Resource Library

Free Online Legal Resources

Legal Dictionary

B

  • Bad faith

    Intent to deceive. A person who intentionally tries to deceive or mislead another in order to gain some advantage.
    Back To Top
  • Bail

    Criminal law: a commitment made (and possibly secured by cash or property) to secure the release of a person being held in custody and suspected of a crime, to provide some kind of guarantee that the suspect will appear to answer the charges at some later date.
    Back To Top
  • Bailee

    The person who receives property through a contract of bailment, from the bailor, and who may be committed to certain duties of care towards the property while it remains in his or her possession.
    Back To Top

  • Bailment

    The transfer of possession of something (by the bailor) to another person (called the bailee) for some temporary purpose (eg. storage) after which the property is either returned to the bailor or otherwise disposed of in accordance with the contract of bailment.
    Back To Top
  • Bailor

    The person who temporarily transfers possession of property to another, the bailee, under a contract of bailment.
    Back To Top
  • Banking & Finance Law

    the area of law that relates to the banking and finance industries.
    Back To Top
  • Bankruptcy

    The formal condition of an insolvent person being declared bankrupt under law. The legal effect is to divert most of the debtor's assets and debts to the administration of a third person, sometimes called a "trustee in bankruptcy", from which outstanding debts are paid pro rata. Bankruptcy forces the debtor into a statutory period during which his or her commercial and financial affairs are administered under the strict supervision of the trustee. Bankruptcy usually involves the removal of several special legal rights such as the right to sit on a board of directors or, for some professions that form part of the justice system, to practice, such as lawyers or judges. Commercial organizations usually add other non-legal burdens upon bankrupts such as the refusal of credit. The duration of "bankruptcy" status varies from state to state but it does have the benefit of erasing most debts even if they were not satisfied by the sale of the debtor's assets.
    Back To Top
  • Bankruptcy Law

    The legal method for a debtor to "discharge" or relieve debt. Bankruptcy is a way for individuals or businesses owing more money than they can pay to either work out a plan to repay the money over time or to have their debt wiped out. While no debtor is guaranteed a total discharge, most debtors who file for bankruptcy are given such relief. One of the primary purposes of the bankruptcy act is to relieve the honest debtor from the weight of oppressive indebtedness and to provide the debtor with a fresh start. Title 11 of the United States Code regulates the filing of a bankruptcy. If the debtor initiates the bankruptcy it is called a voluntary bankruptcy. If the creditor initiates the bankruptcy it is called an involuntary bankruptcy. In an involuntary bankruptcy the debtor has the opportunity to contest the petition. While the debtor is either working out a plan or the trustee is gathering the available assets to sell, the Bankruptcy Code provides that creditors must stop all collection efforts against the debtor. The Bankruptcy Code regulates what chapter you must file under, what bills can be eliminated, how long payments may be extended, what possessions you may keep, and all other details concerning the bankruptcy.
    Back To Top
  • Bare trust

    A trust that has become passive for the trustee because all the duties the settlor may have imposed upon the trustee have been performed or any conditions or terms have come to fruition, such as there is no longer any impediment to the transfer of the property to the beneficiary.
    Back To Top
  • Barrister

    A litigation specialist; a lawyer that restricts his or her practice to the court room. In England and some other Commonwealth jurisdictions, a legal distinction is made between barristers and solicitors, the latter with exclusive privileges of advising clients, providing legal advice, and the former with exclusive privileges of appearing in a court on behalf of a client. In other words, solicitors don't appear in court on a client's behalf and barristers don't give legal advice to clients. In England, barristers and solicitors work as a team: the solicitor would typically make the first contact with a client and if the issue cannot be resolved and proceeds to trial, the solicitor would transfer the case to a barrister for the duration of the litigation. Lawyers in some states, such as Canada, sometimes use the title "barrister and solicitor" even though, contrary to England, there is no legal distinction between the advising and litigating roles. Canadian lawyers can litigate or give legal advice, as is the case in the USA, where lawyers are referred to as "attorneys."
    Back To Top
  • Bastard

    An illegitimate child, born in a relationship between two persons that are not married (ie. not in wedlock) or who are not married at the time of the child's birth.
    Back To Top
  • Bench

    A judge in court session.
    Back To Top
  • Beneficiary

    In a legal context, a "beneficiary" usually refers to the person for whom a trust has been created. May also be referred to as a "donee" or, for legal tecchies, as a cestui que trust. Trusts are made to advantage a beneficiary (ie. A settlor (also called a "donor") transfers property to a trustee, the profits of which are to be given to the beneficiairy).
    Back To Top
  • Berne Convention

    An international copyright treaty called the Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works signed at Berne, Switzerland in 1886 (amended several times and as late as 1971) and to which now subscribe 77 nations including all major trading countries including China, with the notable exception of Russia. It is based on the principle of national treatment.
    Back To Top
  • Bigamy

    Being married to more than one person at the same time. This is a criminal offence in most countries.
    Back To Top
  • Bill of exchange

    A written order from one person (the payor) to another, signed by the person giving it, requiring the person to whom it is addressed to pay on demand or at some fixed future date, a certain sum of money, to either the person identified as payee or to any person presenting the bill of exchange. A check is a form of bill of exchange where the order is given to a bank.
    Back To Top
  • Bill of lading

    A document that a transport company possesses acknowledging that it has received goods, and serves as title for the purpose of transportation.
    Back To Top
  • Blind trust

    A trust set up by a settlor who reserves the right to terminate the trust but other than that, agrees to assert no power over the trust, which is administered without account to the beneficiary/settlor or the retention of any other measure of control over the trust's administration. In Canada, for example, it is common for government ministers to vest all their investment property to a blind trust to avoid any conflict of interest.
    Back To Top
  • Bona vacantia

    Property that belongs to no person, and which may be claimed by a finder. In some states, the government becomes owner of all bona vacantia property.
    Back To Top
  • Born out of wedlock

    Born of parents who were not married at the time of birth.
    Back To Top