Unravelling Legal Jargon: A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Legal Language

Knowledge is power, and the devil is in the detail


Navigating the legal world can be daunting at best, especially when faced with a myriad of words and phrases that you are completely unfamiliar with. Thankfully, understanding legal jargon isn’t something most of us have to grapple with on a daily basis – yet the moment you seek legal support, you can expect to encounter this newfound dictionary of legal vernacular.

This can become especially challenging when even the exchanges with your lawyer or solicitor of choice are filled with legal jargon. It’s essential that you have the capability to understand any contracts, policies or terms provided to you, as well as the means to comfortably navigate discussions with your lawyer.

Understanding the basics allows you to confidently question anything you are unsure of while rationalising the answers provided in response.

“Understanding not only grants you the confidence to question but the capability to rationalise the responses provided”

Common legal terms found in contracts, terms and policies and their meaning


Below are some of the most common legal terms you are likely to come across in contracts, terms and policies.

  • Adhesion Contract: a contract drafted by one party with terms that are non-negotiable for the other party.
  • Arbitration: a form of dispute resolution where parties agree to resolve their conflicts outside the court system with the help of a neutral third party.
  • Assignment: the transfer of rights or obligations under a contract from one party to another.
  • Breach of Contract: the failure of one party to fulfil its contractual obligations, which may result in legal consequences.
  • Confidentiality: a provision that requires parties to keep certain information confidential and not disclose it to third parties.
  • Consideration: something of value exchanged between parties, essential for forming a legally binding contract.
  • Covenants: legally binding promises or agreements made in a contract.
  • Exclusion Clause: a provision that seeks to exclude or limit liability for certain types of loss or damage.
  • Force Majeure: Latin term meaning “superior force.” It refers to unforeseeable events or circumstances beyond the control of the parties that excuse the non-performance of contractual obligations.
  • Force Majeure Clause: a clause that defines and allocates the risks of unforeseeable events that may prevent the performance of the contract.
  • Governing Law: the law of a specific jurisdiction that will govern the interpretation and enforcement of the contract.
  • Indemnity: a promise by one party to compensate or reimburse the other for losses or damages incurred.
  • Limitation of Liability: a clause that limits the amount of damages one party is liable for in case of a breach of contract.
  • Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA): a contract that requires parties to keep certain information confidential.
  • Privity of Contract: the principle that only parties to a contract have rights and obligations under it.
  • Severability: a clause stating that if any part of the contract is found invalid or unenforceable, the rest of the contract remains in effect.
  • Termination: the ending or cancellation of a contract before its completion.
  • Time is of the Essence: a clause that emphasizes strict adherence to deadlines in the contract.
  • Void: a contract is considered void if it lacks essential elements, making it unenforceable from the beginning.
  • Waiver: the voluntary relinquishment of a right, usually granted by one party to the other in a contract.
  • Warranty: a promise or statement made by the party giving the warranty about a product or service or a promise to do or not to do something.

Clarity is key


Legal matters can often be overwhelming and confusing, which is why when selecting your legal services provider of choice, clarity is always key. The ability to deliver exceptional services should always be front and centre, however, selecting a firm with the ability to demystify the process and communicate clearly and effectively, is a very close second.

At Hartley Law, we pride ourselves on being able to do just that. Simplifying otherwise complex processes is what sets us apart, and providing clarity, along with a personable and friendly approach every step of the way, underpins how we do business.

Whether you are searching for legal support and direction, or are simply keen to better understand the complexities of the industry, make sure to follow Hartley Law for further insights, news and relevant updates within the legal landscape.

Want to get in touch? Don’t be a stranger! Give us a call on 01276 536 410 or email us at hello@hartleylaw.co.uk

Written by Daisy-May Greener





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