Oran's Dictionary of the Law

Law Dictionaries: http://www.law.stetson.edu/law/dictionaries.htm?id=

Equity of a statute

The principle that statutes not only permit and forbid conduct but also state general policy for situations similar to, by not expressly covered by, the statute. See liberal construction.



A law passed by a legislature. [pronounce: stah-chute]


A decision (usually by a judge) about the meaning and legal effect of ambiguous or doubtful words that considers not only the words themselves but also surrounding circumstances, relevant laws and writings, etc. (Looking at just the words is called "interpretation," although interpretation is sometimes used to mean construction also.)

Liberal construction

Interpretation of the meaning of a statute that permits the statute to apply to situations within its general scope, but not explicitly covered. See equity of a statute for more detail and compare with strict construction.

Strict construction

Exact; precise; governed by exact rules. Strict construction of a law means taking it literally or "what it says, it means" so that the law should be applied to the narrowest possible set of situations. Compare with liberal construction. Strict construction of a contract means that any ambiguous words in the contract should be interpreted in the way least favorable to the side that wrote the words.



1. The process of discovering or deciding the meaning of a written document by studying only the document itself and not the circumstances surrounding it. But see no. 2.
2. Studying the document and surrounding circumstances to decide the document's meaning. See


1. Fairness in a particular situation.
2. The name for a system of courts that originated in England to take care of legal problems when the existing laws did not cover some situations in which a person's rights were violated by another person.
3. A court's power to "do justice" where specific laws do not cover the situation.
4. The value of property after all charges against it are paid. This is also called net worth or net value.
5. Stock. Sometimes
common stock only.

Administrative discretion

A public official's right to perform acts and duties that are not precisely "covered" by a law or rules and that require the use of professional judgment and common sense within the bounds set by the law.

Bad faith

Dishonesty or other failure to deal fairly with another person. Bad faith need not involve fraud. See good faith.

Good faith

1. Honest; honesty in fact.
2. For a merchant, good faith also means "the observance of reasonable commercial standards of fair dealing in the trade" according to the
Uniform Commercial Code.
3. Good faith bargaining is the obligation of an employer to hold honest negotiations about wages, hours, and employment conditions with a
union that has been certified to represent its employees.
4. A good faith purchaser in commercial law is a person who buys something honestly, pays good value, and knows of no other person's claim to the thing bought.
5. There is a good faith exception to the
exclusionary rule.


Any kind of trickery used by one person to cheat another. For different types of fraud, such as tax fraud, see those words.


Deceitful conduct designed to manipulate another person to give something of value by (1) lying, (2) by repeating something that is or ought to have been known by the fraudulent party as false or suspect or (3) by concealing a fact from the other party which may have saved that party from being cheated. The existence of fraud will cause a court to void a contract and can give rise to criminal liability. (Duhaime's Law Dictionary: http://www.duhaime.org/dict-f.htm#F)

Extrinsic fraud

In a lawsuit, fraud that prevented the losing party from having a full, fair trial. It is extrinsic because it is "outside" the issues in the trial (which might involve intrinsic fraud), involving the way the loser was prevented from knowing his or her rights or was prevented from presenting his or her side of the case.

Badge of fraud

A strong suspicion of fraud. The phrase is usually used when examining a transfer of property to see if it is a fake used to keep the property away from creditors. In this case a badge of fraud might be a hurried sale of property made to a relative to avoid a creditor's claims on the property.

Intrinsic fraud

Fraud that directly involves the issues in a lawsuit. Compare with extrinsic fraud.

Uniform Commercial Code

A comprehensive set of laws on every major type of business law, including contract law as it applies to the sale of goods, banking law, and negotiable instruments law. It has been adopted by almost every state, in whole or in major part. It replaced many older uniform laws, such as the Uniform Negotiable Instruments Act and the Uniform Sales Act.

Exclusionary rule

1. A reason why even relevant (see that word) evidence will be kept out of a trial.
2. "The exclusionary rule" often means the rule that illegally gathered evidence may not be used in a
criminal trial.


Tending to prove or disprove a fact that is important to a claim, charge, or defense in a court case. Information must be relevant to be admitted as evidence in a case. (In evidence law, "relevant" and "material" are sometimes used as synonyms, but technically, material is a subset of relevant and means "important to a claim, charge, or defense in a court case.") All relevant evidence is admissible into a case unless excluded by a specific rule, such as the hearsay rule. Relevant evidence may also be excluded if its value as evidence is outweighed by the possibility of unfair prejudice, the time wasted by presenting it, the possibility of confusing the issues, etc.


1. All types of information (observations, recollections, documents, concrete objects, etc.) presented at a trial or other hearing. Statements made by the judge and lawyers, however, are not evidence.
2. Any information that might be used for a future trial.
3. For types of evidence, such as
circumstantial, demonstrative, direct, hearsay, parol, probative, real, state's, etc., see those words.


A statement about what someone else said (or wrote or otherwise communicated). Hearsay evidence is evidence, concerning what someone said outside of a court proceeding, that is offered in the proceeding to prove the truth of what was said. The hearsay rule bars the admission of hearsay as evidence to prove the hearsay's truth unless allowed by a hearsay exception.

Hearsay exception

An exception to the hearsay rule (see hearsay). There are hearsay exceptions for business records, declarations against interest, dying declarations, excited utterances, party admissions, present sense impressions, etc



1. An unsworn statement made out of court. For example, a dying declaration made by a person who is about to die may sometimes be admitted as evidence, as may a declaration against interest (a statement that when made is so contrary to the speaker's interests that it would not likely have been made unless true).

Party admission

An out-of-court statement by a party (or a party's representative) to a lawsuit. A relevant party admission can usually be used by an opposing party as evidence under a hearsay exception.

Business records exception

An exception to the "hearsay exclusion rule" that allows original, routine records (sometimes whether or not part of a "business") to be used as evidence in a trial even though they are hearsay (see that word).

Demonstrative evidence

All evidence other than testimony.


Taking unfair commercial advantage by fraud or unconscionability.


Sales practices that are so greatly unfair that a court will not permit them. For example, a sales contract between a large company and a poorly educated person that contains unfair terms in small print and technical language, and involves an unfairly high sales price, is unconscionable. The Uniform Commercial Code permits rescission ("unmaking") of unconscionable contracts.


1. Secret action taken by two or more persons together to cheat another or to commit fraud. For example, it is collusion if two persons agree that one should sue the other because the second person is covered by insurance.
2. An agreement between husband and wife that one of them will commit (or appear to commit) an act that will allow the other one to get a

Main purpose doctrine

The principle that if the main purpose of a person's promise to pay another's debt is the person's own benefit, that promise need not be in writing to be enforceable. (This is an exception to the general rule under the statute of frauds that the promise to pay another's debts must be in writing.)


1. Making a fake document (or altering a real one) with intent to commit a fraud.
2. The document itself in no. 1.


1. The formal and informal exchange of information between sides in a lawsuit. Two types of discovery are interrogatories and depositions.
2. Finding out something previously unknown. For example, in
patent law, a discovery is finding out something new rather than inventing a device or process. Also, the discovery of a fraud or of medical malpractice occurs when the person harmed finds out the problem (or should have found out if careful).


Cause to fail. Destroy (either totally or partially) the legal effect or binding force of something. For example, fraud vitiates a contract. [pronounce: vish-ee-ate]


1. The sharing of payment for a debt (or judgment) among persons who are all liable for the debt.
2. The right of a person who has paid an entire debt (or judgment) to get back a fair share of the payment from another person who is also responsible for the debt. For example, most
insurance policies require that if another insurance company also covers a loss, each must share payment for ("contribute to") the loss in proportion to the maximum amount each covers.


1. Misuse.
2. Sexually molesting a child.
3. Regularly injuring a child.
4. Insult forcefully.
5. Abuse of discretion is the failure to use sound, reasonable judgment when one (such as a judge) is under a legal duty to do so.
6. Abuse of process is using the legal system unfairly; for example, prosecuting a person for writing a "bad check" simply to put on pressure to pay.


1. The resolve or purpose to use a particular means to reach a particular result. "Intent" usually explains how a person wants to do something and what that person wants done, while "motive" explains why. These words often get confused.
2. In
criminal law, intent is divided into two types: general (intent to do something that the law prohibits); and specific (intent to do the exact thing charged). Also, if a person does something knowing that a certain result is likely, there is an intent to cause that result whether or not the person desires it.

Similar Terms:
Predatory intent, Intention, Legislative intent rule, Letter of intent, Presumed intent, Transferred intent rule

Your search word(s) was found in the definitions of the following terms:

1. Threat 2. Transferred intent rule 3. Verbal act 4. Take 5. Reformation 6. Price discrimination 7. Motive
8. Legislative purpose rule 9. Intent 10. Loophole 11. Abstraction 12. Abandonment
13. Cut throat pricing 14. Felonious 15. Eo 16. Enticement 17. Forgery 18. Indecent
19. Aggravated assault 20. Intention 21. Legislative history 22. Mens rea 23. Polar star rule
24. Purport 25. Statement 26. Specific


Determination to do a certain thing (see intent).


A procedure in which a court will rewrite or correct ("reform") a written agreement to conform with the original intent of the persons making the deal. The court will usually do this only if there was fraud or mutual mistake in writing up the original document.


The reason why a person does something. Not intent (see that word for the difference).

Legislative purpose rule

The principle that when a statute is ambiguous, a court should interpret the statute by looking at what the law was before the statute was passed and then deciding what the statute means by looking at both the statute itself and at what the statute was trying to change. This is one of several possible ways of interpreting statutes. Compare with legislative intent rule.


1. Done with the intent to commit a major crime; of or pertaining to a felony.
2. Evil; malicious; unlawful.

Legislative history

The background documents and records of hearings related to the enactment of a bill. These documents may be used to decide the meaning of the law after it has been enacted. See legislative intent rule.

Mens rea

(Latin) Guilty mind; wrongful purpose; criminal intent. Mens rea is a state of mind which (when combined with an actus reus, or "criminal act") produces a crime. This state of mind is usually to intentionally or knowingly do something prohibited, but is occasionally to recklessly or grossly negligently do it. See also strict liability for crimes that do not require mens rea.

Mens rea
Latin for "guilty mind." Many serious crimes require the proof of "mens rea" before a person can be convicted. In other words, the prosecution must prove not only that the accused committed the offence but that he (or she) did it knowing that it was prohibited; that their act (or omission) was done with an intent to commit a crime. (Duhaime's Law Dictionary: http://www.duhaime.org/dict-m.htm)


Polar star rule

The principle that the intent of a document should be determined from the document alone unless it violates laws or public policy. See also four corners rule.

Four corners rule

1. The principle that the meaning of an unambiguous document should be determined from the document alone, not, for example, from oral testimony about what the writer "really" meant.
2. The general rule that the meaning of a phrase should be interpreted in the context of the entire document, not from the phrase in isolation.


1. Imply, profess outwardly, or give an impression (sometimes, a false impression).
2. The meaning, intent, or purpose of something.


Exact. For example, specific intent is an intent to commit the exact crime charged, not merely a general intent to commit some crime or merely a generally guilty mind; and a specific bequest is a gift in a will of a precisely identifiable object such as "the family Bible."