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A private Bill is one designed to benefit a particular person, local authority, or other body, by whom it is presented. It is introduced on a petition by the promoter, which is preceded by public advertisement and by notice to those directly affected. Its Committee stage in the first House is conducted before a small group of members, and evidence for and against it is heard. Thereafter, it follows the procedure for public Bills.

A hybrid Bill is a government bill that is purely local or personal in character and affects only one of a number of interests in the same class. For example, a government Bill to nationalize one only of several private-sector airlines would be hybrid. A hybrid Bill proceeds as a public Bill until after second reading in the first House, after which it is treated similarly to a private Bill.

bill of costs

An account of *costs prepared by a solicitor in respect of legal services he has rendered his client. In general a solicitor may be required to furnish his client with a bill unless they have made an agreement in writing to the contrary. If no such agreement has been made the solicitor may not, without the permission of the High Court, sue for recovery of costs until one month after the bill of costs has been delivered. Any client dissatisfied with a bill can require his solicitor to obtain a remuneration certificate from the Law Society. The certificate will either say that the fee is fair and reasonable or it will substitute a lower fee. If the bill is endorsed with a notice saying that there is a right to ask for a remuneration certificate within one month, the client has one month from receipt of the bill to request the certificate. If the bill is not endorsed in this way, the client has a right to demand a remuneration certificate that lasts for one month from the time he was notified of this right. If the client requests a remuneration certificate, he must normally first pay half the bill and all the VAT on the bill and expenses and disbursements set out on the bill before the remuneration certificate is obtained, unless he has obtained permission from the Law Society to waive this requirement; this permission is given in exceptional circumstances. These rights are set out fully in the Solicitors (Non-Contentious Business) Remuneration Order 1994. In contentious (i.e. litigious) matters the bill is subject to *assessment of costs.

See also costs draftsman.

bill of exchange

An unconditional order in writing, addressed by one person (the drawer) to another (the drawee) and signed by the person giving it, requiring the drawee to pay on demand or at a fixed or determinable future time a specified sum of money to or to the order of a specified person (the payee) or to the bearer. If the bill is payable at a future time the drawee signifies his *acceptance, which makes him the party primarily liable upon the bill; the drawer and endorsers may also be liable upon a bill. The use of bills of exchange enables one person to transfer to another an enforceable right to a sum of money. A bill of exchange is not only transferable but also negotiable, since if a person without an enforceable right to the money transfers a bill to a *holder in due course, the latter obtains a good title to it. Much of the law on bills of exchange is codified by the Bills of Exchange Act 1882 and the Cheques Act 1992.

bill of indictment

A formal written accusation charging someone with an *indictable offence. The usual method of preferring a bill of indictment (i.e. bringing it before the appropriate court) is by committal proceedings before a magistrates' court (See committal for trial).

See also indictment.

bill of lading

A document acknowledging the shipment of a consignor's goods for carriage by sea (Compare sea waybill). It is used primarily when the ship is carrying goods belonging to a number of consignors (a general ship). In this case, each consignor receives a bill issued (normally by the master of the ship) on behalf of either the shipowner or a charterer under a *charterparty. The bill serves three functions: it is a receipt for the goods; it summarizes the terms of the contract of carriage; and it acts as a document of title to the goods. A bill of lading is also issued by a shipowner to a charterer who is using the ship for the carriage of his own goods. In this case, the terms of the contract of carriage are in the charterparty and the bill serves only as a receipt and a document of title. During transit, ownership of the goods may be transferred by delivering the bill to another if it is drawn to bearer or by endorsing it if it is drawn to order. It is not, however, a *negotiable instrument. The responsibilities, liabilities, rights, and immunities attaching to carriers under bills of lading are stated in the Hague Rules. These were drawn up by the International Law Association meeting at The Hague in 1921 and adopted by an International Conference on Maritime Law held at Brussels in 1922. They were given effect in the UK by the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1924 and so became known in the UK as the Hague Rules of 1924. They were amended at Brussels in 1968, effect being given to the amendments by the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1971. The Rules, which are set out in a schedule to the Act, apply to carriage under a bill of lading from any port in Great Britain or Northern Ireland to any other port and also to carriage between any of the states by which they have been adopted. Every bill issued in Great Britain or Northern Ireland to which the Rules apply must state that fact expressly (the clause giving effect to this requirement is customarily referred to as the paramount clause). The Hague Rules were completely rewritten in 1978 in a new treaty known as the Hamburg Rules, which drastically alter the privileged position of a sea carrier as compared to other carriers, but they have not yet been generally adopted.

bill of sale

A document by which a person transfers the ownership of goods to another. Commonly the goods are transferred conditionally, as security for a debt, and a conditional bill of sale is thus a mortgage of goods. The mortgagor has a right to redeem the goods on repayment of the debt and usually remains in possession of them; he may thus obtain false credit by appearing to own them. An absolute bill of sale transfers ownership of the goods absolutely. The Bills of Sale Acts 1878 and 1882 regulate the registration and form of bills of sale.

bind over

To order a person to provide a bond or *recognizance by means of which he guarantees to carry out some act (e.g. to appear in court at the proper time if he has been granted bail) or not to commit some offence (such as causing a breach of the peace).

birth certificate

A certified copy of an entry of birth in the register of births, deaths, and marriages, which comprises evidence of the detail there stated.

See registration of birth.



A list that contains details of members of trade unions, and in particular details of trade-union activists, compiled with a view to being used by outside bodies, usually employers and their associations, for the purpose of discrimination in relation to the recruitment and treatment of workers. The utilization of such lists is subject to the regulatory powers of the Secretary of State under section 3(2) of the Employment Relations Act 1999.



The crime of making an unwarranted demand with menaces for the purpose of financial gain for oneself or someone else or financial loss to the person threatened. The menaces may include a threat of violence or of detrimental action, e.g. exposure of past immorality or misconduct. Blackmail is punishable by up to 14 years' imprisonment. As long as the demand is made with menaces, it will be presumed to be unwarranted, unless the accused can show both that he thought he was reasonable in making the demand and that he thought it was reasonable to use the menaces as a means of pressure. Under the Administration of Justice Act 1970, there is also a special statutory crime of *harassment of debtors.

See also threat.

Black Rod, Gentleman Usher of the

Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod

An official of the House of Lords whose title derives from his staff of office - an ebony rod surmounted with a gold lion. The office originated as usher of the Order of the Garter in the 14th century; the parliamentary appointment dates from 1522. Black Rod is responsible for maintaining order in the House and summons members of the Commons to the Lords to hear a speech from the throne.



Statements or writings that deny - in an offensive or insulting manner - the truth of the Christian religion, the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, or the existence of God. Blasphemy is a crime at common law, and if it is published there is no need to show an intention to shock or insult or an awareness that the publication is blasphemous. Prosecutions for blasphemy are now rare and it has been suggested that the crime be abolished.

blight notice

A statutory notice by which an owner-occupier can require a public authority to purchase land that is potentially liable to compulsory acquisition by them and therefore cannot be sold at full value on the open market. The land may, for example, be shown in a development plan to be prospectively required for the authority's purposes or it may be designated in published proposals as the site of a future highway.



The act of a belligerent power of preventing access to or egress from the ports of its enemy by stationing a ship or squadron in such a position that it can intercept vessels attempting to approach or leave such ports. A neutral merchant vessel trying to break through a blockade is liable to capture and condemnation by the captor's *prize court.

block exemption

Exemption from *Article 81 of the Treaty of Rome for certain types of anticompetitive agreements that fall within the scope of special EU regulations that have direct effect in the EU (See Community legislation). Block exemptions exist in a number of different areas, including *vertical agreements and agreements relating to motor-vehicle distribution, research and development, specialization, and *technology transfer. The regulations are published in the EU's *Official Journal; any agreement that complies with the regulations will be exempt from Article 81. Many contracts in the EU are drafted to comply with the block exemption regulations by using the wording of those regulations in the agreements themselves. Block exemptions can also be issued under UK competition law. EU block exemptions provide an automatic exemption from the provisions of UK competition law in the Competition Act 1998.

blood relationship

See consanguinity.

blood specimen

See specimen of blood.

blood test

1. An analysis of blood designed to show that a particular man could not be the father of a specified child (it cannot establish that the person is the father). The court may order blood tests in disputes about paternity, but a man cannot be compelled to undergo the test against his will. His refusal may, however, lead the court to draw adverse conclusions. Any attempt to take blood without consent would be trespass.

See also dna fingerprinting.


See specimen of blood.

blue book

A form of government publication, such as a report of a committee, inquiry, or royal commission, published in blue covers.

See also parliamentary papers.

board of inquiry

A body convened by naval, army, or air force authorities to investigate and report upon the facts of any happening (e.g. the loss or destruction of service property), particularly for the purpose of determining whether or not disciplinary proceedings should be instituted.

bodily harm

See actual bodily harm; assault; grievous bodily harm.

bomb hoax

A deception in which one or more people are led to believe that an explosion is likely to occur that will cause physical injury or damage to property. A bomb hoax may constitute *blackmail (if accompanied by a demand), public nuisance, threats to damage property (an offence under the Criminal Damage Act 1971), or wasting the time of the police (under the Criminal Law Act 1967). Under the Criminal Law Act 1977 it is a special statutory offence, punishable by imprisonment for up to five years and/or a fine, to place or send an object anywhere with the intention of leading someone to believe that it is likely to explode and cause harm. It is also an offence falsely to tell anyone that a bomb has been placed in a certain place or that some other object is liable to explode.

bona vacantia

(Latin: empty goods)

Property not disposed of by a deceased's will and to which there is no relation entitled on intestacy. Under the Administration of Estates Act 1925, such property passes to the Crown, the Duchy of Lancaster, or the Duke of Cornwall. In practice it is usually used to make ex gratia payments, at the discretion of the Crown, Duchy, or Duke, to any dependants of the deceased and anyone else for whom he might reasonably have been expected to provide.



1. A deed by which one person (the obligor) commits himself to another (the obligee) to do something or refrain from doing something. If it secures the payment of money, it is called a common money bond; a bond giving security for the carrying out of a contract is called a performance bond.

2. A document issued by a government, local authority, company, or other public body undertaking to repay long-term debt with interest. Bond issues are issues of debt securities by a borrower to investors in return for the payment of a subscription price.

bonus issue

(bonus issue, capitalization issue)

A method of increasing a company's issued capital (See authorized capital) by issuing further shares to existing company members. These shares are paid for out of undistributed profits of the company, the *share premium account, or the *capital redemption reserve. The bonus issue is made to shareholders in proportion to their existing shareholding (e.g. a 1 for 2 bonus issue means that shareholders receive an extra free share for every two shares they hold).

capitalization issue

(bonus issue, capitalization issue)

A method of increasing a company's issued capital (See authorized capital) by issuing further shares to existing company members. These shares are paid for out of undistributed profits of the company, the *share premium account, or the *capital redemption reserve. The bonus issue is made to shareholders in proportion to their existing shareholding (e.g. a 1 for 2 bonus issue means that shareholders receive an extra free share for every two shares they hold).

books of account

(books of account, accounting records)

Records that disclose and explain a company's financial position at any time and enable its directors to prepare its *accounts. The books (which registered companies are required to keep by the Companies Act) should reveal, on a day-to-day basis, sums received and expended together with details of the transaction, assets and liabilities, and (where appropriate) goods sold and purchased. Public companies must preserve their books for six years, private companies for three years. Company officers and *auditors (but not members) have a statutory right to inspect the books.

accounting records

(books of account, accounting records)

Records that disclose and explain a company's financial position at any time and enable its directors to prepare its *accounts. The books (which registered companies are required to keep by the Companies Act) should reveal, on a day-to-day basis, sums received and expended together with details of the transaction, assets and liabilities, and (where appropriate) goods sold and purchased. Public companies must preserve their books for six years, private companies for three years. Company officers and *auditors (but not members) have a statutory right to inspect the books.



An area of local government, abolished as such (except in *Greater London) by the Local Government Act 1972. A *district may, however, be styled a borough by royal charter. Originally, a borough was a fortified town; later, a town entitled to send a representative to Parliament.

borough court

An inferior *court of record for the trial of civil actions by charter, custom, or otherwise in a borough. All remaining borough courts were abolished in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972.



An institution to which young offenders (aged 15 to 20 inclusive) could be sent before June 1983 instead of prison. Sentence to borstal has been replaced by *detention in a young offender institution.

See also juvenile offender.



See hypothecation.



(in international law)

An imaginary line that determines the territorial limits of a state. Such boundaries define the limitation of each state's effective *jurisdiction. They are three-dimensional in nature in that they include the *airspace and subsoil of the state, the terra firma within the boundary, and the maritime domain of the state's internal waters and territorial sea.

See also accretion; avulsion; thalweg, rule of the.

boundary commissions

Independent bodies established under the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 to carry out periodic reviews of parliamentary constituencies for the purpose of recommending boundary changes to take account of shifts in population. There are separate commissions for England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Compare local government boundary commissions.

breach of close

Entry on another's land without permission: a form of *trespass to land. A close is a piece of land separated off from land owned by others or from common land.

breach of confidence

1. The disclosure of confidential information without permission.

2. Failure to observe an injunction granted by the court to prevent this. The injunction is most commonly granted to protect *trade secrets (except patents, registered designs, and copyrights, which are protected under statute), but may also be granted, for example, to protect the secrecy of communications made between husband and wife during marriage or, possibly, between cohabitants during their period of cohabitation. The laws protecting confidential information exist at common law and will only restrain the dissemination of truly confidential information. Information that has been disclosed anywhere in the world, unless it was disclosed under conditions (usually a contract) of confidence, cannot subsequently be prevented from disclosure by the courts.

breach of contract

An actual failure by a party to a contract to perform his obligations under that contract or an indication of his intention not to do so. An indication that a contract will be breached in the future is called repudiation or an anticipatory breach, and may be either expressed in words or implied from conduct. Such an implication arises when the only reasonable inference from a person's acts is that he does not intend to fulfil his part of the bargain. For example, an anticipatory breach occurs if a person contracts to sell his car to A, but sells and delivers it to B before the delivery date agreed with A. The repudiation of a contract entitles the injured party to treat the contract as discharged and to sue immediately for *damages for the loss sustained. The same procedure applies to an actual breach if it amounts to breach of a *condition (sometimes referred to as fundamental breach) or breach of an *innominate term when the consequences of breach are sufficiently serious. In either an anticipatory or actual breach, the injured party may, however, decide to *affirm the contract instead. When an actual breach amounts to breach of a *warranty, or breach of an innominate term and the consequences of breach are not sufficiently serious to allow for discharge, the injured party is entitled to sue for damages only. However, most commercial agreements provide a right to terminate the agreement even when the breach is minor, thus overriding the common law principle described here. The process of treating a contract as discharged by reason of repudiation or actual breach is sometimes referred to as *rescission or repudiation, but this latter term is clearly confusing. Other remedies available under certain circumstances for breach of contract are an *injunction and *specific performance.

See also procuring breach of contract.

breach of privilege

See parliamentary privilege.

breach of statutory duty

Breach of a duty imposed on some person or body by a statute. The person or body in breach of the statutory duty is liable to any criminal penalty imposed by the statute, but may also be liable to pay damages to the person injured by the breach if he belongs to the class for whose protection the statute was passed Not all statutory duties give rise to civil actions for breach. If the statute does not deal with the matter expressly, the courts must decide whether or not Parliament intended to confer civil remedies. Most actions for breach of statutory duty arise out of statutes dealing with *safety at work.

breach of the peace

The state that occurs when harm is done or likely to be done to a person or (in his presence) to his property, or when a person is in fear of being harmed through an *assault, *affray, or other disturbance. At common law, anyone may lawfully arrest a person for a breach of the peace committed in his presence, or when he reasonably believes that a person is about to commit or renew such a breach. To breach the peace is a crime in Scotland; elsewhere, magistrates may *bind over a person to keep the peace.

See also arrest; offences against public order.

breach of trust

Any improper act or omission, contrary to the duties imposed upon him by the terms of the trust, by a trustee or other person in a fiduciary position. A breach need not be deliberate or dishonest. In all cases the trustee is personally responsible to the beneficiaries and is liable for any loss caused to the trust. Any profit made by a trustee by virtue of his position must be handed to the trust, even when the trust has suffered no loss.

break clause

A clause often contained in *fixed-term tenancy agreements that provides for an option to terminate the tenancy at a particular time or when a particular event occurs.

breakdown of marriage

See marital breakdown.



A device, approved by the Secretary of State, that is used in the preliminary *breath test to measure the amount of alcohol in a driver's breath. Modern devices, such as the Lion Alcometer 7410, are battery-operated. The suspect blows through a tube and lights indicate when sufficient breath has been delivered and the range within which the alcohol level falls. Earlier devices were based on a tube attached to a balloon, which the suspect had to inflate in one breath: a change in the colour of crystals inside the tube indicated that there was alcohol in the breath. A breathalyser should not be used within 20 minutes after consuming alcohol or on a suspect who has just been smoking. Constables must give instructions; testing suspects who have difficulty with breathing requires special care.

breath specimen

See specimen of breath.

breath test

A preliminary test applied by a uniformed police officer by means of a *breathalyser to a driver whom he suspects has alcohol in his body in excess of the legal limit, has committed a traffic offence while the car was moving, or has driven a motor vehicle involved in an accident. The test may be administered on the spot to someone either actually driving, attempting to drive, or in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or public place or suspected by the police officer of having done so in the above circumstances. If the test proves positive (See drunken driving), the police officer may arrest the suspect without a warrant and take him to a police station, where further investigations may take place (See specimen of breath). It is an offence to refuse to submit to a breath test unless there is some reasonable excuse (usually a medical reason), and a police officer may arrest without warrant anyone who refuses the test. The offence is punishable by a fine, endorsement (carrying 4 points under the totting-up system (*totting up)), and discretionary disqualification. A police officer has the power to enter any place in order to apply the breath test to someone he suspects of having been involved in an accident in which someone else was injured or to arrest someone who refused the test or whose test was positive.

brewster sessions

The annual meetings of licensing justices to deal with the grant, renewal, and transfer of licences to sell intoxicating liquor.

See licensing of premises.

bribery and corruption

Offences relating to the improper influencing of people in certain positions of trust. The offences commonly grouped under this expression are now statutory. Under the Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act 1889(amended by the Prevention of Corruption Act 1916) it is an offence, if done corruptly (i.e. deliberately and with an improper motive), to give or offer to a member, officer, or servant of a public body any reward or advantage to do anything in relation to any matter with which that body is concerned; it is also an offence for a public servant or officer to corruptly receive or solicit such a reward. The Prevention of Corruption Act 1906(amended by the 1916 Act) is wider in scope. It relates to agents, which include not only those involved in the business of agency but also all employees, including anyone serving under the Crown or any public body. Under this Act it is an offence to corruptly give or offer any valuable consideration to an agent to do any act or show any favour in relation to his principal's affairs; like the 1889 Act, it also creates a converse offence of receiving or soliciting by agents.

bridle way

Under the Highways Act 1980, a *highway over which the public has a right of way on foot and a right of way on horseback or leading a horse, with or without a right to drive animals along the highway.

See also driftway.



A document by which a solicitor instructs a barrister to appear as an advocate in court. Unless the client is receiving financial support from the Community Legal Service, the brief must be marked with a fee that is paid to counsel whether he is successful or not. A brief usually comprises a backsheet, typed on large brief-size paper giving the title of the case and including the solicitor's instructions, which is wrapped around the other papers relevant to the case. The whole bundle is tied up with red tape in the case of a private client and white tape if the brief is from the Crown.

British citizenship

One of three forms of citizenship introduced by the British Nationality Act 1981, which replaced citizenship of the UK and Colonies. The others are *British Dependent Territories citizenship and *British Overseas citizenship.

On the date on which it came into force (1 January 1983), the Act conferred British citizenship automatically on every existing citizen of the UK and Colonies who was entitled to the right of abode in the UK under the Immigration Act 1971 (See immigration). As from that date, there have been four principal ways of acquiring the citizenship - by birth, by descent, by registration, and by naturalization. A person acquires it by birth only if he is born in the UK and his father or mother is either a British citizen or settled in the UK (i.e. resident there, and not restricted by the immigration laws as to length of stay). If born outside the UK, he acquires it by descent if one of his parents has British citizenship (but not, normally, if that citizenship was itself acquired by descent). The British Nationality (Falkland Islands) Act 1983 makes special provisions to confer British citizenship on those people with connections with the Falkland Islands. The British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1997 gave additional rights to certain people from Hong Kong to acquire British citizenship "by descent" or "otherwise than with descent". Registration may be applied for by a minor, but adults are eligible only if they have particular links with the UK. In some cases (e.g. British Dependent Territories citizens, British Overseas citizens, British protected persons, and British subjects with certain residential qualifications), it is a right; in others, it is at the discretion of the Secretary of State.

Any adult may apply for naturalization but there are residential and other requirements (e.g. proof of good character), and its grant is always discretionary.

A registered or naturalized citizen may be deprived of his citizenship if he obtained it improperly, behaves disloyally, or is sentenced during the first five years to imprisonment exceeding one year.

Date: 2015-01-29; view: 533

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