|above board||If a situation or business is described as above board, it is open, honest and legal.|
There are not secret negotiations. Our dealings have always been above board.
|Something that has been done or completed, before those affected by it can intervene or change it, is called an accomplished fact.|
|ambulance chaser||A lawyer who finds work by persuading people injured in accidents to claim money from the person who caused the accident is called an ‘ambulance chaser’.|
Peterson and Scott are well-known ambulance chasers – that’s how they make their money!
|arm of the law||This expression refers to the extent to which the authority or power of the law extends.|
He fled to South America hoping to escape the arm of the law.
|bandit territory||A geographical area where law enforcement is practically impossible, because people ignore all rules, is called ‘bandit territory‘.|
There are a certain number of bandit territories in the world where travellers are advised not to go.
|behind bars||Someone who is behind bars is in prison.|
If you hang around with that gang, you’ll find yourself behind bars in
|beyond reasonable doubt||This is a legal expression which means that something is certain.|
The court established, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the man was innocent.
|in black and white||To say that something is in black and white means that there is written proof of it.|
It’s an obligation. It’s in black and white in your contract.
|blow the whistle||If you report an illegal or socially-harmful activity to the authorities, and give information about those responsible for it, you blow the whistle or you are awhistle-blower.|
He refused to blow the whistle on his boss for fear of losing his job.
|breaking and entering||This term refers to the fact of entering a building or home illegally by breaking open a window, door, etc.|
The two men were found guilty of breaking and entering.
|brush with the law||When you have a brush with something, such as the law, you encounter or experience it briefly.|
Had a brush with the law for speeding a few years ago, but he has had a clean record ever since.
|burden of proof||The burden of proof is the necessity imposed by the law to prove that what one says is true.|
The burden of proof lies with the claimant.
|case in point||This term refers to an example which serves to illustrate, support or prove a point which is currently under discussion.|
Not even the most talented athlete is guaranteed a long career. The latest skiing accident is a case in point.
|caught red-handed||If a person is caught red-handed, they are caught while they are doing something wrong or illegal.|
The police arrived as the burglar was leaving the house. He was caught red-handed.
|caveat emptor||This Latin expression, which means ‘let the buyer beware’, is a warning to customers that goods are for sale ‘as is’. The buyer is purchasing the articles at his/her own risk and is responsible for examining them beforehand.|
Caveat emptor is a principle to be remembered when buying second-hand goods.
|crack down on||If the authorities crack down on something, they enforce the law by taking severe measures to restrict undesirable or criminal actions.|
To reduce road accidents, it was decided to crack down on speeding.
|cut some slack||If you relax a rule, treat a person less severely or allow someone to do something which is normally not permittedd, you cut them some slack.|
Our parents are very strict; I wish they’d cut us some slack now and then.
|daylight robbery||The term daylight robbery is used when the price of something is thought to be much too high.|
$10 for an orange juice? That’s daylight robbery!
|fair hearing||When accused of wrongdoing, if someone gets a fair hearing, they get an opportunity to present evidence or give their side of the story, usually in court.|
I can guarantee that you will get a fair hearing.
|false pretences||If you obtain something under false pretences, you deceive others by lying about your identity, qualifications, financial or social position, in order to get what you want.|
The journalist obtained the interview under false pretences.
|(can’t) fight the city hall||This expression means that it is useless to try to win a battle against a politician, establishment or bureaucracy ingeneral.|
Brian decided it was a waste of energy trying to obtain a tax refund – you can’t fight the city hall.
|get out of hand||If a person or situation gets out of hand, they cannot be controlled any longer.|
During the student demonstration, things got out of hand and several shop windows were broken.
|hit and run (accident)||When the driver of a vehicle hits another vehicle without stopping to provide help, identification or insurance, and fails to report the accident to the police, the collision is called a hit-and-run accident.|
A hit-and-run accident deserves serious punishment.
|identity theft||The crime of using another person’s personal information (name, credit card number, etc.) without his/her knowledge, to set up and use bank accounts and credit facilities is known as identity theft.|
|in trouble with the law||If someone is in trouble with the law, they are being questioned by the police in connection with something illegal or criminal.|
The suspect has often been in trouble ith the law.
|kangaroo court||A kangaroo court is an illegal tribunal set up by a group of people who have taken the law into their own hands and conduct trials which deny fundamental justice.|
Calm down please! Is this a meeting or a kangaroo court?
|lay down the law||Someone who lays down the law tells people very forcefully and firmly what to do.|
The volunteers helped in a disorganized way. They needed someone to lay down the law.
|law of the jungle||A situation in which people are prepared to use unscrupulous methods in order to succeed or survive is called the law of the jungle.|
Some businesses today seem to be governed by the law of the jungle.
|law unto themselves||If someone is a law onto themselves, they do things their own way and ignore what is generally considered as acceptable.|
They’re against discipline and allow their children complete freedom – they’re a law onto themselves.
|licence to print money||An officially authorized activity which enables people to make a lot of money without much effort is called a licence to print money.|
The contract to supply computers to schools was a licence to print money.
|murphy’s law||Referring to Murphy’s law expresses a sentiment of bad luck and the idea that if anything can go wrong, it will.|
We’ve tried to prepare for every possible incident, but remember Murphy’s law …!
|not have a leg to stand on||To say that someone doesn’t have a leg to stand on means that they can’t prove what they say.|
Three people testified against him. He didn’t have a leg to stand on.
|null and void||Something which is null and void has no legal force or is invalid.|
The contract was declared null and void.
|open-and-shut case||An open-and-shut case is one where the facts are so clear that the matter can be dealt with or solved easily.|
He was caught driving the stolen car. It’s an open-and-shut case.
|paper trail||If a person or organization leaves a paper trail, they leave evidence in writing or in document form that will serve as proof of their actions.|
The police found a paper trail which lead to the author of the hoax.
|partner in crime||A person who helps you to plan something dishonest or unlawful is called your partner in crime.|
(This expression can be used jokingly as in the example below.)
Sam was my partner in crime. He hid my son’s bicycle until his birthday.
|pervert the course of justice||If a person perverts the course of justice, they tell a lie or prevent the police from finding out the truth about something.|
The suspect was accused of trying to pervert the course of justice.
|put one’s house iin order||If you tell someone to put their house in order, you are saying that they should organize their own affairs or take care of their own problems before giving advice to other people.|
You should put your house in order before telling me what to do!
|rough justice||Treatment or justice that does not seem fair, or is too severe, is called ‘rough justice’, especially if it is not legal.|
The way the player was treated by the media was very rough justice!
|sharp practice||Trying to achieve something by using underhand, deceitful or dishonourable means, that are barely within the law, is called sharp practice.|
That company is under investigation for sharp practice so it’s better to avoid dealing with them.
|signed, sealed and delivered||When an agreement, contract or treaty is signed, sealed and delivered, all the legal documents are in order.|
It is hoped that the agreement will be signed, sealed and delivered before the end of the week
|smoking gun||A smoking gun is a piece of evidence or the indisputable sign of someone’s guilt.|
The fingerprints left on the door-handle was the smoking gun that enabled the police to arrest him.
|take the law into one’s own hands||If, instead of calling the police, you act personally against someone who has done something wrong, you take the law into your own hands.|
Instead of calling the police, he took the law into his own hands and confronted the youth who had stolen his son’s scooter.
|toe the line||If someone toes the line, they obey the rules and accept the principles laid down by a person, group or organization.|
If you want to stay in this school, youll have to learn to toe the line.