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Legal Glossary - S


Security interest

A proprietary right over any item of property, allowing the holder to claim the item and/or sell it, retaining the proceeds, upon failure to repay a debt or perform an obligation. Synonym: lien.



A person or corporation who sets up a trust over trust property. The settlor’s declarations or conduct must define the basic trust parameters with certainty. They then surrender legal title to the trustee and bind them to distribute the trust property to the beneficiaries.


Specific Performance

An order given by a court in response to equitable claims, including claims of a breach of contract where the counter-party has not done all that is required under the contract. A specific performance order stipulates what is to be done by the party concerned so as to complete all equitable obligations.



The fact of the plaintiff having standing means that the plaintiff has the right to sue on the particular matter. A person suing on behalf of another would lack standing unless they have a particular relationship, such as parenthood or power of attorney.



The republican alternative to the Crown, as the source of paramount government authority. The state’s power in republics may be vested ultimately in the office of President, but dispersion of power may be too great to identify any single ultimate authority.


Statement of claim

A set of documents in which the applicant/plaintiff alleges all of the material facts that show their cause of action and its enforceability against the respondent/defendant. The statement of claim may formulate any question of law that the Court will be asked to determine and must set out the court orders sought by the applicant against the respondent.



A general term referring both to Acts of Parliament and to Regulations. Synonym: legislation.


Statute of Frauds

A group of statutory laws require a written, signed document to validate certain contractual rights. These include the legal title to real property and marriage. Each of these laws derive from the antecedent Statute of Frauds, an Act of the British Parliament of 1677, which dealt with problems arising from a rash fraudulent claims. Where a party has failed to follow the writing requirement, or where the requirement itself is used fraudulently, claims under the rules of equity can provide them with a remedy.


Statute of Limitations

A group of statutory laws set limitation periods for the bringing of action in the civil law jurisdiction. These laws derive from the antecedent Statute of Limitations, an Act of the British Parliament of 1623. Today the time limit for most civil actions is six years, but limitation periods vary considerably for different kinds of matters and in different jurisdictions. There is no limitation period on serious criminal law matters.



A subpoena compels the appearance of a person at a trial to testify and to produce documents. A subpoena is a court order. Therefore if properly issued and disobeyed, the recipient could be in contempt of court.



A document issued by a court directing a person to appear before it.


Sunset clause

A clause in a contract or other document giving a final date after which no remedy may be sought, regardless of the grounds of complaint.


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