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Jargon-buster – Civil litigation

Affidavit – a written declaration made under oath, for use in court proceedings. These are different from normal declarations in that they carry a heavier burden on the maker if not true.

Amendments – alterations made to documents such as witness statements and defences because the drafter has become aware of new facts, circumstances have changed or he has changed his mind.

Arbitration – an alternative method of resolving disputes whereby parties contractually agree to attempt settlement by contractual arrangement. The right of Appeal from a decision of the arbitrator is limited by the Arbitration Act of 1996.

Burden of Proof – the obligation of proving facts. In general the burden lies on the claimant to prove facts.

Case Management Conference – a hearing whereby a timetable for the management of the case is set out

Claimant – the name given to the party making the claim in the courts.

Claim form – under civil procedure rules the name given to a writ/summons. A claim form is used to commence proceedings in the High Court or the County Court irrespective of the nature of the claim.

Counter-claim – a document filed in response to a Claim. The document is not the defence but is an entirely separate claim, similar to the claim form filled by the Claimant to commence proceedings

CPR – Civil Procedures Rules 1998: civil rules for proceedings in the High Court and County Court.

Damages – a sum of money awarded by the Court as compensation to the claimant.

Disclosure – disclosure or “discovery” is the process whereby each side swaps documents that are relevant to the claim. Additional specific requests can be made at any time in proceedings where one party believes the other not to have complied with their disclosure obligations under CPR Part 36.

Mandatory Injunction – a court order requiring a party to take positive steps to remedy a wrong

Prohibitory Injunction – a court order prohibiting a person from doing something

Precedent – a previous decision or preceding that may be relied upon.

Preliminary hearing – a hearing appointed to decide a point of procedure, usually in inter partes proceedings.

Privilege – the right of a part to refuse to provide inspection of a document or to refuse to answer questions on the ground of some special interest recognised by law. This does not negate the need to still disclose the document.

PHR – pre-hearing review. The purpose of this is to ensure that all the issues raised at the case management conference have been dealt with and to give any final directions considered necessary in relation to the hearing.

RSC – Rules of the Supreme Court.

Search Order – a court order allowing a party to search premises for documents or materials which that party believes should not be in the possession of the person subject to the order.

Statutory declaration – a written declaration agreed in the presence of a Justice of the Peace or a person who is authorised to administer oaths, but not made upon oath or affirmation.

Statement of Case – statements of case are made up of the Claim form, Counterclaim, and Defence. Taken together, these documents indicate the facts that are in dispute between the parties and the relief sought.

Statement of Truth – all statements of case, witness statements and applications to the court must contain a statement by the parties confirming that they believe the facts they have set out in those documents to be true to the best of their knowledge.

Stay – a stay imposes a halt on proceedings. Within the courts, although proceedings may be stayed, any steps allowed by the Civil Procedure Rules or the terms of the stay, may be taken. Proceedings may continue once a stay is lifted.

Witness statement – a signed written statement equivalent to the oral evidence which that witness would, if called, give in evidence at the hearing.