An exemption from the normal operation of the law such as a legal duty or liability, either criminal or civil, enjoyed by a person (individual or corporate) For example, diplomats enjoy “diplomatic immunity” which means that they cannot be prosecuted for crimes committed during their tenure as diplomat or a witness may agree to testify only if the testimony cannot be used at some later date during a hearing against that witness.


Legal rights which are intangible such as copyrights or patents.

Incorporeal hereditament

An incorporeal right which is attached to property and which is inheritable. Easements and profits à prendre (which see) are examples of incorporeal hereditaments as are hereditary titles such as those common in the United Kingdom.


A right or title in property that cannot be made void, defeated, or canceled by any past event, error, or omission in the title. For example, a certificate of title issued under a Torrens land titles system is said to be “indefeasible” because the government warrants that no interest burdens the title other than those on the certificate. This makes long and expensive title searches unnecessary.


A formal accusation returned by a Grand Jury, charging a person with a serious crime. It is on the basis of an indictment that an accused person must stand trial.


Murder of an infant soon after its birth.


A court order which prohibits an activity by a party (restrictive injunction) or compels the party to a specific action (mandatory injunction).

In limine

Latin: at the beginning or on the threshold. A motion “in limine” is a motion that is tabled by one of the parties at the very beginning of the legal procedures.

In pari delicto

Latin: both parties are equally at fault. The usual use of this phrase is “in pari delicto, potior est conditio possidentis” meaning that where both parties in a dispute are equally at wrong, the party in possession of the contested property will retain it (i.e. the law will not intervene).

In personam

Latin: All legal rights are either in personam or in rem (which see). An in personam right is a personal right attached to a specific person. In rem rights are property rights and enforceable against the entire world.

In rem

Latin: All legal rights are either in personam or in rem. In rem rights are proprietary in nature; related to the ownership of property and not based on any personal relationship, as is the case with in personam rights.


A person unable to pay his or her debts as they become due. “Insolvency” is a prerequisite to bankruptcy.

Inter alia

Latin: “among other things”, “for example” or “including”. Legal drafters use this term to precede a list of examples or samples covered by a more general descriptive statement. Sometimes an inter alia list is used to make absolutely sure that users of the document understand that the general description covers a certain element (which was covered in the general description anyway) without, in any way, restricting the scope of the general element to include other things that were not singled out in the inter alia list.

Interim order

A temporary court order intended to be of limited duration, usually just until the court has had an opportunity of hearing the full case and make a final order.


An addition of verbiage to a document after it has been signed. Such additions are of none effect unless they are initialed by the signatories and, if applicable, witnesses (e.g. wills).


Proceedings taken during the course of, and incidental to, a trial. These decisions intervene after the start of a suit and decide some issue other than the final decision itself. Examples can include procedures or applications made which are to assist a case in preparing its case or of executing judgment once obtained (e.g. garnishment or judicial sale).

Interlocutory injunction

An injunction lasting only for the duration of the trial during which the injunction was sought.


A person who, without legal right, runs a business (e.g. without mandatory licenses), or who wrongfully interferes or intercepts another’s business.

International law

A combination of treaties and customs which regulates the conduct of states amongst themselves. The highest judicial authority of international law is the International Court of Justice and the administrative authority is the United Nations.

Inter partes

Latin: between parties.


To die without a will or testamentary document.

Inter vivos

Latin: from one living person to another living person. For example, an inter vivos trust is one which the settlor sets up to take effect while he or she is still alive. It can be contrasted with the testamentary trust, which is to take effect only upon the settlor’s death. Another example is the sale of a life estate which can only occur between persons living; i.e. inter vivos.


To take effect, to result; to come into operation.

Islamic law

The law as interpreted from the Koran. Under Islamic law, the religion of Islam and the government are one. There is no separation or church and state. Islamic law is controlled, ruled and regulated by the Islamic religion and purports to regulate all public and private behavior, including personal hygiene, diet, sexual conduct, and child rearing. Islamic law now prevails in countries all over the middle east and elsewhere covering twenty per cent of the world’s population. It is probably best known for deterrent punishment, which is the basis of the Islamic criminal system.