Glossary

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Contents
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

Adjournment:

To delay a court hearing until a later date.

Affidavit:

A written statement of facts made under oath or affirmed before a notary public, justice of the peace, lawyer or other authorised officer. An affidavit can be used to support an application or can be used as evidence in court.

Affirmation:

  1. To confirm a legal decision, for example, an appeal court may affirm (that is, confirm) the judgment made in a lower court.
  2. A promise to tell the truth in court proceedings as an alternative to an oath if a person does not want to swear on the bible. A person will be subject to prosecution for the crime of perjury if he or she knowingly lies in a statement made under affirmation.

Agent:

An independent person or company with authority to act on behalf of another.

Alternative dispute resolution:

Various methods of resolving civil disputes otherwise than through the court processes. See for example conciliation, mediation or arbitration. See Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Amicus curiae:

A “friend of the court” who provides, with the leave of the court, submissions on law or facts which the court would not otherwise receive.

Appearance:

Coming to the court as a party, either in person or through a representative (ie. a barrister). The judge will often state ‘I will take appearances’ at the start of a hearing. The word ‘appearance’ may also refer to a Notice of Intention to Defend.

Appellant:

A person who starts an appeal in a court.

Applicant:

A person who applies to court to start a legal proceeding.

Arbitration:

A dispute resolution process where a dispute is decided by an impartial third party (called an arbitrator). Arbitration occurs outside the court process but is still binding on the parties. Arbitration may be agreed to by the parties, may be required by contract, or may be provided for under statute.

Associate:

(or judge’s associate) The judge’s personal legal assistant.

B

Bailiff:

A court official, who keeps order in the courtroom and handles various tasks for the judge and associate.

Barrister:

A person, admitted to the bar, who normally provides legal advice or represents parties in court. They may be instructed by a solicitor.

C

Callover:

A court procedure in which many cases are briefly heard in turn by a judge or a Registrar to provide parties with the opportunity to advise the court of the progress of the case. The judge or Registrar will then decide whether the case is ready for hearing and provide parties with a hearing date.

CASRCLS:

Court of Appeal Self Representation Civil Law Service. For more information see the QPILCH Website

Cause of action:

(or "right of action") The ability in law to make a claim. See Cause of Action.

Civil law:

A broad area of law which encompasses, among other things, business, contracts, estates, domestic (family) relations, accidents and negligence. Civil law is to be distinguished from criminal law.

Claim (and statement of claim):

Court forms which commence civil litigation in the Queensland Courts. See Commencing court proceedings.

Claimant:

A person who commences legal action. In Queensland courts, the claimant is called the plaintiff.

Class action:

(or "representative proceedings") Legal proceedings commenced by one or more persons on behalf of themselves and others who have the same interest in the subject matter of the proceedings. See Class actions.

Common law:

Law made by judges in deciding cases.

Conciliation:

A dispute resolution process where an independent person meets with the parties to a dispute in an attempt to assist in them coming to an agreement. Conciliation differs to mediation in that the independent person facilitating conciliation is more active in finding a solution and will point out the strengths and weaknesses of each parties’ arguments.

Contempt of court:

A criminal offence resulting out of disturbance to the orderly administration of justice. Contempt typically occurs in one of two ways.

  1. Where a person is rude or disrespectful to a judge or causes a disturbance in the courtroom.
  2. Where a party wilfully fails to obey an order of the court.

Costs:

The legal fees or expenses of a party in relation to a matter before the court. A court may order one party to pay all or part of the costs of another party. Normally, the losing party will pay the winning party’s costs.

Counsel:

A barrister.

Court of Appeal:

In Queensland, the Court of Appeal is a division of the Supreme Court and hears all appeals from the Supreme and District Courts, and many tribunals. For more information see the Queensland Court's website

Crown prosecutor:

Legal representative of the government who commences criminal proceedings against an accused person.

D

Damages:

Monetary compensation ordered by a court in response to a wrong committed by one party against another. See Damages and loss.

Declaration:

A formal statement creating or preserving a legal right. A declaration can be made by the court as a remedy to court action.

Default judgment:

A judgment made by the Court in favour of one party, not based on the merits of a matter, but because the other party failed to comply with a procedural requirement.

Defence:

The case presented by or on behalf of the party being accused of a crime or sued in a civil lawsuit. May also refer to the court document, a pleading, which accompanies the defendant's notice of intention to defend.

Defendant:

The party sued in a civil lawsuit or the charged with a crime. In some types of cases (such as divorce proceedings), a defendant may be called a respondent.

Directions:

Instructions given by a Judge before the trial or hearing to assist the parties to properly prepare for the hearing.

Disclosure:

A pre-trial procedure where parties are required to provide the other party with access to documents relevant to the case.

Discontinuance:

Where proceedings are ended by the party who started the legal proceedings.

District Court:

In Queensland, the District Court deals with serious criminal offences and also civil cases involving amounts of more than $150,000 but less than $750,000. The District Court also hears appeals form cases in the Magistrates Court.

E

Evidence:

Material, such as witness statements or documents, that is used by a party to support their case.

F

Fiat:

The Attorney-General’s fiat means the Attorney-General’s consent to commence court action in the Attorney-General’s name. See Attorney-General's Fiat.

Financial matter:

Under the Guardianship and Administration Act 2000 (Qld): Schedule 2, s 1

A financial matter, for an adult, is a matter relating to the adult’s financial or property matters, including, for example, a matter relating to 1 or more of the following—

  1. paying maintenance and accommodation expenses for the adult and the adult’s dependants, including, for example, purchasing an interest in, or making another
  2. contribution to, an establishment that will maintain or accommodate the adult or a dependant of the adult;

  3. paying the adult’s debts, including any fees and expenses to which an administrator is entitled under a document made by the adult or under a law;
  4. receiving and recovering money payable to the adult;
  5. carrying on a trade or business of the adult;
  6. performing contracts entered into by the adult;
  7. discharging a mortgage over the adult’s property;
  8. paying rates, taxes, insurance premiums or other outgoings for the adult’s property;
  9. insuring the adult or the adult’s property;
  10. otherwise preserving or improving the adult’s estate;
  11. investing for the adult in authorised investments;
  12. continuing investments of the adult, including taking up rights to issues of new shares, or options for new shares, to which the adult becomes entitled by the adult’s existing shareholding;
  13. undertaking a real estate transaction for the adult;
  14. dealing with land for the adult under the Land Act 1994 or Land Title Act 1994;
  15. undertaking a transaction for the adult involving the use of the adult’s property as security (for example, for a loan or by way of a guarantee) for an obligation the performance of which is beneficial to the adult;
  16. a legal matter relating to the adult’s financial or property matters;
  17. withdrawing money from, or depositing money into, the adult’s account with a financial institution.

G

H

Health care:

Under the Guardianship and Administration Act 2000 (Qld): Schedule 2, s 5

  1. Health care, of an adult, is care or treatment of, or a service or a procedure for, the adult—
  1. to diagnose, maintain, or treat the adult’s physical or mental condition; and
  2. carried out by, or under the direction or supervision of, a health provider.
  1. Health care, of an adult, includes withholding or withdrawal of a life-sustaining measure for the adult if the commencement or continuation of the measure for the adult would be inconsistent with good medical practice.
  2. Health care, of an adult, does not include—
  1. first aid treatment; or
  2. a non-intrusive examination made for diagnostic purposes; or
  3. the administration of a pharmaceutical drug if—
  1. a prescription is not needed to obtain the drug; and
  2. the drug is normally self-administered; and
  3. the administration is for a recommended purpose and at a recommended dosage level.

Example of paragraph (b)— a visual examination of an adult’s mouth, throat, nasal cavity, eyes or ears

The definition of "health care" under the Powers of Attorney Act 1998 (Qld): Schedule 2, s 5 is identical, except reference to "the adult" is reference to "the principal".

Health matter:

Under the Guardianship and Administration Act 2000 (Qld): Schedule 2, s 4

A health matter, for an adult, is a matter relating to health care, other than special health care, of the adult.

The definition of "health matter" under the Powers of Attorney Act 1998 (Qld): Schedule 2, s 4 is identical, except reference to "the adult" is reference to "the principal".

Hearing (or trial):

The presentation by parties of their case before a judge or magistrate in court.

HPLC:

Homeless Persons' Legal Clinic. See the QPILCH website.

I

Indictment:

(pronounced “in-dite-ment”) A formal charge or accusation of a serious crime.

Injunction:

A court order which requires a person to do or refrain from doing something.

Interlocutory application:

An application for an order before the court makes a final judgment/order.

Interlocutory hearing:

An interlocutory hearing is any court hearing that deals with a procedural issue, and is different from a trial that finally decides the dispute between the parties.

Interlocutory injunction:

A (temporary) injunction made before the court makes a final judgment/order in order to preserve the current situation.

Interlocutory order:

An order made before the court makes a final judgment/order.

Interlocutory steps:

Interlocutory steps are those steps in the civil court cases that take place between initially filing, and then the final determination of the case.

Interrogatories:

A series of written questions which one party may ask another party prior to the hearing.

Intervener:

An individual, not a party to the proceedings, who applies to become a party to the proceedings because their legal interests will be substantially affected by the outcome of the case.

J

Judgment:

The final order(s) made by a judge at the end of a court hearing.

Judicial discretion:

The right of a judge to make a choice, for example, when deciding how much compensation to award to the party that wins a case.

Jurisdiction:

The legal authority of a court to decide a particular type of matter.

K

L

Lawyer:

A person who practises law.

Leave:

Permission by the court to do something.

Legal matter:

Under the Guardianship and Administration Act 2000 (Qld): Schedule 2, s 18

A legal matter, for an adult, includes a matter relating to—

  1. use of legal services to obtain information about the adult’s legal rights; and
  2. use of legal services to undertake a transaction; and
  3. use of legal services to bring or defend a proceeding before a court, tribunal or other entity, including an application under the Succession Act 1981, part 4 or an application for compensation arising from a compulsory acquisition; and
  4. Editor’s note— The Succession Act 1981, part 4 enables the Supreme Court to make provision for a dependant of a deceased person from the deceased person’s estate if adequate provision is not made from the estate for the dependant’s proper maintenance and support.

  5. bringing or defending a proceeding, including settling a claim, whether before or after the start of a proceeding.

Legislation:

An act of parliament. For Queensland legislation, go to the Queensland Government Website or Austlii.

Limitation period:

The time limit for commencing court action set by legislation.

Litigants:

People or companies who are parties to a dispute before a court.

Litigants in person:

(or "self represented litigants") People who are a party to a dispute before the Court, who have no legal representative and are conducting the matter on their own behalf. Litigation guardian :

A person appointed to bring court action on behalf of another person who lacks legal capacity.

Loss:

The fact or process of losing something.

M

Magistrates Court:

In Queensland, the Magistrates Court is the first level of the courts system. Most criminal cases are first heard in the Magistrates Court. The court can also deal with civil cases involving amounts of $150,000 or less.

Matter:

A particular legal proceeding.

McKenzie friend:

A non-legally qualified person approved by the court to assist a self-represented litigant.

Mediation:

A dispute resolution process in which an impartial third party assists the parties to a dispute to resolve the matter by agreed settlement or compromise. See Mediation - A Short Guide.

N

Natural justice:

The obligation of a government decision-maker to act fairly, unless specifically excluded by statute. This includes the requirement to make decisions without bias based on logical evidence and allowing the parties to properly present their case. Natural justice is wider than procedural fairness, which imposes an obligation on decision makers to follow their obligations set out under statute.

Nolle prosquei:

A legal notice that a prosecutor in a criminal matter has abandoned the case.

Notice of Intention to defend:

A Queensland court document giving written notice that a person intends to defend the matter. Must be accompanied by a defence pleading.

O

Oath:

A promise to tell the truth in court proceedings by swearing on the bible. A person will be subject to prosecution for the crime of perjury if he or she knowingly lies in a statement made under oath.

Obiter dictum:

A statement by a judge made during a judgement which does not form part of the central reasons for the decision.

Order (of the court):

A command of the court. If you fail to comply with a court’s order you may be held in contempt of court.

Originating process:

A document which starts a proceeding in court.

P

Particulars:

Details of an allegation of fact made by a party in civil proceedings.

Parties (to a proceeding):

People, organisations or corporations involved in a court case, for example, plaintiffs, defendants, appellants and respondents.

Personal matter:

Under the Guardianship and Administration Act 2000 (Qld): Schedule 2, s 2

A personal matter, for an adult, is a matter, other than a special personal matter or special health matter, relating to the adult’s care, including the adult’s health care, or welfare, including, for example, a matter relating to 1 or more of the following—

  1. where the adult lives;
  2. with whom the adult lives;
  3. whether the adult works and, if so, the kind and place of work and the employer;
  4. what education or training the adult undertakes;
  5. whether the adult applies for a licence or permit;
  6. day-to-day issues, including, for example, diet and dress;
  7. health care of the adult;
  8. whether to consent to a forensic examination of the adult;
  9. Editor’s note— See also section 248A (Protection for person carrying out forensic examination with consent).

  10. a legal matter not relating to the adult’s financial or property matter;
  11. a restrictive practice matter under chapter 5B;
  12. seeking help and making representations about the use of restrictive practices for an adult who is the subject of a containment or seclusion approval under chapter 5B.

The definition of "personal matter" under the Powers of Attorney Act 1998 (Qld): Schedule 2, s 2 is virtually identical, except with sub-sections (j) and (k) omitted.

Plaintiff:

The party who starts legal action in Queensland courts. Often called a claimant or applicant in other jurisdictions.

Pleadings:

Written statements that define the issues to be decided in a case. Can include: statement of claim, defence, counterclaim, reply and answer to counterclaim.

Precedents:

  1. Previous judgments of the court which inform how later cases are to be decided because they address same or similar issues.
  2. Example court forms.

Prima facie case:

A case which is supported with enough evidence that it can be said to be established on a preliminary basis. A prima facie case may then be dispelled by the evidence of the other party.

Pro bono:

Free of charge or at a reduced fee.

Pro bono publico:

For the public good.

Procedural fairness:

See natural justice.

Prosecutor:

Generic term for the government's representative in a criminal case.

Q

QPILCH:

Queensland Public Interest Law Clearing House Incorporated.

R

Ratio decidendi:

The legal reasoning on which a judgement is based.

Remedy:

An order made by a court to make up for a wrong. For example, monetary compensation.

Respondent:

The party against whom legal proceedings have been started. Depending on the type of matter, the respondent may be called the defendant.

S

Service (or to serve):

The provision of documents to the other party. The court rules may set down the particular method by which service must take place.

Solicitor:

A person who is qualified to provide legal services.

Special health care:

Under the Guardianship and Administration Act 2000 (Qld): Schedule 2, s 7

Special health care, of an adult, is health care of the following types—

  1. removal of tissue from the adult while alive for donation to someone else;
  2. Editor’s note— For the situation after the adult has died, see the Transplantation and Anatomy Act 1979, particularly section 22.

  3. sterilisation of the adult;
  4. termination of a pregnancy of the adult;
  5. participation by the adult in special medical research or experimental health care;
  6. electroconvulsive therapy or psychosurgery for the adult;
  7. prescribed special health care of the adult.

SRCLS:

Self Representation Civil Law Service. For more information see the QPILCH website.

Standard costs:

"All costs necessary or proper for the attainment of justice or for enforcing or defending the rights of the party whose costs are being assessed" (rule 702). Standard costs are less than indemnity costs. Indemnity costs are "all costs reasonably incurred and of a reasonable amount, having regard to:

  1. the scale of fees prescribed by the court and
  2. any costs agreement between the party to who the costs are payable and the party's solicitor and
  3. charges ordinarily payable by a client to a solicitor for the work" (rule 703).

Standing:

The right of a particular person or body to commence a legal action. See Standing and Involvement in Legal Proceedings.

Statement of claim:

A document that sets out the facts which gives rise to the legal proceedings. Attached to a claim.

Statutory limitations period:

Time limitation to commence an action which is imposed by an Act of Parliament.

Submission:

Legal arguments which are made for the court’s consideration.

Subpoena:

A document issued in a legal proceeding requiring a person to give evidence or to produce documents to the court at a certain place and time.

Summary judgment:

Discretionary judgment given in favour of one party where the other party has no real claim or defence.

Summons:

A document issued by a court directing a person to appear before it.

Supreme Court:

In Queensland, the Supreme Court deals with the most serious criminal cases such as murder, manslaughter and serious drug offences, and also civil cases involving amounts of more than $750,000. It is the highest court in Queensland.

T

Tax:

A tax, fee, duty, levy, charge or other impose under, or purportedly under an Act; or a penalty in relation to a tax, fee, duty, levy, charge or other impost under, or purportedly under, an Act.

Tribunal:

A body that has decision making authority over a particular issue under powers conferred by legislation.

U

UCPR:

Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 1999 (Qld). A copy is available online at the Queensland Government website

Unliquidated damages:

Unliquidated damages are for an amount that the court must assess, for example if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, the court must still assess the compensation you are entitled to.

V

W

Without prejudice:

If a statement or offer is made without prejudice, then it is made on the basis that it will not affect a person’s legal rights in later court action.

Writ:

A written court order to do or refrain from doing something. Formerly, all civil law actions were commenced by writ.

X

Y

Z