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LEGAL DICTIONARY - LETTER L


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LACHES
A legal doctrine whereby those who take too long to assert a legal right, lose their entitlement to compensation. When you claim that a person's legal suit against you is not valid because of this, you would call it "estoppels by laches".

LANDLORD
A land or building owner who has leased the land, the building or a part of the land or building, to another person.

LAW
All the rules of conduct that have been approved by the government and which are in force over a certain territory and which must be obeyed by all persons on that territory (eg. the "laws" of Australia). Violation of these rules could lead to government action such as imprisonment or fine, or private action such as a legal judgement against the offender obtained by the person injured by the action prohibited by law. Synonymous to act or statute although in common usage, "law" refers not only to legislation or statutes but also to the body of unwritten law in those states which recognize common law.

LAWYER
A person that has been trained in the law and that has been certified to give legal advice or to represent others in litigation. Also known as a "barrister and solicitor" or an attorney.

LAWSUIT
In civil law, a case where two or more people disagree and need a court to help them resolve their differences.

LEGACY  
An outdated legal word meaning personal property left by a will. The more common term for this type of property is bequest. Compare devise.

LEGAL CUSTODY
The right and obligation to make decisions about a child's upbringing, including schooling and medical care. Many states typically have both parents share legal custody of a child. Compare physical custody.

LEGISLATION
(1) The act of legislating; preparation and enactment of laws; the laws enacted. (2) Law which has been enacted by legislature or other governing body.

LIABILITY
Any legal obligation, either due now or at some time in the future. It could be a debt or a promise to do something. To say a person is "liable" for a debt or wrongful act is to indicate that they are the person responsible for paying the debt or compensating the wrongful act.

LICENSE
A special permission to do something on, or with, somebody else's property which, were it not for the license, could be legally prevented or give rise to legal action in tort or trespass. A common example is allowing a person to walk across your lawn which, if it were not for the license, would constitute trespass. Licenses are revocable at will (unless supported by a contract) and, as such, differ from an easement (the latter conveying a legal interest in the land). Licenses which are not based on a contract and which are fully revocable are called "simple" or "bare" licenses. A common example is the shopping mall to which access by the public is on the basis of an implied license.

LIEN
A property right which remains attached to an object that has been sold, but not totally paid for, until complete payment has been made. It may involve possession of the object until the debt is paid or it may be registered against the object (especially if the object is real estate). Ultimately, a lien can be enforced by a court sale of the property to which it attached and then the debt is paid off from the proceeds of the sale.

LITIGATION
A dispute is in "litigation" (or being "litigated") when it has become the subject of a formal court action or law suit.

LIVING WILL
A document that sets out guidelines for dealing with life-sustaining medical procedures in the eventuality of the signatory's sudden debilitation. Living wills would, for example, inform medical staff not to provide extraordinary life-preserving procedures on their bodies if they are incapable of expressing themselves and suffering from an incurable and terminal condition.

LL.B., L.M. or LL.D.
The Latin abbreviations for the three classes of law degrees: the regular bachelor degree in law (LL.B.), the master’s degree in law (LL.M.) and the doctorate in law (LL.D.). These are basic prerequisites to admission to the practice of law in many states.