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Elizabeth A Martin - Oxford Dictionary of Law, 5th Ed. (2003)

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sedition n. The speaking or writing of words that are likely to incite ordinary people to public disorder or insurrection. Sedition is a common-law offence (known as seditious libel if the words are written) if it is committed with the intention of

(1) arousing hatred, contempt, or disaffection against the sovereign or her successors (but not the monarchy as such), the government of the UK, or either House of Parliament or the administration of justice; (2) encouraging any change of the law by unlawful means; or (3) raising discontent among Her Majesty's subjects or promoting ill-will and hostility between different classes of subjects. There must

be an intention to achieve these consequences by violence and disorder. An agreement to carry out an act to further any of these intentions is a criminal *conspiracy.

seduction n. 1. Enticement to have sexual intercourse. Until 1971 parents could sue a seducer for loss of services of their child, but this has now been abolished. lt is an offence for a parent to cause or encourage the seduction of a daughter under the age of 16, the *age of consent. 2. The offence under the Incitement to Disaffection Act 1934 of maliciously and advisedly endeavouring to persuade any member of HM forces to abandon his duty or allegiance to the Crown.

seisin n. Possession of a freehold estate in land. Historically, availability of certain remedies for a landowner depended on being able to show seisin. In modern times it is unnecessary to distinguish between seisin and possession, the latter being the basis of most remedies available to a landowner. See also UNITY OF SEISIN.

select committee A committee appointed by either House of Parliament or both Houses jointly to investigate and report on a matter of interest to them in the performance of their functions. Examples are the committees of the Commons that examine government expenditure or the activities of government

departments and the nationalized industries, and the *Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments.

self-assessment n. A system enabling taxpayers to assess their own tax liabilities for the year. Modified tax forms, introduced with effect from the tax year 1996-97, contain an optional self-assessment section. Individuals who do not want to assess their own tax must complete the return with details of their taxable income, etc., and return it by 30 September in order for the Inland Revenue to calculate the tax due. Taxpayers who opt for self-assessment must fill in the relevant section and return their tax forms by 31 January. There are automatic penalties for late returns. Self-assessment mainly affects company directors, employees paying tax at the higher rate of 40%, and the self-employed.

self-build society A *housing association whose object is to provide, for sale to or occupation by its members, dwellings built or improved principally by their own labour.

self-defence n. 1. A defence at common law to charges of *offences against the person (including homicide) when *reasonable force is used to defend oneself, or one's family, or anyone else against attack or threatened attack. The scope of the defence often overlaps with the statutory right to use reasonable force to prevent a crime, but also extends to cases in which the statutory right is inapplicable (for example, when the attacker is for some reason not guilty of a crime). There is no rule of law that a person must retreat before acting in self-defence. If a person acting in self-defence mistakenly uses more force than was necessary in the circumstances and kills his attacker, he has no defence of self-defence (since the force was not reasonable) and the killing will therefore amount to murder, unless

453 seller

he can show that there was also *provocation. However, in deciding whether the force used was justified or reasonably thought to be justified, the jury must bear in mind the difficulty of quickly assessing the correct amount of force to be used. See also GENERAL DEFENCES. 2. One of the very few bases for a legal use of force under international law. Under *Chapter VII (Article 51) of the United Nations Charter, the inherent right of self-defence is preserved. Reference to "inherent right" has promoted the belief that the pre-Charter right of self-defence in customary international law is specifically preserved by the Charter. However, the pre-existing right is arguably wider in scope than that allowed for by the terms of Article 51 and may arguably also allow for anticipatory self-defence. See also SELF-HELP; USE OF


self-determination n. (in international law) The right of a people living within a non-self-governing territory to choose for themselves the political and legal status of that territory. They may choose independence and the formation of a separate state, integration into another state, or association with an independent state, with autonomy in internal affairs. The systems of *mandates and trusteeship marked a step towards recognizing a legal right of self-determination, but it is not yet completely recognized as a legal norm. lt is probably illegal for another state to intervene against a liberation movement and it may be legal to give assistance to such a movement. See also ERGA OMNES obligations.

self-employed adj. In business on one's own account, i.e. not engaged as an employee under a *contract of employment. Statutory employment provisions do not apply to the self-employed. A self-employed person may nevertheless be the employer of others.

self-help n. 1. Action taken by a person to whom a wrong has been done to protect his rights without recourse to the courts. Self-help is permitted in certain torts, such as *trespass and *nuisance. A trespasser may be evicted provided only reasonable force is used. A nuisance may be abated (see ABATEMENT). See also RECAPTION. 2. Independent and self-directed action taken by an injured state against the transgressing state in order to gain redress. Until the middle of the 20th century the right of self-help was claimed by states as one of the essential attributes of *sovereignty. In the absence of an international executive agency, an injured state undertook on its own account the defence of the claim it was making. Forcible measures falling short of war might prove sufficient; failing these, war might be resorted to as the ultimate means of self-help. Since self-help was regarded at international law as a legal remedy, the results secured by it were recognized by the international community as a final settlement of the case. Since the establishment of the United Nations, self-help with regard to *use of force can only be legal in so far as it forms part of a legitimate claim to *self-defence. The remaining forms of self-help are countermeasures, such as *retorsion and *reprisals.

self-regulatory organization (SRO) A body whose members carryon investment business and regulate their own conduct. When its rules and practices ensure that its members are fit and proper persons, it may be recognized by the *Securities and Investment Board; its members then become authorized under the Financial Services Act 1986.

seller n. The party to a contract of *sale of goods who transfers or agrees to transfer ownership of the goods to the buyer. The term may also be used in the context of the transfer of the ownership of land, but a seller of land is more usually called a vendor.

Seller'sProperty Information Form


Seller'sProperty Information Form See CONVEYANCING.

semiconductor topography Etching on a computer chip otherwise known as a mask work or right: an *intellectual property right protecting the layout of a semiconductor chip or integrated circuit. Such rights are protected in the EU under directive 87/54.

semi-secret trust See HALF-SECRET TRUST.

sending distressing letters The finable offence, under the Malicious Communications Act 1988, of sending to someone a letter or some other article that conveys an indecent or grossly offensive message, a threat, or information that is false and known or believed by the sender to be false. Sending an indecent or grossly offensive article is similarly punishable. The sender must have aimed to cause distress or anxiety. If the material contains a threat, there is a defence similar to that available on a *blackmail charge.

sentence n. The judgment of a court stating the *punishment to be imposed on a defendant who has pleaded guilty to a crime or been found guilty by the jury. Before the sentence is imposed, the prosecution must present the judge with the accused's *antecedents and the defence may then make a plea in *mitigation of the sentence. If the probation officer wishes to make a report, this should be done before the defence makes its plea in mitigation (see SOCIAL INQUIRY REPORT). The judge may also obtain reports from nonlegal specialists (medical experts or social workers) on the mental, physical, social, or personal circumstances of the accused; if such reports are not immediately available, he may adjourn the case (and remand the accused) until they are obtained. Reports are desirable when the sentence may involve a *community rehabilitation order or when the defendant is facing his first prison sentence. The court must have reports before making a *community punishment order, when the offender is under 21 years old, or before attaching conditions for medical treatment to a community rehabilitation order. A report is no longer required when an adult is being sentenced to custody.

Sentence must be pronounced in open court by the presiding judge and is almost always pronounced in the presence of the accused. The sentence may be altered (or rescinded) within 28 days by the trial court, and the Crown Court also has a further (common-law) power to postpone sentence for more than 28 days when circumstances require this (e.g. when disqualifying from driving under the *tottingup provisions, if the driving licence is not available). There is a power to postpone sentence for up to six months (see DEFERRED SENTENCE).

Courts have very wide discretionary powers of sentencing in all crimes (except murder and treason). The penalties prescribed by law are maximum penalties, to be imposed in the most serious cases, and the judge must decide what is the appropriate sentence in each case. However, the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997 introduces automatic minimum sentences for second-time violent offenders (see REPEAT OFFENDER) and for persistent burglars (see BURGLARY) and dealers in hard drugs (see CONTROLLED DRUGS). Judges may give a lesser sentence for burglary and drug dealing if the court considers the minimum would be unjust in all the circumstances. See also CUSTODY.

Apart from imprisonment (which may be a *concurrent sentence or a *suspended sentence) and *fines, the courts can impose community rehabilitation orders, community punishment orders, *curfew orders, confiscation orders, and *hospital orders, as well as an absolute or conditional *discharge. (For the sentencing of young offenders, see JUVENILE OFFENDER.) Magistrates' courts have less extensive powers of





sentencing, but may sometimes, upon convicting an offender, remit him to the Crown Court for sentence (e.g.when he has been tried summarily for an offence triable either way). They are not empowered to sentence first offenders to imprisonment unless satisfied there is no other appropriate way of dealing with them. There is usually a right of appeal against sentence to the *Court of Appeal. The *Attorney General may refer cases to the Court of Appeal (with its permission) when Crown Court sentences appear unduly lenient. The Court of Appeal may then quash the sentence and substitute any sentence that they think appropriate and that the Crown Court had power to pass. See also NULLA POENA SINE LEGE.

separate trials See JOINDER OF DEFENDANTS.


separation agreement An agreement between husband and wife releasing each other from the duty to cohabit. Such an agreement will only be valid (subject to the ordinary rules of the law of contract) if the marriage has already broken down; it will be void (contrary to public policy) if they enter into it to provide for the contingency that the marriage may break down at some future date. Separation agreements often contain further clauses (such as nonmolestation clauses, maintenance clauses, dum casta clauses) or an agreement not to bring other matrimonial proceedings based on past conduct ("Rose v Rose clauses"). Under the Family Law Act 1996 such orders will not be granted unless the interests of the children are settled first. A spouse may also relinquish his rights or powers in relation to his children, but the court has an overriding discretion not to enforce such provisions if they are not for the children's benefit. A separation agreement in writing may be a *maintenance agreement and governed by the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

separation of powers The doctrine that the liberty of the individual is secure only if the three primary functions of the state (legislative, executive, and judicial) are exercised by distinct and independent organs. It was propounded by Montesquieu (De l'Esprit des Lois, 1748), who regarded it as a feature of the UK constitution. In fact, however, while the judiciary is largely independent, the legislature and the executive depend on one another and their members overlap. The doctrine had a great influence over the form adopted for the constitution of the USAand many other countries.


sequestration n. A court order in the form of a writ to (usually four) commissioners (sequestrators), ordering them to seize control of a person's property. The order may be made against someone who is in *contempt of court because he has not complied with a court order (such as an injunction). The property is detained until he complies with the order.

Serious Fraud Office (SFO) A body established in 1987 to be responsible for investigating and prosecuting serious or complex frauds. The *Attorney General appoints and superintends its director. The director is empowered to investigate any suspected offence that appears to involve serious fraud and may employ any suitable person to help in the investigation. Serious and complex fraud cases can go straight to the Crown Court without *committal for trial. That court can hold *preparatory hearings to clarify issues for the jury and settle points of law.





proceedings in an action begun by writ in the High Court. Under the *Civil Procedure Rules, this is now dealt with through the procedure for *allocation for trial.

settled adj. Ordinarily resident in the UK and not subject under immigration law to any restriction on length of stay there. See BRITISH CITIZENSHIP; IMMIGRATION.

settled land Land that is the subject of a *settlement under the Settled Land Act 1925,i.e. land in which two or more beneficial interests exist in succession to one another or land that is subject to certain other fetters on the owner's powers. No such settlements can be created after 1996; most of the arrangements described below can now exist as *trusts of land with the exception of *entailed interests, which can no longer be created. Existing settlements continue until coming naturally to an end. The categories were as follows. (1) Land held in trust for any persons by way of succession; for example, in trust for A for life then B for life then C in fee simple. (2) Entailed interests. (3) Land owned subject to a *gift over on a specified event. (4) Land owned for a *determinable interest. (5) Land conveyed to a person under 18 years (a minor cannot own or convey a legal estate in land). (6) Land in which a future interest may come into possession on a specified event. For example, when land is left to A and B provided they respectively attain the age of 18, the elder is absolutely entitled to a half share on reaching 18 but may become entitled to the whole of the land absolutely if the younger dies during minority.

(7) Land charged voluntarily (i.e. without *consideration) or in consideration of marriage or by way of family arrangement with payment of any rentcharge or capital sum; for example, when the owner charges his land with payment of income to his wife during her life or widowhood.

A settlement made during the life of the settlor was effected by a trust instrument and a vesting deed. The trust instrument declared the beneficial interests in the land and appointed two or more individuals, or a trust corporation

(e.g.a bank), as trustees of the settlement (see SETTLED LAND ACT TRUSTEES). The

vesting deed transferred the legal estate in the settled land to the immediate beneficiary; it also had to identify the trustees of the settlement. A will that effected a settlement constituted the trust instrument; the legal estate devolved upon the testator's personal representatives on trust to vest it, by deed or *assent, in the immediate beneficiary. When the legal estate could not be transferred to the immediate beneficiary (e.g. because he was under 18), it had to be vested in a *statutory owner.

The purpose of the Act was to balance the protection of beneficiaries with future interests against the principle that the person immediately entitled in possession should not be prevented by the existence of future interests from prudently managing and dealing with the land. Thus the Act conferred on the immediate beneficiary powers to sell the land at the best price reasonably obtainable, to exchange it for other land, and to grant certain leases (up to 50 years, or 100 years for mining, or 999 years for building or forestry). These transactions *overreached the interests of the subsequent beneficiaries, who acquired corresponding interests in the capital money or income arising from them. The

immediate beneficiary could also mortgage the land to raise money to payoff other encumbrances, to give equality of value on an exchange, and to pay for certain improvements. He could insist that the cost of certain improvements (such as rebuilding the *principal mansion house and installation of drainage and electricity) be paid out of capital. His statutory powers could be extended by the terms of the settlement but could not be excluded or restricted. The Act imposed on the



immediate beneficiary, in exercising these powers, the duties of a trustee for all parties having a beneficial interest in the land. The beneficiary thus had a dual role. When the immediate beneficiary sold or otherwise disposed of settled land, the vesting deed formed the basis of his title. The purchaser was not concerned with the interests of beneficiaries whose rights are overreached (see CURTAIN PROVISIONS) but had to pay the price to the trustees of the settlement or, at the direction of the immediate beneficiary (the tenant for life or the person exercising the powers of the tenant for life), into court.

Settled land Act trustees (trustees of the settlement) Two or more individuals or a trust corporation (such as a bank) who are trustees of *settled land. Their primary function is to receive *capital money arising on a sale or other disposition of the land by the immediate beneficiary and to hold it in trust for those entitled under the settlement. Their consent is also necessary before the immediate beneficiary can validly exercise certain of his statutory powers; for example, to sell the *principal mansion house or timber cut from the land if the settlement so requires or to vary rights (such as easements) over other land that benefit the settled land.

The trustees are generally appointed by the trust instrument but must be named in the vesting deed. If no trustees are appointed, the Settled Land Act 1925 provides that they will be either (1) trustees having a power of sale of other land comprised in the settlement and held on similar trusts; (2) trustees having a future power of sale of the settled land; (3) persons appointed by the beneficiaries if they are of full age and entitled to dispose of the whole settled estate; or (4) the settlor's personal representatives, when the settlement is effected by will. Trustees can also be appointed by the court.

settlement n. A disposition of land or other property, made by deed, will, or very rarely by statute (as in the Duke of Marlborough Annuity Act 1706), under which trusts are created by the *settlor designating the beneficiaries and the terms on which they are to take the property. Settlements are of many different kinds; for example, *marriage settlements, *strict settlements, *voluntary settlements, and, particularly, settlements under the Settled Land Act 1925 (see SETTLED LAND). All settlements of land now take effect (since 1997) as "trusts of land.

settlement of action The voluntary conclusion of civil litigation by agreement of the parties. Settlement may be made at any time and is usually followed by the claimant filing a *notice of discontinuance. No particular formality must be followed, but if money is claimed by a party under a disability (e.g.a minor or a mental patient), a settlement is not valid (in so far as it relates to his claim) without the approval of the court. See also


settlor n. A person who creates a *settlement. In a broad sense the term includes testators; in a more restricted sense it signifies one who settles property during his life.

several adj. Separate (in contrast to 'joint'), as in *joint and several, *several tenancy.

several tenancy Ownership of land by one person absolutely, not jointly or in

common with another. Compare JOINT TENANCY; TENANCY IN COMMON.

severance n. 1. The conversion of an equitable *joint tenancy in land into a *tenancy in common. Severance may be effected, for example, by mutual agreement

severance pay




of the joint tenants, by the bankruptcy of one of them, by sale of the land or of one joint tenant's interest, or by written notice to the other joint tenants. It is not possible to sever a legal joint tenancy, since a tenancy in common cannot exist as a legal estate. Any words in a conveyance of land to two or more people that show an intention that they take separate shares will be construed as words of severance creating an equitable tenancy in common, rather than a joint tenancy. 2. The separation of the good parts of a contract from the bad, which are rejected. The doctrine of severance applies to any contract which contains clauses that are void by statute or common law, or even, in some cases, illegal, provided there are no *public policy grounds against severing (see VOID CONTRACT). The courts will, if possible, save the contract from total invalidity by severing the offending part and the rest of the contract will stand under what is known as the "blue pencil" test. When little remains after severance, the whole contract terminates. Many commercial contracts contain a clause stating that void provisions may be severed. 3. An order amending an *indictment so that the accused is tried separately on any count or counts of the indictment.

severance pay Money to which an employee is entitled at common law upon the termination of his contract of employment; for example, pay in lieu of notice, when he is dismissed with inadequate notice or none. An employee dismissed before the expiry of a fixed-term contract can claim damages in the courts to compensate him for the loss of pay he would have earned during the rest of the term, unless he was dismissed for a breach of contract entitling the employer to dismiss him. See also


severe disablement allowance A noncontributory tax-free benefit formerly payable to those unable to work due to long-term sickness or disablement and who had not enough national insurance contributions to claim *incapacity benefit. The claimant had to show that he had been continuously incapable of work for the preceding 28 weeks. This benefit has been abolished by the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999 and no new claims can be made.

severe mental impairment See ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT.

sex change A change in a person's sexual characteristics, usually by means of surgical operation and hormone treatment. For the purposes of marriage, the law does not recognize the validity of such a change; sex is deemed to be determined at birth and cannot be changed. For the purposes of employment, however, English law now recognizes the validity of a sex change (see GENDER REASSIGNMENT). See also


sex discrimination Discrimination on the ground of sex under either the Sex Discrimination Act or the Equal Pay Act. The Sex Discrimination Act has a wider definition of sex than the Equal Pay Act in that it includes within its scope discrimination on grounds of transsexualism (see GENDER REASSIGNMENT) and (probably) sexual orientation. The Equal Pay Act 1970forbids having different terms for men and women in their contracts of employment (see also EQUAL PAY). The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (as amended by the Sex Discrimination Act 1986) goes further, prohibiting discrimination when offering a contract of employment and before entering into such a contract. It also prohibits discrimination in employment on the grounds of marital status and discrimination in partnerships with six or more partners, trade unions, qualifying or authorizing bodies, vocational training, and education. The Act provides for special exceptions; for example, when male or female characteristics are a genuine requirement of the job. It is also unlawful to





victimize someone who has complained of illegal discrimination. The Act covers both direct and indirect discrimination. The latter includes making conditions that apply to both sexes but in such a way that, for instance, the proportion of women who

can fulfil the conditions is considerably less than men. An example would be insisting on a record of continuous service for promotion, which is far more difficult for women to satisfy because of pregnancy and motherhood. The Acts are reviewed by the *Equal Opportunities Commission and enforced by *employment tribunals.

Restrictions preventing women from working where they wish, including the right to work underground, were removed by the Employment Act 1989.

sex offenders See SEXUAL OFFENCE.

sexual intercourse The penetration of the vagina by the penis. For the purposes of sexual offences involving intercourse, penetration need only be slight and rupture of the hymen or ejaculation is not required. See also UNLAWFUL SEXUAL


sexual offence Any crime that involves sexual intercourse or any other sexual act. The main crimes in this category are *rape, "buggery, *incest, "indecent assault, *indecent exposure, *gross indecency, and *abduction (see also CHILD ABUSE). The Sex Offenders Act 1997created a national register of sex offenders; the names of those convicted of any of a range of sexual offences are entered in this register. Under the 1997 Act, sex offenders are obliged to tell police every time they move; those failing to register a change of address within 14 days may be jailed for up to six months and ordered to pay a fine of up to £5000. Under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, convicted sex offenders are subject to supervision on release for up to ten years.


shadow director A person who is not a director of a company but who gives instructions (rather than professional advice) upon which the directors are accustomed to act. Certain statutory provisions (for example, those relating to put and call *options) apply to both shadow directors and directors proper.

sham marriage A marriage entered into for some ulterior motive, without the intention of cohabiting with the other party. Such marriages will usually nonetheless be deemed valid, unless one of the parties (e.g.a person trying to escape extradition) deceives the other party as to his identity or the marriage is entered into to escape a threat to life, limb, or liberty (e.g. to enable a person imprisoned under harsh conditions to leave his or her country) or to escape imprisonment.

sham plea See FALSE PLEA.

share n. A unit that measures the holder's interest in and liability to a company. Because an incorporated *company is in law a separate entity from the company membership, it is possible to divide and sell that entity in specified units (see (NOMINAL) CAPITAL). In the case of a company limited by shares (see LIMITED COMPANY) the liability of shareholders is confined to the purchase price of the shares. Once purchased, these units of the company become intangible property in their own right and can be bought and sold as an activity distinct from the trading activities of the company in question. While the company is a going concern, shares carry rights in relation to voting and sharing profits (see DIVIDEND). When a *limited company is wound up the shareholders have rights to share in the assets after debts


share capital


have been paid. If there are no such assets shareholders lose the amount of their investment but are not liable for the company's debts (see


Preference shares usually carry a right to a fixed percentage dividend, e.g. 10% of the nominal value (see AUTHORIZED CAPITAL), before ordinary shareholders receive anything and holders also have the right to the return of the nominal value of their shares before ordinary shareholders (but after creditors). Holders of participating preference shares have further rights to share surplus profits or assets with the ordinary shareholders. Preference shares are generally cumulative, i.e. if no dividend is declared in one year, holders are entitled to arrears when eventually one is paid. Usually preference shareholders can vote only when their *class rights are being varied.

Ordinary shares constitute the risk capital (also called equity capital), as they carry no prior rights in relation to dividends or return of nominal value. However, the rights they do carry are unlimited in extent: if the company is successful, the ordinary shareholders are not restricted to a fixed dividend (unlike the preference shareholders) and the high yield upon their shares will cause these to increase in value. Similarly, if there are surplus assets on a winding-up, the ordinary shareholders will take what is left after the preference shareholders have been satisfied. Because ordinary shareholders carry the risk of the enterprise, they generally have full voting rights in a *general meeting (though some companies issue nonvoting ordinary shares to raise additional capital without diluting the control of the company).

Redeemable shares are issued subject to the proviso that they will or may be bought back (at the option of the shareholder or the company) by the company. They cannot be bought back unless fully paid-up and then only out of profits (see CAPITAL REDEMPTION RESERVE) or the proceeds of a fresh issue of shares made for the purpose.

A golden share enables the holder, usually the government, to outvote all other shareholders on certain types of company resolution.

share capital See CAPITAL.

share certificate A document issued by a company evidencing that a named person is a company member and stating the number of shares registered in his name and the extent to which they are paid up (see CALL). A company can be precluded by *estoppel from denying its accuracy. The certificate must normally be produced on a <transfer of shares. Compare

share premium The amount by which the price at which a share was issued exceeds its nominal value (see AUTHORIZED CAPITAL). Share premiums must be credited by the company to a share premium account, which is subject to the rules relating to *reduction of capital and can only be used for certain purposes, e.g. paying up

bonus shares (see BONUS ISSUE).

share transfer A document transferring registered shares, i.e. shares for which a *share certificate has been issued, usually on a stock transfer form. A share transfer in proper form must usually be delivered to the company before it places the transferee's name on the register of members (Stock Transfer Act 1963). See also


share warrant A document issued by a company certifying that the bearer is entitled to the shares specified in it. The name of the bearer will not appear on the register of members until he surrenders the warrant to the company in return for


sickness benefit



*transfer of the shares, but he may be regarded as a company member under the provisions of the articles of association. The company is contractually bound to recognize the bearer as shareholder. Compare SHARE CERTIFICATE.

sheriff n. The principal officer of the Crown in a county. In relation to the administration of justice, his (or her) functions (in practice discharged by the undersheriff) include the execution of *process issuing from criminal courts, levying forfeiture of *recognizances, and the *enforcement of judgments of the High Court by writs of fieri facias, possession, and delivery.

sheriff'sinterpleader See INTERPLEADER.

shifting use (secondary use) Formerly, a *use that operated to terminate a preceding use. For example, if property was given to X to the use of A, but then to the use of B when C paid £100 to D, B had a shifting use, which arose when C made the specified payment.

ship n. For the purposes of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 (which provides among other things for the registration of British ships), any vessel used in navigation and not propelled by oars. The officially required registration of ships is set out in the Merchant Shipping (Registration, etc.) Act 1993: a central register of British ships is kept. For the purposes of ownership, a British ship is notionally divided into 64 shares. Each share may be in different ownership, but no share may be in the ownership of an alien or a foreign company. Co-owners will commonly appoint a ship's husbandor managing owner to manage the ship. The definition of "British ship" in the Merchant Shipping Act 1988,in relation to fishing rights, has been

challenged under EU law (see FISHERY LIMITS; QUOTA).

shipwreck n. See WRECK.

shock n. See NERVOUS SHOCK.

shoplifting n. Dishonestly removing goods from a shop without paying for them. Shoplifters could be charged with *making off without payment under the Theft Act 1978, but it is more usual to charge them with *theft under the Theft Act 1968. It is not legally necessary to remove the goods from the shop precincts in order to be guilty of shoplifting, but in practice it is advisable to wait until the accused has left the shop before stopping him, as it is then easier to prove the intention to steal (see also ARREST). A cashier in the shop who deliberately rings up a lower price than the true price may be guilty of aiding and abetting theft.

short cause list A list of cases for hearing for which the trial is expected to last less than four hours.

short committal See COMMITTAL FOR TRIAL.

short notice A lesser period of notice of a company meeting than that required by law. In the case of an *annual general meeting it may be agreed by all members entitled to attend and vote at it; for other meetings 95% of the shareholders must agree. There are strict requirements for the details to be given for short notice and service of the notice.

short title See ACT OF PARLIAMENT.


sickness benefit A former state benefit payable for 28 weeks to those who did


small claims track


Conduct of Minor Significance) Regulations 2000 defines an anticompetitive agreement as "small" when both parties to it have a total turnover of under £20M. However, no exemption applies for a price-fixing agreement. Moreover, small agreements are not exempt from other provisions of the 1998 Act, and thus restrictive clauses in them may still be void.

small claims track The track to which a civil case is allocated when the claim is for an amount of no more than £5000 (see ALLOCATION). Before the introduction of the *Civil Procedure Rules in 1999, small claims were automatically referred to arbitration. However, a small claims hearing retains most of the aspects of the former procedure: the hearing is informal and in public, is based on a paper adjudication with the parties' consent, and there are generally no experts and no costs.

Despite the limit of £5000,with the approval of the court parties may consent to use the small claims track even if their claim value exceeds £5000.

SMEs Small and medium enterprises: businesses having fewer than 500 employees and a share capital or business capital of less than 75M euros. SMEs are encouraged by the European Commission through various aid programmes.

smuggling n. The offence of importing or exporting specified goods that are subject to customs or excise duties without having paid the requisite duties. Smuggled goods are liable to confiscation and the smuggler is liable to pay treble their value or a sum laid down by the law (whichever is the greater); offenders may alternatively, or additionally, receive a term of imprisonment.

Social Chapter The section of the Treaty of Rome (European Community Treaty; Articles 117-121) that reflects the agreement of member states with respect to the social policies issues of the European Union. The objectives of the Social Chapter are to promote employment, improve living and working conditions, establish dialogue between management and workers by means of works councils, implement proper social protection, and develop human resources with a view to lasting high employment. The social provisions include unpaid *parentalleave for new parents and the principle of *equal pay for male and female workers for equal work. The British government finally agreed to the incorporation of these social aims and objectives into the main body of the founding Community Treaty in 1997 with the signing of the *Amsterdam Treaty. This has led to the adoption of a number of measures, including the implementation of unpaid parental leave and *European Works Councils and new rights for part-time workers (who are now entitled to be treated no less favourably than comparable full-time workers in their contractual terms and conditions).

social fund A fund established under the Social Security Act 1986 to meet special needs of individuals who are entitled to benefit from it (e.g. by cold-weather payments). It is under the control of the Social Fund Commissioner, who appoints social fund officers to administer it and reports to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (formerly Social Security). Cold-weather payments are paid (to those entitled) for any consecutive seven-day period when the temperature averages 0° C or below. Other benefits from the social fund include interest-free budgeting loans and crisis loans, maternity and funeral payments, and community-care grants. Loans are repayable by deductions from social security benefits received by the loan recipients or their partners.

social inquiry report A report prepared by a probation officer and made to a criminal court to assist it in deciding what "sentence to impose on a convicted





person. The report gives details of the person's background, family, home circumstances, relationships, attitudes, job situation, and prospects. It is based on interviews with the accused person and his family and friends. The report gives the probation officer's opinion on the suitability of particular kinds of sentence; for example, how well the accused would be likely to respond to an order for community service.

social policy rule See INTERPRETATION OF STATUTES.

Social Security Appeal Tribunal A tribunal that hears appeals from decisions by adjudication officers on claims for social security benefits (see NATIONAL

Such tribunals are subject to the supervision of the *Council on Tribunals; appeal against their decisions on a point of law can be made to a Social

Security Commissioner.

sodomy n. See BUGGERY.

soft law (in international law) Guidelines of behaviour, such as those provided by treaties not yet in force, resolutions of the United Nations, or international conferences, that are not binding in themselves but are more than mere statements of political aspiration (they fall into a legal/political limbo between these two states). Soft law contrasts with hard law, i.e. those legal obligations, found either in *treaties or customary international law (see CUSTOM), that are binding in and of themselves.

software n. Computer programs, which are protected by *copyright under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. EU Directive 91/250 on the legal protection of computer programs provides that all member states must protect computer programs by copyright law. The directive also provides a right to make back-up copies of software and a very limited *decompilation right. A right to repair is also included, unless a software licence prohibits this. The UK implemented the directive by the Copyright (Computer Programs) Regulations 1992.

soldier'swill See PRIVILEGED WILL.

solemn form See PROBATE.

sole solicitor A solicitor who is the sole principal of a practice, rather than one who practises in partnership with others.

soliciting n. 1. The offence by a prostitute of attempting to obtain prospective clients in a street or public place. It is punishable by a *fine at level 2 on the standard scale on a first conviction and at level 3 on a subsequent conviction. Any act committed by the prostitute (even smiling provocatively) may constitute soliciting, but an advertisement inviting men to visit her is not soliciting. "Street" is widely defined to include roads, lanes, bridges, courtyards, alleyways, passages, etc., open to the public, as well as doorways and entrances of houses on the street, and ground adjoining and open to the street. If a prostitute in a private house attracts the attention of men in the street (for example by tapping on the window and inviting them in, or even merely by sitting at the window illuminated by a red light), this may be considered soliciting "in a street". 2. The offence by a man of persistently accosting a woman in a public place for the purpose of prostitution (see also KERB CRAWLING) or persistently accosting anybody in a public place for immoral purposes. "Persistently" requires either a number of single invitations to different people or more than one invitation to the same person.

solicitor n. A legal practitioner admitted to practice under the provisions of the


special defences


special defences See GENERAL DEFENCES.

special endorsement See ENDORSEMENT.

special hospital A hospital (e.g. Broadmoor or Rampton) controlled and managed by the Home Secretary for persons suffering from *mental disorder who require detention under special security conditions, because of their dangerous, violent, or criminal propensities.

speciality n. The principle that the state requesting the *extradition of a fugitive from another state must, in order for the request to succeed, specify the crime for which the accused is to be extradited. Further, the requesting state must only try the individual for the crime specified in the extradition request. See also DOUBLE


special notice The 28 days' notice that is required to be given to a registered company of an intention to propose certain resolutions at a *general meeting of the company. These resolutions are: (1) appointing or removing an auditor; (2) removing a director before his term of office expires or appointing a new director to replace him at the same meeting; and (3) appointing or approving the appointment of a director over the age of 70. The company must then give 21 days' notice of the meeting to the members. See SHORT NOTICE.

special parliamentary procedure See SPECIAL PROCEDURE ORDERS.

special plea A *plea in bar of arraignment, e.g. *autrefois acquit or *autrefois convict.

special power See POWER OF APPOINTMENT.

special procedure (in divorce proceedings) A speedy, simple, and cheap procedure for uncontested divorce cases introduced in the mid-1970s. A district judge scrutinizes the divorce application and, if satisfied that the ground is made out, issues a certificate to that effect. The divorce is then formally granted in open court; neither party need appear. The introduction of the special procedure revolutionized divorce law and is now used in the majority of cases.

special procedure material Jounalistic and other confidential material acquired or created in the course of a trade, business, profession, or unpaid office. Under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, *warrants to search for such material can only be obtained by following a special procedure and require the authority of a *circuit judge.

special procedure orders A form of *delegated legislation consisting of orders made by government ministers under powers that are expressed in the enabling statute to be exercisable by order subject to special parliamentary procedure. The Statutory Orders (Special Procedure) Act 1945 then applies, and, after a local inquiry is held, the order must be laid before Parliament and petitions for its annulment or amendment may be presented. Special procedure orders, which have largely replaced provisional orders, are used primarily to confer powers on local authorities. The *compulsory purchase of land must also in certain cases (e.g. land owned by local authorities or the National Trust) be effected by a special procedure order.

special resolution A decision reached by a majority of not less than 75% of company members voting in person or by proxy at a general meeting. At least 21 days' notice must be given of the meeting.

special trust See ACTIVE TRUST.


specimen of blood

specialty n. See DEED.

special verdict 1. A verdict of not guilty by reason of *insanity. 2. A verdict on particular questions of fact, without a general conclusion (in criminal cases) as to guilt or (in civil cases) in favour of the claimant or the defendant. The judge asks the jury their opinion on the facts, but decides the general question himself. Such verdicts in criminal cases are very rare. Compare

specification n. 1. (in *patent law) A document that must be lodged with an application for a patent for an invention. It must contain a description of the invention, a claim defining the matter for which the applicant seeks protection, and any drawing referred to in the description or claim. 2. A general document in which a commercial buyer or seller describes goods to be bought or sold. It is sometimes incorporated into the contract by reference.

specific delivery See WRIT OF DELIVERY.

specific devise See DEVISE.

specific directions See COMMUNITY LEGAL SERVICE.

specific goods Goods specifically identified at the time a contract of sale is made, e.g. a named car with a specified registration number. If the subject matter is not so identified, the contract is for the sale of *unascertained goods. In a contract for the sale of specific goods the seller is bound to deliver the identified goods and no others.

specific intent See INTENTION.

specific issue order See SECTION 8 ORDERS.

specific legacy See LEGACY.

specific performance A court order to a person to fulfil his obligations under a contract. For example, when contracts have been exchanged for the sale of a house, the court may order a reluctant seller to complete the sale. The remedy is a discretionary one and is not available in certain cases; for example, for the enforcement of a contract of employment or when the payment of damages would be a sufficient remedy.

specimen of blood A specimen of blood for analysis, used as an alternative to a *specimen of breath in cases involving *drunken driving. A police officer may require a specimen of blood if he reasonably believes that he cannot demand a breath specimen for medical reasons, if an approved and reliable device for taking a breath specimen is unavailable or cannot be used, or if the defendant is suspected of being unfit to drive and a doctor believes that his condition is due to a drug. A police officer may also ask for a blood specimen if the suspect is in hospital (subject to the consent of the doctor treating him). A suspect may be asked to give a blood specimen under these conditions even if he has already given a breath specimen.

A blood specimen may only be taken with the defendant's consent and by a medical practitioner, otherwise it cannot be used as evidence in any proceedings. It must be analysed by a qualified analyst, who must sign a certificate stating how much alcohol he found. The suspect may ask to be given half the specimen for his own analysis, which may be used to contradict the prosecution's evidence; if he has asked for but was not given half of the sample, the other half may not be used in evidence against him. A *specimen of urine may sometimes be taken as an alternative to a blood specimen.

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