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Legal and Finance Terms! 

We have compiled a list of legal terms for you, so you can better understand important legal terms.
These legal terms can seem complicated to understand, but we have simplied every term!

AAA: AAA is a rating given by credit rating agencies to issuer’s bonds. AAA is the highest rating that a bond could be given. Bonds with an AAA rating are very low risk ones, have an exceptional level of creditworthiness, and an extremely high ability to meet its financial obligations. AAA could stand for highest credit quality or top credit rating depending on the credit rating agency assigning the grade. While AAA bonds are low risk, they also present the investors with a low yield at maturity as compared to higher risk bonds with similar dates of maturity. However, AAA rated bonds are an asset to the company as they lower the borrowing costs for an issuer. Companies with higher bond ratings can borrow large sums of money if they require funds to finance new projects. As of 2016, Microsoft and Johnson and Johnson are the only two companies that have an AAA bond rating. AAA bonds fall under a broader category of bonds called investment grade bonds. Sovereign bonds which are issued by some governments are the only bonds considered above AAA bonds.


A verdict by a jury that determine that a defendant is not guilty. It can also means the judge found the evidence presented by the prosecution as insufficient.

A-Credit: An A-Credit is a grade that is given to a person who needs to borrow money. The grade is given by the lender and an A-credit is the highest grade that a borrower could have. In other words, the chances of a person with an A-credit paying back a loan are extremely high.

Credit grades are calculated based on a number of factors which include a person’s FICO score, the loan to value ratio, the debt to income ratio and any past defaults.

The loan to value ratio is simply the value of the loan divided by the value of the asset that is being purchased in terms of percentage. For example, if you are buying something worth $100,000/- and you apply for a loan worth $90,000/- then the loan to value ratio is 90,000/100,000 or 90%. The debt to income ratio is the percentage of annual income that goes towards paying the debt or the total debt (car loan, credit card bill, and so on) divided by the annual income.

A plus or minus sign can be added to a credit grade to be more detailed. A credit grade of A+ would signify a borrower who is very likely to pay back the loan amount while A- would signify someone a little less likely to do so.

 Active Judge

This is a term used to define a full time judge of the court.


Also known as the counting frame, an abacus is basically a calculating tool that was originally used for performing mathematical functions when the modern Hindu-Arabic numeral system had not yet been adopted. Centuries ago, the natives of Russia, China, and Europe employed the use of the Abacus that comprised of a frame, beads, and sliding wires to perform basic functions of division, multiplication, subtraction, addition and so on.

While it is widely believed that the origin of the Abacus dates back to 2,400 B.C. when the Babylonian civilization first invented it, there are no tangible piece of evidences that might corroborate the belief. Despite that fact that The Abaci has evolved tremendously over their centuries of existence, the basic concept is still the same as it was nearly five millennia ago.

While the abacus appears to be quite primitive, it can be easily used to calculate numerical roots as complex as the cubic degree! Although both Japanese and Chinese people make extensive use of the abacus in their everyday lives even today, their finger techniques are quite different from each other. While the Japanese natives employ the use of their index finger and thumb to slide the beads along the wires, the Chinese incorporate their middle finger, index finger and also the thumb to make the calculations on the Abacus.

Abandon Rate

Abandon rate, as the name implies, is basically the rate at which the callers to a customer care center abandon their calls before they can speak with an actual service agent. The abandon rate can be calculated by determining the percentage of the total number of inbound calls that are made to a customer service desk or help center and the typically abandoned or dropped by the caller before they are connected to a customer care executive. The aforementioned percentage can be calculated by dividing the number of calls abandoned by the callers by the total number of inbound calls that are made to the service desk or call center in a specific timeframe.

For instance, if the total number of inbound calls received at a call center is 500 per day and 50 calls are abandoned by the callers, then the abandon rate for that particular day would be 10%.

The abandon rate can be a great analytical tool in determining a company’s performance in the area of customer service and satisfaction. For instance, a high abandon rate might be indicative of the fact that since the company has not allocated the right amount of resources to its help desk, the callers need to waste their precious time in virtual queues for speaking with an agent. The situation might, in turn, lead to highly dissatisfied customers and the loss of lucrative sales opportunities.

Abandoned Property

As the name suggests, an abandoned property can be any sort of individual or business asset that has not been claimed by the rightful heirs for several years and is then eventually handed over to the state. The aforementioned assets might include anything from life insurance policies, land, uncashed checks, mutual funds and stocks to cash, jewelry or other contents held in an unclaimed safe deposit box in the bank.

In a majority of the states, there are laws that allow either the original owners or the nominated beneficiaries and heirs the right to claim their property and assets indefinitely regardless of whenever they wish to do so. On the other hand, the rest of the states have a legal process called escheatment through which any abandoned property that has not been claimed for far too long is eventually turned over and named as the property of the state.

Any individual that wishes to locate any such abandoned property in their name, can either get in touch with the comptroller or state treasury office or simply carry out an online search across the state-sponsored websites. In many cases, the state too might make an effort to locate the rightful owners of an unclaimed asset or property by publishing announcements in the local newspapers.


Abandonment may be described as an act through which any interest in or claim to a particular asset is surrendered by the rightful owner or heir. For instance, in terms of securities, the act of abandonment may be described as the withdrawal of an individual from a forward contract. That being said, if an individual does not find an option lucrative enough to exercise, he/she might let it get expired without performing any activity on it.

In addition to this, there is also an option of abandonment in contracts that provide all the parties involved the liberty to abandon or quit the contract even before the obligations have been fulfilled. If such a clause has been added to the contract, the withdrawing parties are not in any way obligated to pay any penalties for quitting the contract. For instance, if there is an abandonment clause added to an employee’s job contract, his employer will not be able to question or contest the former’s resignation under any circumstances. If it is the abandonment of a business asset, then it requires to be duly accounted for in the form of asset removal from all the company’s financial records and statements.

Abandonment and Salvage

Abandonment and Salvage can be defined as the process by which a property or asset is first relinquished or forfeited by one party and then subsequently claimed by a different party. The abandonment and salvage clause is usually added to insurance contracts wherein the insurance company has the right to claim and accept a property that has been abandoned by the rightful owner or beneficiary. The clause is especially included in marine insurance contracts.

However, for the clause to be enforceable, the owner must provide a written evidence of his/her intent to abandon the said asset or property. To cite an example, if a homeowner wishes to abandon a house that had been destroyed in a major fire breakout, they would be required to provide in writing a notice wherein they should mention that they are abandoning the property to the insurer. Once the owner has notified the insurance company of their intentions, the latter can then claim the property for salvage and list it on the market for a resale. Since the abandoned property or asset can be financially rewarding for the salvage, often there are more than one parties trying to win their claim over it.

Abandonment Clause

Usually included in property insurance contracts, the abandonment clause offers the owner the right to abandon damaged or lost assets or property and yet be able to file a claim for the entire settlement amount from the insurer. To put it in simpler words, under the abandonment clause, if the owner is unable to recover his or her lost property or the restoration costs add up to be higher than the actual purchase value of the item, then he or she can simply abandon the property in question and claim the pre-decided settlement amount as well.

The abandonment clause is usually added to marine property insurance policies such as those for watercrafts and boats, where the chances of property loss and wrecks are quite high. That being said, in case the owner’s boat or ship ends up getting lost or sunk at the sea, with the abandonment clause in their policy, they can always quit wasting their money and efforts on trying to recover it and consequently collect the complete settlement of the policy by the insurance company. With the abandonment clause added in the insurance policy, the property owner does not have to pay any penalty for abandoning the asset.

Abandonment Option

By adding the abandonment clause to a contract, the associated parties can exercise the right of withdrawing from or quitting the said contract without fulfilling all their obligations mentioned therein. To put it in simpler words, the abandonment option provides the contractual parties the option of putting an end to a contract if doing so seems to be more profitable than the prospect of exercising it further. It is a ‘real option’ that can add tremendous value to any contract.

Typically, the abandonment option finds extensive usage in bilateral contracts or agreements that do not have any specified time frame or deadline for expiry. In such cases, either of the parties has the right to withdraw from the contractual relationship without having to pay any penalty for not fulfilling their obligations.

For instance, if an employment contract includes the abandonment option, the worker can resign as per his or her free will without having the employer contest his or her decision to quit. The abandonment option is also extensively included in contracts between financial planners and the clients who take their services. As such both the financial planner and the clients have the right to end the contractual relationship without having to pay any penalty for doing so.

Abandonment Value

Abandonment Value may be defined as the value of a particular asset or project if in case it were to be sold off or liquidated with immediate effect. That being said, the abandonment value of a particular project or asset can be heavily influenced by an entire range of factors including supply–demand, liquidity, and implied fair value appraisals that have been carried out by certified appraisers. The abandonment value is also often termed as liquidation value.

The abandonment value may be determined as the value of a particular asset or project in monetary terms or equivalent. As one might imagine, the determination of abandonment value is often carried out by companies in identifying whether a particular project or asset is profitable or not. Once the abandonment value of the project or asset has been determined, the business owner can then decide whether it is worthwhile to invest more funds in maintaining it or disposing it off, is a better deal. In addition to that, the abandonment value also finds extensive application in the legal proceedings for bankruptcies wherein the assets and property of the bankrupt individual or business need to be liquidated at distressed prices.


Abatement can be defined as the complete exemption from other reduction of taxes that an individual or a business enterprise may be otherwise required to pay. The abatement may be granted by the government to an individual or business enterprise for a specified time frame, generally for a certain purpose such as investing in new capital equipment for the company. In addition to that, if an individual or company has inadvertently submitted an amount higher than their tax liability or received a tax bill that is beyond what they can afford, they can file an abatement request from the concerned authorities. Tax rebates, reduced penalties, and decreased tax liabilities are a few common examples of abatement.

One of the most common types of abatement that a majority of the people request for is the property tax abatement. In such cases, if a homeowner feels that the value of the property as assessed by the appraisers is much higher than expected, he or she can file a request for tax abatement at their local tax assessor’s office. There are many localities around the country that provide abatement on property tax to those owners who contribute to the restoration or upgradation of the historically valuable properties in the neighborhood.

Abatement Cost

Abatement cost may be defined as the costs borne by certain business enterprises for both reducing and eliminating environmental negatives or other unwanted items that they might have created as a byproduct in their manufacturing units. To put it in simpler words, abatement costs are the expenses that a business enterprise has to incur for the purpose of reducing the generation of harmful byproducts of their manufacturing process that might end up polluting the environment or causing a nuisance for the residents in the neighborhood.

There are many cases, wherein the companies end up releasing byproducts from the production process of their goods or services, that might be environmentally or medically hazardous for animal and plant life. Most of the times, it is a result of the company incorporating substandard equipment or processes as a measure of cost-cutting and improving their plant’s production efficiency. As such, the concerned authorities now require the companies to maintain their production standards and invest the required sum in eliminating hazardous byproducts and pollutants. The amount of money invested by the business owner for the purpose of reduction of noise pollution in their manufacturing units can be regarded as an abatement cost.

Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA)

The ANDA or Abbreviated New Drug Application is basically a 'request in writing' submitted by an individual or company to the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) for acquiring the approval for manufacturing and selling a generic drug within the US. The term ‘abbreviated’ here implies that the applicant of the request neither requires as much information as in the case of a New Drug Application nor has to conduct any clinical trials to test the efficacy of the new drug.

Once the ANDA has been approved, the FDA goes on to include the given generic drug in the ‘Orange Book’ on the list of medicines that have been proven as both safe, as well as effective against the associated ailment. The applicant is required to furnish comprehensive details regarding the generic drug on the ANDA including its established name, the chemical name, trade name, strength and form of dosage, the method of administration, proposed usage and so on. In certain cases, the applicant might also be asked to include additional technical information about the drug such as its chemistry, method of production and controls. The aforementioned information is utilized by the FDA to evaluate the proposed generic drug’s efficacy and reliability in comparison to its equivalent brand name.

Abbreviated New Drug Submission (ANDS)

The ANDS or the Abbreviated New Drug Submission can be described as a 'request in writing' that needs to be submitted by an individual or company to Health Canada to get the permission for marketing a new generic drug in the country. For the generic drug to be eligible for being marketed in Canada, its associated ANDS needs to be approved by the Health Canada under the federal regulations for Food and Drug in Canada.

In addition to listing out all the relevant information about the generic drug such as its brand name, manufacturer’s name, the chemical name, form and strength or dosage and so on, the ANDS also states whether or not it has been approved by the concerned Food and Drug authorities in countries like Australia, United States, Switzerland, the EU, and Singapore. The ANDS also requires the applicant to include information about the comparison of the bioavailability of proposed generic drug with its equivalent brand name drug. For a proposed generic drug to obtain the approval from the concerned authorities, it must be found to be equally effective as well as safe as its equivalent brand name. The applicant is typically required to submit a fee along with the ANDS application.

ABC Agreement

The ABC Agreement may be defined as a written agreement that is made between a purchasing member that holds a seat on the New York Stock Exchange and the company where he or she works. Once approved by the New York Stock Exchange, the following stipulates of the ABC agreement consequently come into force:

  • The purchasing member who is also an employee in a certain company may transfer his/her seat at the NYSE to a fellow coworker at the company.
  • The purchasing member may choose to keep his/her ownership of the NYSE seat and go on to purchase a new one for another employee at the company.
  • The purchasing member may choose to sell his/her NYSE seat and transfer all monetary gains to the company.

Given the fact that it is the employer company that pays for an employee’s NYSE seat, the ABC agreements hold a lot of relevance to both the parties. The reason is that in case the purchasing member chooses to resign from his/her job at the firm, the firm must have a sort of insurance cover and not have its ability to trade on the stock exchange impacted in any way. Since the agreement typically involves the aforementioned three provisions, it is referred to as the ABC agreement.

ABCD Counties

ABCD Counties can be defined as specific designated categories of counties in the United States that have been identified by the AC Nielsen Company. The ABCD counties are devised on a set of basic criteria such as their proximity to the prime metropolitan regions in the country and their population data as determined by the United States Census Bureau.

As such, while the A category counties are the ones with the highest population among the rest of the U.S. counties, the D category counties are essentially the smallest ones with the lowest population. The counties are designated as A, B, C or D on the basis of the population data that is determined in the census that takes place once in every decade. The classification of the counties as A, B, C or D finds extensive usage in the world of marketing and advertising where the concerned companies utilize the information to analyze and prepare targeted media and advertising plans.

The highest density counties that are located within the 25 largest metropolitan regions in the United States are classified as A counties. Counties that have a population of more than 150,000 and are not categorized as A counties are designated as B counties. While C counties typically have a population somewhere between 40,000 and 150,000, the D counties are the ones that have not been categorized as A, B or C county.


Abend or ABend can be defined as the abnormal termination or end of a computer program that consequently causes the system to either automatically shut down or crash. The term Abend is an abbreviated version that has been derived from the phrase ‘abnormal end’. Given the fact that an unexpected abend in a business enterprise can end up causing major financial setback and losses to the company, the business owners are constantly looking for ways of seriously eliminating the chances of an abend. That being said, the businesses have their Information Technology departments work diligently towards detecting and fixing any bugs in the company’s software as and when they arise. Businesses employ a large number of resources to ensure that there are no system bugs or errors that can eventually cause an unexpected abend.

There can be two major reasons for a computer program to end abnormally. One, there might be a common hardware issue such as insufficient memory in the system. And two, there might be a more complex technical glitch that cannot be easily located. The term was extensively used in the early generations of computers such as the old mainframes (IBM 360) that were more prone to crashing as compared to the sophisticated hi-tech laptops and desktops that we have today.


Devised by the Prime Minter of Japan, Shinzo Abe, the Abenomics is a multi-faceted economic program that is targeted towards creating a more competitive economy within the country. The Abenomics is associated with fixing the problem of the 20-year-long economic stagnation in the country by boosting the national supply of money, increasing the annual government spending, and inducing reforms that would make the Japanese economy stronger on a global level.

After a short stint as the Prime Minter of Japan in the financial year 2006-2007, Shinzo Abe managed to secure another term starting December 2012. It was during his second stint that Abe introduced his highly ambitious concept of Abenomics with the aim of reviving Japan’s economy from its two decade worth of sluggish growth and rampant deflation and make it more competitive.

There were three major components of the Abenomics, with the first one being an order for minting 60 to 70 trillion Yen worth of additional currency to induce inflation and make the Japanese market more attractive for international importers. The second point implied revisions on the existing government spending plans and boosting demand. The third and the most complex component of the Abenomics directed towards regulatory reforms for creating a more competitive environment within the Japanese industrial sector.


Abeyance may be described as a situation wherein the rightful owner of a title, office or property has not been determined yet.  As such, this situation might typically occur when the existing title/office holder or property owner has not yet been able to identify and declare any beneficiary for the same. On the contrary, the new holder or owner is later identified via the resultant outcome of a pre-determined event in the future. As a result of which, the position for the owner of the title, office or property is left vacant for the time being.

Being derived from the term ‘abeance’ in Archaic French, the word Abeyance implies gaping or longing with an expectation of fulfillment on a future date. In many cases, large estates and properties are placed under the temporary responsibility of trusts under agreements that carry certain obligations which are necessarily required to be taken care of before the final ownership is determined. To cite an example, if parents decides to transfer the ownership of a certain trust fund to their child after the latter has become a major, the trust fund will be held in abeyance until the child reaches the stipulated age.

Abeyance Order

Abeyance Order may be defined as an order that has been suspended or kept on hold for a specified amount of time under the current circumstances, until a said goal has been achieved. To cite an example, an advertiser may go for an abeyance order for receiving the ownership of a particular timeslot on the radio or television that is currently not available. That being said, the order will be regarded as suspended in abeyance until the required advertising slot is available for the advertiser.

Coming to the legal aspect of it, an abeyance order might be incorporated in certain bankruptcy litigations wherein the judge decides to temporarily suspend the ownership of the property and hold it in abeyance. The aforementioned judgment may be made in situations where the rightful holder or owner of the property mortgage cannot be adequately established. As such, the abeyance order implies that the owner of the claim is currently unknown. One of the most glaring examples of such a situation wherein the court of law had to order countless abeyance orders was the period right after the housing market in the United States witnessed a major collapse back in 2008.

Ability to Pay

In essence, the ability to pay can be regarded as an economic principle that states that an individual’s tax liability must under all circumstances be directly correlated to the level of financial burden his/her tax would impose on him/her and relative to his/her individual wealth. According to the concept of the ability to pay principle, apart from factoring in the amount of tax an individual pays to the government, there should also be other aspects such as his/her ability to pay the taxes that must be considered by the country’s taxation system.

The ability to pay principle may be regarded as a major component of the progressive taxation system, wherein the citizens of the country are required to pay taxes that are in accordance with how much they earn. In other words, while the individuals earning hefty pay packets must be required to pay higher amount of taxes, the lower income groups will have smaller tax liabilities. While there are many such as the economist Adam Smith who believe that the progressive tax system will end up defeating the entire purpose of a free market economy, there are several countries around the world that have integrated both socialism and capitalism and derived more reasonable tax systems.

Ability to Repay

Ability to repay may be defined as an individual’s financial ability to repay all debt on his/her name. The phrase 'ability to repay' was initially incorporated in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in Title XIV, the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act, as a measure to be adopted by all mortgage lenders to ascertain whether or not a potential borrower will be capable of repaying the loan they are applying for.

That being said, it is the duty of the mortgage originators to ascertain an applicant’s ability to repay before approving their request for a credit. As such, the mortgage originators must do a comprehensive background research on the potential borrower’s total annual income, existing debts and so on. Once the debts have been identified, the mortgage originator must ensure that the total sum of the existing debts, the newly applied mortgage debt, the required insurance premium and associated property taxes falls within a certain specified percentage of the applicant’s total income. The major aim of the government behind devising the ability to repay legislation was to minimize the number of mortgage foreclosures and ensure that the lending companies extend credit only to those individuals that can afford to pay it back.

Administrative Office of the United States Courts

The Agency (federal) that has the responsibility of compiling and collecting court statistics, such as budgets and programmatic functions of the court.


Evidence that are considered by a judge or by a jury in criminal cases and civil cases.

Adversary proceeding

A lawsuits due to bankruptcy being filed.


A printed or written statement under oath.

Alternate juror

A selected juror that is involved and hears all evidence related to trial/case but has no role in helping deciding the case.


An act where the court of appeals decided that the lower court decision has been correct and wills and by the lower correct’s decision.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR)

A process in white the dispute is settled outside of court. The procedure here is done by a neutral party and is not binding.

Amicus curiae

A term in latin which means: “friends of the court”. Also known as advice which has been formally offered to the court.

A. M. Best: A. M. Best is an insurance company rating agency. A. M. Best rates insurance companies from all around the world. The company was established in 1899 by Alfred M. Best in New York City. The company currently has its headquarters in Oldwick, New Jersey. A. M. Bates has been designated as a nationally recognized statistical rating organization by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. While there are several other companies that rate a range of public and private sector companies involved in lending money, A. M. Bates is the only one that focuses solely on the insurance industry. Insurance companies are rated based on their ability to pay claims and their credit quality. Besides rating insurance companies, A. M. Bates also reports on news related to the insurance industries. By 2012, A. M. Bates had spread to London, Hong Kong, and the Middle East. A. M. Bates has six secure ratings which range from A++ to B+ and ten vulnerable ratings from B to S which indicate a company’s ability to fulfill its commitments to its policyholders. Beyond the S rating, the rating is suspended. For short-term credit ratings, the grades run from AMB1+ to D which means default. For long-term credit ratings, the grades run from AAA to D.


Formal statement by defendant or defends that summarizes a respond to a complaint.


A request to appeal, or review a decision made by the court. This is done after a trial has been concluded and decided by the court.


The appeal of a party to a district court decision.


The opposition of an appeal request to the court made by the appellant.


A proceedings or hearings for criminals who are brought infant of the court and are asked to plea, guilty or not guilty.

Aaron's Law: Aaron’s Law was named after Reddit co-founder, computer programmer, and political activist Aaron Swartz. The law is a bill that was introduced in Congress by Representative Zoe Lofgren in 2013. The law was intended to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 (CFAA). The bill was written following the suicide of Aaron Swartz in 2013. Swartz had been arrested under the CFAA in 2011 and faced jail time of up to thirty-five years and a fine of $1 million. The charge against him was that he had downloaded a great number of academic papers from the site As per the CFAA law, the punishment for violating terms of service could be too severe and a person could be tried several times for the same crime. The bill sought to amend the vagueness of the existing law and remove any redundancies. Representative Lofgren proposed via the bill that the language of the law be updated and that the punishment for the crime should be made more relevant to present-day standards. The bill, however, never got passed by Congress. 

AARP: Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus founded AARP Inc. in 1958; it was formerly known as the American Association for Retired Persons. Dr. Andrus was an educator and established the National Retired Teachers Association (NRTA) in 1947. The NRTA promoted health insurance for retired teachers and also promoted Dr. Andrus’ productive aging philosophy. AARP stemmed from the NRTA. The 40 million members strong association is a nonprofit created for US citizens over the age of fifty years. The organization provides a whole range of services for its members through a network of local chapters around the country, manned by experienced volunteers. Some of the services provided include independent living, health, work, consumer issues, economic security, training programs, and advice on second careers. It also provides judicial, legislative, and consumer support for all the provided services. AARP is also successfully involved in selling financial products like insurance and investment funds. They also publish their own magazine Modern Maturity and the AARP Bulletin which is a monthly. The AARP website features a fraud watch to warn its members of financial scams that are doing the rounds. One of the contributing writers to the fraudwatch is Frank Abagnale from the FBI. AARP has gained the reputation of being a powerful lobbying group.


Property that may include real, and/or personal goods. Tangible goods and intangible goods.


Agreement made to continue in obligation of duties under a lease or under a contract.

Automatic Stay

An automatic injunction that stops lawsuits automatically.

Bankruptcy administrator

An officer who is in charge of supervising the administration of bankruptcy cases, as well as trustees and estates. This officer of the Judiciary districts also monitors plans and disclosure statements, fee applications, creditors' committees. A Bankruptcy administrator also performs other statutory duties as defined by the law.

Bankruptcy Code

The unofficial name of the federal bankruptcy law (11 U.S.C. §§ 101-1330) - title 11 of the United States Code.

Bankruptcy court

A courtroom that was created by the federal government and operates to settle bankruptcy cases – both corporate and personal.

Bankruptcy estate

All the property a person owns when he files for bankruptcy, aside from most educational funds and pensions.

Bankruptcy judge

A judicial officer who exercises jurisdiction and decides over federal bankruptcy matters.

Bankruptcy petition

A formal application that a debtor (or a creditor) can submit for a Bankruptcy Order stating they cannot pay their debt.

Bankruptcy trustee

A corporation or an individual who are appointed to represent the debtor's creditors or the debtor's estate.

Bench trial

A trial with no jury, but a judge, who makes the procedural decisions in the court case.


A written legal document that presents one side's factual and legal claims that explain why they should prevail in court (also used in appellate proceedings).

Burden of proof

The obligation to prove claims and evidence in court. In criminal cases, the governments have to prove the defendant is guilty while in civil cases, the plaintiff has the burden of proof.

Business bankruptcy

In a Business bankruptcy, the debts were accumulated for business purposes. Therefore, the debtor in such cases is an individual who was involved in the bankrupted business or a business.

Capital offense

Also known as criminal offense, a capital offense is a crime punishable by a death sentence.

Case file

All the documents, files and evidence that relate to a legal case.

Case law

Past rulings in a jurisdiction that act as a precedent and can be used in court.


The number of cases that a court or a judge are handling.

Cause of action

A single fact or several facts that provide enough evidence for an individual to bring actions against another person.


An office or a room used by a judge or barristers.

Chapter 11

Often referred to as a "reorganization" bankruptcy, chapter 11 protects partnerships and corporations from creditors by providing them with the opportunity to reorganize. Under chapter 11, a debtor can propose a reorganization plan to salvage their business, or propose a payment plan for the creditors. Individuals who do not own businesses, or people in business can also file for Chapter 11.

Chapter 12

A subset type of bankruptcy that is only available for family fisherman of family farmers.

Chapter 13

A Bankruptcy chapter designed for individuals with a regular income, also known as "wage-earners". This chapter allows a debtor to pay off his/her debt with their disposable income while keeping their property.

Chapter 13 trustee

A person who is responsible for making sure Chapter 13 is administered. A Chapter 13 trustee will receive debts from debtors, will oversee their payment plan and will also distribute the payments to creditors.


Chapter 15

A Bankruptcy chapter for dealing with foreign Bankruptcy requests, allowing individuals across the border to have access to US Bankruptcy Courts.

Chapter 7

Chapter 7 is a liquidation bankruptcy during which the debtor's assets are sold to pay off his debt to creditors.

Chapter 7 trustee

A person who is responsible for making sure Chapter 7 is administered. A Chapter 13 trustee will liquidate the debtor's assets, review their schedule, and also distribute the proceeds from the liquidation to creditors.

Chapter 9

A bankruptcy chapter designed for municipalities with debts to reorganize their affairs. Chapter 9 provides municipalities with the chance to settle their debts to creditors.

Chief judge

This term refers to the highest-ranking judge in a court with more than one judge. Seniority determines the rank of judges in court.


A legal demand made by an individual for payment, compensation, or reimbursement that are claimed under the loss/breach of contract.

Class action

A lawsuit filed or defended by a single individual who is acting on the behalf of a large group of people (a "class").

Clerk of court

An individual who is responsible for maintaining, managing and keeping court records.


An item/property that is pledged as security for the payment of a debt.

Common law

Laws that are based on social custom and on Judges' decision rather than on written laws. A common law is usually a precedent when two parties disagree on what law relates to their case.

Community service

Work that requires an individual to act for the benefit of his community without pay. Courts impose community service on individuals in some cases, and require them to work for a nonprofit or civic organization.


A documented filed with the Clerk of the Court or the County Clerk by a plaintiff who wishes to claim his legal rights against a defendant.

Concurrent sentence

Two or more prison sentences that are served at the same time, unlike prison terms that are served back to back.


A judge's approval to execute a corroboration between a plaintiff and defendant.

Consumer debts

An amount of money owed by a consumer, rather than a government or business.


The penalty given to a defendant who has been found as guilty in a civil court. The damages are given to the plaintiff and they can be monetary (for any injury or loss suffered by the plaintiff) or punitive.

De facto

A Latin term that means "in fact". A fact that exists on its own and not as a matter of law.

De jure

A Latin term that refers to a fact that exists as part of the law.

De novo

A Latin term that means "anew", referring to a new trial in front of a new tribunal.


An individual who is seeking relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

En banc

A French term that means "in bench" and refers to a trial that is conducted in front of all the judges of a certain court. A trial set on front of the entire bench.


Something that can be referred to as impartial, fair and unbiased.


In the law system, equity can refer to two things, depending on the matter at hand:

  1. The monetary value of property
  2. Matters that fall outside the jurisdiction of Common Law


The information brought forth in documents or in testimony to a judge or jury to help them decide the case in favor of either the plaintiff or the defendant.

Ex parte

A proceeding that is brought forth to the court by one party without contest by the other side.

Face sheet filing

A term used in bankruptcy that may refer to two situations:

  1. Bankruptcy cases that are filed in an incomplete manner with incomplete schedules and a partial list of the debt details and creditors.
  2. Bankruptcy cases that are filed without details of the debts and the list of the creditors.

Family farmer

A farm that produces agricultural products in quantities that make it a farm rather than a rural area. A farming operation that meets the limits for filing a petition under chapter 12.

Federal public defender

A full-time attorney employed by the federal courts and provides legal services for people who cannot afford counsel.

Federal public defender organization

Organizations that are supervised by a federal public defender and act under the Criminal Justice Act. Federal public defender organization provide legal representation to criminal defendants who cannot afford counsel.

Federal question jurisdiction

A subject matter jurisdiction of the United States federal courts that hear civil cases where a plaintiff allegedly violated a federal law, the constitution or other treaties the US is a part of.

Grand jury

16-23 citizens who take part in trials, listen to evidence by both the prosecutor and the defense attorney in a trial and rule whether they have probable cause to believe a defendant is guilty.

Habeas corpus

A Latin term that means "you have the body". A writ of Habeas corpus means that a custodian of a prisoner has to bring him or her in front of the court to determine whether they are lawfully detained.


Evidence that is usually not admissible by the court because it was given by an individual who did not hear or see the incident, but rather heard about it from another person.

Home confinement

A court ruling that requires an individual to remain in their home at all times, with few exceptions, like medical appointments and work. Home confinement may involve electronic monitoring equipment to make sure the individual does not violate his restrictions.


Amy refer to two things:

  1. A constitutional process in which House of Representatives may impeach officers of the federal government who are in high office. This process may involve a trial by the Senate.
  2. A process during trials where a witness's testimony is called into question.

In camera

A Latin term that means inside a judge's chambers, outside the eye of the public and the jury.

In forma pauperis

A Latin term that means " in the form of a pauper". The term refers to a waiver of court fees for individuals who cannot afford to pay them.

Inculpatory evidence

Evidence that prove a defendant committed the crime/s attributed to him/her.


A term mostly used for felonies and refers to a charge issued by the grand jury. The charge is filed when there is sufficient evidence to indicate the defendants is guilty and that a trial should be held.

Joint administration

A mechanism approved by the court in which two or more cases can be administered together, assuming there is no conflict of interest between them.

Joint petition

A petition for divorce filed together by a couple. Also refers to a bankruptcy petition that a husband and a wife file together.


An official with the Judicial branch who has the legal authority to decide in trials brought forth in courts.


An official decision made by the court in trials to resolve a dispute between two parties.

Judicial Conference of the United States

An official body with 27 judges who make policies for the federal court system. At the head of the Judicial Conference of the United States is the Chief Justice of the United States.


A legal action made by a plaintiff who claims a defendant harmed them by neglecting to perform a legal duty.


Any charge or official complaint made against funds or property to pay off a debt.

Liquidated claim

A claim made by a creditor and a debtor for a fixed amount of money both parties agreed to.


The selling of property by a debtor to settle debts to a creditor.


Legal proceedings between two parties (usually a defendant and a plaintiff) who wish to defend or enforce a legal right.

Magistrate judge

Judges who have been appointed to assist district court judges.

Means test

A test to check if an individual who filed Bankruptcy under chapter 7 is not abusing this legal right, and to see if he is indeed eligible for legal aid.

Mental health treatment

A requirement made by the court that imposes an individual has to undergo an evaluation and possibly receive treatment for a mental disorder.


A crime punishable by 12 months (or less) in the county jail, and/or a fine.


An invalid trial that results from:

  1. A procedural error or misconduct that may result in an unfair trial.
  2. When a jury is unable to reach a verdict and a new trial with a new jury must begin.

No-asset case

A term used for Chapter 7 bankruptcies where a debtor has no assets to pay off the creditors.

Nolo contendere

A claim of no contest. Nolo contendere has the same outcome as a plea of guilty in a criminal case, but it is not considered to be an admission of guilt for any other purpose.

Nondischargeable debt

A debt that is not and cannot be eliminated with bankruptcy proceedings.

Non-exempt assets

The property of a debtor that can be liquified to pay off their creditors.

Note: An A-Note or a class A note is a senior tranche in an asset-based security. Asset based securities (ABS) or other structured financial products like mortgage-based securities and collateralized debt obligations are divided into tranches or portions. Tranches are given notes or classes like A, B, C, and D depending on their bond credit ratings. An A-note is given to the highest or least risky tranche

In case of a bankruptcy, the A-note tranche will be paid back first, funded by the underlying assets. Depending on the underlying assets’ credit quality, tranches can be further labeled as AAA, AA or A.

The remaining classes of notes for tranches are classified as subordinate notes and are at a higher risk than the A-note tranche. Investors in A-note tranches are advised to monitor the risk levels of the subordinate notes as well. Any increase in risks to the subordinate classes will eventually increase the risks to A-note tranches too. There is always the possibility that if the creditworthiness of the subordinate notes shows cause for concern, then the risk of defaulting on the higher note will also increase. When the other tranches lose their value, that is when A-note tranches will start to feel any loss on the value of the security. 


Objection to dischargeability

A creditor's or a trustee's objection to a debtor being released from liability for certain dischargeable debts.

Objection to exemptions

A creditor's or a trustee's objection to a claim made by the debtor that certain property is exempt from liquidation.


Usually written by a single judge, an opinion is a legal document in which the judge details his reasons for a judicial decision.

Oral argument

An opportunity for lawyers to answer the judge's questions and summarize their case and position in front of the court.


May refer to two cases:

  1. A group of judges in an appellate trial
  2. A group of potential jurors in the jury selection process
  3. A list of attorneys in criminal cases in which the defendants cannot afford legal counsel


The release of prisoners before the completion of their sentence.

Party in interest

The party that possesses the substantive right being asserted and also has the legal right to enforce said claim. The party in interest must sue the other party in their name.

Per curiam

A Latin term that means "for the court" and refers to a ruling made by an appellate court with several judges and a decision has been made with a majority of the court or the entire court.

Peremptory challenge

Refers to the right to reject certain potential jurors in the jury selection process by the attorneys.

Reaffirmation agreement

An agreement by the debtor and creditor in bankruptcy cases. Under the agreement, a debtor must pay dischargeable debt after the bankruptcy.


The written account of all proceedings (evidence, pleadings and exhibits) in a legal case.


Under the of real property, the right of redemption is a debtor's right to reclaim his property that has been foreclosed if he is able to come up with the amount to repay the amount of debt under his name.


To send back. In an appeals court, to remand means to send back a case to the lower court for further action (if the appeals court reversed the lower court's decision).


When a higher court sets aside the decision made by a lower court. This process is usually accompanied by a remand.

Share A-shares are a class of mutual fund shares. When you invest in an A-share through a full-service broker, you are required to pay a front-end sales charge. The front end sales charge is a percentage of the investment you put in. For example, if you were to invest $1000/- in an A class mutual fund share and the front-end sales charge was 5%, then $50/- would go as a payment to the broker.

What this also means is that you end up investing just $950/- in your shares and will receive a return on the amount invested. The share class and the fee structure are determined by the mutual fund company. People who are looking to invest large sums of money can opt for A class shares. Breakpoint discounts are available when a large number of shares are bought. Ongoing asset-based commission for A-shares is much lower than other share classes and is usually around 0.25% in contrast to 1% for B and C class shares. A-shares are targeted at individual retail investors. Mutual fund companies have funds’ prospectuses in which they detail the sales charges and share class expense ratios. Other Share classes include B, C, advisor shares, and institutional shares. 


A type pf enforcement (such as a penalty) used to bring compliance with regulations, rules and the law.


Lists made in official forms the debtor submits along with the petition, or shortly after, that show his/her liabilities, assets and additional financial information.

Secured creditor

A creditor with security interest over all, or some, of the debtor's assets. In case the debtor files for bankruptcy, the secured creditor has the benefit of enforcing security against the debtor's assets without competing with unsecured creditors.

Secured debt

A debt that is backed by pledge of collateral, a mortgage, or other lien. With a secured debt, the creditor can pursue certain pledged property.

Senior judge

A state or federal judge who qualifies and prefers a senior status over retirement. A senior judge is the judge who served the longest term in a given court.

AAAA Spot Contract: The AAAA stands for the American Association of Advertising Agencies. An AAAA spot contract is a contract made between an advertising agency and a television or radio network. The advertising agency represents the client which is a company or organization that would like airspace for an advertisement. In the AAAA spot contract, all the terms relevant to spots being bought are detailed. The terms include the number of spots that are being bought, how long the ad campaign will run for, days, dates and times that the ad will be shown on air and how much it will cost the advertising agency or client to buy those spots. An AAAA spot contract is usually drawn up when the client wants to buy spots on a particular channel or market. If the client wants to buy spots on all channels affiliated with a particular network, then an AAAA spot contract is not used. The advantage of buying spots on individual markets is that the ad can achieve wider viewing by the targeted audience. AAAA spot contracts can be processed easily because of their standardized features.


Temporary restraining order

A short-term order made by a judge that forbids certain actions until both parties in the case are present.


An oral evidence presented by witnesses during a trial.


The action of suspending, holding off or delaying the effect of a statute.


A civil and non-criminal wrongdoing made by one of the parties against the other during a trial.


A word for word written recording of what was said during a formal conversation, such as a deposition, or during a trial.

U.S. attorney

An attorney appointed by the president and represents the United States federal government in appeals courts and district courts. A U.S. attorney is appointed in each judicial district in the country.

U.S. trustee

An official appointed to serve the United States Department of Justice who is in charge of overseeing the administration of bankruptcy cases and private trustees.

Undersecured claim

A debt that is secured by property with a lesser value than the original debt.

Undue hardship

Circumstances that partially or fully exempt an organization or a person from performing a legal obligation when it may become a burden, or is an unreasonable obstacle.

Unlawful detainer action

An action brought against a tenant who refuses to evict a rented property (the lawsuit is brought by the person who owns the property – the landlord).


The area in which a certain court has jurisdiction. A venue may change from one jurisdiction to another when a court case is transferred.


A decision made by a judge or a jury about the guilt or innocence of a criminal defendant. Also refers to the outcome of a civil case.

Voir dire

The jury selection process where potential jurors are questioned to determine if they can trial the case.

Voluntary transfer

The transferring of a debtor's property with his/her consent.

Wage garnishment

A part of the nonbankruptcy legal proceeding where a creditor seeks to take part of the debtor's future wages until the debt is paid in full.


A writ (order) of a court that directs an officer of the law to arrest and bring a person in front of the court.


A person who is called to a trial, by either the prosecutor or the defense attorney, to give testimony in a trial.


A written court order that directs a person to refrain from taking a certain action, or orders him to take a specific action.

Writ of certiorari

An order the U.S. Supreme Court issues that directs lower courts to transmit for a case in the appeals court or a hearing.

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