Legal Terms in Detail [S to Z]

Legal Terms in Detail


sabotage Damage to or destruction of property, especially the property of an employer during a strike or of the state for political reasons. Sabotage as such is not an offence, although it may be treated as criminal damage.

sedition Doing acts or speech tending to bring the government in to hatred or contempt and encourage civil disorder.

sine die [Without a date]

To adjourn a case sine die is to adjourn it without setting a date for a future hearing.

slander A defamatory statement made by such means as spoken words or gestures, i.e., not in permanent form.

Generally, slander is only actionable on proof that its publication has caused special damage (actual financial or material loss), not merely loss of reputation.

Proof of special damage is not necessary when the slander implies the commission of a criminal offence pun- ishable by imprisonment, infection with a contagious dis- ease, unchastity in a woman, or is calculated to disparage a person in his office, business, trade, or profession.

starred and unstarred questions Questions to which oral answers are required are known as starred questions. Questions requiring written replies are   unstarred questions.

stare decisis [to stand by things decided]           

A maxim expressing the underlying basis of the doctrine of precedent, i.e., it is necessary to abide by former prec- edents when the same points arise again in litigation.

subjudice A rule limiting comment and disclosure relating to judicial proceedings, in order not to prejudge the issue or influence.

sui generic [of its own kind] Forming a class of its own—unique.

sui juris [of his own right]

Describing the status of a person who is of full age and capacity.

subpoena Court order requiring someone to appear in court.

subrogation  Legal principle whereby someone stands in the place of another person and acquires that person’s rights and is responsible for that person’s liabilities.


tenancy Broadly, the interest of one who holds land by any right or title. The term is often used in a more restricted sense, however, for the arrangement in which the owner (the landlord) allows another person (the tenant) to take possession of the land for an agreed period, usually in return for rent.

tenancy at will      A tenancy that can be terminated by the landlord or the tenant at any time.

tenancy by estoppel A tenancy that exists despite the fact that the person who granted it had no legal right to do so.

tortfeasor One who commits a tort.

tortious Having the nature of a tort—wrongful.


ubi jus ibi remedium        [where there is a wrong there is a remedy]

The principle that where one right is invaded or destroyed, the law gives a remedy to protect it or damages for its loss

Further, where one right is denied the law affords the rem- edy of an action for its enforcement.

ultra vires  [beyond the powers]

Describing an act by a public authority, company, or other body that goes beyond the limits of the powers conferred on it.

unliquidated damages Damages, which are not for a fixed amount of money but are awarded by a court as a matter of discretion.


vandalism [Defacing or damaging property.]

There is no offence of vandalism as such, but it will usually constitute an offence of criminal damage.

vexatious Annoying, done in order to annoy.

vicarious liability [vicarious responsibility]

Legal liability imposed on one person for torts or crimes committed by another (usually an employee but some- times an independent contractor or agent), although the person made vicariously liable is not personally at fault.

An employer is vicariously liable for torts committed by his employees when he has authorized or ratified them or when the tort was committed in the course of the employ- ee’s work.

Thus negligent driving by someone employed as a driver is a tort committed in the course of his employ- ment, but if the driver were to assault a passing pedes- trian for motives of private revenge, the assault would not be connected with his job and his employer would not be liable.

The test is whether the tort is so closely connected with the employment that it would be fair and just to hold the employer vicariously liable.

void Having no legal effect.

voidable   Capable of being avoided (set aside).

voidable contract A contract that, though valid when made, is liable to be subsequently set aside. Voidable contracts may arise through misrepresentation, some instance of mistake, nondisclosure, and duress. Certain proprietary contracts entered into by minors are also voidable. The setting aside of a voidable contract is effected by rescission.

volenti non fit injuria [no wrong is done to one who consents]

The defence that the claimant consented to the injury or (more usually) to the risk of being injured. Knowledge of the risk of injury is not sufficient; there must also be (even if only by implication) full and free consent to bear the risk. A claimant who has assumed the risk of injury has no action if the injury occurs. The scope of the defence is limited by statute in cases involving business liability and public and private transport.


whip An important party official, entrusted with the responsibility of organizing disciplined voting according to the party directions and ensuring attendance of the party members on a specific occasion.

white paper A detailed policy statement issued by a government with regard to a matter of considerable public importance.


zero hour The period following the question hour. It generally begins at 12.00 noon and lasts till 1.00 p.m. Officially, it is used to raise various issues of public importance without prior notification to the minister.

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Legal Terms in Detail [A to F] » Law Faculty

Legal Terms in Detail [G to M] » Law Faculty

Legal Terms in Detail [N to R] » Law Faculty

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