Index of Legal Terms
A definitive collection of legal terms that are used by attorneys in contracts, agreements and other legal documents in South Africa.
Damages: Compensation that the law awards to someone who has been injured or suffers a loss because of the action of another.
Data: A fact or facts from which conclusions are drawn; information, collected in order to reach a conclusion.
Deal: A transaction between two or more people; a business arrangement to attain certain desired results.
Death: The end of life. Most states legally define death as either the irreversible cessation of (a) brain function (brain death), or (b) circulatory and respiratory function.
Death Benefit: Money that is paid by an insurance company or employer to a beneficiary when a person dies.
Debt: Money owed; money owed as the result of an agreement or contract, oral or written.
Debt Counsellor: A person who assists a consumer, in terms of a credit agreement, who cannot meet his/her monthly payment obligations, by negotiating and restructuring a new payment plan.
Debtor: A person who owes money; someone liable by contract to pay a claim.
Deceased: A person who has died.
Decedent: A deceased person.
Declarant: The person who makes a statement, usually written, such as a Living Will.
Declaration: A formal statement intended of legal significance; e.g., a "declaration of trust" creates the trust.
Decree: The decision of a court of equity. A judgment is a decision of a court of law.
Deductible: The portion of a loss that an insured must pay before payment is made by an insurance company.
Deed: A written document transferring the ownership of land, and the buildings thereon, to another person or persons.
Deem: To determine; to consider; to judge.
Default: The failure of a person, persons, corporations, or municipalities to pay their debts; the failure to carry out an obligation.
Defence: A reason the Wrongdoer provides to remove or limit the claim of the Plaintiff / Applicant.
Defend: To attempt to defeat a claim or charge; to represent a defendant.
Defendant: The party who refutes a claim made by a plaintiff; the person accused in a lawsuit.
Defendant / Respondent: Parties defending a civil matter. The Defendant is a person in an action procedure and the Respondent is a person in the application procedure.
Defense: The denial of charges, brought by a plaintiff against a defendant; an answer to a complaint.
Deletion: The crossing out or removal of certain words, sentences, or clauses from a legal document.
Deliberate: 1. An act that has been thought out and considered. (The opposite of spontaneous or impromptu.) 2. To deliberate means to think about or consider, or to plan beforehand.
Delict: A person causes damage to another person or their property due to their negligence or intent and unlawful behaviour.
Delinquent: An individual who does not carry out that which is expected of him or that which he has promised to do; a debt that is due and has not been paid; neglectful of duty.
Demand: A legal obligation; a claim; to claim as one's right; to insist upon; a positive request that presupposes that there is no defense to the claim or right.
Demise: A deed; a lease; a transfer of property; a conveyance or creation of an estate to someone else for life. In medical jurisprudence, demise is a death.
Denial: A defence against a charge; a contradiction; a traverse. (When a defendant answers a plaintiff's charges, he or she often denies them. Even if it is stated that the defendant has insufficient information to respond to a complaint, this will constitute a denial.)
Deny: To issue a denial; to contradict; to protest.
Dependent: Someone who relies upon another for his partial or total support and maintenance. (A spouse or minor child is referred to as a dependent.)
Depose: To make a statement under oath.
Descendant: A child, grandchild, great-grandchild, and so forth, down through the generations.
Descent: Inheritance from one's parents, grandparents, etcetera.
Designate: To choose or select a person to serve in a specified role or capacity.
Designee: The chosen recipient of certain rights or obligations from another person.
Determination: The end of a lawsuit, terminated by a decision of the court. (A case is determined in favour of one or the other of the parties to the suit.)
Device: A deceit or plan to trick. A gambling device may be a machine specially designed to cheat those who gamble.
Devise: A gift originating from a clause in a will, usually a gift of real estate. However, a devise may refer to a gift of personal property.
Direct: 1. Immediate; proximate; the opposite of indirect and remote. 2. To order; to guide; to command; to control; to regulate.
Disability: 1. The state of being legally incapable to perform an act; a lack of competence or power to perform. 2. An injury or illness which incapacitates one from carrying out his usual duties. Such a disability may be physical or mental, total or partial, temporary or permanent.
Disabled: 1. The state of being legally incapable to perform an act; a lack of competence or power to perform. 2. An injury or illness which incapacitates one from carrying out his usual duties. Such a disability may be physical or mental, total or partial, temporary or permanent.
Disapprove: To disallow; to render an unfavourable judgment; to refuse to confirm a nomination or appointment of an official.
Discharge: 1. To satisfy a financial obligation. 2. To release; to terminate an individualÃ†s employment; to dismiss a healthcare provider. 3. To release a patient from a hospital.
Disclaim: To give up a legal claim.
Disclaimer: The refusal of a beneficiary to accept an inheritance.
Disclosure: The making known of something; a revelation; the uncovering of something that had been kept secret.
Discontinuance: The failure of a plaintiff to continue to press the suit. As a consequence, the case is dismissed.
Discrepancy: An inconsistency between the contentions of a party to a suit and the actual facts; a variance; a lack of conformity.
Discrimination: The denial of equal protection of the laws; the failure to treat all people alike despite differences in race, color, creed, sex, or social position.
Disposition: The final determination of a matter, arrangement. Method of handling the body of a deceased person, for example by cremation or burial.
Dispute: A controversy; an argument. In law, a dispute arises when one party presents an argument or a point of view that he contends is factual and such point of view or argument is denied by the other party.
Disqualify: To render unfit; to make someone ineligible; to revoke qualification. A judge may disqualify himself from trying a case because he may have an interest in its outcome, or he may believe that he cannot be completely impartial.
Dissolution: The cancellation of a contract or partnership; the act of revoking or cancelling a legal proceeding, as when a court dissolves an injunction; the act of terminating a marriage; the dissolving of a corporation.
Dissolve: To cancel or terminate.
Distress: To take property away from a wrongdoer and to give it to the party he has injured, in order to give satisfaction for the wrong.
Distribution: The transfer of the assets of a deceased person's estate to the heirs, after all debts, claims, and taxes have been paid.
Distributions: The transmission of the assets of a deceased person's estate to the heirs, after all debts, claims, and taxes have been paid.
Dividend: A fund set aside by a corporation composed of profits that will be apportioned to its various stockholders. When a corporation is profitable, its board of directors will usually declare a dividend. When the corporation fails to make money for any prolonged period of time, it may skip or fail to declare dividends.
Divorce: A legal ending, by court order, of a marriage. The legal basis for divorce differs from state to state; there is no national divorce law.
Divorced: A legal ending, by court order, of a marriage. The legal basis for divorce differs from state to state; there is no national divorce law.
Divulge: To disclose information previously unknown.
Doctrine: A belief; a tenet; a government policy, such as the Doctrine that all people are created equal.
Domestic Violence: A person who is in a domestic relationship (a close relationship such as between spouses or partners, or within families) who was abused, intimidated, harassed, stalked; or whose property was intruded upon or damaged. The Complainant may apply for a protection order against the Offender.
Donee: Someone who receives a gift; a person who is granted with a power of appointment.
Donor: The giver; one who makes a gift or sets up a trust. In medical jurisprudence, one who gives blood or an organ to a recipient.
Dower: The right that a widow has to her dead husband's property. Dower rights vary from province to province in our country, as each province has its own laws on the subject.
Draft: A written instruction from one person to another, ordering the payment of a specified sum of money to a third person on a specified date in the future. Also known as a bill of exchange.
Due care: The type of care that a sensible person exercises in a situation requiring carefulness. A good example would be when a person, prior to taking a long automobile trip, has his car checked out thoroughly before embarking upon the trip.
Due date: The date upon which a debt falls due; the date upon which taxes should be paid; the date upon which a promissory note is to be paid. Due-on-Sale: A loan provision requiring the loan to be repaid immediately if the underlying security for the loan is sold.
Duly: Suitably; according to legal requirements; properly executed; according to law.
Durable: Able to remain in existence for a long period of time regardless of the existence of obstacles, impediments or other adverse conditions. A power of attorney is said to be durable if it remains in effect even after the principal becomes incapacitated or incompetent.
Duress: Undue pressure by one person against another in order to get him to do something he does not want to do. This pressure might take the form of threats of bodily harm, or of exposure of information that the threatened person wants to keep secret, etcetera.
Dwelling: A house or building in which people live.