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Legal Dictionary T

Taft-Hartley

The name of an American federal labor law which was passed in 1947, and which sought to "equalize legal responsibilities of labor organizations and employers". An earlier law, called the Wagner Act, was aimed primarily at employer behavior and, it was felt, may have gone too far in protecting union rights. To balance that, the Taft-Hartley was aimed at unions and sought to restrain their activities under certain circumstances, by detailing union rights and duties. For example, the Taft-Hartley Act exempted supervisors from its provisions, allowed employees to decline participation in union activities and permitted union decertification petitions.

Tamper

To interfere improperly or in violation of the law. One example is "jury tampering", which means to illegally disrupt the independence of a jury member with a view to influencing that juror otherwise than by the production of evidence in open court.

Tenancy by the entireties

A form of co-ownership in English law where, when a husband transferred land to his wife, the property could not be sold unless both spouses agreed nor could it be severed except by ending the marriage.

Tenant

An ancient term derived from "tenure", the feudal system under which land ownership was granted to someone by their lord. Today, a tenant is one who is granted temporary and exclusive use of land or a part of a building by a landlord, usually in exchange for rent. The contract for this type of legal arrangement is called a lease

Tenants in common

Unity of possession but distinct titles. Similar to joint tenants (which see). All tenants in common share equal property rights except that each tenant can dispose of his share separately. For instance, upon the death of a tenant in common, that share does not go to the surviving tenants but is transferred to the estate of the deceased tenant.

Tender

In law, an unconditional offer by a party to a contract to perform their part of the bargain. In a loan contract, a tender would be an act of the debtor producing the amount owing and offering it to the creditor. In real property law, either party can write a tender; the seller to reassert the intention to respect the contract and tender the title, or the buyer, offering to tender the purchase price immediately.

Tenement

Property that could be subject to tenure under English land law; usually land, buildings or apartments. The word is rarely used nowadays except to refer to dominant or servient tenements when qualifying easements. Popularly, it has come to mean a run-down piece of rental property.

Tenure

Originally, a right of holding or occupying land or a position for a certain amount of time. The term was first used in the English feudal land system, whereby all land belonged to the king but was lent out to lords for a certain period of time; the lord never owning, but having tenure in the land. Today it is used in modern law mostly to refer to a position a person occupies, such as in the expression "a judge holds tenure for life and on good behavior."

Testamentary trust

A trust which takes effect only upon the death of the settlor, commonly found as part of a will. Trusts which take effect during the life of the settlor are called inter vivos trusts.

Testator

A person who dies with a valid will.

Testimony

The verbal presentation of a witness in a judicial proceeding.

Tort

Derived from the Latin word tortus which means wrong. In French, "tort" means "a wrong". Today, tort refers to that body of the law which will allow an injured person to obtain compensation from the person who caused the injury. All persons are expected to live without injuring others. When they do injury to others, either intentionally or by negligence, tort law can be invoked so that they can be required by a court to pay money ("damages") to the injured party so that, ultimately, they will suffer from their own injurious actions. Tort also serves as a deterrent by sending a message to the community as to what is unacceptable conduct.

Tort-feasor

Name given to a person or persons who have committed a tort.

Tracing

The attempt, by a plaintiff, to reclaim certain specific property. This is a legal proceeding taken through the court under the law of equity. The property may be still in the first acquirer's hands or it may have passed on to others, and even have been converted (related common law terms: conversion, trover and detinue). This is a procedure frequently used by a trust beneficiary to recover misappropriated trust property.

Transferee

A person who receives property being transferred (the person from whom the property is moving is the transferor).

Transferor

A person from whom property moves or is transferred. Property moves from the transferor to the transferor. The party selling is the transferor and transfers title to the transferee.

Treaty

A formal agreement between two states signed by official representatives of each state. Some treaties are "law-making" in that it is the declared intention of the signatories to make or amend their internal laws to give effect to the treaty. Other treaties are just contracts between the signatories to conduct themselves in a certain way or to do a certain thing. These treaties are usually private, between two or a limited number of states and may be binding only through the International Court of Justice.

Trespass

Unlawful interference with another's person, property or rights. Theoretically, all torts are trespasses.

Trover

An old English and common law legal proceeding against a person who had found someone else's property and has converted that property to their own purposes. The action of trover asked for damages in an amount equal to the replacement value of the property rather than the return of the property itself. English law replaced the action of trover with that of conversion in 1852.

Trust

Property given by one person or group (the donor or settlor), to a trustee, for the benefit of another person (the beneficiary or donee). The trustee manages and administers the property. Actual ownership is shared between the trustee and the beneficiary and all the profits go to the beneficiary. The trustee has a fiduciary responsibility to the beneficiary. There are many forms of trusts. A will is a form of trust but trusts can be formed during the lifetime of the settlor in which case it is called an inter vivos or living trust.

Trustee

The person holding property rights for the benefit of another through the legal mechanism of a trust, usually having full management and administration rights over the property. These rights must always be exercised to the full advantage of the beneficiary and all profits from the property go to the beneficiary, and a trustee can be held responsible for any mismanagement of the trust's assets. The trustee is entitled to reimbursement for administrative costs and there is no legal impediment for a trustee to be a beneficiary of the same property.

Trustee de son tort

A trustee "of his own wrong"; a person who is not a regularly appointed trustee but because of his or her intermeddling with the trust and the exercise of some control over the trust property, can be held by a court as "constructive" trustee which entails liability for losses to the trust.