This page is under development. Please email to suggest words to be added to the glossary.



Ibidem (Ibid) In the same place.

In camera

When court hearings are heard in private they are 'in camera'. Most criminal cases are heard in open court where the public can attend. Some cases can be heard in private if they are sensitive or at a very early stage.

In cumulo

This is an overall sentence that is given for offences that arise as a 'course of conduct' (at least 2 similar incidents) or where multiple offences arise from the same incident. Where this is done, no part of the overall sentence is for any of the individual offences.

In foro As applied to a decree of the court signifies that it has been granted against a party for whom defences or answers have been lodged, as opposed to decree in absence.

In hoc statu For the time being, at this stage.

In litem In the case or action.

In meditatione fugae About to leave the country.

Incapax As applied to a person, signifies legal, mental, or physical incapacity. The term now used is "adult with incapacity".

In praesentia dominorum In the presence of the Lords. Usually abbreviated to "IPD" after the signature of the chairman of the court where more than one judge of the court is sitting. The "Lords" refers to the Lords of Council and Session, or Lords Commissioners of Justiciary, i.e. the judges of the Supreme Courts, the senators of the College of Justice.

In retentis Evidence taken to lie in retentis is evidence laid aside until the proper time arrives for putting it before a court.

Indeterminate sentence

These are sentences that do not have a set end point, such as a life sentence. However, the judge will set a punishment part for such sentences. This is the minimum time an offender must spend in prison, or detention. Once this time has been served, the Parole Board will decide if it is safe for the prisoner to be released into the community on licence. On licence means under certain conditions, including being supervised by a social worker.


A document setting out the charge(s) of crimes or offences against an accused in more serious cases. It runs in the name of Her Majesty's Advocate (the public prosecutor). A case on indictment is tried by judge sitting with a jury in the High Court (in the most serious cases), or the sheriff court. Cases tried on indictment are known as solemn proceedings. For less serious crimes, see Summary proceedings.

Inhibition A procedure which prohibits a debtor from burdening his heritable property or parting with it, or part of it, to the detriment of a creditor.

Initial writ The document by which civil proceedings in the sheriff court are normally initiated. See also PetitionsSmall claimsSummary applicationsSummary causes.

Inner House


The Court of Session is Scotland's supreme civil court. It is divided into the Outer House and the Inner House. The Inner House is primarily the appeal court. It reviews decisions, mostly from the Outer House but also from the sheriff courts, the tribunals, and other bodies. It is divided into two permanent divisions. The First Division is chaired by the Lord President, while the Second Division is chaired by the Lord Justice Clerk. These two judges have a wide range of responsibilities and, when neither is available to sit in court, an Extra Division is set up and chaired by the next most senior judge. 

Insolvency The state of being unable to pay one's debts.

Insolvency practitioner An accountant or solicitor, qualified in terms of the Insolvency Act 1986 to act as liquidator or supervisor in relation to a company unable to payts debts, or as trustee or supervisor in relation to an individual unable to pay his or her debts.

Instance The part of a summons, writ, or other document initiating proceedings in court in which the parties to the proceedings are identified and designed.

Interlocutor A formal order made by a court containing its decision.

Intermediate Diet


This is a hearing in summary (less serious) criminal proceedings which allows the court to check whether a case is likely to go to trial on the date that has been set for it. It is intended to minimise any inconvenience to witnesses and others involved in the case if the trial does not go ahead as planned.

Inter alia Among other things.

Interdict A judicial prohibition or court order preventing someone from doing something. In an emergency, interim interdict can be obtained in the absence of the person against whom the order is sought (i.e ex parte).

Interim In the meantime. A temporary court order made until a final order is made.

Interrogatories Written questions adjusted by the court, to be put to witnesses examined under a commission to take that witness's evidence instead of the witness coming to court.

Inter vivos Between living persons.

Inventory of deceased's estate A list of a deceased person's estate or property, heritable and moveable.

Inventory of process A list of the documents in a court process.

Ipso facto By that very fact.

Ipso jure By the law itself.