Wagner Act

A 1935 American federal statute which recognized employee rights to collective bargaining, protected the right to belong to a union, prohibited many anti-union tactics then used by employers, and set up the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB was given wide enforcement powers. It was later amended by the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947.


A disclaimer or renunciation to a right that might have otherwise been available. Waivers need not always be in writing and may sometimes be interpreted by a person’s actions


A guarantee given on the performance of a product or the doing of a certain thing. Many consumer products come with a warranty under which the manufacturer will repair or replace any product that fails during the warranty period; the commitment to repair or replace being the “warranty”.


The abuse, destruction or permanent change to property by one who is merely in possession of it, as in the case of a tenant or a life tenant.


Being married. Has the same meaning as “matrimony.” Used mostly to refer to illegitimate children as “born out of wedlock.”


A written and signed statement, made by an individual, providing for the disposition of their property upon their death. Other types of wills also exist, such as a holographic will (which see). See also codicil and probate.


An electronic surveillance device which secretly records conversations held over a phone line. It is usually only allowed with the permission of a judge and if it can be shown to be necessary for the solving of a serious crime.

Without prejudice

Exact wording set into a written document which qualifies the signatory as exempted from its content to the extent that the content may be interpreted as containing admissions or other interpretations which could later be used against the person signing; or as otherwise affecting any legal rights of the person signing. A lawyer will often send a letter “without prejudice” in case the letter makes admissions which could later prove inconvenient to the client.


A person who perceives an event (by seeing, hearing, smelling or other sensory perception). The legal definition refers to the court-supervised recital of that sensory experience, in writing (deposition) or verbally (testimony).

Words of limitation

Words in a conveyance or in a will which set the duration of an estate. If a will said “to Bob and his heirs”, the words “and his heirs” are words of limitation because they indicate that Bob gets the land in fee simple and his heirs get no interest.

Words of purchase

Words which specifically name the person to whom land is being conveyed. The property is conveyed to someone specifically and by name in a legal act such as a conveyance or will. This would preclude, for example, transfer as a result of intestacy.


An official court document, signed by a judge or bearing an official court seal, which commands the person to whom it is addressed, to do something specific. That “person” is typically either a sheriff (who may be instructed to seize property, for example) or a defendant (for whom the writ is the first notice of formal legal action). In this case, the writ would command the person to answer the charges laid out in the suit, or else judgment may be made against them in their absence.

Wrongful death

An American tort law action which claims damages from any person who, through negligence or direct act or omission, causes the death of certain relatives (e.g. spouse, children or parent). These actions are commenced under special “wrongful death” statutes because under the common law, there is no right of action for survivors for their own loss as a result of someone’s death.

Wrongful dismissal

Being fired from a job without an adequate reason or without any reason whatsoever. Employees do not have a right to a job for life and can be dismissed for economic or performance reasons but they cannot be dismissed capriciously. Most employment implies an employment contract, which may be supplemented by labor legislation, and either could provide for certain procedures to be followed for dismissal. Failing to follow these procedures may create a situation in which any firing is wrongful dismissal and for which the employee could ask a court for damages against the employer. Can also be referred to as “dismissal without just cause.” Not all states recognize this tort law action.