Legal glossary

A list of the legal terms you may find in your title deeds or may need if you use Simple Procedures. Arranged alphabetically.

Where a term is in italics, it is explained elsewhere in the glossary.

A – C
Legal term
Absolve To find in favour of and exonerate the defender.
Absolvitor An order of the court exonerating the defender, which means that the pursuer is not allowed to bring the same matter to court again.
Action of furthcoming The final stage of arrestment. It results in whatever has been subject to arrestment being made over to the person who is suing. For example, where a bank account has been arrested, this results in the appropriate amount being transferred to the pursuer.
Ad factum praestandum An obligation to do something (other than the payment of money).
Ad longum At length.
Adjudication A quick and inexpensive method of dispute resolution, resulting in an immediately enforceable, non-binding dispute settlement by an adjudicator.
Affirmative burden real burden which imposes an obligation on the owner of the burdened property to do something, such as build a house or maintain a wall.
Alienate To transfer.
Ancillary burdens real burden allowing the benefited proprietor enter or make use of the burdened property to allow them to comply with another real burden. The proprietor of an upper flat might, for example, have right of access over the ground belonging to the proprietor of a ground floor flat, but only in order to comply with a real burden requiring them to maintain the upper villa.
Appellant A person making an appeal against the court’s decision.
Appurtenances A term in English law meaning things or rights attached to a property. The normal term used in Scotland is pertinent.
Arbitration The main alternative to the court system where the parties have the power to decide many of the procedures that will govern the conduct of their arbitration. The decision is usually binding in law.
Arbitrator/arbiter Someone who has been given the authority to settle arguments or disputes between other people.
Arrestment on the dependence A court order to freeze the goods or bank account of the defender until the court has heard the case.
Arrestment to found jurisdiction A court order used against a person who has moveable property in Scotland to give the court jurisdiction to hear a case. This is achieved by preventing anything being done with the moveable property until the case has been disposed of.
Assessed rental Rateable value.
Assign Transfer a right.
Assignee The person to whom a right is transferred.
Assignor The person transferring a right.
Authorised lay representative A person other than a lawyer who represents a party to a summary cause action.
Benefited property A property whose owner can enforce a title condition affecting another property. For example, a servitude right of access or a real burden preventing alterations.
Blench disposition A deed transferring ownership of land for a token sum of money (an old penny, a red rose etc.). Such deeds are now obsolete.
Bond A written agreement to pay money.
Building maintenance fund An account that owners pay into regularly to build up funds to pay for future major repairs. Also known as a ‘sinking fund’.
Burdened property See benefited property.
Burdens A generic term for obligations encumbering land ownership. These are often found in Section D of a title sheet. Contrast real burden which has a narrower meaning.
Calling date The date on which a case will first be heard in court.
Cause Another word for case or claim.
Caution (pronounced kay-shun) A guarantee  by a third party that some obligation will be carried out, normally to pay money. For example, a parent might act as a cautioner in relation to a student child’s obligation to pay rent under a lease.
Certificate of Execution of Service The document recording that an order or decree of the court for service of documents has been effected.
Charge An order to obey a decree of a court that money is to be paid. This is served on the defender by a sheriff officer, on behalf of the pursuer who has obtained the decree.
Citation of defender The bringing of a person into a case by serving on him or her the necessary court documents.
Close The term used by the Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004 to refer to the common stair.
Commission and diligence Authorisation by the court for someone to take the evidence of a witness who cannot attend court, or to obtain the production of documentary evidence. It is combined with a diligence, authorising the person appointed to require the attendance of the witness and the disclosure of documents.
Common parts A term which can be used broadly to refer to the parts of the tenement that are not within the boundaries of individual flats, such as the roof and stair. Whether these are actually common property is a separate question and will depend on the titles.
Common property Property that is owned by more than one person, where each owner has a right to a share in the whole property, but none has an absolute right to any physical portion of it. A leading example is the common stair in a tenement.
Community burden real burden which is imposed on two or more units in a property and each of the units is both a burdened and benefited property. The properties have reciprocal enforcement rights in relation to such real burdens.. See the Title Conditions (Scotland) Act 2003, section 25.
Conciliation The main difference between mediation and conciliation is that in conciliation the agreement reached is binding in honour only.
Consignation The deposit in court, or with a third party, of money or an article in dispute.
Continuation An order made by a judge, postponing the completion of a hearing until a later date or dates.
Contribution, Right of The right of one person, who is legally liable to pay money to someone, to claim a proportionate share from others who are also liable.
Convene To call a meeting.
Cooling off period Period of time  during which purchasers can change their mind about a purchase decision. Currently, goods and services that are sold unsolicited are subject in law to a seven-day cooling off period.
Counterclaim A claim made by a defender in response to the pursuer’s case and which is not a defence to that case. It is a separate but related case against the pursuer which is dealt with at the same time as the pursuer’s case.
Crave The part of the summons which sets out the legal remedy (result) which the pursuer is seeking in a Sheriff Court action.
Cumulo assessed rental All the assessed rentals added together.
D – I
Legal term
Damages Money compensation payable for a breach of contract or some other legal duty.
Decree An order made by a court.
Deed of conditions A document setting out the title conditions affecting a building development, such as a tenement or a housing estate. These are normally written by builders or developers and then registered in the Land Register against the title to the development. When the individual flats or houses are sold these will all be subject to the deed of conditions which will appear on their titles.
Defender Person against whom a court order is started.
Delineated Outlined.
Deliverance A decision or order of a court.
Development management scheme A bit like a deed of conditions, the DMS sets out owners’ common responsibilities.  A formal owners’ association, with a manager and powers to take action is also included. It is normally applied to a development by a builder. Where it is applied to a tenement the Tenement Management Scheme does not apply. The DMS is set out in the Title Conditions (Scotland) Act 2003 (Development Management Scheme) Order 2009, SI 2009/729.
Diet Date for a court hearing.
Diligence The collective term for the procedures used to enforce a decree of a court. These include arrestment of wages, goods, or a bank account.
Dismissal An order bringing to an end the proceedings in a court action. It is usually possible for a new action to be brought if not time barred.
Dispone To transfer ownership of land.
Disponee The person to whom ownership of land is being transferred.
Disponer The person transferring ownership of land.
Disposition Deed of transfer. This needs to be registered in the Land Register for ownership to transfer.
Domicile The place where a person is normally resident or where in the case of a company, it has its place of business or registered office.
Dominant tenement See burdened property. Note: ‘tenement’ here simply means land, not a block of flats.
Dominium utile A feudal right of ownership in land entitling the holder to possess the land. All rights of dominium utile were converted into absolute ownership on 28 November 2004 by the Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc (Scotland) Act 2000.
Easement An English law term, sometimes seen in Scottish deeds, which means servitude.
Effect To do something.
Effeiring Belonging to.
Egress Way out.
Estimate An informed guess, a rough price.
Ex adverso Opposite.
Execute To carry out a task or to sign a deed.
Exigible The amount to be paid.
Extract decree A document containing the order of the court which is made at the end of a court action. For example, it can be used to enforce payment of a sum awarded.
Facility burdens These are real burdens which regulate the maintenance, management, reinstatement, or use of property. An example of this is where the owner is obliged to maintain or contribute to the maintenance of the common parts of a tenement.
Factor A company or individual that provides maintenance, repair, and property management services. Factoring services may also be provided by a local authority or registered social landlord.
Feu A feudal term for a piece of land. The feudal system was abolished on 28 November 2004 and the term is now obsolete, but can still be seen in deeds and titles.
Feu duty A payment rather like rent due to a feudal superior. Now abolished, but can still be relevant to calculating the proportion of a repair bill in a tenement payable a flat owner where a real burden imposes liability on this basis.
Feu superior Under the feudal system land was not held absolutely but held of feu superiors. The ultimate superior was the Crown. Feu superiors had the right to real burdens. These rights are now generally held by neighbouring owners as community burdens.
First calling The first occasion on which a summary cause is heard in court.
Free ish and entry The right to come and go.
Grantee A person to whom a deed is granted, for example a disposition.
Grantor A person who grants a deed.
Ground annual Like a feu duty. Now abolished.
Haver A person who holds documents which are required as evidence in a case.
Heritable property Land and buildings, include the rights over or connected with these. Property which is not heritable property is known as ‘moveable property’.
Incidental application An application that can be made during the course of a court action for certain orders. Examples are applications for the recovery of documents or to amend the statement of a claim.
Infeft An obsolete feudal term meaning registered as proprietor. In contrast someone holding an unregistered title for example an executor of a will holding land on a temporary basis was known as an ‘uninfeft proprietor’.
Inhibition on the dependence A court order to restrict the ability of the defender to transfer land which they own until the court has heard the case.
Instrument A document, for example setting out a contract.
Interim attachment A court order to stop the defender disposing of moveable property before the court has heard the case.
Interlocutor A court order.
Interrogatories Written questions put to someone during a court case which must be answered on oath.
Intimation A term for giving notice to another party of some step in a court action.
Investiture An archaic term for becoming owner.
Irritate Forfeit. Ownership rights can no longer be irritated although leases can be.
Ish This has more than one meaning: (1) the end of lease; (2) access: see free ish and entry.
J – R
Legal term
Jus quaesitum tertio Third party rights. This term can sometimes be found in older deeds of conditions in relation to the conferring of the right to enforce real burdens on the owners of the properties in the development, in addition to the builder.
Land Register of Scotland Computerised and plan-based register of titles to land in Scotland maintained by the Registers of Scotland. Introduced in 1981. The older Scottish land register is the Register of Sasines which is now generally closed to new deeds. All land transfers in Scotland are now registered in this Land Register. Each property has a unique title number and title sheet.
Lands Tribunal for Scotland A judicial body (like a court) with power over various land matters, including to vary or extinguish title conditions.
License An agreement for the occupation of land which falls short of the requirements for a lease, typically because there is no fixed duration or rent.
Lien This has more than one meaning. It can mean a right to hold someone’s property until a debt is paid but in deeds it usually means real burden.
Liferent The right to use a property during your lifetime.
Maintenance account An account set up to pay for maintenance and repair works.
Manager burdens real burden used by a developer for the purpose of appointing a manager in the initial years of a development.
Mean Halfway point.
Mediation A voluntary, non-binding ‘without prejudice’ process in which trained third-party negotiators attempt to bring people together to reach settlement.
Messenger-at-arms Officers of the court who serve documents issued by the Court of Session.
Minute A document produced during a case in which a party makes an application or sets out his or her position on some matter.
Minute for recall A form lodged with the court by one party asking the court to recall a decree.
Missives Typically, the first stage in the process for the transfer of ownership of land in Scotland. Missives are the contract of sale created by letters between the seller’s and buyer’s solicitors. The second stage is the disposition and the third stage is registration in the Land Register.
Negative burdens real burden stating that the owner of the burdened property must not do something, such as an obligation not to use the property for a place of business or for the sale of alcohol. Negative burdens can be enforced against the occupier of the burdened property as well as the owner.
Nominee Someone who is named to carry out a task on another person’s behalf and with their authority.
Options hearing A preliminary stage in an ordinary cause action in the Sheriff Court.
Ordinary cause A legal procedure for cases involving £5,000 available in the Sheriff Court.
Owners’ association A formal association by which owners manage and maintain their building or development.
Party litigant A person who conducts his or her own case.
Perch A measurement of about five metres.
Personal real burdens real burden that is enforced by a body, such as the local council and where is no benefited property. For example, conservation burdens.
Pertaining Belonging.
Pertinent Something which belongs to a property.
Pole A measurement of about five metres.
Praedial real burdens real burden which has both a benefited property and a burdened property.
Presents In a deed, “these presents” means the deed itself.
Primo First person or thing in a list.
Pro Indiviso A non-physical share of something such as the close in a tenement.
Process The court file containing all the documents relating to a case.
Productions Documents or articles which are used in evidence.
Property manager A company or individual that provides maintenance, repair, and management services. Property management may also be provided by a local authority or registered social landlord. See the Property Factors (Scotland) Act 2011. See also factor.
Proprietor/proprietrix The owner.
Pursuer The person who raises (starts) a court action.
Quarto Fourth person or thing in a list.
Quoad As far as.
Quote/Quotation A fixed price that is binding.
S – Z
Legal term
Real burdens A positive or negative obligation affecting land and buildings, such as to maintain or not to trade. Real burdens can only be created in a deed. The land or building on which a real burden is imposed is known as the burdened property. .  Unlike a contractual agreement, which is between current owners, real burdens are permanent and run from with the title one owner to the next. They can be changed using the correct process. A real burden, like a servitude is a type of title condition.
Real conditions Older term for title condition prior to the Title Conditions (Scotland) Act 2003.
Recall of a decree An order revoking a decree which has been granted.
Recall of an arrestment A court order withdrawing an arrestment.
Recovery of documents The process of obtaining documentary evidence which is not in the possession of the person seeking it (such as a surveyor’s report).
Register of Sasines A register of title deeds established in 1617, which is now being replaced by the Land Register of Scotland. There are no title sheets in the Register of Sasines, just deeds.
Registered social landlord Local council, housing association, or housing cooperative registered with the Scottish Housing Regulator.
Registers of Scotland Non-ministerial department of the Scottish Government that maintains the two property registers: the Register of Sasines and the Land Register of Scotland as well as other registers. Its senior official is known as the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland.
Registration of title The Land Register of Scotland is a system of registration of title, under which each property has a title sheet.  In contrast, the Register of Sasines is a system of registration of deeds.
Reinstatement value The full cost of rebuilding the property, not just its market value.
Remit between procedures A decision of a sheriff to transfer a summary cause to another court procedure, such as simple procedures or ordinary cause procedure. The term can be used in other courts too.
Respondent When a decision of a judge is appealed against, the person making the appeal is called the appellant. The other side in the appeal is called the respondent.
Restriction of an arrestment An order releasing part of the money or property which has been the subject of an arrestment.
Return day The date by which the defender must send a written reply to the court and, where appropriate, the pursuer must return the summons to court.
Rod (Pole or Perch) A measurement, about five metres in length.
Rood A measurement of ¼ acre.
Schedule of arrestment The list of items which may be arrested.
Scheme costs Any cost incurred through a scheme decision.
Scheme decision A decision taken by the owners of a majority of the flats in a tenement in terms of the Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004. . The main example is to decide to carry out maintenance.
Scheme property Key parts of a tenement such as the foundations, external walls and roof, as defined in the Tenement Management Scheme. Scheme decisions can only be taken in relation to scheme property.
Secundo Second person or thing in a list.
Serve/service Sending a copy of the summons or other court document to the defender or another party.
Service burden A service burden is a real burden concerned with the provision of services, such as a water supply or electricity, to other land.
Servitude A type of title condition, allowing a neighbouring owner to make limited use of land. The classic example is access.
Sheriff clerk The court official responsible for the administration of the Sheriff Court.
Sheriff officer A person who serves court documents and enforces Sheriff Court orders.
Sinking fund A fund to which owners contribute to help offset maintenance and repairs costs.
Sist as a party To add another person as a litigant in a case.
Sist of action The temporary suspension of a court case by court order.
Solum The ground a building stands on.
Specification of documents A list lodged in court of documents to be recovered, for which a party seeks a court order.
Standard security A right in security affecting land and building, often referred to as a ‘mortgage’.
Stated case An appeal procedure where a sheriff sets out findings and the reasons for a decision and states the issues on which the decision of an appeal court is requested.
Statement of claim The part of the summons in which pursuers set out details of their cases against defenders.
Subservient tenement See benefited property.
Successor In this context, someone who becomes owner of the flat after you.
Summary cause Type of proceedings in the Sheriff Court.
Summons The form which must be filled in to begin a summary cause.
Tenement A building comprising two or more related flats that are owned or designed to be owned separately and which are divided from one another horizontally.
Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004 The most important piece of legislation regulating tenements in Scotland. It is a default law, which is subject to the titles. It sets out rules as to ownership and maintenance, including the Tenement Management Scheme.
Tenement Management Scheme (TMS) The default management scheme that applies to tenements but is subject to the titles. It is set out in schedule 1 to the Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004.
Tertio Third person or thing in a list.
Time to pay direction A court order for which a defender who is an individual may apply, permitting a sum owed to be paid by instalments or by a single payment at a later date.
Title conditions The general term for conditions affecting heritable property and which can typically found in Section D of a title sheet. The main examples are servitudes and real burdens.
Title Conditions (Scotland) Act 2003 The legislation regulating title conditions.
Title deeds Deeds in relation to land. Used typically for deeds which have been registered in the Register of Sasines.
Title Formal record of land ownership. See registration of title.
Title sheet In the Land Register, each property has its own title sheet which is made up by the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland from the deeds registered in the Register of Sasines. A title sheet is made up for the first time when a property is sold after the Land Register legislation came into force. A title sheet has four sections. These are A: Property, B: Proprietorship, C: Securities and D: Burdens.
Transmission Transfer of property.
Vest A very difficult term to define exactly, but where rights are vested in someone it means that they hold these rights.
Videlicet Namely (shortened to viz).
Viz Namely (a shortening of videlicet).
Warrandice Guarantee.
Warrant for diligence Authority to carry out a diligence procedure.
Writ A legally significant document or piece of writing.
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