Affidavit

A written document sworn on oath before a person with authority to administer it. The

Alibi

Defence to a criminal charge on the grounds that the accused was somewhere other than

Alleged

Said to be the case, but not yet proved.

Appeal

An appeal is when a higher court reviews the decision made by a lower court.

Appellant

A person who appeals (q.v.) a decision of a court or tribunal.

Appellate jurisdiction

‘Appellate jurisdiction’ is the authority of a court to deal with appeals that relate to

Arrest

To take into custody.

Asylum

Refuge or protection from persecution, usually in another country.

Bail justice

A person who is not a judge or magistrate but who has authority to grant

Balance of Probabilities

The standard of proof (q.v.) required in civil law (q.v.) cases, i.e. it is more

Beneficiary

A person who is left something in a will, or a person for whose benefit

Beyond Reasonable Doubt

The standard of proof (q.v.) required in criminal cases.

Bias

A pre-existing attitude or opinion that favours one side over another in a dispute.

Bond

(1) A deed (q.v.) in which a person undertakes to do or refrain from doing

By-laws

Former name of local laws (q.v.).

Capacity

The ability to understand and give legal consent to an action or arrangement.

Case Law

The law based on decisions made by judges in previous case. See: common law.

CBO

Community Based Order (CBO) is a sentencing order, as an alternative to imprisonment, requiring a

Civil Law

Law which is not criminal or church law (usually the former), it may mean law

Code of Practice

A set of guidelines for fair practice developed for a specific industry or occupation. May

Combined Custody and Treatment Order

A sentence that is served partly in prison and partly in the community undergoing supervised

Common Law

The part of English law traditionally based on common custom and being unwritten. Law which

Common Law Defence

A defence based on decisions in previous cases.

Compensation Order

A court order that a person found guilty of a criminal offence must pay for

Complainant

A person who begins a prosecution against another in the Magistrates’ Court, a plaintiff.

Conciliation

Process of resolving disputes which involves negotiations between parties, assisted by a conciliator. Conciliation aims

Conduct Money

Money which must be provided to a witness subpoenaed (q.v.) to court to cover the

Confidentiality

Protection against disclosure to an outside person of information revealed in a professional relationship, e.g.

Conflict of Interest

A situation where a person’s own interests, or a duty towards someone else, may affect

Consent

Agreement to an action or arrangement. See also: informed consent.

Contest Mention Hearing

A preliminary hearing in criminal cases where parties can try to reach agreement on some

Contravene

To breach, neglect or refuse to comply with a particular requirement or condition.

Copyright

The rights belonging to the owner or licensee of literary, artistic and dramatic works, films

Covenant

An agreement creating an obligation contained in a deed (q.v.) or land title. A covenant

Cross Examination

The questioning of a witness by the opposing party (q.v.) in a court case.

Custodial Sentence

A sentence of imprisonment.

Custody

Control; e.g. when arrested and not free to leave; formerly, care and control of a

Damages

A court order for money to be paid as compensation for a loss suffered as

Deemed

To be treated as.

Defamation

Publication of false and derogatory statements about another person, without any justification recognised by law.

Defence

A formal denial of an alleged fact raised by the plea of not guilty.

Defendant

A person who has been charged with a criminal offence, or whom a civil action

Delegated Legislation

See: Regulations.

Determination

Decision.

Disclosure

Giving particular information to another party as required by a contract or legal process.

Discovery

A procedure by which documents relevant to a civil (q.v.) action are exchanged between the

Discretion

Power to choose whether to do or not to do a certain thing, e.g. investigate

Doctrine

A framework, set of rules, procedural steps, or test, often established through precedent (q.v.) in

Duty Lawyer

A lawyer at the court who provides free legal assistance to people appearing in court

Duty of Care

The obligation of a person to exercise reasonable care in the conduct of an activity.

Enforce

To make people obey (a law, the terms of an agreement, etc). Also: enforceability.

Eviction

The action of recovering land or property from an occupier or tenant by legal proceedings.

Examination in Chief

Questioning of a witness in court by the party that called that witness, c.f. cross-examination.

Excess

Amount of money the insured person has to pay towards the cost of settling a

Exhibit

A document or thing shown to a witness when giving evidence, produced for inspection to

Extradition

The process used when a person in one state or country has committed a crime

Forensic Procedure

Examination of the body of a person suspected of having committed an offence, or the

Freedom of Association

The right to belong, or not belong, to an industrial association (trade union).

Guardian

A person who has the right and duty to protect another person, his or her

Habeas Corpus

To have the body. A prerogative writ (q.v.) directed to a person who holds someone

Identification Parade

A police “line up” held so a witness to an offence can try to identify

In Lieu

In place of. So: time in lieu – agreement to allow time off instead of payment for

Inadmissible

Not allowed; i.e. not able to be used as evidence in a court action.

Incorporated Association

A not-for-profit community organisation with a separate legal identity and a structure regulated by legislation.

Indictable Offence

A serious crime which is generally triable before a judge and jury.

Indictment

The document that lists the charges against the accused in County or Supreme Court proceedings.

Infant

The legal term for a person under 18, used particularly in family law and civil

Informant

A person who lays an information, i.e. a criminal charge (q.v.). Usually a police officer.

Informed Consent

Agreement given for something to be done, after the procedure has been fully explained so

Infringement Notice

Notice showing that an offence (usually a driving offence) has been committed and the penalty

Injunction

A court order which directs someone either to do, or to refrain from doing, a

Insolvent

Unable to pay debts in full.

Intensive Correction Order

A non-custodial sent­ence (q.v.) with very strict conditions attached.

Interrogation

The asking of questions. In criminal cases, the questioning of suspects by police. In civil

Intervention Order

Court order restraining a person from harmful or annoying conduct.

Judicial Review

Review by a court of an adminis­trative act (q.v.) on the basis of fault in

Jurisdiction

The ‘jurisdiction’ of a court is the authority of that court or tribunal to hear

Jury

A panel of people selected from the general public to decide the guilt or innocence

Lease

A document of agreement between a landlord and a tenant, for rental of premises.

Liability

Legal responsibility, e.g. for breaking a contract, committing a crime. It may be civil (q.v.)

Libel

The publication of defamatory material in permanent form. See also: defamation, slander.

Litigation

Court proceedings in civil matters (q.v.). A litigant is one of the opposing parties (q.v.)

Local Laws

Laws made and enforced by municipal councils within their boundaries. Previously called by-laws.

Mandatory

Having to be strictly complied with. Mandatory reporting: obligation to report, e.g. cases of abuse

Material

Relevant or important; information which may influence a decision.

Mediation

Form of dispute resolution where an impartial third party helps communication and negotiations between the

Mention Date

In Magistrates Court criminal matters, the first day on which a matter is listed at

Mitigation

Circumstances which go towards reducing the damages or punishment which the court may order against

Mortgage

A transfer of real property (land) or personal property (goods) as security for the repayment

Native Title

A form of communal title whereby land is not owned but is used by those

Natural Justice

The rules and procedures to be followed by a person or body with the power

Negligence

A tort (q.v.) involving the breach of a duty of care (q.v.) resulting in loss

Nominee

A person acting as a buyer on behalf of someone else.

Non-custodial Sentence

A sentence for a criminal offence (q.v.) which does not involve imprisonment.

Non-parole Period

The minimum term a prisoner must serve before being eligible for parole (q.v.).

Offender

A person who commits an offence.

Ombudsman

A public official appointed to investigate citizens’ complaints against the administrative agencies of government, or

Original Jurisdiction

‘Original jurisdiction’ gives a court authority to hear a case first.  This means that if

Paramount

Most important.

Parole

To free a prisoner on his or her own recognisances (q.v.) after serving a minimum

Perpetrator

Person who committed the offence.

Person Responsible

The person highest on a designated list who is available and able to make decisions

Plaintiff

Person who initiates legal proceedings against another in a civil dispute (c.f. complainant).

Pleadings

Written or printed statements delivered by parties to one another so questions of fact and

Precedent

The doctrine by which courts are obliged to follow past decisions.

Probation

A non-custodial sentencing order (q.v.) that involves good behaviour and supervision by a probation officer

Prohibition

An order to stop decision-making proceedings in a lower court or tribunal.

Prosecution

The party (q.v.) presenting evidence against the person accused of committing a crime.

Public Officer

Person appointed to act on behalf of an incorporated association in any public dealings.

Pursuant to

According to, as directed by (an Act or Regulation).

Recognisance

A bond (q.v.) the object of which is to secure the performance of an act

Retrospective

Applying to circumstances existing before the date on which a law came into effect.

Reversed Onus of Proof

In prosecutions for many drug offences, once the prosecution has presented certain matters of proof

Sanction

A penalty or punishment imposed on someone found guilty of an offence.

Self-representation

Presenting your own case in court without a lawyer being there to assist you.

Serious Indictable Offence

An indictable offence (q.v.) for which the penalty is imprisonment for five years or more,

Serious Injury

In relation to transport injuries, a serious long-term impairment, disfigurement or loss of a body

Spent Conviction

A conviction for a minor criminal offence, which after a certain time without re-offending, is

Standing

The right to take action in court or to be heard or represented in a

Status Quo

The existing situation.

Statute

A law made by Parliament (state or Commonwealth).

Statutory Declaration

A written statement of facts which the person making it signs and solemnly declares to

Statutory Defence

A ground for defence included in a particular law which would prevent a person from

Subpoena

A writ which commands the appearance of a person or the production of specified documents

Sue

To take legal action.

Summary Offence

A minor offence heard and decided in a Magistrates Court and not sent for trial

Summons

A document which is issued by the court requiring the attendance of the person named

Surety

A person who binds him or herself to be answerable for another. If there is

Suspended Sentence

A sentence of imprisonment which is only served if the convicted person commits further offences.

Sworn Evidence

Evidence given under oath (q.v.).

Tenancy

The relation between a landlord and a tenant for rented premises. See: lease.

Tort

A civil (q.v.) wrong, an act which causes harm, intentionally or otherwise, for which the

Trafficking

In common law, movement from source to end user in the course of trade. Drug

Trespass

Wrongful entry onto or interference with a property without the permission of the lawful owner

Tribunal

A body set up to hear and decide disputes, usually with less formality and less

Undertake

To promise, in the course of legal proceedings, to do or refrain from doing an

Valid

Legally binding (q.v.) or effective.

Visa

Permit that allows either temporary or permanent stay in a country.

Void

Of no legal effect.

Warrant

A document issued by a court directing an officer to take certain action. May be:

Whistleblower

Person who makes a complaint about illegal or inappropriate actions of their employer.

Witness

A person who can provide direct information based on their own knowledge about a relevant

Writ

A document in the monarch’s name and under the seal of the Crown which commands