A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
consummation
The actualization of a marriage. Sexual intercourse is required to "consummate" a marriage. Failure to do so is grounds for divorce or annulment.
contempt
See contempt of court.
contempt of court
Behavior in or out of court that violates a court order, or otherwise disrupts or shows disregard for the court. Refusing to answer a proper question, to file court papers on time or to follow local court rules can expose witnesses, lawyers and litigants to contempt findings. Contempt of court is punishable by fine or imprisonment.
contest
[as in to contest a will]To oppose, dispute or challenge through formal or legal procedures. For example, the defendant in a lawsuit almost always contests the case made by the plaintiff. Or, a disgruntled relative may formally contest the provisions of a will.
contingency
A provision in a contract stating that some or all of the terms of the contract will be altered or voided by the occurrence of a specific event. For example, a contingency in a contract for the purchase of a house might state that if the buyer does not approve the inspection report of the physical condition of the property, the buyer does not have to complete the purchase.
contingency fee
A method of paying a lawyer for legal representation by which, instead of an hourly or per job fee, the lawyer receives a percentage of the money her client obtains after settling or winning the case. Often contingency fee agreements -- which are most commonly used in personal injury cases -- award the successful lawyer between 20% and 50% of the amount recovered. Lawyers representing defendants charged with crimes may not charge contingency fees. In most states, contingency fee agreements must be in writing.
contingent beneficiary
1) An alternate beneficiary named in a will, trust or other document. 2) Any person entitled to property under a will if one or more prior conditions are satisfied. For example, if Fred is entitled to take property under a will only if he's married at the time of the will maker's death, Fred is a contingent beneficiary. Similarly, if Ellen is named to receive a house only in the event her mother, who has been named to live in the house, moves out of it, Ellen is a contingent beneficiary.
continuance
The postponement of a hearing, trial or other scheduled court proceeding, at the request of one or both parties, or by the judge without consulting them. Unhappiness with long trial court delays has resulted in the adoption by most states of "fast track" rules that sharply limit the ability of judges to grant continuances.
contraband
An item that is illegal to possess, produce or distribute.
contract
A legally binding agreement involving two or more people or businesses (called parties) that sets forth what the parties will or will not do. Most contracts that can be carried out within one year can be either oral or written. Major exceptions include contracts involving the ownership of real estate and commercial contracts for goods worth $500 or more, which must be in writing to be enforceable. (See statute of frauds.) A contract is formed when competent parties -- usually adults of sound mind or business entities -- mutually agree to provide each other some benefit (called consideration), such as a promise to pay money in exchange for a promise to deliver specified goods or services or the actual delivery of those goods and services. A contract normally requires one party to make a reasonably detailed offer to do something -- including, typically, the price, time for performance and other essential terms and conditions -- and the other to accept without significant change. For example, if I offer to sell you ten roses for $5 to be delivered next Thursday and you say "It's a deal," we've made a valid contract. On the other hand, if one party fails to offer something of benefit to the other, there is no contract. For example, if Maria promises to fix Josh's car, there is no contract unless Josh promises something in return for Maria's services.
conviction
A finding by a judge or jury that the defendant is guilty of a crime.
cookie
A piece of information that a website stores on a visitor's hard drive so that the website can retrieve the information when the visitor returns to the site. For example, a website may use a cookie to retrieve a visitor's name and address so the visitor doesn't have to enter that information again. A website can legally use cookies to personalize a visitor's experience, to track a visitor's movements on a site or to target a visitor for specific advertisements. Generally, a cookie cannot be used to corrupt or steal data, such as an email address, from a visitor's hard drive.
cooling-off rule
A rule that allows you to cancel a contract within a specified time period (typically three days) after signing it. Federal cooling-off rules apply this three-day grace period to sales made door-to-door and anywhere other than a seller's normal place of business, such as at a trade show. Another federal cooling-off rule lets you cancel a home improvement loan or second mortgage within three days of signing. Various states have cooling-off rules that sometimes apply even longer cancellation periods to specific types of sales, such as dancing lessons and timeshares.
cooperative insurance
Compulsory employment benefits provided by a state or federal government to ensure a minimum standard of living for lower and middle income people. Survivors benefits, disability benefits and health insurance are common examples. Also called social insurance.
copy
For copyright purposes, the physical form in which an expression is reproduced and retained over time, no matter how brief. Copies include such things as photocopies, computer disks and tape recordings. The exclusive right to prepare copies of an original work is one of the primary rights protected by a copyright.