Legal Dictionary N


A group or race of people that share history, traditions and culture. The United States is comprised of 50 states and several protectorates, such as Puerto Rico. It is common English to use the word “nation” when referring to what is known in law as “states.”

National treatment

A tenet of international trade agreements whereby nations cannot discriminate against imported goods and must give them the same treatment that they afford domestic or “national” products.

Natural justice

Principles derived from Roman law, which held that some legal principles were “natural” or self-evident and did not require a statutory basis. A word used to refer to situations where the two basic legal safeguards of “audi alteram partem” (the right to be heard) and “nemo judex in parte sua” (no person may judge their own case) apply. These rules govern all decisions by judges or government officials when they take quasi-judicial or judicial decisions.

NCND Agreement

Stand for “non circumvention/non disclosure agreement”. An international trade instrument used in the preliminary stages of a business transaction where the seller and buyer do not know each other, but are brought into contact with each other by one or more intermediaries (also known as brokers or middlemen), to fulfill the transaction. These agreements insure that the intermediaries in the transaction are not circumvented and excluded from the transaction by the buyer and/or seller and/or the other intermediaries. Many trade transactions are chains in which product flows through several intermediaries like this: seller-broker-broker-broker-buyer. Those brokers in the middle use NCNDs to insure that they are not circumvented by anyone else in the chain; also, to insure that information on the other parties in the chain is not disclosed to outside parties. They are valid for a specified term; usually two years.


The failure to act as a reasonable person would be expected to act in similar circumstances (i.e. “negligence”) will give rise to compensation. All persons have a duty to insure that their actions do not cause harm to others. Not only are people responsible for the intentional harm they cause, but their failure to take care, if it causes injury to another, can give rise to a liability suit under tort. This failure, or negligence, is always assessed having regard to the circumstances and to the standard of care which would reasonably be expected of a person in similar circumstances. Between negligence and the intentional act there lies yet another, more serious type of negligence, called gross negligence. Gross negligence is any action or an omission in reckless disregard of the consequences to the safety or property of another. See also contributory negligence and comparative negligence.


Communication on a matter of disagreement between two parties by first listening to each party’s’ perspective and then attempting to arrive at a resolution by consensus.

Nemo judex in parte sua

Latin: “no person may judge their own case”. A fundamental principle of natural justice, stating that no person can judge a case in which he or she is party. May also be called “nemo judex in sua causa” or “nemo debet esse judex in propria causa”.

Next of kin

The nearest blood relative of a deceased. The expression has come to describe those persons most related to a dead person and therefore likely to inherit the deceased’s property.

Nolo contendere

Latin for “I will not defend it.” Used primarily in criminal proceedings whereby the defendant declines to refute the evidence of the prosecution. In some jurisdictions, this response by the defendant has same effect as a plea of guilty. It is not the same as a plea of not guilty, nor does it overtly admit the claims of the prosecution.

Non est factum

Latin for “not his deed”. A special defense in contract law to allow a person to avoid having to respect a contract that she or he signed because of certain reasons, such as a mistake as to the kind of contract. For instance, if a person signs away the deed to a house, thinking that the document signed was only a guarantee for another person’s debt, he might be able to plead non est factum in a court and on that basis get the court to void the contract.


The failure to do something that a person should be doing. See also malfeasance and misfeasance.


The failure to include a person who should have been made a party to legal proceedings. This is usually addressed by asking the court to amend documents and including the forgotten party to the proceedings. It is the opposite of mis-joinder.


Also known as “notary public”: a legal officer with specific judicial authority to attest to legal documents, usually with an official seal. Most countries do not have notaries, vesting administrative legal authority in lawyers or court officers.


In spite of; even if; without regard to or impediment by other things.


To substitute a new debt for an old debt thereby canceling the old debt. See also subrogation.

Nudum pactum

A contract-law term which stands for those agreements which are without consideration. An example would be a unilateral undertaking, which may bind a person morally, but would not be binding under contract law in those jurisdictions which still require consideration.


Excessive or unlawful use of one’s property to the extent of unreasonable annoyance or inconvenience to a neighbor or to the public. Nuisance is a tort.

Nunc pro tunc

Latin: “now for then”. It refers to the doing of something late (after it should have been done in the first place) with effect as if it had been done on time.