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to reduce or do away with something (e.g. to abate a nuisance, such as noise, is to remove or reduce the nuisance without violence or unnecessary damage).

ab initio
from the beginning.

to repeal, cancel or annul.

to depart in a sudden or secret manner, generally to avoid some legal proceeding.

absolute privilege
the protection given to parliamentary and court proceedings that any information produced
or revealed in them cannot be the subject of a defamation action.

abuse of power
misuse or unjust use of court procedure (e.g. a long delay in bringing an action may disadvantage a defendant).

an accomplice who, although not present at the scene of the crime, encourages, counsels, procures or assists the perpetrator before or after the crime.

an associate in a crime; a partner in wrongdoing.

1. to accumulate over time (e.g. interest accrues to the principal);
2. (of a right or demand) to become legally enforceable.

a person charged with a criminal offence

1. failure to object when a right is being violated;
2. failure to take legal action promptly following the violation of a right, which may be seen as consent to the violation, removing access to legal remedies.

acquit, acquittal
to find an accused not guilty after a trial.

see legislation.

act of God
a natural event that could not have been foreseen or prevented.

1. a civil proceeding brought by one party against another;
2. the right to bring a legal action.

actual notice
information that a person is shown to have personally known before a specified event.

relating to statistical calculation of risk or life expectancy for insurance purposes.

to present as evidence in court.

the complete or partial extinction of a specific legacy during the life of the testator other than by revocation in a testamentary instrument.

adjourn, adjournment
to suspend a court hearing for a specific or indefinite period.

to make a decision on an issue or dispute in a judicial manner.

a person appointed by the court to deal with the estate of someone who does not have capacity to manage their financial affairs or who has died without leaving a will.

admissible evidence
evidence that is allowed to be presented in court.

the process by which a child legally becomes the child of the adopting parent and ceases to be the child of any person who was previously the legal parent.

in Australia, a person who has reached the age of
18. Under Queensland criminal law, a person who has reached the age of 17 is treated as an adult.

advance health directive
a document in which a person states what medical treatment they wish to have if they cannot make decisions for themselves, made under the Powers of Attorney Act 1998 (Qld).

a person who represents another in a court of law; a barrister.

a written statement, setting out in numbered paragraphs the facts relating to a case. The facts must be within the person’s own knowledge
and signed before a qualified witness (justice of the peace, commissioner for declarations or lawyer); court rules usually set out how to write an affidavit.

a statement that something is true, which may be made in place of an oath if a person has no religious belief or if taking an oath is against
a person’s religious belief.

a person authorised to act on behalf of another, called the principal; an agent’s act, done within the scope of their authority, binds the principal.

aggravated damages
damages which are awarded beyond normal
damages to compensate the plaintiff for a serious injury to their honour or dignity.

aggravating circumstances
factors that make an offence more serious.

person aggrieved; a person whose interests are adversely affected by a decision.

aid and abet
to assist someone else to commit an offence, without actually participating in the offence.

a false name.

defence to a criminal charge where the accused proves they were somewhere other than the scene of the crime when that crime was committed.

an interest that is capable of being transferred or conveyed (e.g. a home owner has an alienable interest in their property).

to transfer or convey an alienable interest.

previous name for an allowance paid by a man to a wife or former wife (see maintenance).

an assertion, still to be proved, made by a party in a legal proceeding.

the allocation of new shares in a company to a person who has applied for them.

alternative dispute resolution
process for resolving disputes outside the court system (e.g. through mediation or negotiation).

the extent of the difference between the claim of one side and the offer of the other side in a dispute.

a change to an Act or other law by a later Act.

amenity, amenities
features, benefits or advantages of the local environment that are currently enjoyed.

amicus curiae
friend of the court; someone who advises the court on a particular matter but does not represent any of the parties in the action.

an act of grace or pardon on the part of the state that effectively obliterates particular wrongdoing.

additional or supplementary.

ancillary relief
in family law, orders relating to children, maintenance and property of the parties as opposed to the actual divorce or dissolution of marriage, which is called principal relief.

annual general meeting (AGM)
the obligatory meeting of members of a company or incorporated association for the purpose of dealing with both ordinary (e.g. financial) and special business (e.g. amendments to the constitution).

annual return
a return, containing a list of the company’s members, lodged annually by a company.

a sum or money payable yearly (e.g. yearly grant or allowance, or regular return on an investment).

to abolish, cancel or declare void (see definition) in law (e.g. when a marriage is annulled, the court declares that it never was a legal marriage).

a report compiled by police that outlines an accused’s relevant personal information, including their criminal history.

anticipatory breach
a refusal by one party to perform or a self-induced inability to perform requirements of a contract, occurring before performance of the contract starts.

anti-discrimination law
federal and state legislation designed to implement the principles of equality by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, ethnic or national origin, sex, marital status, sexual preference, pregnancy, physical or intellectual impairment, religion or political belief.

anton piller order
a form of injunction under which the plaintiff is given certain rights of access to and information about documents or articles in the defendant’s possession.

to take a case to a higher court or tribunal to have the original decision reviewed, when an error is suspected.

a document filed in a court, announcing that a person agrees to be a party to a court action
started by someone else; the announcement in court that a person is appearing either in person or through a lawyer.

the person who appeals a decision of a court or tribunal.

appellate jurisdiction
a court or tribunal that has the power to hear appeals.

division in proportion.

a non-judicial and less formal procedure for resolving disputes by means of a hearing before an impartial umpire or tribunal who can make
a binding decision.

initial step in criminal proceedings, where the charges are formally read and the defendant must plead guilty or not guilty.

a debt owing after the due date for payment.

to apprehend or take into police custody a person suspected or accused of having committed
a crime.

the crime of maliciously setting fire to a building.

articled clerk
a person under a formal agreement to serve a solicitor in return for training.

articles of association
a document which, together with the memorandum of association, comprises a company’s constitution; these articles generally deal with internal management matters.

1. a criminal offence involving the use or threat of physical force;
2. a tort (civil wrongdoing) where a person causes another to apprehend harmful or offensive conduct.

a term used interchangeably with insurance, but more commonly associated with life and personal accident policies.

attachment of earnings
a court order for a debtor’s employer to pay an amount of the debtor’s wages regularly to the creditor until the debt is paid off.

an act carried out with the purpose of committing a crime, which stops short of actually committing the offence; generally punishable by half the maximum penalty as the crime itself.

attestation clause
a witnessing clause (e.g. in a will) stating that the witnesses saw the testator sign, and they signed in the presence of the testator and each other.

a person appointed by another to act for them in relation to their personal or financial affairs under the Powers of Attorney Act 1998 (Qld).

the acknowledgement of a new landlord by a tenant; in a mortgage, an attornment clause is one that attempts to make the borrower the tenant of the lender.

the systematic examination of accounts of organisations and individuals, to determine their validity and accuracy.

the criminal defence where an accused is unable to control physical reflexes or actions, produced by some external cause, that have resulted in an offence.

see also post mortem; the examination of a body in order to determine the cause of death.

a standard set of employment conditions and wage scales established under state or federal law for a particular industry.


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the right of an accused person to be released from custody after being charged with an offence on the condition that they will return to court at a specified time; other conditions can also be specified.

a court officer employed to do such things as serve documents and carry out court orders.

a delivery of goods from one person (the bailor) to another (the bailee), upon an agreement that the goods will be re-delivered to the bailor (e.g. delivering clothes to a dry-cleaner).

balance of probabilities
the standard of proof required in civil law cases and for some criminal defences (i.e. it is more likely than not that what was alleged is true).

a person who is left something in a will; a person for whose benefit property is held by trustees or executors.

to make a gift of personal property in a will.

beyond reasonable doubt
the standard of proof in criminal proceedings required by the court before which the charge against the accused will be proved.

marrying someone while still legally married to another person.

a proposed new law, or a change to an existing law, which has not yet been passed by a parliament; once passed, it becomes an Act.

bill of exchange
an unconditional order in writing addressed by one person (drawer) to another (drawee), signed by the drawer, requiring the drawee to pay a sum of money to a specified person or the bearer.

bill of sale
a transfer of ownership of goods, usually as security for a loan; possession remains unchanged.

body corporate
an entity authorised to act legally as a single person, separate from those who make up the body (e.g. strata-titled property or units).

bona fide
in good faith, honestly.

bona vacantia
ownerless property, often belonging to a deceased person who has not left the property to anyone in a will.

1. a deed in which a person undertakes to do or refrain from doing certain things (e.g. good
behaviour bond);
2. money paid to a landlord by a tenant at the start of a tenancy as security in case of future damage to premises or non-payment
of rent.

invasion of a legal right or violation of a law or legal obligation.

burden of proof
the obligation of one party or the other in a case to produce enough evidence to prove their case to the required standard; in criminal cases, the prosecution bears the burden of proof; in civil cases, the plaintiff bears the burden of proof; see also onus of proof.

law made by local council; a local law.

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