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LEGAL DICTIONARY - LETTER B


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BAIL
Criminal law a commitment made (and possibly secured by cash or property) to secure the release of a person being held in custody and suspected of a crime, to provide some kind of guarantee that the suspect will appear to answer the charges at some later date.

BANKRUPTCY
A legally declared inability of an individual or organization to pay their creditors. A legal proceeding that relieves you of the responsibility of paying your debts or provides you with protection while attempting to repay your debts. There are two types of bankruptcies -- liquidation, in which your debts are wiped out (discharged) and reorganization, in which you provide the court with a plan for how you intend to repay your debts.

BARRISTER
A barrister is a legal professional with special responsibility for representing clients in court, rather than providing general legal advice and services. In the UK, barristers are bound by a number of important traditions and conventions. To be a barrister, one must be ‘called to the Bar' by one of the Inns of Court.

BENCH
It is the seat (usually a comfy chair rather than a bench) where a judge sits in the courtroom during a trial or hearing. Sometimes the word "bench" is used in place of the word "judge" -- for example, someone might say she wants a bench trial, meaning a trial by a judge without a jury.

BERNE CONVENTION
It is an international treaty that standardizes basic copyright protection among all of the signatory countries, which currently number over 100. A member country will afford the same treatment to an author from another country as it does to authors in its own country. In addition, each member country is obligated to protect an author's moral rights in her work.

BILL OF LADING
It is a document that a transport company possesses acknowledging that it has received goods, and serves as title for the purpose of transportation.

BREACH OF CONTRACT
A legal claim that one party failed to perform as required under a valid agreement with the other party. For example you might say, "The roofer breached our contract by using substandard supplies when he repaired my roof."