The A to Z guide to legal phrases

If you are a law aspirant and preparing for the CLAT exam you can take the help of our Clat Online Classes and boost up your preparation. Below here are some legal phrases that every law aspirant needs to know –  


cancelling a writ or action; stopping a nuisance; reducing the payments to creditors in proportion, if there is not enough money to pay them in full; or reducing the bequests in a will, in proportion, when there is not enough money to pay them in full. 


to pay, or promise to pay, an amount of money so that an accused person is not put in prison before the trial. If the accused person does not appear at the trial, the court can keep the money put up for bail. 


Government entity authorized to resolve legal disputes. Judges sometimes use “court” to refer to themselves in the third person, as in “the court has read the briefs.


Defamation making a statement, either orally or in writing, which damages someone’s reputation. 


Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case in favor of one side or the other.


lying or deceiving to make a profit or gain an advantage, or to cause someone else to make a loss or suffer a disadvantage.


a person or organisation that promises to pay a debt owed by a second person, if the second person fails to repay it. 

Habeas corpus

a writ which can be applied for to order a person’s release if they have been imprisoned unlawfully.


an injunction is an order by a court requiring: 

• someone to do something; or 

• not to do something. 

Jurisdiction is: 

• the territory in which a court can operate; 

• the power it has to deal with particular cases; or,

• the power it has to issue orders. 

Kerb crawling 

the offence committed in a street or public place by a man in a motor vehicle (or near a vehicle he has just got out of) who approaches a woman for sexual services in return for money.


A legal action started by a plaintiff against a defendant based on a complaint that the defendant failed to perform a legal duty which resulted in harm to the plaintiff.


Magistrate a Justice of the Peace who presides over (is in charge of) minor cases heard in the magistrates’ court. Magistrates’ court the lowest court.

Negotiable instrument 

a document which: 

  • is signed;
  • is an instruction to pay an amount of money;
  • can have its ownership changed by changing
  • the name it is paid to; and
  • can have its ownership changed simply by being delivered to its next owner.

Ordinary bill

Ordinary bill is a bill which can be introduced in either of the houses by any minister or member of the house. If the Bill is passed by both the house, then it is sent to the President and after the assent of the President, the bill becomes an Act.

Preamble of the Constitution

The preamble to the Constitution of India is a brief introductory statement that sets out guidelines, which guide the people of the nation, and to present the principles of the Constitution, and to indicate the source from which the document derives its authority, and meaning

quid pro quo

Latin for “something for something,” to identify what each party to an agreement expects from the other, sometimes called mutual consideration.

Reaffirmation agreement

An agreement by a debtor to continue paying a dischargeable debt after the bankruptcy, usually for the purpose of keeping collateral or mortgaged property that would otherwise be subject to repossession.

Search warrant 

a warrant issued by a magistrate, or High Court judge, to allow police officers to search premises.


Evidence presented orally by witnesses during trials or before grand juries.

Ultra vires 

beyond one’s powers. If an organisation does something ultra vires, what it has done is invalid.

Violent disorder 

three or more people in a gathering using or threatening to use unlawful violence. 

Warrant is: 

• a certificate which gives the person holding it the right to buy shares at a given price;

• a magistrate’s written instruction to arrest someone; or 

• a magistrate’s written instruction to search a property. 

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