11/04/17 Terms of Art
Unless the context requires otherwise, use legal terms according to their specialized sense as terms of art.
- Terms of art – Latin. Some words are terms of art for lawyers – that is, they express specific legal ideas succinctly. Some are Latin terms such as habeas corpus and res ipsa loquitur, both of which have a rich legal history and are not used outside the law.
- Terms of art – ordinary words with special legal senses. Another type of term of art is an everyday word that takes on a new meaning when used in a legal context. Following are some examples that law students must relearn: they mean one thing to most people but often completely different to a lawyer.
Action. Common meaning: movement. In law: a legal proceeding.
Camera. Common meaning: a device for taking photographs. In law: a judge’s chambers, as in the phrase in camera.
Depose. Common meaning: to dethrone a monarch. In law: to take someone’s testimony in a sworn deposition; to testify.