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Collateral is a term used in various different contexts and has different meanings depending on how it is used. You may have seen it in terms of collateral evidence which means evidence that is supplemental or corroborative in a legal proceeding.

Stipulating damages in a liquidated damages clause

Liquidated damages are a fixed or determined sum agreed by the parties to a contract to be payable on a breach of contract by one of the parties to compensate the non-breaching party. The purpose of liquidated damages is for the non-breaching party to avoid the costs which arise in the difficult task of proving the amount of the loss actually incurred. Significantly, the purpose of stipulating damages in a liquidated damages clause is to fix the amount to be paid in lieu of performance, not to secure performance by means of a penalty. Consequently, if a liquidated damages payment constitutes a penalty, it will be void, so it is important to draft the liquidated damages clause in the contract such that it compensates the injured party for anticipated loss caused by the breach and does not serve as a penalty. Liquidated damages can cause confusion for lawyers outside common law jurisdictions.


Certiorari, which is sometimes abbreviated as cert., is a Latin term for a court order allowing the review by a higher court of a decision of a lower court and of particular importance in American Legal English usage.

Bad-boy and good-guy guarantees

A good-guy guarantee, which is made in the context of a lease, is a limited personal guarantee that enables the lessor to pierce the corporate veil and seek recourse against the lessee personally if the lessee defaults on the rent or refuses to vacate the premises. In contrast, a bad-boy guarantee, also known as a springing guarantee, is a provision in a commercial mortgage that holds the developer personally liable for the loan if their companies file for bankruptcy.

Affect vs. effect

Two of the most commonly confused verbs in the English language are affect and effect. Briefly, affect means to to have an influence on or cause a change in something or someone. However, effect can also be used as a verb meaning to bring about, create or execute. For example, “The newly merged company tried to effect a change in the group’s hiring practices.”

Supra vs. infra

Infra is the Latin word meaning below, under, beneath or underneath and it’s legal shorthand to indicate that a particular reference will be further discussed or cited later in the same document. Infra is distinguished from supra, which means above in Latin and which denotes that the case or point has already been discussed or cited previously in that same document.

Attorney General

Attorney General is a term that’s used both in the United Kingdom and the United States but there are slight differences between the functions of the respective offices. In the United Kingdom the Attorney General is one of the law officers, in other words, he is a Member of Parliament who prosecutes for the Crown in certain cases, advises the governmental departments on legal problems and decides whether major criminal offences should be tried.


Arguendo is a Latin term which has different meanings on either side of the Atlantic. In American legal English where it is used most often, it means for the sake of argument or for discussion only.

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