Money paid to have a kidnapped person released.


Originally, forced sex with a woman, other than a wife, without her consent. This basic definition is changing to include sex with a minor (with or without consent; also known as statutory rape), sex with a man without his consent, and sex by force within marriage.

Real property

Immoveable property such as land or a building or an object that, though at one time a chattel (which see), has become permanently affixed to land or a building.

Rebuttable presumption

A “presumption means that if certain facts are proven, then another fact can be taken for granted by the judge (or jury). Most presumptions are “rebuttable”. The person against whom the presumption is made may present evidence to the contrary, thereby rebutting the presumption, which has the effect of nullifying it. At this point, the person that tried to use the presumption is deprived of the advantage of “free” evidence and now must present evidence to support the fact which might have been proven by the presumption.


To buy back; when a vendor later buys the property back. A right of redemption gives the vendor the right to buy back the property. In some jurisdictions where a mortgage transfers title to the lender until the mortgage is paid off, the “buying back” of the property is known as redemption.


An informer; a person who has supplied the facts required for a criminal prosecution or a civil suit. In criminal prosecutions in some states, this would be indicated by the use of the expression ex. rel., as in The State of California ex. rel. Robert Smith v. George Doe.


A right to future enjoyment or ownership of real property; the “left-over” after property has been conveyed first to another party. A remainder interest is what is left over after a life estate has run its course. Contrary to a reversion (which see), a remainder does not go to the grantor or his (or her) heirs.


Abbreviation for “reciprocal enforcement of maintenance orders” and the name of the international system of recognition, registration and enforcement of child and spousal support orders between countries which have agreed, between themselves, to enforce each other’s maintenance orders. Originally created by England, the international REMO system now spreads over many countries. In the USA, the system is known as UIFSA or URESA.


The consideration paid by a tenant to a landlord in exchange for the exclusive use and enjoyment of land, a building or a part of a building. Usually, rent is paid in money and at regular intervals, such as the first of every month. The word has also come to be used as a verb, as in to “rent an apartment”, although the proper legal term would be to “lease an apartment.”


A legal action taken to reclaim goods which have been distrained, or held by a landlord as collateral. See also distraint.


To abrogate or cancel a contract, so that both parties are in the same position they would have been in had there been no contract. Rescission can occur in one of two ways: either a contract can be set aside (rescinded) because of some defect in its formation (such as misrepresentation, duress or undue influence); or it can be set aside by joint agreement by the parties, for example if they reach a new agreement.

Res gestae

Latin for “things done.” A peculiar rule, used mostly in criminal cases, which allows hearsay if the statement is made during the excitement of the litigated event. For example, the words “stick ‘em up!” used during an armed robbery would be admissible in evidence under the “res gestae” rule. So, too, would spontaneous statements made by the defendant during or right after the crime. Some laws even allow “res gestae” statements to be introduced in evidence in special kinds of prosecutions, such as a statement made by a child to another person in a child sexual abuse case. Such a statement may be allowed as evidence even though, technically, it offends the rule against hearsay. This is to recognize the trauma of having a child testify in open court on the subject of her or his abuse. “Res gestae” evidence usually requires a “voir dire” (which see) hearing before it is admissible unless the defense allows it to be put on the trial record unchallenged.

Res ipsa loquitur

A word used in tort referring to situations in which negligence is presumed on the defendant since the object causing injury was in his or her control. This is a rebuttable presumption, since it may be possible to show that the event was an inevitable accident and had nothing to do with the defendant’s responsibility of control or supervision. An example of “res ipsa loquitur” would be getting hit by a rock which flies off a passing dump truck. The event itself imputes negligence (“res ipsa loquitur”) but could be defeated if the defendant can show that the event was a total and inevitable accident.

Res judicata

Latin: A matter which has already been conclusively decided by a court.


Synonymous with defendant. The party that “responds to” a claim filed in court against them by a plaintiff. It can also refer to the party who wins at the first court level but who must then respond to an appeal launched by the party that lost the case at the first court level (upon appeal, this latter person is called the appelant).

Restitutio in integrum

Latin for restitution to the original position. In contract law, the party injured by a breach of contract may ask the court to reverse the contract and revert the parties to their respective positions before the contract was accepted. If the court finds that “restitutio in integrum” is not possible because of actions or events occurring since the date of acceptance, then the court may order that damages be paid instead.


Under ancient English common law, when a party enforced a court judgment which was overturned on appeal, the appellant could ask the appeal court for “restitution”, or financial compensation that placed the appellant in the same position as if the original judgment had not been enforced. A new strain of common law has developed also called “restitution”, closely associated with unjust enrichment. In this case, a person who is deprived of something of value belonging to them can ask a court to order “restitution”. The best example is asking a court to reverse or correct a payment made in error.

Resulting trust

A trust that is presumed by the court from certain situations. The court presumes an intention to create a trust; the law assumes that the property is not held by the right person and that the possessor is only holding the property “in trust” for the rightful owner. In constructive trusts, the courts do not presume an intention; they simply impose a trust from the facts.


A contract between a lawyer and client, wherein the lawyer agrees to represent and provide legal advice to the client, who promises to pay. The signed retainer begins the client-lawyer relationship from which flow many responsibilities and duties, primarily on the lawyer, including the duty to provide accurate legal advice; to monitor limitation dates; and to not allow any conflict of interest with the relationship with the client.


A future interest left in a transferor of property, or his (or her) heirs; a reservation in a real property conveyance such that the property reverts back to the original owner upon the occurrence of a certain event. For example, Jim gives land to his church to build a new church edifice, with the provision that if the church ceases to use the building, the land and building revert to the giver or his heirs. Differs from a remainder in that a remainder takes effect by an act of the parties involved. A reversion takes effect by operation of the law. Nor is a reversion a “left-over” as is a remainder. Rather, it reverts the entire property.

Right of first refusal

A right given to a person to be the first to be offered the designated object if it is ever to be offered for sale.

Riparian rights

Special rights of people who own land that runs into a river bank (a “riparian owner” is a person who owns land that runs into a river). While not an ownership right, riparian rights include the right of access to, and use of the water for domestic purposes (bathing, cleaning and navigating). The extent of these rights varies from country to country and may include the right to build a wharf outwards to a navigable depth or to take emergency measures to prevent flooding.

Rule against perpetuities

A common law rule that prevents suspension of the transfer of property for more then 21 years or a lifetime plus 21 years. If a will, for example, proposes the transfer of an estate at some future date, that is either more than 21 years after the death of the testator or that is for the life of a person identified in the will plus 21 years, the transfer is void. Statute law exists in many jurisdictions which supersedes the common law rule.