This is the first instalment of our legal jargon buster series. Legal terminology can be confusing and it is important that you understand what your legal advisor and/ or the Court is telling you.

Our commercial dispute resolution team regularly deals with complex contractual disputes, professional negligence claims, high value debt recovery matters and shareholder/ partnership disputes.

This article will be looking to explain some key words & phrases used in the context of these types of commercial disputes, teaching you some legal terminology.

Burden of proof

This term describes the obligation on a party to produce sufficient evidence to support their case. In civil cases, the burden normally rests on the Claimant to demonstrate that on the balance of probabilities, they have a sufficient claim against the Defendant.

The civil level of the burden is more likely than not i.e. 51% likely.


An award, typically of money, for loss or injury that has been suffered.

Default judgment

Default judgment is when the Court enters a judgment against a party as a result of a default on their part. For example, their failure to file a defence within the relevant deadline. When granting judgment in default, the Court is not looking at the underlying merits of the case, it is simply an administrative exercise.


This is where a party confirms the existence of documents which are relevant to the dispute.


This is the period of time before proceedings are issued. It is often used in the context of “pre-action correspondence” (i.e. letters which are sent between the parties before a claim has been issued).

Without prejudice

Without prejudice is a label used to correspondence/ discussions which prevent them being put before the Court as evidence of an admission. You can only rely upon the without prejudice rule if the statements are made in a genuine attempt to settle an existing dispute.

Without prejudice save as to costs

This is where the correspondence/ discussions cannot be put before the Court at the evidence stage of proceedings a trial. They can only be considered by a judge after the main judgment has been made, for example, when the judge is deciding what costs order to make.


You can read the second instalment of our legal jargon buster series here, and the third instalment here.

If you have any enquiries regarding dispute resolution matters please feel free to contact us.