Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, the successor of URESA (which see). The uniform child and spousal support legislation already adopted and implemented by most states and expected to be law throughout the USA soon. It is a long-arm statute, giving the state which issues the first support order jurisdiction over the support payor anywhere in the USA for the purposes of varying that order

Ultra vires

Literally, without authority. An act which is beyond the power or authority of the person or organization taking it.

Unjust enrichment

A legal procedure which seeks reimbursement from one who benefits from another’s action or property without legal justification. This is based on the legal theory of the constructive trust, which the court imposes upon the circumstances to hold the person unjustly enriched as trustee, and the person who should properly get the property back as beneficiary of the constructive trust. A court may not force reimbursement based on “unjust enrichment” unless these three conditions are met: defendant receives an actual enrichment or benefit; a corresponding deprivation is suffered by the plaintiff; and the absence of a legal reason for the defendant’s enrichment


Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act of the United States, as created in 1950 by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. This was the first family support uniform legislation in the USA and it was ultimately adopted, in some form or another, by all the US states. It was updated in 1968 and the revised version became known as “RURESA”, the initial “R” standing for “Revised.” It has been replaced by UIFSA.


From ancient Roman law (and now a part of many civil law systems), “usufruct” means the rights to the product of another’s property. For example, a farmer may give a right of “usufruct” of his land to a neighbor, thus enabling that neighbor to sow and reap the harvest of that land.


An excessive or illegal interest rate. Most countries now set a limit on interest rates and prohibit interest rates above a certain level. Rates which exceed these levels are called “usury”.


The seller; the person selling.


Location; in a legal context it usually refers specifically to the location of a judicial hearing. For example, if a criminal case has a very high media profile in a particular city, the defense may ask for a “change of venue” to ensure objective witnesses.


Any thing designed to transport persons or objects, such as a car, bus, bicycle, etc.
Verba fortius accipiuntur contra proferentem
Latin: a principle of construction whereby if words of a contract are ambiguous or of two equally possible meanings, they should be interpreted against the author of the words and not against the other party.


The decision of a jury. In criminal cases, this is usually expressed as “guilty” or “not guilty”. In a civil case, the verdict would be a finding for the plaintiff or for the defendant.


Latin for “to wit” or “that is to say.” “Viz.” is the abbreviation of videlicet and is much more commonly used. It is often found in legal documents to advise that what follows provides more detail about a preceding general statement. Also spelled “vis”.


See Videlicet.

Vicarious liability

When a person is held responsible for the tort of another even though the person being held responsible may not have done anything wrong. This is often the case with employers who are held vicariously liable for the damages caused by their employees.


Latin: man or husband. Refers to “Vir et uxor censentur in lege una persona”, an old legal principle meaning that man and wife are considered to be one person in law. This principle has been abandoned in many countries.

Void or void ab initio

Not legally binding. A document that is void is as if it did not exist. A contract for immoral purposes or to commit a serious crime such as murder would be void or unenforceable. This differs from voidable (which see).


The law distinguishes between contracts which are void and those which are voidable. Voidable contracts are those that have minor defects to them and are voidable at the option of the party victimized by the defect. For example, contracts signed by a person when they are totally drunk are voidable by that person upon recovering sobriety.

Voir dire

A mini-hearing held during a trial on the admissibility of contested evidence. For example, a defendant may object to a plaintiff’s witness. The court would suspend the trial, immediately preside over a hearing on the standing of the proposed witness, and then resume the trial with or without the witness, or with any restrictions placed on the testimony by the judge as a result of the voir dire ruling. In a jury trial, the jury would be excused during the voir dire.

Volenti non fit injuria

Voluntary assumption of risk. This is used as a defense in tort when a person engages in an event, accepting and aware of the risks inherent in that event. This is a voluntary assumption of risk and they cannot later complain of, or seek compensation for, an injury suffered during the event. This is used most often to defend against tort actions as a result of a sports injury.