Legalese From A to Z: 5 Legal Terms Beginning With 'U'
Undertaking: a word that is both a prime example of legalese, the unique language used by those who work in the legal field, and an apt description of our continuing series, Legalese From A to Z.
Like many legal terms, undertaking has a common meaning -- "a promise or a pledge" -- as well as a more specific legal meaning. In this case, an undertaking is a cash or written promise given as security or surety bond by a party in a property action, such as an attachment.
Each week, we undertake the selection of a letter of the alphabet and break down five legal terms or phrases starting with that particular letter. This week, we take a closer look at five legal terms beginning with the letter "U":
- Ultrahazardous activity. An ultrahazardous activity is an activity where the risk of injury cannot be eliminated, no matter how many precautions are taken. Engaging in ultrahazardous activities, such as blasting or storing hazardous chemicals, creates what is called strict liability. Strict liability allows a person injured by one engaged in ultrahazardous activity to recover for his or her injuries without having to prove negligence.
- Unconscionable. Generally, a person who enters into a valid contract is bound by the terms of that contract, even when it's not exactly "fair." However, if the terms of a contract are unreasonably unfair, oppressive, or unacceptably offensive to public policy, it may be considered unconscionable and therefore unenforceable.
- Undue influence. A contract may also be unenforceable if one of the parties was subject to undue influence. Undue influence is any improper influence that deprives a person of his or her own free will and substitutes another's choice for their own. It applies not only to contracts, but also to wills, deeds, and other legal instruments.
- Unjust enrichment. Unjust enrichment is the retaining of another's money or property under circumstances in which justice requires restitution to be paid to the other person or the taken property returned. Unjust enrichment is often invoked in fraud cases, allowing a person who has been defrauded to get back what was fraudulently taken from them by a defendant.
- Use in commerce. Under U.S. trademark law, an individual is not required to register a trademark in order to hold the rights to the mark. Rather, if the trademark is used legitjmately in a business or commercial setting, the rights to and the legal protections of that trademark are acquired through what is called use in commerce.
If you need help with defining a legal word or phrase, check out FindLaw's Legal Dictionary for free access to more than 8,000 definitions of legal terms. In next week's Legalese From A to Z, we'll check out five more legal terms you may not know, beginning with the letter "V."