Bridging Legal Terminology Differences: UK vs US

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Bridging Legal Terminology Differences: UK vs US


Legal terminology can be complex and confusing, especially when there are differences between countries. For aspiring solicitors preparing for the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) in the United Kingdom, understanding the distinctions between UK and US legal terminology is crucial. In this blog post, we will explore the major differences and provide a comprehensive guide to help you navigate these variances successfully.

1. Criminal Law

In the UK, criminal law is referred to as “public law,” while in the US, it is known as “criminal law.” This distinction is important to understand when studying for the SQE, as it affects the application of legal principles and the interpretation of statutes. If you want to dive deeper into criminal law and its nuances, you can explore our article on ethical scenarios in SQE, which delves into the role of professional conduct.

2. Civil Law

In the UK, civil law encompasses both the concept of private law and tort law, while in the US, it specifically refers to issues between individuals or entities. Understanding this difference is crucial when preparing for the SQE, as it affects the way legal principles are applied in various contexts.

3. Contracts

Contract law is another area with notable differences in terminology between the UK and US. In the UK, a contract is formed when there is an offer, acceptance, consideration, and an intention to create legal relations. On the other hand, in the US, a contract may also be formed through “consideration” but can also exist through “promissory estoppel.” It is crucial for SQE aspirants to understand these distinctions to answer contract law questions accurately.

4. Dispute Resolution

The terminology used in dispute resolution also varies between the UK and US. In the UK, alternative dispute resolution methods are commonly used, such as mediation and arbitration. In contrast, the US primarily relies on litigation as a means of resolving disputes. Familiarizing yourself with these differences will help you answer questions related to dispute resolution on the SQE exam confidently.

5. Property Law

Property law terminology can vary significantly between the UK and the US. For example, in the UK, “freehold” refers to absolute ownership of land, while “leasehold” refers to ownership for a limited period. In the US, however, the terms “fee simple” and “leasehold” are commonly used. Understanding the nuances of property law terminology in both jurisdictions is essential for success on the SQE.


Bridging the legal terminology differences between the UK and US is crucial for aspiring solicitors preparing for the SQE. Familiarizing yourself with these distinctions will not only help you confidently answer exam questions, but it will also enhance your understanding of legal concepts and principles. By exploring related articles on our website, such as a comprehensive review of the best course providers for SQE preparation or a guide to sharpening your exam skills with practice questions, you can further enhance your exam preparation. Remember, knowledge of legal terminology is an essential component of becoming a successful solicitor, and with the right resources and understanding, you can master it. Good luck with your SQE journey!

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19. Exploring Ethical Scenarios in SQE: Understanding the Role of Professional Conduct
70. SQE Resources for Aspiring Solicitors: Tools and References for Exam Preparation

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