1. A “term of art” refers to a technical word or phrase with a specific meaning in a particular field, such as law.1Oxford Dictionary of English (3 ed.) (2010) Edited by:
2. In the legal context, terms of art are used to refer to concepts and principles that have been established by precedent or statute.
3. They are distinct from ordinary words because they have a specialised definition that may not be immediately obvious to someone unfamiliar with the field. Misuse or misunderstanding of these terms can lead to confusion or errors and disputes.
4. If an expression is not a term of art it has its ordinary meaning.
5. The determination of whether a word or phrase is considered a term of art is dependent on the context in which it is used. Even within specific fields, such as law, a word or phrase may, or may not, always be considered a term of art. For example, in the context of housing benefits legislation, the word “care” is considered to have its everyday usage, while in different legislation related to the regulation of care activities, the term “care” has specific legal definitions, making it a term of art. Additionally, changes in legislation and the development of case law may cause a word or phrase to become a term of art or lose that status.
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