Resource Library

Free Online Legal Resources

Legal Dictionary

C

  • Citation

    An order of a court to either do a certain thing or to appear before it to answer charges. The citation is typically used for lesser offences (such as traffic violations) because it relies on the good faith of the defendant to appear as requested, as opposed to an arrest or bail. The penalty for failing to obey a citation is often a warrant for the arrest of the defendant.
    Back To Top
  • Civil Law

    dealing with all areas of the law that are not classified as criminal.
    Back To Top
  • Civil Rights

    the area of law protecting those rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution, including the right to due process, equal treatment under the law of all people regarding enjoyment of life, liberty, property, and protection.
    Back To Top
  • Clandestine

    Something that is purposely kept from the view or knowledge of others either in violation of the law or to conduct or conceal some illegal purpose. A "clandestine marriage" would be one which does not comply with laws related to publicity.
    Back To Top
  • Class Action

    an action or actions in which a representative plaintiff sues or a representative defendant is sued on behalf of a class (group) of plaintiffs or defendants who have the same interests in the litigation as their representative and whose rights or liabilities can be more efficiently determined as a group than in a series of individual suits.
    Back To Top
  • Clayton's Case

    An English case which established a presumption that monies withdrawn from a money account are presumed to be debits from those monies first deposited. First in, first out. The proper citation is Devaynes v. Noble (1816) 1 Mer. 572) and the presumption is not applicable to fiduciaries, who are presumed to withdraw their won money first, and not trust money.
    Back To Top
  • Clean hands

    A maxim of the law to the effect that any person, individual or corporate, that wishes to ask or petition a court for judicial action, must be in a position free of fraud or other unfair conduct.
    Back To Top
  • Client-solicitor privilege

    A right that belongs to the client of a lawyer that the latter keep any information or words spoken to him during the provision of the legal services to that client, strictly confidential. This includes being shielded from testimony before a court of law. The client may, expressly or impliedly, waive the privilege and, exceptionally, it may also be waived by the lawyer if the disclosure of the information may prevent a serious crime.
    Back To Top
  • Codicil

    An amendment to an existing will. Does not mean that the will is totally changed; just to the extent of the codicil.
    Back To Top
  • Collaborative Law

    Collaborative Law is a name given to an attitude toward resolving legal disputes and the policies and practices that put that attitude into action. You won't find collaborative law in the statutes or administrative regulations but you will find it in the professionalism and integrity of those who practice law. The basic attitude marking collaborative law is of solving the problem, not fighting the fight. Simply stated, it is treating the process as a way to "trouble shoot and problem solve" rather than to fight and win. Some people look upon the civil justice system as a place to resolve a dispute they have with another. Collaborative law is what they're looking for.
    Back To Top
  • Collateral

    Property which has been committed to guarantee a loan.
    Back To Top
  • Collateral descendant

    A descendant that is not direct, such as a niece or a cousin.
    Back To Top
  • Collateral source rule

    A rule of tort law which holds that the tortfeasor is not allowed to deduct from the amount he or she would be held to pay to the victim of the tort, any goods, services or money received by that victim from other "collateral" sources as a result of the tort (eg. insurance benefits).
    Back To Top
  • Collections

    the area of law that gives assistance to creditors in pursuing their debtors.
    Back To Top
  • Collusion

    A secret agreement between two or more persons, who seem to have conflicting interests, to abuse the law or the legal system, deceive a court or to defraud a third party. For example, if the partners in a marriage agree to lie about the duration of their separation in order to secure a divorce.
    Back To Top
  • Commercial Law

    the legal rules and principles bearing on commercial transactions and business organizations. This area of the law is often times governed by the Uniform Commercial Code.
    Back To Top
  • Commercial Litigation

    the area of law that provides assistance in the preparation and presentation of a lawsuit or other resort to the courts to determine a legal question or matter in "commercial" situations. Commercial law involves the legal rules and principles bearing on commercial transactions and business organizations. This area of the law is often times governed by the Uniform Commercial Code.
    Back To Top
  • Commission

    A formal group of experts brought together on a regular or ad hoc basis to debate matters within that sphere of expertise, and with regulatory or quasi-judicial powers such as the ability to license activity in the sphere of activity or to sub poena witnesses. Commissions usually also have advisory powers to government. The organizational form of a commission is often resorted to by governments to exhaustively investigate a matter of national concern, and is often known as a "commission of inquiry." This legal structure can be contrasted with a council, the latter not enjoying quasi-judicial or regulatory powers.
    Back To Top
  • Committee

    A term of parliamentary law which refers to a body of one or more persons appointed by a larger assembly or society, to consider, investigate and/or take action on certain specific matters. A committee only has those powers which have been assigned to it by the constituent assembly. Most are merely created to study matters in detail and to then report to the larger group. This saves the larger assembly time when it meets and allows it to review and approve a greater number of items, relying on the committee's report and recommendations. Committees are either standing or ad hoc (this latter kind is also known as a "special committee).
    Back To Top
  • Common law

    Judge-made law. Law which exists and applies to a group on the basis of historical legal precedents developed over hundreds of years. Because it is not written by elected politicians but, rather, by judges, it is also referred to as "unwritten" law. Judges seek these principles out when trying a case and apply the precedents to the facts to come up with a judgement. Common law is often contrasted with civil law systems which require all laws to be written in a code or written collection. Common law has been referred to as the "common sense of the community, crystallized and formulated by our ancestors". Equity law developed after the common law to offset the rigid interpretations medieval English judges were giving the common law. For hundreds of years, there were separate courts in England and it's dependents: one for common law and one for equity and the decisions of the latter, where they conflicted, prevailed. It is a matter of legal debate whether or not common law and equity are now "fused." It is certainly common to speak of the "common law" to refer to the entire body of English law, including common law and equity.
    Back To Top