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"Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws." While there is truth in these words of Plato, the fact is most of us fall somewhere between good and bad. And for people in that spectrum, laws serve as good deterrents.

Like any other profession, the world of law has its own lingo. Even though it may appear that these legal terms are designed to keep laypersons in the dark so that the lawyers can charge hefty fees, there is a need for them. In a field where a single word can make a world of difference, a succinct, and more importantly, unambiguous vocabulary is essential.

May you never have to see a lawyer (or a barrister, an advocate, or whatever they are called in your land), but it's good to know some of the legal jargon. This week we summons five of these terms to AWAD.

estoppel (e-STOP-el) noun

A bar preventing one from asserting a claim inconsistent with what was previously stated, especially when it has been relied upon by others.

[From Old French estoupail (bung, cork) from estouper (stopper).]

"That makes the case for DeWitt being granted citizenship now even stronger because of the legal principle of estoppel which, Miller explains, says 'once you've set out certain positions that other people have relied on over a period of time, you can't reverse those positions to their detriment.'"
Nancy Montgomery; Citizen Finds He Isn't One - 59-Year-Old Ex-marine is Victim of 1855 Law That Calls Him an Alien; The Seattle Times; Sep 14, 1991.


A poem is never finished, only abandoned. -Paul Valery, poet and philosopher (1871-1945)

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