A person who is not a lawyer or is not acting in that capacity but who
provides a limited number of legal services. Each country differs in the
authority it gives paralegals in exercising what traditionally would be lawyers'
A pardon is a government decision to allow a person who has been convicted
of a crime, to be free and absolved of that conviction, as if never convicted.
It is typically used to remove a criminal record against a good citizen for a
small crime that may have been committed during adolescence or young adulthood.
Although procedures vary from one state to another, the request for a pardon
usually involves a lengthy period of time of impeccable behavior and a reference
check. Generally speaking, the more serious the crime, the longer the time
requirement for excellent behavior. In the USA, the power to pardon for federal
offenses belongs to the President.
Latin: A British common law creation whereby the courts have the right to
make unfettered decisions concerning people who are not able to take care of
themselves. For example, court can make custody decisions regarding a child or
an insane person, even without statute law to allow them to do so, based on
their residual, common law-based parens patriae jurisdiction.
Latin for "of equal fault." For example, if two parties complain to a judge
of the non-performance of a contract by the other, the judge could refuse to
provide a remedy to either of them because of "pari delicto": a finding that
they were equally at fault in causing the contract's breach.
Latin: Equitably and without preference. This term is often used in
bankruptcy proceedings where creditors are said to be "pari passu" which means
that they are all equal and that distribution of the assets will occur without
preference between them.
An early release from incarceration in which the prisoner promises to heed
certain conditions (usually set by a parole board) and under the supervision of
a parole officer. Any violation of those conditions would result in the return
of the person to prison.
Killing one's father or another a family member or close relative.
A business organization in which two or more persons carry on a business
together. Partners are each fully liable for all the debts of the enterprise but
they also share the profits exclusively. Many states have laws which regulate
partnerships and may, for example, require some form of registration and allow
partnership agreements. One of the basic advantages of partnerships is that they
tend to allow business losses to be deducted from personal income for tax
purposes (see also limited
Par value shares
Shares issued by a company which have a minimum price. Shares which are
without par value or "non par value shares" are shares which may be sold at
whatever price the company's board of directors decides.
An exclusive privilege granted to an inventor to make, use or sale an
invention for a set number of years (e.g. in Canada, 17 years). Normally, no one
company can retain a
over a product or service because this is considered to economically harmful to
society. But as a financial incentive to potential inventors, the state grants a
temporary monopoly to that inventor through the issuance of a patent.
Being a father. "Paternity suits" are launched when a man denies paternity
of a child born out
of wedlock. New technology of
DNA testing can
establish paternity thus obliging the father to provide child support.
The person to whom payment is addressed or given. In family law, the term
usually refers to the person who receives or to whom support or maintenance is
owed. In commercial law, the term refers to the person to whom a
exchange is made payable. On a regular
space preceded with the words "pay to the order of" identifies the payee.
The person who is making the payment(s). Again, in the context of family
law, the word would typically refer to the person to a support or maintenance
debtor. In commercial law, the word refers to the person who makes the payment
on a check or
A person afflicted with "pedophilia", a sexual perversion in which children
are preferred as sexual partner.
An electronic surveillance device which attaches to a phone line and which
registers every number dialed from a specific telephone. This surveillance
device is not as effective as wire-tapping.
For example, if the validity of a will is
challenged, a court might appoint an
administrator pendente lite with limited powers to do such things as may be
necessary to preserve the assets of the deceased until a hearing can be convened
on the validity of the will. Another
example is an
injunction pendente lite, to last only during the litigation and,
again, designed simply to preserve something until the decisive court order is
Water which seeps or filters through the ground without any definite channel
and not part of the flow of any waterway. The best example is rain water.
Final or absolute or not open to challenge. An adjournment to a date which
is set to be "peremptory" means that ther matter will go ahead on that date with
no further applications for adjournment to be granted.
An intentional lie given while under oath or in a sworn affidavit.
The recording of evidence when it is feared that the person with that
evidence may soon die or disappear and that this person's evidence, if recorded,
could then be used in the future to prevent a possible injustice or to support a
future claim of property.
Forever; of unlimited duration. There is a strong bias in the law against
things that are to last in perpetuity. Rights that are to last forever are said
to hinder commerce as an impediment to the circulation of property. That is why
there is a rule
An entity with legal rights and existence including the ability to sue and
be sued, to sign contracts, to receive gifts, to appear in court either by
themselves or by lawyer and, generally, other powers incidental to the full
expression of the entity in law. Individuals are "persons" in law unless they
are minors or under some kind of other incapacity such as a court finding of
mental incapacity. Many laws give certain powers to "persons" which, in almost
all instances, includes business organizations that have been formally
registered such as partnerships,
In the law of wills, this is the general name given to the person who administers the
estate of a deceased person. There are two kinds of personal representatives.
Where a person dies without a will, the court must appoint an
administrator. Where a personal representative is named in a will, the
personal representative is known as an
The formal, written document submitted to a court, and which asks for the
court to redress what is described in the petition as being an injustice of some
kind. Petitions set out the facts, identifies the law under which the court is
being asked to intervene, and ends with a suggested course of action for the
court to consider (eg. payment of damages to the plaintiff).
Petitions are normally filed by lawyers because courts insist on complicated
forms but most states will allow citizens to file petitions provided they
conform to the court's form. Some states do not use the word "petition" and,
instead, might refer to an "application", a "complaint" or the "writ."
A petty or underhanded lawyer or an attorney who sustains a professional
livelihood on disreputable or dishonorable business. The word has also taken on
an common usage definition referring to anyone prone to quibbling over details.
A minor crime
and for which the punishment is usually just a small fine or short term of
custody decision which grants the right to organize and administer the day
to day residential care of a child. This is usually combined with
To object publicly, on or adjacent to the employer's premises, to an
employer's labor practices, goods or services. The most common form of picketing
is patrolling with signs.
A medieval punishment and restraining device made of moveable and adjustable
boards through which a prisoner's head or limbs were pinned. Pillories were
often fixed to the ground in a city's main square and on market days, local
criminals were exhibited. Citizens were given license to throw things at the
prisoners. As such, this method of punishment was not just humiliating but often
led to serious injury or death. For the government, this was a public statement
serving to warn others of the consequences of crime. England abolished the
pillory as a form of punishment in 1837.
The person who brings an case to court; who sues. May also be called
"claimant", "petitioner" or "applicant. The person being sued is generally
called the "defendant"
or the "respondent."
Negotiations during a criminal trial, between an accused person and a
prosecutor in which the accused agrees to admit to a crime (sometimes a lesser
crime than the one set out in the original charge), avoiding the expense of a
public trial, in exchange for which the prosecutor agrees to ask for a more
lenient sentence than would have been recommended if the case had of proceeded
to full trial. The normal rule of law is that judges are not bound by plea
bargains although, as past lawyers themselves, they are generally aware of plea
bargains and a reasonable recommendation of a prosecutor on sentencing is always
That part of a party's case in which he or she formally sets out the facts
and legal arguments which support that party's position. Pleadings can be in
writing or they can be made verbally to a court, during the trial.
To kill or take an animal or fish from the property of another.
Being married to more than one person. Illegal in most countries.
A lie-detector machine which records even the slightest variation in blood
pressure, body temperature and respiration as questions are put to, and answers
elicited from a subject.
A rule of contract law that makes an exception to the general rule that an
is only created when communicated directly to the offeror. An acceptance is
binding and the contract is said to be perfected when the acceptor places this
acceptance in the mail box for return mail even if, in fact, it never reaches
the offeror. An 1892 British case summarized it as follows: "Where the
circumstances are such that it must have been within the contemplation of the
parties that, according to the ordinary usages of mankind, the post might be
used as a means of communicating the acceptance of an offer, the acceptance is
complete as soon as it is posted."
Power of attorney
A document which gives a person the right to make binding decisions for
another, as an
agent. A power of attorney may be specific to a certain kind of decision or
general, in which the
agent makes all
major decisions for the person who is the subject of the power of attorney. The
person signing the power of attorney is usually referred to, in law, as the
donor and the
person that would exercise the power of attorney, the
Pręcipe or precipe
Latin: used to refer to the actual writ that would
be presented to a court clerk to be officially issued on behalf of the court but
now mostly refers to the covering letter from the lawyer (or plaintiff) which
accompanies and formally asks for the writ to be
issued by the court officer. The precipe is kept on the court file, but does not
accompany the writ when the latter is served on the defendant.
An offence against the King or Parliament, in old English law, which led to
serious penalties but not
Words that express a wish or a desire rather than a clear command. "Precatory
words" are often found in
wills and cause
great difficulties when courts try to find the real intention of the
For example, the words "all my property to my wife to be disposed of as she may
deem just and prudent in the interest of my family" were found to be "precatory"
and did not constitute a
family members other than the wife.
A case which establishes legal principles to a certain set of facts, coming
to a certain conclusion, and which is to be followed from that point on when
similar or identical facts are before a court. Precedent form the basis of the
theory of stare
decisis which prevent "reinventing the wheel" and allows citizens to
have a reasonable expectation of the legal solutions which apply in a given
A share in
a company that has some kind of special right or privilege attached to it, such
as that it is distinguished from the
shares. The most common special right is a preference over holders of
shares when dividends are declared. Another, is for the preferred shares to
be redeemable at the option of either the holder or the
Still another might be to disallow voting rights to preferred shareholders.
Depending on the local laws in your state, there may be no limit to the
company can attach to preferred shares. For example, a family
only allow holders of preferred shares to use a recreational property belonging
to the company.
A word describing evidence that persuades a judge or jury to lean to one
side as opposed to the other during the course of
In many states, criminal trials require evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. But
in civil trials, evidence is required only by preponderance of the evidence. The
judge (or jury, where applicable) will perceive the evidence of one side as
outweighing the other based on which side has the most persuasive or impressive
evidence. The strength or "weight" of evidence is not decided by the sheer
number of witnesses because the judge decides on the credibility of witnesses
and give their testimony weight accordingly. The side with the preponderance of
evidence wins the case.
A method of acquiring rights through the silence of the legal owner. Known
in common law jurisdiction as "statute of limitations." When used in a real
property context, the term refers to the acquisition of property rights, such as
by long and continued use or enjoyment. The required duration of continued use
or enjoyment, before legal rights are enforceable, is usually written in a
state's law known as "statute of limitations."
Presumption of advancement
A presumption in trust, contract and family law which suggests that property
transferred from a parent to a child, or spouse to spouse, is a gift and would
defeat any presumption of a
(Latin) A legal presumption which means "on the face of it" or "at first
sight". Law-makers will often use this device to establish that if a certain set
of facts are proven, then another fact is established prima facie. For example,
proof of mailing a letter is prima facie proof that it was received by
the person to whom it was addressed and will accepted as such by a court unless
proven otherwise. Other situations may require a prima facie case before
proceeding to another step in the judicial process so that you would have to at
least prove then that at first glance, there appears to be a case.
master; the person for whom an
received instruction and to whose benefit the
expected to perform and make decisions.
regulates the relationships between individuals. Family, commercial and labor
law are examples of private law because the focus of those kinds of laws is the
relationships between individuals or between corporations or organizations and
individual, with the government a bystander. They are the counter part to
A special and exclusive legal advantage or right such as a benefit,
exemption, power or
example would be the special privileges that some persons have in a
to recoup their debts from the bankrupt's estate before other, non-privileged
The formal certificate given by a court that certifies that a
will has been
proven, validated and registered and which, from that point on, gives the
executor the legal authority to execute the will. A "probate court" is a name
given to the court that has this power to ratify wills.
A kind of punishment given out as part of a sentence which means that
instead of jailing a person convicted of a crime, a judge will order that the
person reports to a probation officer regularly and according to a set schedule.
It is a criminal offence not to obey a probation order and is cause for being
immediately jailed. If someone is "on probation", that means that they are
presently under such a Court order. These orders may have special conditions
attached to them such as not to leave the city, drink alcohol, consume drugs,
not to go to a specific place or contact a certain person.
Provided for free. Pro bono publico means "for the public good."
Profit ą prendre
which resembles an
which allows the holder to enter the land of another and to take some natural
produce such as mineral deposits, fish or game, timber, crops or pasture.
As a matter of form; in keeping with a form or practice. Something done
pro forma may not be essential but it facilitates future dealings. For
example, an invoice might be sent to a purchaser even before the goods are
delivered as a matter of business practices.
A legal restriction against the use of something or against certain conduct.
For example, in the 1920s, both the USA and Canada enacted liquor prohibitions,
outlawing the manufacture or use of alcoholic beverages.
A person whom is to be the beneficiary of a promise, an obligation or a
contract. Synonymous to "obligee."
The person who has become obliged through a promise (usually expressed in a
towards another, the intended beneficiary of the promise being referred to as
the promisee. Also sometimes referred to a "obligor."
An unconditional, written and signed promise to pay a certain amount of
money, on demand or at a certain defined date in the future. Contrary to a
exchange, a promissory note is not drawn on any third party holding the
payor's money; it is a direct promise from the
payor to the payee.
Property is commonly thought of as a thing which belongs to someone and over
which a person has total control. But, legally, it is more properly defined as a
collection of legal rights over a thing. These rights are usually total and
fully enforceable by the state or the owner against others. It has been said
that "property and law were born and die together. Before laws were made there
was no property. Take away laws and property ceases." before laws were written
and enforced, property had no relevance. Possession was all that mattered. There
are many classifications of property, the most common being between
or immoveable property (real estate such as land or buildings) and "chattel", or
"moveable" (things which are not attached to the land such as a bicycle, a car
or a hammer) and between public (property belonging to everybody or to the
state) and private property.
Nearness in place; close-by. Also used to describe relationships as
synonymous for "kin."
As a possessor. For example, a person may exercise certain rights over a
thing not as owner but pro possessore: as a person who possesses, but
does not own, the thing.
To offer a document as being authentic or valid. Used mostly in the law of
propound a will means to take legal action, as part of
probate, including a formal inspection of the will, by the court.
Latin: to divide proportionate to a certain rate or interest. For example,
if a company with two shareholders, one with 25% and the other with 75% of the
shares, received a gift of $10,000 and desired to split it "pro rata" between
the shareholders, the shareholder with 25% of the shares would receive $2,500
and the 75% shareholder, $7,500.
Latin: in one's personal behalf. Contrast with pro
Latin: on behalf of a partner; not on one's personal behalf.
To bring judicial proceedings against a person and to administer them until
the conclusion of the court proceedings. Lawyers are hired by the government to
administer the prosecution of criminal charges in the courts.
A document in which a corporation sets out the material details of a share
or bond issue and inviting the public to invest by purchasing these financial
A person who offers sexual intercourse for hire.
Latin: something done temporarily only and not intended to be permanent.
A right which is signed-over to an
are used frequently at annual meetings of corporations where the right to
exercise a vote is "proxied" from the shareholder to the agent.
A term of American copyright law referring to works that are not copyright
protected, free for all to use without permission. Examples include works that
were originally non-copyrightable (items that by their very nature are not
eligible for copyright such as ideas, facts or names), copyright that has been
lost or expired, where copyright is owned or authored by the federal government
(federal documents and publications are not copyrighted and so are public
domain), and those works which have been specifically granted to the public
Those laws which regulate (1) the structure and administration of the
government, (2) the conduct of the government in its relations with its
citizens, (3) the responsibilities of government employees and (4) the
relationships with foreign governments. Good examples are criminal and
constitutional law. It can be distinguished from private
law, which regulates the private conduct between individuals, without direct
involvement of the government. For example, an unsolicited punch in the nose
would constitute a crime for which the government would prosecute under criminal
law but for which there would also be a private legal action possible by the
injured party under tort law, which is private law although governments can be
held responsible under tort law. As you can see, the line is often hard to draw
between public and private law.
Junior or lower in rank, as opposed to the chief justice. For example, there
are 8 puisne judges on the Supreme Court of Canada and a chief justice.
Special and highly exceptional damages ordered by a court against a
defendant where the act or omission which caused the suit, was of a particularly
heinous, malicious or highhanded nature. Where awarded, they are an exception to
the rule that damages are to compensate not to punish. The exact threshold of
punitive damages varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In some countries,
and in certain circumstances, punitive damages might even be available for
breach of contract cases but, again, only for the exceptional cases where the
court wants to give a strong message to the community that similar conduct will
be severely punished. They are most common in intentional torts such as rape,
battery or defamation. Some jurisdictions prefer using the word "exemplary
damages" and there is an ongoing legal debate whether there is a distinction to
be made between the two and even with the concept of
aggravated damages. |