Law Idioms (Page 1)
- Against your better judgment
If you do something against your better judgment, you do it even though you do not think you should. You can also do something against someone else's better judgment.
- Ambulance chaser
A lawyer who encourages people who have been in accidents or become ill to sue for compensation is an ambulance chaser.
- Barrack-room lawyer
A barrack-room lawyer is a person who gives opinions on things they are not qualified to speak about.
- Before the ink is dry
If people make an agreement or contract and then the situation changes very quickly, it changes before the ink is dry.
- Bring someone to book
If somebody is brought to book, they are punished or made to account for something they have done wrong.
- Case by case
If things are done case by case, each situation or issue is handled separately on its own merits and demerits.
- Exception that proves the rule
This expression is used by many to indicate that an exception in some way confirms a rule. Others say that the exception tests the rule. In its original legal sense, it meant that a rule could sometimes be inferred from an exemption or exception. In general use, the first meaning predominates nowadays, much to the annoyance of some pedants.
- Eye for an eye
This is an expression for retributive justice, where the punishment equals the crime.
- Jersey justice
Jersey justice is very severe justice.
- Judge, jury and executioner
If someone is said to be the judge, jury, and executioner, it means they are in charge of every decision made, and they have the power to be rid of whomever they choose.
- Jury's out
If the jury's out on an issue, then there is no general agreement or consensus on it.
- Justice is blind
Justice is blind means that justice is impartial and objective.
- Law of unintended consequences
Events and/or actions that result from the implementation of a law or rule that the makers of the law did not expect.
- Law unto yourself
If somebody's a law unto themselves, they do what they believe is right regardless of what is generally accepted as correct.
- Lay down the law
If someone lays down the law, they tell people what to do and are authoritarian.
- Letter of the law
If people interpret laws and regulations strictly, ignoring the ideas behind them, they follow the letter of the law.
- Moot point
If something's a moot point, there's some disagreement about it: a debatable point.
In the U.S., this expression usually means that there is no point in debating something, because it just doesn't matter.
An example: If you are arguing over whether to go the beach or to the park, but you find out the car won't start and you can't go anywhere, then the destination is said to be a moot point.
- Read someone the riot act
If you read someone the riot act, you give them a clear warning that if they don't stop doing something, they will be in serious trouble.
- Signed, sealed and delivered
If something's signed, sealed and delivered, it has been done correctly, following all the necessary procedures.
- Sod's law
Sod's law states that if something can go wrong then it will.
- Spirit of the law
The spirit of the law is the idea or ideas that the people who made the law wanted to have effect.
- Word of the law
The word of the law means that the law is interpreted in an absolutely literal way which goes against the ideas that the lawmakers had wished to implement.
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