A glossary of key legal terms used in practice.
PART ONE: A-H
A written opinion in which counsel summaries the facts the solicitor already knows, then explains that the problem is very difficult, and there could be a number of different outcomes but he would not like to speculate on which one it’s likely to be.
A democratic forum by which members of chambers can heatedly debate the quality of chambers biscuits and the colour of chamber’s branded pencils; thereby allowing the CMC (see below) to take all important decisions.
A fee which the solicitor seeks to negotiate down after the event.
Money you are owed but have not been paid and therefore are borrowing from the bank whilst paying tax on the debt and interest on the loan.
A legal dispute in which all the lawyers concerned place orders for a new BMW shortly after being instructed.
The Bear Garden
Irregular noun. A place of stillness and solitude.
About as busy with bears (or indeed barristers) as any garden you care to think of.
Central London County Court
Twinned with the Bermuda Triangle. A place of myth and legend where hundreds of files vanish each year, without any trace.
Home of the popular catchphrase, “We haven’t got any judges (free to hear your case).”
A rule of procedure which enables the court to rule that black is actually white or is, in fact, not a colour at all.
A meeting where the barrister pretends to have read the papers, the solicitor pretends to be interested in what the barrister says and the client produces a story from the Daily Mail demanding to know why his case is not being treated in the same way.
Like offices. Only scruffier. And with fewer people who actually do things.
Chambers Management Committee
Large group of chambers members carefully selected to agree with the decisions taken earlier by a much smaller group of members. Any decisions not so taken are adjourned to next time.
A document in which one party agrees to things they didn’t realise they had, until much later.
Depending on the advocate involved this can mean many things:
(i) a forensic dissection of the witness’s evidence, or
(ii) asking questions crossly, or
(iii) proof positive that the advocate has not read the papers properly.
Deputy District Judge
Like a real judge, but with more coin-tossing.
A legal version of hide ‘n seek.
A process by which relevant documents are hidden within a morass of irrelevant documents.
Like real law. Only with more crying and less actual law.
A counselling service for solicitors, to unburden their tales of woe and stories about how they are so poor their children have to eat mud for breakfast.
An alarm which goes off from time to time to re-assure nervous members that there definitely is no fire.
A means by which the fire committee check that members of chambers can make it out of the front door without getting lost on the way.
(Usually) telephone advice given by barristers to solicitors for no charge; who then charge their clients for listening to the advice, writing it down and posting it to them.
The rate you can get away with charging in any given case. As flexible as a politician’s pledges.
Part two of Wigapedia’s legal dictionary is here.