Legal Dictionary

The main source of TheFreeDictionary's legal dictionary is West's Encyclopedia of American Law, Edition 2, which contains more than 4,000 entries detailing terms, concepts, events, movements, cases, and individuals significant to United States law.

The legal dictionary also incorporates The People's Law Dictionary, by renowned authorities Gerald and Kathleen Hill. It includes definitions, context, and usage for more than 3,000 terms. Regarded by scholars, jurists, leading attorneys and reviewers as one of the most practical works of its kind, The People's Law Dictionary is a comprehensive source of meanings and use for thousands of today's most common legal terms. It has gained widespread praise for its scope and clarity.

Please note that this information is not intended to be used in place of a visit, consultation, or advice of a legal professional.

The most popular legal definitions:

limited liability

n. the maximum amount a person participating in a business can lose or be charged in case of claims against the company or its bankruptcy. A stockholder in a corporation can only lose his/her investment, and a limited partner can only lose his/her investment, but a general partner can be responsible for all the debts of the partnership. Parties to a contract can limit the amount each might owe the other, but cannot contract away the rights of a third party to make a claim.

See: corporation, shareholder, limited partnership, partnership, liquidated damages

real estate investment trust

n. nick-named REIT, a real estate investment organization which finds investors and buys real property and gives each investor either a percentage interest in the property itself or an interest in a loan secured by a mortgage or deed of trust on the property. Usually the loan is used to develop the property and build upon it, and then there is a division of profits upon sale---if there is a profit.