree how to deal with the case.

Civil action

A court action between two private parties that is not a criminal action.

Civil Procedure Rules (CPR)

The Rules that govern Court Procedure contained in the “White Book” also available on the internet.


A formal request, for example, for money or that something is done or stopped from happening, that starts court proceedings.

Claim Form

The form that starts a case and where the Claimant explains what they are asking for. The Claim stated in short form.


Someone who starts court proceedings.

Conditional Fee Agreements

Also known as “no win no fee” agreements.


The legal fees in relation to the Court action usually mean the solicitor’s fees or the fees of a litigant in person. They also known as “legal costs”.


A claim that competes with the previous claim. This will usually form part of the Defence. Where a Defendant has a claim against the Claimant in response to the Claim s/he will file a “Defence and Counterclaim” (e.g.   Claimant claims for non payment of car purchased by Defendant. The Defendant may counterclaim for emergency repairs s/he has had to pay for while the car was under guarantee).

Court order

This is the judge’s written decision.

Date of service

The official date that the court decides is the date when a party received a document.

Default Judgment

A Default Judgment will be entered by the Claimant when the Defendant fails to file an Acknowledgement of Service or Defence within the set time limit.


The Defendant’s response in defending the Claim.

Defence form

The form the Defendant completes to explain why they dispute the Claimant’s claim.


Someone who has court proceedings brought against them.


Instructions for how a case will be dealt with.

Directions hearing

A hearing where the court decides or the parties agree the instructions they will follow to get the case ready for trial.


Expenses incurred in connection with the litigation that are not costs e.g.; barrister’s fee, expert’s fee, travelling and hotel costs, photocopying.


The stage in the parties requiring all parties to disclose relevant documents to the other parties. The formal name for the process of showing the evidence that supports your case to the other party. „Standard” disclosure refers to the usual way of going about the process as described in Part 31 of the Civil Procedure Rules.


End your claim before it is dealt with by a judge.


The thing you and the other party are arguing about.

Enforcement proceedings

Proceedings to force someone to obey a court order, for example, to pay you money or return something belonging to you.


Information, for example from documents or witnesses, that proves the facts of your case.

Exchange of documents

Sending the documents you are going to rely on to prove your case to the other party (and sometimes to the court as well).

Expert’s Statement

Statement of opinion of a person with “expert” knowledge of issues that require this input e.g. medical opinion or a surveyor.

Funding Litigation

If you cannot afford to pay a solicitor you may wish to take advice on other ways to fund litigation. The options are changing all the time.


Evidence given by a witness in Court of what he was told by another e.g. on which the maker of the statement does not have direct knowledge.  See Section 1 of the Civil Evidence Act 1995.


An Order of the Court ordering a party to do or stop doing something.

Interim Applications

An application made during the course of proceedings i.e. after issue of a claim but before the trial. Some interim applications can be made before issue. An example of an interim application is an application for specific disclosure (an application for the Court to order a party to disclose certain identifiable documents).

Issue of Proceedings

This is the stage when a Claim is received and stamped/sealed by the Court.

Judicial Review

A person who feels that an exercise of such power by a government authority (such as a minister, the local council or a statutory tribunal) is unlawful may apply to the Administrative Court for judicial review of the decision and have it set aside (quashed) and possibly obtain damages.

Legal Expenses Insurance

You may have insurance to pay for a solicitor. This is sometimes added to your home insurance or credit card or car insurance. All insurance policies you hold should be checked. A business may have a legal expenses insurance policy.


There is a time limit to bring a claim as set out in the Limitation Act 1980.( This is not the same as the timetable set by the Court to prepare the case for trial which is specific to each individual case).

Ministry of Justice

Ministry of Legal Process

Multi Track

Cases which have a value of more than £25,000 will usually be allocated to the multi-track; therefore, a wide range of cases are allocated to it.


Not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased.

Offers to Settle

Offers to settle can be made in various forms including a Part 36 offer which has cost consequences if it is not accepted and not beaten in Court.

Overriding Objective

The overriding objective is a vital principle of the CPR. The aim of the Court will be to ensure that cases are dealt with justly.

Part 8 Claims

A claimant may use the Part 8 procedure where he seeks the court’s decision on a question which is unlikely to involve a substantial dispute of fact; or rule or practice direction may, in relation to a specified type of proceedings require or permit the use of the Part 8 procedure; and disapply or modify any of the rules set out in this Part as they apply to those proceedings.

Particulars of Claim

The Claim set out in more detail. This should be statement of facts only not evidence.

Pre- Action Protocols

A protocol is an official procedure explaining how to behave and what to do in particular situations. There are specific pre-action protocols for some cases, depending on what the case is about, that the parties are required to follow. If the case is not one of the specific pre-action protocols, then the parties are expected to follow the main rules, called Practice Direction – Pre-Action Conduct.


The manner in which a right is enforced or satisfied, penalty is imposed by a court when some harm or injury, recognized by society as a wrongful act, is inflicted upon an individual.


It is not necessary for the Claimant to serve a Reply to the Defence but this should be done if the Defence raises new points that are not addressed in the Particulars of Claim.

Requests for Further Information

Under Part 18 of the CPR a party may serve a Request to the other side for clarification of points made in the Statement of Claim or Defence.


The Court has powers to impose sanctions such as to strike out a claim or defence for example if a party persistently fails to comply with a Court order. The Court can impose a cost sanction e.g.: if a party makes an unnecessary interim application to the Court the Court may order that party to pay the other side’s costs.

Security for Costs

In some courts there is a rule that when the claimant resides abroad he shall give security for costs to cover legal costs. Until that has been done, when demanded, he cannot proceed in his action.

Service of Proceedings

This is the stage where the Claim form and Particulars of Claim are served on the Defendant.

Small Claims Track

The small claims track is intended to provide a procedure for claims of not more than £5,000 in value (the amount of the small claims track claims is likely to be increased to £10,000 in the near future). The purpose of the small claims track is to provide a procedure for dealing with such claims quickly and at minimal cost to the parties.

Standard of Proof

The standard of proof is very different in civil proceedings as compared to criminal proceedings. In civil proceedings the standard of proof is proof on the balance of probabilities. The party that adduces evidence must persuade the Judge that is more probable than not that his version of events is true. This is also referred to as the 51% rule. (Compared to the criminal standard of proof which is proof beyond reasonable doubt and is referred to as the 91% rule.)

Statements of Case

Previously referred to as the “Pleadings” this is an umbrella term for the Claim form, Particulars of Claim, Defence, Reply and any Part 18 Requests.


The law laid down by Parliament in statutory form for example the Companies Act 1985 or the Limitation Act 1980.


Parties can agree to a “Stay” which is a temporary stop to the proceedings e.g. for the purposes of attempting to settle by negotiation.

Strike Out

An application to strike out the Claim or Defence is an application for it to be “thrown out” of Court and put an end to the proceedings.

Success fee

The uplift (extra fee) charged by solicitors for taking the risk on a no win no fee agreement.

Summary Judgment

A Claimant or Defendant can make an application for Summary Judgment which is asking the Court to make a final decision on the case without a full trial as it is believed that the matter is clear cut at an early stage.

The Royal Court of Justice

The Royal Court of Legal Process

Track Allocation

The basic guide by which claims are normally allocated to a track is the amount in dispute, although other factors such as the complexity of the case will also be considered. Based on the allocation questionnaires the court will decide which of the three tracks the case is most suitable for the small claims track, the fast track, the multi track.

Unless Order

An Order of the Court that states a sanction that will be imposed if the Order is not complied with e.g.: Unless the Defence serves witness statements by x date the Defence will be struck out.

Vexatious Litigant

A litigant that issues numerous unmeritorious actions or interim applications causing the opposing party anxiety and trouble usually with little prospect of any costs recovery.

Witness Statements

Statements of fact relevant to the issues in the proceedings of any person with direct knowledge.

Further information on

The information above gives general guidance. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law or treated as a substitute for specific legal advice concerning individual situations. Read our full legal notice on the left.