Skip to main content


Jump to definitions:

Tainted gifts
Terminating Ruling
The "Crown"
Totting up of penalty points
Trainee Solicitor

Tainted gifts

In the context of confiscation proceedings, tainted gifts are assets that have been transferred from the defendant to a third party for no consideration or at an undervalue. Whilst the legal title will no longer be with the defendant, if the court is satisfied that it is a sham arrangement, it will rule that the beneficial interest remains with the defendant (on the basis the assets are being held on his behalf and he/she could request their return) and thus that the items should form part of the defendant's available assets..

Terminating Ruling

A terminating ruling is a ruling during a criminal trial by the judge that the case should be dismissed. It may be made after a finding that there has been an abuse of the court's process or a following an application, after hearing the prosecution's evidence, that there is "no case to answer".

The prosecution can appeal the decision to the Court of Appeal, which can overturn the Crown Court judge's decision.

The "Crown"

Aside from private prosecutions, prosecutions are normally brought by the "Crown" on behalf of the monarch's subjects. This is why cases are referred to as "Regina versus ....."
This compares with republican jurisdictions, where terms such as "The People versus...." or "The State versus...." are frequently used.


Theft if the "dishonest appropriation of property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it". There are therefore two important element of theft - a physical one and mental one. The physical one requires the defendant to exercise some sort of proprietary right over the property (most commonly taking the property). The mental one requires this act to be dishonest, intentional and with a view to not giving the property back to its rightful owner. Thus, a defendant will not be guilty of theft if he thought the property was his (and was genuinely mistaken), if he was borrowing it or if he thought the rightful owner wouldn't mind him taking it.

Totting up of penalty points

If an individual receives 12 penalty points on their licence within a three-year period then a Magistrates' Court will usually disqualify them from driving for a period.

It is sometimes possible to argue against a period of disqualification being imposed by showing that a ban would cause "exceptional hardship". The threshold is fairly high - a Magistrates' Court will not care that a disqualification is inconvenient or even that it will cause an individual to lose their job. To accept an "exceptional hardship" argument a Magistrates' Court will need to be satisfied that there are truly exceptional circumstances relating to the individual that mean and a ban would have a critical impact on them or others.

New/probationary drivers (those who have passed their test in the last two years) are subject to different rules and will automatically have their licence revoked on the accumulation of six points. They will not be able to argue "exceptional hardship"

Trainee Solicitor

A trainee solicitor is an individual working under a training contract under the supervision of solicitors (at a law firm or another accredited provider of legal services). A trainee solicitor will normally undertake a variety of paralegal work and should gradually acquire the various vocational skills required to practice as a solicitor at the conclusion of his/her training contract.

A trainee solicitor will have obtained (or will be in the process of obtaining) the necessary academic/practice qualifications.

To qualify as a solicitor an individual needs to obtain a law degree (three years full-time), attend a Legal Practice Course (one year full-time) and complete a training contract with a provider of legal services (two years full-time). There are other routes if an individual has existing qualifications (e.g. a Post-Graduate Diploma in Law) and it is now possible to study and/or work part-time and combine the two in a variety of different ways.

The precise length of a training contract will depend on what combination of work/study the individual undertakes, but the traditional route would normally involve a training contract of two years. Once a training contract is signed off by the supervising firm/body then it is normal for a trainee solicitor to apply to be admitted to the roll of solicitors.


Trespass is a legal wrong that has three distinct forms - trespass to the person, trespass to chattels and trespass to land.

Trespass to the person is the intentional unauthorised interference with another. There are three varieties of trespass to the person: assault, battery and false imprisonment. Each of these may give rise to civil and criminal liability.

Trespass to chattels is the intentional unauthorised interference with property that belongs to another. It is a civil cause of action.

Finally, trespass to land is the intentional presence of an individual on land belonging to another where the individual has no authorisation or lawful excuse for being there. Trespass is a civil cause of action. Trespass on its own is not normally a criminal offence, however it can be in some prescribed instances (e.g. in relation to raves and hunt saboteurs) and it is an element of certain offences (e.g. burglary).


A trial is a court hearing to determine the legal liability of the defendant(s) in court proceedings (both civil and criminal) by examining the facts, the relevant law and how they relate to one another.

A civil trial will normally be before a judge sitting, although in limited circumstances there may be a jury.

A criminal trial in the Magistrates' Court will be before a bench of magistrates or a district judge. In the Crown Court it will be before a judge and jury:-

Trials generally follow the following procedure (albeit that some parts are omitted/varied depending on the type of hearing and/or circumstances of a case):-

  1. Jury empanelment
  2. Opening speech(es)
  3. Prosecution/claimant
  4. witnesses (examination in chief by prosecution/claimant, cross-examination by defence and re-examination by prosecution/claimant)
  5. Half-time submissions (if applicable)
  6. Half-time rulings (if applicable)
  7. Defence witnesses (examination in chief by defence, cross-examination by prosecution/claimant and re-examination by defence)
  8. Closing speech(es)
  9. Judge's summing up to the jury
  10. Jury retirement for consideration
  11. Verdict

A trial may be interrupted by legal argument, normally relating to the admissibility of evidence.

A trial may last anywhere from a number of hours to a number of months.


Tribunals perform similar functions to courts, but have a specialist function.
Examples of tribunals include mental health tribunals, employment tribunals and land valuations tribunals.

Tribunals often have their own appeal/review tribunals, albeit that the decisions of appeal/review tribunals can often be appealed in turn to one of the appellate courts.

Tribunals are normally more informal than courts and, due to their specialist/streamlined function, often offer a speedier outcome.

Cookies are used to personalise this website for you and to analyse how the website is being used. You give us your permission to do this by clicking the “agree” button or by continuing to use the website having received this notification. You can find further information on cookies in our cookie policy.