Glossary of Legal Terms

  • 10 years’ Long Residence Route – where a person has been in the United Kingdom lawfully and continuously for 10 years, they can apply for settlement, which is also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain or ILR.
  • Administrative Review – Home Office internal review mechanism; available only for particular types of application.
  • Adoption – process by which an individual becomes a child’s legally recognised parent, and the parental responsibility of the biological parents or any other person ceases.
  • Adoption and Children Act 2002 – Act of Parliament that covers the law relating to the adoption process.
  • Adoption Order – order made by the Family Court to cease the parental responsibility of a child’s biological parents, and officiate its transfer to new, adoptive parents.
  • Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (“ACAS”) – independent public body providing employees and employers mediation service for employment disputes.
  • Article 8 – Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights; ensures the right to respect for private and family life.
  • Barrister – legal professional whose main roles include: performing advocacy in courts or tribunals, drafting complex legal documents, and providing written legal advice. Barristers who are litigation qualified may also do work typically carried out by a solicitor.
  • British Citizen (British Citizenship) – person who can live, work and vote in the United Kingdom freely, without being subject to any immigration controls, and is recognised as a national of the United Kingdom with the effect  of being entitled to certain legal protections, for example consular assistance overseas.
  • Business Plan – document required in support of certain business visa applications.
  • Child Arrangements Order – order deciding who a child will live with and the level of contact they will have with that person
  • Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (“CAFCASS”) – independent body that makes recommendations to the Family Court on the best interests of children in family disputes.
  • Constructive Dismissal – where an employee is not explicitly dismissed, but the employer’s behaviour damages the employer/employee relationship to the point the employee can legally regard themselves as having been dismissed.
  • Cross-examination – when a witness is questioned by the opposing party’s representative in court.
  • Deportation – legal process by which a person – usually with a criminal record – is removed from the United Kingdom.
  • Direct Access Barristers – barristers who take instructions directly from members of the public, without that person having to go through a solicitor.
  • Discrimination – under the Equality Act 2010, the act of treating someone unfairly based on a ‘protected characteristic’, such as age, disability, gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation.
  • Divorce – legal process by which a marriage is terminated.
  • Documentary Evidence – proof in the form of a document.
  • EEA Nationals – a citizen of any country which forms part of the European Economic Area. This includes EU countries, as well as Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein.
  • Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) – independent tribunal that hears appeals against decisions of the Employment Tribunal.
  • Employment Rights Act 1996 – Act of Parliament governing employment rights.
  • Employment Tribunal – independent tribunal that adjudicates on employment disputes.
  • Endorsing Body – organisation permitted by the Home Office to endorse individuals for business visas.
  • English Language Requirement – requirement in the UK Immigration Rules that an adult applying for leave to remain, or settlement in the UK must prove their English language ability through the production of a valid test certificate, having sat a prescribed test.
  • Equality Act 2010 – Act of Parliament governing the law relating to the fair and equal treatment of persons who have any ‘protected’ characteristics, such as age, disability, gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation.
  • EU Settlement Scheme – scheme which EU, other EEA and Swiss citizens must apply to join, in order to remain in the UK after the Brexit transition period is over.
  • European Convention on Human Rights – international treaty that ensures the human rights and political freedoms of persons in the 47 Member States that form the Council of Europe.
  • Examination-in-chief – when a witness is questioned by their own legal representative.
  • Family Court – court where family law disputes such as those relating to child contact and divorce are decided.
  • First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) (also known as the Immigration Tribunal) – independent tribunal which hears appeals against decisions of the Home Office.
  • Home Office – department of government that deals with immigration, security, crime, and counter-terrorism matters.
  • Human Rights – rights and liberties – usually civil and political in nature – to which every person is entitled; protected by various international treaties including the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • Immigration Appeal – an appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) against a decision of the Home office.  
  • Immigration Rules – source of UK immigration law enabled by the Immigration Act 1971; written in the form of legal rules, but in fact detailed policy statements concerning immigration control. 
  • Indefinite Leave to Remain (“ILR”) – permission to stay in the United Kingdom without time restrictions.
  • Judicial Review – process whereby a competent court or tribunal adjudicates on whether a decision made by a public body (e.g. the Home Office) is lawful in public law terms.
  • Local Authority Care Orders – order that a child be taken into the care of a local authority due to the likelihood of harm or parental care being below the standard.
  • Mediation – alternative dispute resolution process where parties resolve their conflict by negotiating with the help of a third-party mediator.
  • Minimum Income Requirement – income threshold that must be met by non-EEA applicants applying in the spouse visa category.
  • Offence – an act which entails criminal liability, and which usually leads to a sanction such as a fine, community work, or imprisonment.
  • Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (“OISC”) – body that regulates immigration advisers who are not qualified solicitors or barristers.
  • OISC Immigration Representatives – immigration advisers who are not qualified solicitors or barristers, but are competent to give immigration advice to the extent permitted by the level of authorisation granted by the OISC. 
  • Overseas Representative Visa – type of business visa for sole representatives of overseas businesses seeking to expand into the UK.
  • Petitioner – in divorce matters, the person submitting the divorce petition form.
  • Reasonable Adjustments – duty on employers under the Equality Act 2010 to make adjustments for disabled people, for example, a workplace adjustment of adding a ramp for a person in a wheelchair. 
  • Redundancy – where an employee who was a minimum of two years’ continuous employment is dismissed because of a business closure, reduction or cessation of work or need for employees.
  • Solicitor – legal professional whose main role is to deal with matters preparatory to court proceedings, such as drafting witness statements, gaining evidence, negotiating on the client’s behalf, or preparing a case for trial. 
  • Special Guardianship Order – order made by the Family Court deciding that parental responsibility is to be given to a person other than a biological parent, for example a relative.
  • Specific Issue Order – order made by the Family Court deciding an important aspect of a child’s life when the child’s parents or guardians disagree.
  • Spouse Visa – visa allowing the married partner of a British citizen (or person with UK settled status) to come to or remain in the UK.
  • Startup or Innovator Visa – visa allowing a non-EEA national to enter the UK in order to set up and run their own business.
  • Tier 1 (Investor) Visa – visa allowing a non-EEA national to enter the UK in order to make a significant financial investment, typically of at least £2 million.
  • Tier 2 (General) – sponsored work visa allowing a skilled worker with a job offer to enter the UK and work.
  • Sponsorship Licence – permit allowing an employer or education provider to sponsor a non-EEA national to work or study in the UK.
  • Unfair Dismissal – where a qualifying employee is dismissed from their workplace without a reason prescribed by law as fair.
  • Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) – higher court which hears appeals against decisions of the First-tier Tribunal and immigration judicial review applications.
  • Victimisation – where a person is subjected to ill-treatment because they have complained about having been discriminated against.
  • Visa Application – application to enter or remain in the UK.
  • Whistleblowing – when an employee reports wrongdoing by their employer to an appropriate authority, or otherwise exposes such wrongdoing, in the public interest. 
  • Witness Evidence – evidence from a person in the form of a witness statement or oral account in court.