Criminal Law

Summary offence
A summary offence is relatively minor in nature and tried in a Magistrates Court before a Judge alone or two or three Magistrates.

Indictable offence
Indictable (the ‘c’ is silent) offences are serious criminal offences such as murder, wounding with intent, and rape. They must be tried in the Crown Court before a judge and jury.

An official document created by authorities that states the accusations made against the Defendant. This document will be presented to the Court when a trial starts.

A Barrister is a lawyer who specialises in courtroom advocacy and litigation. They can be instructed directly by a client or by a client’s Solicitor.

King’s Counsel (also referred to as a KC or Silk)
A senior Barrister or Solicitor who has practised for ten years or more. A King’s Counsel is appointed by the King to be one of ‘His Majesty’s Counsel learned in the law’. More information here.

Magistrates’ Courts
Magistrates’ Courts are one of the lower courts in England and Wales. Almost all criminal cases are heard in the Magistrates’ Court first and 95% are completed there. A Magistrates’ Court deals with summary offences and either way offences (summary or indictable (if the Defendant chooses to appear in the Magistrates’ Court rather than before a Judge and Jury in the Crown Court.

Crown Court
The Crown Court sits above the Magistrates’ Court and deals with serious criminal cases. It deals with:

  • Cases sent for trial by the Magistrates’ Courts because the offences are ‘indictable only’ (i.e. those which can only be heard by the Crown Court).
  • ‘Either way’ offences if the Defendant wants a jury trial.
  • Defendants convicted in Magistrates’ Court who are then sent to the Crown Court for sentencing due to the serious nature of the offence.
  • Appeals against decisions made in the Magistrates’ Courts.

Common law
Law that derives from court cases and precedent rather than legislation enacted by Parliament.

Law made by Parliament.

Family Law

Habitual Residence
The country in which your day to day life happens, i.e where you work, your children attend school, your pets live etc.

The country which is your permanent home. You automatically acquire domicile in your country of birth but if you move permanently to another country your domicile can change.

Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning

The process of administering the estate of someone who has died. At a basic level, it involves locating and examining their Will, paying off any debts, and distributing the deceased’s property and assets.


As a leaseholder you own the property but not the land on which it is built – that is owned by the freeholder. Ownership of your property is also for a set period, which can be several years, decades, or centuries, depending on the length of your lease. 

The owner of a freehold of a property owns the property and the land it stands on, for an unlimited period.

Buy to Let
A residential property acquired for the purpose of letting it out to tenants.

Commercial property

Relates to the maintenance and repairs required at the end of a commercial tenancy.

Where the landlord seeks to repossess their property following the tenant breaking one or more covenants in their tenancy agreement, usually by not paying rent.