Legal jargon explained

When you use legal services you may well come across words and phrases (legal jargon) that you’re not familiar with. Your solicitor should explain them to you if you ask.

We have put together a list of some common legal jargon which you may find helpful:

ATE – is short for ‘after the event insurance’ – this is an insurance policy you can take out after an accident has happened and you are making a claim for compensation.  The ATE policy means that, if you lose the claim, your insurance company will pay the other side’s legal costs and expenses.

Barrister – a lawyer who is a member of one of the Inns of Court and who has the privilege of pleading in the higher courts.

CFA – Conditional Fee Agreement (also known as ‘No Win, No Fee’) – a way of funding claims.  It works so that if the claimant wins, the defendant pays the costs and if the claimant loses, then their solicitor bears the costs.

Civil case – a lawsuit brought to redress a private wrong (also known as a civil wrong) such as breach of contract, encroachment, or negligence; or to enforce civil remedies such as compensation, damages or injunctions.  May be called a civil action or civil proceedings.

Claimant – a person who brings a civil action.

Claims track (small, fast, multi) – the value of your claim will depend which claims track you are allocated to.

Comprehensive insurance – insurance policy for your car, which will cover your damages and the other driver’s damages, even if it is your fault.

Contributory negligence – when you have contributed to your injuries by being negligent, for example not wearing your seatbelt.

Criminal case – criminal law typically is enforced by the Government, unlike civil law which may be enforced by private parties.

CRU – Compensation Recovery Unit.  This body recovers money paid out in benefits to claimants.

Defendant – a person who defends a civil action against themselves.

DVLA – Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority.  Deal with car tax and vehicle licensing.

50/50 – when both parties involved in an accident are equally to blame

LEI – legal expenses insurance.  You normally purchase this as an ‘add on’ when buying insurance, such as a motor or household policy.  It will cover you for the legal expenses that you may incur in most personal injury, consumer, property and employment disputes, as well as for any award of the other party’s legal costs.

Liability – who is at fault, either totally or partially

Litigation – the process of taking a case through court.  The litigation or legal process is most common in civil lawsuits.  In litigation, there is a claimant (one who brings the charge) and a defendant (one against whom the charge is brought)

Medical report – your solicitor will ask you to see a doctor who will produce a medical report to describe your injuries and suggest how long it will take you to recover

MIB – Motor Insurers’ Bureau.  They deal with uninsured and untraced claims, and are funded directly by insurers, but indirectly through all our policies.

MID – Motor Insurance Database, where police and others can check if you have insurance in place.

Mitigate – it is your responsibility to ‘mitigate your loss’ when making a claim.  This essentially means you should keep your costs to a reasonable level.  For example, if you drive a Ford Focus and your car is in an accident and is sent to the garage for repair, you should not hire a Porsche and expect the Third Party to pay for this as you are not mitigating your loss.

PSLA – Pain, Suffering and Loss of Amenity award.

RTA – road traffic accident.

Settlement – when you have reached an agreement with the other party

Solicitor – a member of the legal profession whose services consist of advising clients, representing them before the lower courts, and preparing cases for barristers to try in the higher courts.

Third party – the ‘other party’ involved in an accident.

Third Party, Fire and Theft – insurance policy for your car, which will cover for it for theft and fire as well as damage to someone else’s car, but not damage to your own car.

TPC – third party capture.  A process whereby the insurance company of the driver at fault contacts the victim directly.  To read more about this, click here.

TPI – third party insurer.  The other party’s insurance company.

Uninsured – a person who drives a vehicle without insurance.

Untraced – When someone hits another person with their vehicle and drives away without stopping (hit and run) and then cannot be found.


Our Mission Statement

MASS promotes the highest standards of legal services through education and representation in the pursuit of justice for victims of road traffic accidents.