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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.

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Sane: The state of having mental competence and soundness of mind; knowing right from wrong, being capable of intelligent reasoning, and generally acting in a normal, socially acceptable manner. The opposite of insane or mentally incompetent.

Satisfaction: 1. The payment of a debt; the fulfilment of an obligation, such as the payment of a mortgage or, the completion of one's obligations under a contract. 2. The act of satisfying.

Satisfactory evidence: Valid, believable, credible, pertinent testimony; evidence of such a nature to convince the court of its truth; convincing proof.

Satisfy: To fulfil a request; to pay off a debt; to discharge an obligation.

Schedule: 1. An inventory; a list, such as a list of all assets and liabilities of a person or company that is filing for bankruptcy. 2. To prepare a timetable for the carrying out of particular acts; to prepare a list or inventory.

Scope of authority: The powers of an agent given to him by the principal, including not only the authority specifically designated but implied or inferred authority, too. In such instances in which there is doubt, the agent may claim that the scope of his authority to act for and in his principal's behalf is greater than that which is written down and recorded.

Scrip: 1. A certificate indicating the right of the holder to receive payment in the future in the form of money, land, or goods. 2. Paper currency.

Secret: Something not made known to other people or to the public; hidden; completely confidential; concealed.

Secured creditor: A creditor with collateral; a person owed money who has the right to take and sell specific property of the debtor if the debt is not paid.

Security: 1. Property that has been pledged by a lien or mortgage, thus guaranteeing that the creditor will be paid if the debtor defaults. Security makes the promise to pay more than a personal obligation. 2. A stock or bond that signifies that the borrower (the Corporation) owes a specified amount of money to the stock or bond holder. 3. Measures to protect people against attack, robbery, danger, etcetera.

Security Deposit: Money paid to a landlord at the beginning of a lease to ensure the tenantÆs compliance with the terms of the lease. The money is held in trust by the landlord and may be used to cover costs resulting from any breach of the lease terms by the tenant, including damage to the property. If there are no such breaches, the money is refundable to the tenant at the end of the lease term.

Segregation: The act of separating, such as segregating the races in a school. Segregation of races in public places of all kinds is illegal in the United States and violates federal laws.

Seizure: To take forcible possession of a thing; to arrest and take a prisoner into custody.

Seller's Quotation: Prior correspondence, offer, bid, or general advertisement on which the buyer has relied or accepted.

Senate: The upper chamber of the Congress of the United States, numbering two selected representatives from each state. At present there are one hundred senators.

Senator: A member of the U. S. Senate, or of a state senate. There are two senators elected from each state to the U. S. Senate. States each have their own rules concerning the election of state senators. U.S. senators serve for a term of six years.

Separate maintenance: Money paid by a married person for the support of a spouse from whom one is separated.

Separate property: Property owned and controlled by a married person, the spouse having no rights concerning it at all. The owner of such property can dispose of it at will, without the consent of the spouse.

Separation: The living apart of a husband and wife. If such a separation is ordered by a court, it is a legal separation, in which event the details of support and maintenance are often spelled out specifically in a document issued by the court.

Service of process: The delivery of a summons, subpoena, writ, or other legal document to the opposing party in a lawsuit.

Session: The period during any one day, or periods of days, during which a court, tribunal, legislative body, etcetera, conducts its business. When such a body is in session, it means that it is not on vacation or has not terminated its usual period during which it conducts its business.

Set aside: To cancel, to annul; to revoke. The expression is used frequently when a higher court overrules a decision or judgment of a lower court, or when an indictment is dropped.

Settle: To agree to a settlement of a dispute; the coming together of opposing parties in a lawsuit to resolve a difference.

Severable: The quality of being able to exist independently. A severable law is one that continues to hold even if one clause or provision is held not to be valid.

Severance: 1. The act of separating and dividing. 2. When there are two or more defendants in the same case, one may wish to defend himself alone and not join with the others. This is termed severance.

Shareholder: A stockholder; an individual who owns a share in a corporate enterprise or in a business.

Sheriff: A law officer whose duties include the keeping of the peace, the serving of summonses, subpoenas, and other legal documents, the calling of jurors and the carrying out of judgments issued by the courts. Sheriffs serve one county, to which their authority is limited.

Sheriff: A court official instructed by the court to serve court documents or attach someone's property. For example, a Defendant who fails to make payment in terms of a judgment may have his/her assets attached to satisfy the debt.

Signature: One's name, written in one's own handwriting. A signature at the end of a legal document attests to its authenticity and validity.

Silent partner: A partner not generally known as a co-owner of a firm or business, yet is entitled to the rights of partnership; a dormant partner; a secret partner.

Simultaneous: Occurring at the same time or instant, such as simultaneous deaths.

Single: One only; unattached; standing alone; unmarried; individual.

Singular: 1. One only; individual; each; unique. 2. The opposite of plural.

Site: A location; a place where an event took place; land upon which one intends to build.

Small claims court: Courts set up for the express purpose of settling small claims. Decisions in such litigations are made by a judge within a short period of time, thereby avoiding a prolonged trial.

Social Security Act: A federal law providing for the establishment of universal federal and state insurance benefits, unemployment insurance, and other benefits for citizens who are in their later years.

Society: A body of people living as members of a community, all subject to the same laws and regulations.

Sole: Exclusive; only one; single.

Sole proprietorship: An unincorporated business owned entirely by one person, who is also solely responsible for all of its debts.

Solicit: 1. To seek, to plead; to entreat; to implore; to ask for.

Solvency: Having sufficient funds so as to pay one's debts; the opposite of insolvency.

Sound: 1. Free from defect; financially strong and secure; competent; healthy; able to function satisfactorily, such as a person who is sound of mind or has sound judgment. 2. A noise.

Source of income: The origin of income. The Internal Revenue Service frequently inquires into how and where a person came by certain income or moneys.

Speaker: The presiding officer of the House of Representatives. Other legislative bodies, such as state legislatures, may also have speakers.

Special Power of Attorney: A document in which a person authorizes another person or organization to act on his or her behalf in specific situations.

Specific bequest: A gift of cash, a specific item, or a category of items, to a named person, as detailed in a will. For example, a wedding ring, $1000, or a car.

Specific distribution: A gift of cash, a specific item, or a category of items, to a named person, as detailed in a trust before the bulk of the trust is distributed. For example, a wedding ring, $1000, or a car.

Specific intent: Premeditated, conscious intention to perform a certain act. The term is used frequently to describe the intentions of a person to carry out a particular crime or prohibited act.

Specification: A detailed statement listing the various points that will be brought up in a forthcoming lawsuit or litigation.

Specimen: A sample; a part of something, displaying what the whole looks like.

Spoliation Order: An order issued by the court for the immediate return of an item to its owner.

Spouse: A person's wife or husband.

Stand: 1. The place where a witness sits (or stands) to give testimony. 2. To remain in force; to appear in court; to stay unchanged.

Status: The relation of an individual to the community in which he resides; rank; position; a position in regard to family relationships, such as married, divorced, etcetera.

Statute: A law passed by the legislative branch of a government.

Statute of limitations: A law establishing a specified period of time during which a litigation (lawsuit) can take place, after that period, the suit can no longer be brought.

Statutes: A law passed by the legislative branch of a government.

Statutory: Created by the enactment of a law, relating to a statute or law; existing as the result of a statute.

Stay: 1. A postponement; a moratorium. 2. To stop or halt, usually temporarily, a legal proceeding.

Stepchild: A child of one's wife or husband by a former marriage.

Stock broker: A person who buys and sells stocks for his clients.

Stockholder: Someone who owns shares in a stock corporation. He is not responsible, merely by owning stock, for the actions of the corporate entity.

Strike: 1. To strike a word or passage, means to delete it. 2. A work stoppage by employees for the purpose of obtaining better wages, working conditions, or fringe benefits from an employer.

Sub-chapter S: An Internal Revenue Service election made by a qualifying corporation, to be taxed similar to that of a partnership or sole proprietorship.

Subcontract: An agreement between a contractor and a third party to perform certain duties that the contractor has been hired to perform. As an example, a contractor, hired to build a building, may engage a subcontractor to dig the site and put in the foundation for the building.

Subject matter: The matter in dispute; the material over which there is litigation.

Subject to: Governed by; subordinate to; provided that; contingent upon.

Subjection: The obligation of an individual to behave or act according to the will or judgment of another individual.

Sublease: The privilege of a person who has leased a premise to lease it to another person. In leases, the privilege to sublease must be stated specifically or the lessee will not be permitted to sublease.

Subordination: A lien or claim that is weaker than another lien or claim, and admittedly will be honoured only after the stronger lien or claim has been satisfied.

Subpoena: A document ordering an individual to appear in court and give testimony. Failure to appear, without good reason, may lead to the imposing of a penalty.

Subpoena: A notice for a person to appear in court at a certain date and time. For example, a witness may be called to testify in court. A "return date" has the same effect as a subpoena.

Subrogation: 1. The act of substituting a claim against one person for a claim against another person. 2. The substitution of one individual for another in claiming a debt or right.

Subscribe: Agree to the content of a document by signing it.

Subscribing witness: A person who sees a document signed and affixes his name to the document, thus testifying in writing that the event has taken place.

Subsequent: An event that takes place afterwards; succeeding; happening at a later time or date.

Substance: The true, basic meaning of something; the real thing, as opposed to something imaginary or unrealistic.

Substitute: One who takes the place of another who is unable or unwilling to continue to fill a particular role or office.

Substitution: Subrogation. The putting of one person or one thing in place of another.

Succession: 1. The act of following another, or succeeding to the rights of another. 2. The acquiring of property after the former owner dies and leaves it to a successor.

Successor: One who succeeds or follows another in a particular role or office.

Sue: To start a civil suit.

Suit: A lawsuit; a litigation; an action; a civil, rather than a criminal proceeding; a proceeding taking place in a court of law where one person or persons takes action against another person or persons.

Summary: Immediate; brief; concise.

Summons: A legal document to institute civil matters. It notifies a person that a claim has been instituted against him/her, and the summons must be defended or settled.

Superior court: A higher court than an inferior court, but one which has less authority than an appeals court. The exact status of a superior court differs from state to state.

Supersede: To replace; to annul; to take the place of; to render void; to set aside.

Support: 1. The supplying of a means of livelihood; subsistence, including a home, food to eat, and money for everyday necessities. 2. The obligation to provide for one's family.

Suppress: To prohibit or to forbid; to put an end to something that already exists; to keep evidence from being presented by showing it to be irrelevant or gathered illegally.

Supreme Court: 1. The High Court, including the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

Surrender: The giving up of something; to yield; to return.

Surrogate: One who acts for another. In some states, an individual can designate a Surrogate to make health care decisions in a power of attorney document. The judge presiding over probate matters is called a Surrogate in some states.

Survive: To outlive another person.

Survivor: A person who outlives another. (The term is often used in wills to designate what shall transpire when a particular legatee survives, or fails to survive, another legatee.)

Suspended Warrant of Arrest: The execution of an arrest is delayed until an Offender fails to comply with a condition, obligation or order granted by the court.

Sworn: Having taken an oath; verified; attested to as being true.

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