Glossary of Legal Terms – N





This glossary should not be relied upon as legal advice. It is provided for general informational purposes only. To properly advise on any given situation requires a knowledge of the facts surrounding that situation. Laws and the statutory definitions of terms will vary from state to state. Specific questions should be directed to an attorney licensed in your state.

“New debtor” syndrome: A practice whereby a company in trouble transfers a parcel of “distressed” real property that is on the eve of foreclosure, to a new corporation, then puts the new corporation into chapter 11 to halt the foreclosure.

Nail pops:   Nails in load-bearing parts of new homes that pop out slightly because of settling of the structure.

Necessaries: Basic items needed to maintain a standard of living.

Needs-based pricing:   A seller’s asking price that is based on factors such as the required funds to pay off the mortgage, the cost of remodeling or the purchase of another house.

Negative amortization:   The situation occurs when a borrower’s monthly payment is not large enough to cover both the principal and interest of a loan. As a result, the outstanding balance of the loan actually grows larger with each payment rather than smaller. Most fixed-rate loans are not subject to negative amortization, but many adjustable-rate mortgages are susceptible.

Negative-slope driveway:   A driveway that drops from street level to the garage.

Negligence Per Se: An error, omission, or act in violation of a rule of law or statute which is presumed to be proof of negligence.

Negligence: In its broadest sense, carelessness. More precisely, conduct which falls below the standard of care established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risks of harm. In order to prevail in a negligence action, the plaintiff must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, the following four elements: (1) that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care; (2) that the defendant breached that duty; (3) that the defendant’s breach of his or her duty of care caused the plaintiff’s injury; (4) that the plaintiff suffered injury.

Neo-traditional planning:   Planning of a community that favors the return of new-home development with such traditional features as grid-street patterns, prominent front porches, backyard garages, multi-use buildings and housing clustered near commercial service areas.

Net cash flow:   Investment property that generates income after expenses such as principal, interest, taxes and insurance are subtracted.

Net worth:   The worth of a person or company based on the difference between total assets and liabilities.

Nevirapine: A drug prescribed for use in combination with other anti-HIV drugs. Nevirapine can cause a severe rash in some patients. Reports have also associated nevirapine with hepatotoxicity, a condition which can result in liver damage and death.

New Urbanism:   A community design philosophy that favors the return of new-home development with such traditional features as prominent front porches, backyard garages, multi-use buildings and housing clustered near commercial service areas.

Next Friend: One acting without formal appointment as guardian for the benefit of an infant, a person of unsound mind not judicially declared incompetent, or other person under some disability.

Niche:   A small recessed area in a wall, traditionally arched at the top.

NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) :   The response sometimes given by neighborhoods and communities to proposed changes or development.

Nisi Decree: Interim decree or order that will eventually become final unless something changes or an event takes place.

No Bill: This phrase, endorsed by a grand jury on the written indictment submitted to it for its approval, means that the evidence was found insufficient to indict.

No cash-out refinance:   The amount of the new mortgage covers the remaining balance of the first loan, closing costs, any liens and cash no more than 1 percent of the principal on the new loan.

No-asset case: A Chapter 7 case where there are no assets available to satisfy the creditor’s unsecured claims; a case in which all of the debtor’s property is “exempt.”
No-Contest Clause: Language in a will that provides that a person who makes a legal challenge to the will’s validity will be disinherited.

No-competition lots:   A lot in which the buyer’s home will be constructed by a particular builder.

No-documentation loan:   A loan application that does not require verification of income but typically is granted in cases of large down payments.

No-Fault Insurance: A type of automobile insurance often required by statute, whereby one’s own insurance company pays the medical bills or expenses incurred by their insured irrespective of fault.

No-Fault Proceedings: A civil case in which parties may resolve their dispute without a formal finding of error or fault.

Nol: Net operating loss

Nolle Prosequi: Decision by a prosecutor not to go forward with charging a crime. It translates “I do not choose to prosecute.” Also loosely called nolle pros.

Nolo Contendere: A plea of no contest. In many jurisdictions, it is an expression that the matter will not be contested, but without an admission of guilt. In other jurisdictions, it is an admission of the charges and is equivalent to a guilty plea.

Non-assumption clause:   A loan provision that prohibits the transfer of a mortgage to another borrower without lender approval.

Noncustodial parent: The parent with whom a child is not living.

Non-dischargeable debt: A debt that may not be discharged under one or more chapters of the Bankruptcy Code.

Nonexempt property: Property that the debtor owns free and clear of liens and the debtor’s property which has market value above the amount of any security interest or lien and any exemption that the debtor holds in the property.

Nonfeasance: Failure to perform some act which should have been performed.

Non-Jury Trial or Bench Trial: Trial before a judge and without a jury. In a bench trial, the judge decides questions of law and questions of fact.

Non-liquid asset:   An asset such as a house that is not easily turned into cash.

Non-Moving Party: The party to a lawsuit that is not presenting a motion to the court. A non-moving party may or may not contest or oppose the motion. Compare with moving party.

Non-recurring closing costs:   Costs that are one-time only fees for such items as an appraisal, loan points, credit report, title insurance and a home inspection.

Nonsuit: A voluntary or involuntary termination of a lawsuit, by or against a plaintiff who is either unable to prove his case or proceed to trial. Often a nonsuit is the result of procedural errors in a case.

Norplant: A contraceptive device that is implanted in the patient, and provides birth control by releasing active agents over time. Norplant has been associated with side effects such as irregular menstrual bleeding, headache, nervousness, depression, nausea, dizziness, skin rash, acne, change of appetite, breast tenderness, weight gain, enlargement of the ovaries, and excessive growth of body or facial hair.

Notary Public: A public officer who administers oaths, certifies documents, and performs certain other official acts, such as solemnizing a marriage.
Notice: Formal notification to the party that has been sued in a civil case of the fact that the lawsuit has been filed. Also, any form of notification of a legal proceeding.

Note rate:   The interest rate specified in a mortgage note.

Note:   The legal document that requires a borrower to repay a mortgage at a certain interest rate over a specified period of time.

Notice of default:   A lender’s initial action when a mortgage payment is late and attempts to reconcile the issue out of court have failed.

Nuisance: An unreasonable or unlawful use of one’s real estate that results in injures to another or interferes with another person’s use of his real property.

Nunc Pro Tunc: A legal phrase applied to acts which are allowed after the time when they should be done, with a retroactive effect.

Nuncupative Will: An oral (unwritten) will.

Nursing Home Malpractice: Any intentional act or negligence committed by a nursing home professional which causes injury to residents.

Nursing malpractice: An intentional act or negligence committed by a member of the nursing profession that causes physical, financial, cognitive, emotional or psychosocial damage to a patient under their care. Cases of nursing malpractice commonly involve cases of nursing negligence. This type of nursing malpractice is defined as a nursing professional’s failure to exact the degree of care, skill, and prudence that a reasonable professional would under similar conditions.