Glossary of Legal Terms

Find here some commonly used terms in court settings both in Lower Courts that is the District Courts and the Higher Courts, The National and Supreme Court. Click here to download pdf file here

Absolute:   final (e.g. decree or order absolute)

Accused:  a person charged with a criminal offence.  Also known as a defendant.

Acquitted:  a decision by a Court that a person charged with an offence is innocent or not guilty.

Action:  A civil court proceeding where one person sues another seeking some remedy such as damages (see below) or an order for the other person to carry out some action.

Affidavit:   a written statement, made on oath in front of a person duly authorized to administer an oath (e.g. a Commissioner for Oaths) that the contents of the statement are true and correct.

Affirm:  (1)  To confirm a legal decision, e.g. for an appeal court to confirm a judgement made in a lower court.  (2)  To promise to tell the truth in a solemn or serious form when giving evidence or making an affidavit.  Any person who objects to making an oath may affirm instead. 

Affix:  To attached something (usually to another document).

Allegation:  the assertion or statement of a party to an action (criminal or civil) which he undertakes to prove during the hearing of the case.

Alibi:  (from the Latin “elsewhere”)  A defence to a criminal charge alleging that the accused was not at the place at which the crime was committed and so could not have been responsible for it.

Allocutus:  or Allocution:   The act of a court asking a defendant as to whether he has any legal cause to show why judgement should not  be pronounced against him on verdict of conviction or whether he would like to make a statement on his behalf and present any information in mitigation of sentence.

Annexure:   An attachment, addition or appendix to a document.

Annul:   To state officially or legally that something no longer has legal effect, e.g. annulment of a marriage.

Antecedents:   (that which has happened before) commonly applied in criminal cases where the court wishes to know the personal background of an accused and also whether any prior convictions exist – in order for an appropriate sentence to be handed down.

Appeal:  any proceeding taken by a party from a lower court (e.g.  District Court) to a higher court (e.g. National Court).

Appellant:  one who appeals.  Also see respondent.

Arraignment:  the process in a criminal trial where the charges or allegations are read to the accused who is then asked to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges contained in the indictment.

Ascertain:  to find out or obtain information.

Attachment of Earnings:  (also known as garnishee)  where a judgement creditor (plaintiff) requests the court to order the employer of the judgement debtor (defendant) to deduct a specific amount from the wages of the defendant each pay day and the court makes an attachment of earnings order.

Autopsy:  (also known as post mortem) where the coroner orders a medical examination to be conducted on a deceased person to establish the cause of death.

Bankrupt:  A debtor whose total assets are insufficient to pay his debts and whose property is vested in a trustee by the Court for division amongst his creditors.

Bar:  the bar is commonly referred to as a group of barristers or solicitors forming the legal profession within a country.

Battery:  an actual physical assault.  A criminal assault can take place without actual physical contact taking place, so long as a person is threatened and placed in fear.

Beneficiary:  a person who obtains assets or a benefit under a Will, which are normally held on trust by an executor or the Public Curator.

Bench:  is the place where the Judge or Magistrates sits.  The Bench is also referred to as the person or persons presiding over the court.

Bill:  a draft of proposed legislation, which has yet to receive the Royal Assent. 

Bill (of costs):  A bill of costs is the detailed statement of costs owing by a client or opposing party for services provided by a lawyer.

Bona fide:  to do something in good faith or with honest intention.

Cause of action:  the right to bring a legal action.

Cautioned and discharged:   Warned by the Court not to commit the same offence in the future and allowed to leave the Court without penalty.

Caveat:  (Latin:  “Let him beware”)  A notice, usually in the form of an entry in a register to the effect that no action of a certain kin may be taken without first informing the person who gave the notice (the caveator).

Certiorari:  (Latin:  “To be informed”) (See Writ of Certiorari). Chattels:  Any property other than freehold land; e.g. articles of personal property.

Cheque:   A written form signed by the owner of money in the bank for a bank to pay an amount of cash on demand to the person named in the cheque.

Chronology:   The date order in which a series of events happen.

Civil Rights:   Private rights, protected by law, of members of society.

Class Action:  An action brought by one person or a few persons on behalf of a larger group who have a common cause of action, e.g. OK Tedi landowners against BHP.

Client:  A person who consults a solicitor (or other professional person).  The term can also be used for persons who seek assistance from Court Officers, e.g. the public, government personnel.

Committal for Trial:   The process whereby a Magistrate in the District Court orders a person charged with a serious criminal offence to be tried by a Judge of the National Court.  The Magistrate must be satisfied that there is prima facie evidence before the Court to send the person for trial by the higher Court.

Common Law:   That part of the law of England, which developed from the common custom of the country as administered by the Common Law Courts.  It can also mean judge-made law as distinct from statute law or legislation (Act of Parliament).

Company:  A person or body of persons formed for the purpose of trade or business by either Royal Charter, special Act of Parliament or registration under the Companies Act.

Complainant:  A person who alleges that a crime has been committed and makes a complaint (usually to the Police).

Concurrent:  At the same time (a concurrent sentence is served at the same time as another sentence).

Condition:   A provision that some right will depend on the happening of some event.  In contract law it is a major term of a Contract, which if breached entitles the other person to rescind or to sue for damages.  It is contrasted with a warranty, which is a term of minor importance.

Consent (Order):    An order made with the agreement of the person against whom it is to be enforced, e.g. a man might consent to orders that he pay maintenance in a certain sum for his children.  Such an order is a “Consent Order”.

Contempt of Court:   Can take place where a party refuses to comply with an Order of a Court.  A party, witness or lawyer may also be held in Contempt of Court where they show a disregard for the authority of the Court.  If found guilty of contempt, a person can be imprisoned or fined by the Court.

Contract:   An agreement which gives rise to legal rights and obligations between the parties to it and which will be enforced by the Courts.

Contributory Negligence:   The defence in an action at common law for damages for injuries arising from negligence, e.g. workplace accident that the plaintiff’s own negligence directly caused or contributed to their own injuries.

Conversion:  That tort (civil wrong) which is committed by a person who retains another’s property without permission and with the intention of depriving them of the use and possession of it.

Conviction:   Finding a person guilty of a criminal offence after a trial.

Costs:  These may also be known as fees, charges, expenses (disbursements).  Costs are usually awarded by the Court to the successful party in a civil action.  The costs awarded will be based on the Scale of Schedule of Costs set out in the Act applicable to that Court.  These are known as Party/Party Costs and will sometimes need to be taxed (settled) by the Registrar if they are not specifically set by the Court.  However, a Solicitor will usually charge the client more than that which is set out in the Scale and these are known as Solicitor/Client Costs.  Where there are Notices of Motion filed prior to the actual case being heard (sometimes known as Interlocutory Orders) the Court will be requested to make rulings on such things as procedural matters and will usually make an order that the party who loses the main case will pay the costs of the successful party.  These are known as Costs in the Cause.

Coram:   A Latin term meaning “in the presence of”.  It is commonly used to specify which Judges or Magistrates heard the case.

Creditor:   A person who is owed money.

Cross-Examination:   Where the opposing party cross-examines a witness who has given evidence in chief to test the truth of what has been stated.

Crux:   The most important or difficult part (heart) of an issue or a matter.

Cumulative:   additional (a cumulative sentence commences at the expiration of a sentence currently being served).

Damages:   A sum of money awarded by a Court as compensation for a wrong done by another person or for a breach of contract.

Database:  Information that is stored in an organized way in a computer, or manually, e.g. Court statistics on the number of cases filed and completed in a particular year.

Debt:   A sum of money owed by one person to another. 

 

Debtor:   A person who owes money.

Deed:    A written document signed, sealed and delivered, setting out in full what the parties have agreed to.  It does not require consideration to be valid.

De facto:   Existing as a fact, although it may be legally accepted, e.g. a de facto wife.

Defamation:   An action in tort by one person against another alleging that his or her reputation has been injured by spoken words (slander) or written words (libel).

Defendant:   The person against whom a civil action or criminal prosecution is being brought; the person being used.

Delegated Legislation:   Regulations, rules and by-laws passed by a subordinate authority, such as a Local Level Government or a government undertaking like the Copra Marketing Board, in reliance of some regulation-making powers conferred by an Act of Parliament upon it.

Deposition:  (1)  A statement or declaration made by a witness under oath, e.g. in coronial or committal proceedings.  (2)  the District Court file and other documents forwarded to the National Court where an appeal has been lodged.

Detinue:  An action to recover goods based on the wrongful refusal by the possessor of the goods to restore them to the owner.  An action for unlawful detention of goods.

Devise:  A disposal of real property by a Will.

Disclaimer:   A renunciation, refusal or denial.

Dismissed:   A charge may be dismissed where the prosecutor fails to convince the Court that there are sufficient grounds to convict the accused.

Dividend:   The interest payable on the public funds; or the payment made out of profits to shareholders in a company, or the maount payable on each kina of a bankrupt’s liabilities.

Domicile:   The place in which a person is, or is presumed to be, permanently resident.

Donee:  The person who receives a gift (donation).

Donor:   The person who gives a gift.

Duress:   Threats of, or use of, force that deprives the innocent party of exercising their free will.

Ejectment:   An action to determine the title to certain land and usually remove a person from land.

Equitable:  That which is fair.

Equity:   Fairness and justice.  Originally operation alongside the common law and intended as a supplement to it, but now incorporated into a single system.  It allows the Court to make orders other than compensation (damages), e.g. an order for specific performance or an injunction.

Estate:   An interest in land.  Also used when a person dies to describe their assets.

Evidence in chief (or examination in chief):   All the evidence given by a witness before such evidence is qualified by cross-examination.

Execute:   To complete, eg. a Contract is completed or executed when both parties sign it.  A warrant is executed when the person is apprehended or a place is searched.  A warrant or writ is executed when a levy is made on the goods of the debtor.

Executor:   A male person named in a Will to carry out the wishes of the deceased person, whereas a female is known as the executrix.

Exemplary Damages:   Damages awarded in excess of the amount needed to compensate the plaintiff for injury, awarded to punish the defendant for willful or malicious conduct.  Rarely awarded for breach of contract.  Eg.  if A sues B for K50,000 for assault, and the Judge thinks the assault was so vicious, B requires further punishment and he orders him to pay K70,000, the extra K20,000 is exemplary damages.

Ex officio:   By virtue of his office.  It is sometimes common for a person to be able to attend meetings and vote due to their position, eg. Managing Directors may attend company Board meetings.  The term is also used where a private individual seeks to charge another person with an indictable offence.  This must be approved by the Public Prosecutor ex officio, i.e. by the virtue of his office.

Exparte:   An application in a judicial proceedings where only one side is present.

Extradition:   The delivery up of a person who has committed a crime in one country by the authorities of another country in which he has taken refuge.  An extradition treaty must exist between the two countries.

Fieri facias:  (Latin:  “You should cause to be done”)  A writ of execution to enforce the payment of a debt when judgement has been entered against the debtor.

Fixtures:   Anything annexed to the freehold land, (eg. a building on land) the property in it immediately vesting with the owner of the land.

Franchise:   A contractual right given to a franchisee by a franchisor (eg. Big Rooster store) to sell goods or services under a franchiser’s trademark or business name in a geographically defined area with no competition from the franchiser’s other franchisees.

Frustration:   The discharge of a contract rendered impossible to perform because of the operation of external factors beyond the control of the parties.

Garnishee:   Is an order made by the Court compelling a third party such as a bank or employer to pay money which is due to a judgement debtor to his judgement creditor.  Similar to an attachment of earnings.

Gift:   The gratuitous (free) passing of property (ownership) in a thing from one person to another without consideration (something in exchange).

Goods:   All chattels personal.  It is a class of personal property and generally refers to movables.

Goodwill:   The advantage arising from the reputation and trade connections of a business, in particular the likelihood that existing customers will continue to patronize it.  Goodwill is a substantial item to be taken into account in the sale of a business; it may need to be protected by requiring the vendor to agree not to set up in the same business for a stated period in competition with the business he has sold.

Guarantee:  A collateral promise to be responsible for the debt, default or miscarriage of another.

Guarantor:   A person who promises by guarantee to answer for the debt, default or miscarriage of another.

Habeas corpus:  A writ used to challenge the validity of a person’s detention.  It usually takes the form of a Court Order, directing a person who detains another in custody, to bring that person to Court in order for the Court to decide whether that person was properly detained.

Hostile Witness:   A witness is usually declared hostile by the Court on the application of a party to a case where the witness has made a written or verbal statements, and then in Court gives contrary evidence, or refused to answer questions in line with the previous statement.  Normally a party is bound by the answers given by their witnesses, but if the Court declares the witness hostile the party is able to cross-examine that witness.

Ignorantia juris non excusat:   Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

In Camera:   The hearing of a case in private where members of the public are not allowed into the Court. 

Indictment:   A written document usually filed by the prosecutor setting out the charges or allegations against the accused.

Illegal:   Unlawful or illicit – an act which the law forbids.

In lieu:   Instead of.

Incite:   Urge someone to do something.  To stir up.

Inquest:   An official investigation by the Coroner to establish the cause of death of a person (usually where a person has died suddenly from unnatural causes) or the cause of a fire.

Indictable Offence:   A serious criminal offence, which is usually dealt with by a Grade 5 Magistrates in the District Court, or where a committal for trial takes place and the defendant is sent for trial by the National Court.

Infant:   A person under the age of an adult, i.e a person under the age of 18 years (Note that a child is a person under the age of 16 years).

Information:   A pleading, the first stage in certain criminal proceedings.

Infringement:  Breach – the term is usually used where the Traffic Act has been breached or, other minor crimes such as littering.

Injunction:   A discretionary order or decree issued by a Court in its equitable jurisdiction by which a party to an action is required to do, or refrain from doing, a particular thing.  Injunctions are either restrictive (preventive) or mandatory (compulsory) and interlocutory (interim) or perpetual.

Insolvent:   A person who is unable to pay their debts as they become due.

Interlocutory Proceedings:   Proceedings taken during the course of an action and incidental to the principal object of the action, the judgement.

Inquest:   An enquiry or hearing conducted by the Coroner to establish the cause of death, or a fire.

Joint Tenancy:   The ownership of land held in common by several persons where on the death of one joint owner, the land as a whole vests in the survivors, and can only be disposed of by Will by the last survivor.   Compare tenancy in common.

Judgement:   The final order of a Court entered upon the completion of an action.

Jurisdiction:   (1)  The power of a Court to hear and decide a case or make a certain order.  (2)  The monetary or criminal limits (the boundary) within which the powers of a court may be exercised.

Jurat:   A section at the end of an affidavit signed by the person making the affidavit and setting out the place and date it was sworn, and the signature of the witness to the affidavit.

Jury:   A group of persons (jurors) chosen at random to decide the facts of a case.

Lease:   A grant of the possession or use of land for a specific period of time.  The person who grants the lease is known as the lessor, and the person to whom it is granted is known as the lessee.

Legitimate:   The legal status of a child whose parents were married at the time of his or her birth.  It can also mean “proper” as for example, if a person sues another person for compensation for breach of contract, it could be said to be a “legitimate” or proper claim.

Liability:   A person’s present or prospective legal obligation, responsibility or duty.  This may be established by the Court and can arise out of a contractual relationship or possible negligence.

Libel:  Defamation is some permanent form such as writing, film and actionable without proof of special damages.

Liquidated Damages:   Damages that must be paid, in the amount stipulated by contract, in the event of a breach of the Contract.

Litigation:   The process of making or defending a claim in Court.

Locus standi:   The right of a person to appear in Court and argue their case.

Mandamus:   A command or direction from a superior court to a lower court or tribunal instructing it to perform a specified public duty, e.g. to hear a particular case (one of original prerogative writs).

Mandate:   An official order given to someone to perform a particular task.

Mareva Injunction:   An Order made by the Court prohibiting a person from disposing of property or assets prior to the conclusion of a case.

Mens rea:  (Latin:  “a guilty mind”).   The state of mind that the prosecution must prove a defendant to have had at the time of committing the crime in order to secure a conviction.

Minor:   A person under the age of 16 years.

Misdemeanor:   Is usually a minor criminal offence dealt with by the District Court.

Motion:   An application to a Court or a Judge for an order directing something to be done in the applicant’s favour.  A Notice of Motion commences the proceedings.

Mortgage:   A conveyance or transfer of real or personal property by a debtor to a creditor as security for a debt.

Negligence:   A tort, actionable at the suit of a person suffering damage as a result of the defendant’s breach of duty to take care to refrain from doing those acts, which a reasonable person could reasonably foresee as being likely to injure them, e.g. driving a car.  A person may also be found liable for gross negligence.

Nemo dat quod non habet:   No one can pass a better title to assets to a person than the only they have.  If A has leased a plot of land from B for 20 years and B sells it to C, he can only transfer to C the balance of term of the lease.

Nisi:   An Order Nisi is an order which will not take effect until a lapse of a specific period of time or until some other specified act is performed – it will then become absolute (final or conclusive), eg. a garnishee order or a divorce.

Nitty gritty:   Is a slang term used to indicate getting down to basics, or getting down to the bottom of things.

Nolle prosequi:  In criminal proceedings the Public Prosecutor may file a nolle prosequi to stay proceedings.  It is not equivalent to an acquittal and is no bar to the filing of a new indictment at a later date.

Non compliance:   Where a person fails to obey a Court Order, usually punishable by Contempt of Court proceedings, a find or imprisonment.

Non legal:   A document or an action, which is not recognized as having any legal effect.

Nuisance:   A tortuous action encompassing both those actions that interfere with the enjoyment of a right that all members of the community are entitled to (public nuisance eg. blocking a street), and those actions that result in a wrongful disturbance or interference with a person’s use or enjoyment of land (private nuisance – letting pigs damage a person’s garden).

Nulla bona:   No goods.  A Writ of warrant is returned nulla bona when the Sheriff finds that a judgement debtor has no assets to satisfy the judgement debt.

Order:   A command or direction by the Court, eg.  a decree or judgement.

Originating Summons:   The summons, which commences the legal proceedings, such as a Default Summons or Writ of Summons.

Partnership:   The relation that exists between persons carrying on business in common with a view to profit.

PNG Law Society:   The controlling body for lawyers on the etiquette and practice of the Bar.

Performance: doing what is required by a contract or condition.  Also see specific performance.

Pleadings:   The written documents, which are exchanged between the parties in a civil case, which define the issues in dispute and ultimately make up the Court file.  They contain the facts and evidence to be relied on by the respective parties to the case.

Post mortem:   A medical examination performed on the body of the deceased to establish a cause of death.  Also see autopsy.

Power of Attorney:   An authority, usually under seal, whereby one person empowers another to act on their behalf for certain purposes – usually when they are ill or overseas.

Praecipe:   A specific form of Writ or legal document which commences an action.

Preamble:   That part  of a statute set out in the beginning giving the reasons for the Act.

Precedent:   A judgement or decision of a court of law cited as an authority for deciding a similar set of facts in later cases.

Prerogative Writs:   Writs issued from a superior Court to an inferior court or administrative body for the purpose of preventing them from exceeding the limits of their authority, or compelling them to exercise their functions in accordance with the law.  These writs include:  (1) habeas corpus;  (2)  certiorari;  (3)  prohibition;  (4)  mandamus.

Prima facie:   At first appearance, on the face of things.  Prima facie evidence is evidence of a fact that is of sufficient weight to justify a reasonable inference of its existence but is not conclusive evidence (although it might be).

Probate:   The official process of proving that a Will is valid.

Probation:   A person may be placed on probation when a Court has found him guilty of a criminal offence.  The probation order usually provides for supervision of that person for a period of time and may contain other conditions.  This will usually be done to avoid sending the person to prison.

Pro bono:   A term commonly used when a lawyer performs legal work for a person without charging a fee.

Pro rata:   Proportionately.

Prohibition:   A writ issued out of a superior court to restrain a lower court from exceeding its powers.

Prosecutor:   A person who takes proceedings against another person in the name of the Crown – usually the Police or Public Prosecutor.

 Prosecutrix:   Usually the female victim of persons charged with unlawful sexual assault (eg. rape or canal knowledge).

Provocation:   Is sometimes raised as a defence in a murder trial to reduce the charge to the lesser charge of manslaughter.  The accused will argue that he was provoked by the deceased to commit the killing.

Quantum:   A Latin term meaning “as much”.   The term is commonly used in civil damages cases where the amount (or quantity) of damages is ordered by the Court.

Quasi-judicial:   The exercise of discretion and the making of a decision in a judicial manner, such as that made by an administrative tribunal, i.e. semi judicial.

Quorum:   The minimum number of persons that constitutes a valid formal meeting.

R or Regina:   The Queen.

R or Rex:   The King.

Ratification:   The act of adopting a contract by a person who was not bound by it originally (ratify).

Ratio decidendi:   The reason for a decision and which makes binding precedent for the future.

Real Property:   A general term for land and everything attached to it.

Recognizance:   A legal obligation or a bond acknowledged by a defendant to secure the performance of some act or acts by the person entering into the recognizance, eg. to appear in court, to be of good behavior or to keep the peace.

Remand:   To adjourn a hearing to a later date, and to order the defendant to remain in custody, unless bail is granted, i.e. remanded in custody.

Remission:   The reduction of a term of imprisonment (sentence) by administrative action after the sentence has been imposed by a Court.  It may be given automatically by the prison authorities or may be given by the parole board.  It may be given where the prisoner has been of good behavior whilst serving the sentence or may be automatically imposed.

Rescission:   Termination of a Contract by one or both parties (rescind).

Rescind:   Cancel, eg.  a Court Order or a Contract.

Res judicata:   Something which has been legally decided.

Respondent:   A person against whom an appeal is brought.

Restitutio in integrum:   Restoration to the original position.   An equitable remedy available in rescinding a contract whereby the parties will be restored to the position they were in before they entered into the transaction.

Sentenced to the Rising of the Court:   A sentence of imprisonment until the Court finishes its sitting that day.  Usually the Court is said to be finished as soon as the sentence is imposed.  Thus no time is actually served.  It is a sentence, which enables a conviction to be recorded without the offender actually serving any period of imprisonment.

Set-off:   Is similar to a counter-claim in a civil action.

Sequestration:   An action whereby a person’s property is taken out of their control, eg. in bankruptcy proceedings.

Sheriff:   A Court officer employed to serve writs, make arrests and executions on the property of judgement debtors.  See the Sheriff’s Act, Chapter 55.

Sine die:   Until the day appointed.  A Court is adjourned sine die when its current sittings have been completed and the date for the next sitting has not been fixed.  A matter is adjourned sine die when it is adjourned without fixing a date for the further hearing.

Slander:   Defamation of a non-permanent form, such as words and gestures.  It is actionable only on proof of special damage.

Specific Performance:   An equitable remedy compelling a person to carry out their contractual obligations where damages would be an inadequate remedy for the breach of an agreement.  It is not obtainable for contracts of personal service.

Stakeholder:    A person or organization who has an interest in the outcome of a matter.

Stare decisis:   To stand by that which has been decided.   A case decision serves as a legal precedent in the deciding of a subsequent similar case.

Statute:   An Act of Parliament; a law passed by the legislature.

Statute-barred:   The Frauds and Limitations Act 1988 specifies that certain legal actions or proceedings must be brought within a certain period of time, eg.  any action for breach of a Contract or an action in tort for damages for negligence must be brought within six (6) years from which the cause of action accrued.  Once the six years expires, the action is statute-barred unless the Court extends the time.

Stay of Execution:   Commonly occurs where a person has lodged an appeal against a decision and seeks an order that any enforcement be deferred until the appeal is heard.

Sub-judice:   Under judicial consideration.  Thus the sub-judice rule limits comment and disclosure relating to judicial proceedings in order not to prejudice the issue or influence the jury.

Subpoena:   A summons or Writ in an action requiring a person to appear or attend at the Court or tribunal at a specified time and place to give evidence and/or produce documents.

Summary offence:   A minor criminal offence, dealt with in a lower court – District Court.

Summons:   A Writ served upon a defendant to secure their appearance in Court.

Surety:   Any person who offers security for another, eg. a person who agrees to forfeit a sum of money if another person fails to appear in Court to answer to bail.

Testator or Testatrix:   The title given to a deceased person who has made a Will.

Tort:   A civil wrong (negligence, trespass, defamation).

Tortious defence:   A defence to an action for tort.

Trespass:   A tort involving the wrongful interference with the person or property of another and including:  trespass to the person – assault, battery and false imprisonment.  Trespass to land; and trespass to goods.

Trust:   An equitable obligation involving the holding of a property for the benefit of another person.

Trustee:   A person holding a legal title or exercising a control over the disposition of property for the benefit of others.

Ultra vires:   Beyond legal power.  An act in excess of the authority conferred by law, and therefore invalid, eg. where a company director acts outside the rules of the company.

Perpetrator:   A person who commits a crime or does something wrong or evil.

Vest:   To give legal rights, eg. after Probate of a Will is granted and the assets are distributed to the named beneficiaries legal title to those assets are vested in the beneficiary.

Vexatious litigation:   A legal action brought purely for the sake of annoyance or oppression which is usually trivial, frivolous or scandalous and without substantial legal foundation.

Vicarious:   “As the representative of”.   Vicarious liability is a legal liability imposed on one person for the torts or crimes or wrongs committed by another (usually an employee but sometimes an independent contractor or agent) although the person made vicariously liable is not personally at fault.

Violation:   To go against (breach) the law or an agreement.

Void:  (void ab initio) of no legal effect.

Voidable:   A defective agreement, which may be affirmed or rejected at the option of one of the parties.

Voire dire:  an examination of a witness on the voire dire is a series of questions by the Court and is usually in the nature of an examinations to his competency to give evidence which generally takes place prior to the person giving evidence in chief, eg. the competency of a child to give sworn evidence.

Volenti no fit injuria:   voluntary assumption of the risk or that to which a person consents cannot be considered an injury, eg. sporting events where a person is injured.  A tortious defence (see above) applicable to intentional acts that would otherwise be tortuous, such as boxing and running the risk of accidental harm which would otherwise be actionable as negligence – such as watching car racing.

Warrant:   a legal document usually signed a by Judge or Magistrate and sometimes sealed by the Court authorizing a specified person to perform certain acts, eg. Search Warrant (authorizes the Police to enter premises to search for specified items); Warrant of Arrest (authorizes the Police to arrest a person and bring him before the Court); Warrant of Execution – similar to Writ of Levy (authorizes the Sheriff to seize and sell the assets of a judgement debtor); Warrant of Commitment (authorizes the Police to apprehend and arrest a person and deliver him to Correctional Services to serve a term of imprisonment in lieu of payment of a fine or other penalty); Warrant of Remand (authorizes Correctional Services to hold a person in custody pending the hearing of a criminal case, if bail has not been granted).

Will:   A written document made by a person during their lifetime, disposing of their property upon their death.

Winding-up:  The putting into liquidation of a company or partnership for the purpose of realizing (selling) the assets and discharging the liabilities of the business.

Witness:   An individual who testifies under oath in a legal action.

Writ:  A document in the name of the Queen issued by a Court or an officer of the Crown commanding the person to whom it is addressed to do or stop doing a particular act, eg. a Writ of Summons usually commence the legal.

Writ of Certiorari:   An order from an Appellate Court to a lower court requesting the record of a case that is to be reviewed by the Appellate Court to be produced to the Appellate Court.


Back to top