Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Duhaime's Civil Litigation & Evidence Law Dictionary

Civil Litigation & Evidence DictionaryOf all the areas of the law, few have more esoteric and peculiar industry-specific terms than civil litigation and the related field of evidence.

This is an area of law that lawyers have traveled without interference for centuries and with only occasional efforts to simplify.

Walk into any courtroom and you will immediately be inundated with civil litigation and evidence legalese, a language completely impossible to follow or understand except for lawyers unless you have access to Duhaime's Civil Litigation and Evidence Law Dictionary, authoritative, completing written by lawyers, in plain language and hyperlinked to the cases that matter.

ABC Rule
An equitable exception to the general rule that attorney fees are not awarded, and which allows an award of attorney fees as consequential damages.
Abstract Instruction
An instruction given to a jury which though correct in law, is irrelevant.
Abuse of Process
The use of legal process in an improper or unauthorized manner.
Acta Exteriora Indicant Interiora Secreta
Latin: The outward acts show the secret intentions.
A formal demand to a court of law and of justice to resolve a dispute.
Professionals uniquely skilled in the application of mathematics to risk management, contingent events and opportunity.
Actus Curiae Neminem Gravabit
Latin: An act of the court shall prejudice no one.
Ad Damnum
Latin: to the damage.
An attachment to a written document.
Adjudicative Fact
Basic, core facts that must be proven by a party.
Latin: some evidence tendered to support something else
Administration of Justice
The personnel, activity and structure of the justice system - courts and police - in the detection, investigation, apprehension, interviewing and trial of persons suspected of crime.
Ad Quaestionem Facti Non Respondent Judices, Ad Quaestionem Juris Non Respondent Juratores
Latin: The judge instructs on points of law and the jury decides matters of fact.
The Scottish law term for a barrister; one who argues cases for clients before the Court.
A person that is sworn to an affidavit; who gives evidence by way of an affidavit.
A written statement of fact which has been verified as truthful by the mechanism of a solemn process before another party.
Affirmative Defense
A reply to a claim which alleges facts from which it results that, notwithstanding the truth of the allegations of the complaint, no cause of action exists.
Aggravated Damages
Damages awarded by a court to reflect the exceptional harm done to a plaintiff of a tort action.
A lawyer who purports to act for both sides.
Amicus Curiae
Latin: friend of the court.
To ask a more senior court or person to review a decision of a subordinate court or person.
The person who initiates an appeal of a judicial body's decision.
An alternate word for lawyers or barrister and solicitor, used mostly in the USA.
Attorney Work Product
A privilege that shields from discovery, the private notes or other documents of a lawyer as she or he, or their agents, prepare in the context of a matter considered for litigation.
Attorn or Attornment
To consent, implicitly or explicitly, to a transfer of a right.
Audi Alteram Partem
Latin; literally 'hear the other side'.
Audita Querela
An application to a court after judgment seeking to avoid execution of that judgment because of some event intervening between judgment and execution which compromises the judgment creditor's entitlement to execution.
Backing Sheet
A back cover page to a legal document designed to show, when folded, what the legal document is and who it is from.
Bad Faith
Intent to deceive. A person who intentionally tries to deceive or mislead another in order to gain some advantage.
A person acting with legal authority in the seizure of personal property; and, also, the official in each courtroom who attends to security within.
Balance of Probabilities
Burden of proof in civil trials.
A lawyer that restricts his or her practice to the court room; a litigation specialist.
A judge in court session.
Best Evidence Rule
When a document is proposed as evidence, the original must be produced.
Bill of Costs
A formal itemized memorandum presented by the successful party to concluded litigation, to the other, as a proposal of costs and disbursements that the issuing party claims.
Blue Ribbon Jury
A jury consisting of highly qualified persons.
A written guarantee in regards to the fulfillment of a legal obligation.
Boni Judicis Est Ampliare Jurisdictionem
Latin: good justice is broad jurisdiction.
Builders' Lien
A statutory charge against real property by those who have contributed material or manpower to its improvement.
Burden of Proof
A rule of evidence that makes a person prove a certain thing or the contrary will be assumed by the court.
Calderbank Letter
A species of settlement offer delivered in the form of a letter and which can be used in the event that it is rejected and subsequent to trial or hearing of the litigation which results in terms similar to the rejected offer, costs are spoken to.
Call To The Bar
The official moment that an individual is sworn or entered into a law society or state bar or court and thereafter licensed to practise law in that jurisdiction.
The power to acquire and assert legal rights.
Carriage Motion
A motion made to a court of law during duplicative class action proceedings to defer to a predominant proceeding, staying others.
Cease and Desist Letter
A letter which advises a person to stop (cease and desist) using specified legal rights which are asserted by another.
Certificate of Pending Litigation
A registration or/of a notice or warning that litigation is ongoing as to ownership of a particular piece of land or other real property.
A procedural first step in class action litigation in which a court determines if the action at issue is amenable to class action proceedings.
Certified Affidavit
A simplified form of affidavit in which the affiant self-certifies the truthfulness of his or her written statement under penalty of perjury.
A formal request to a court challenging a legal decision of an administrative tribunal, judicial office or organization (eg. government) alleging that the decision has been irregular or incomplete or if there has been an error of law.
Challenge for Cause
A challenge of a prospective juror for which the cause is disclosed by the challenging party (or their lawyer), and submitted to the Court for decision.
A court which sits to dispose of procedural matters.
Circumstantial Evidence
Evidence which may allow a judge or jury to deduce a certain fact from other facts which have been proven.
An order of a court to either do a certain thing or to appear before it to answer charges.
Civil Action
Any action that is not a criminal proceeding.
Civil Litigation
The conduct of a non-criminal matter in a court of law from initial advice to client(s) through to the enforcement of judgment.
Class Action
When different persons combine their lawsuits into one opposed to a common defendant, because the facts are sufficiently similar.
Client-Solicitor Privilege
A right that belongs to the client of a lawyer that the latter keep any information or words spoken to him during the provision of the legal services to that client, strictly confidential.
Latin: confession. Used in the common law to refer to a pleading in which a claim is confessed.
Collaborative Law
A family law dispute resolution encouragement process set in writing which includes a promise to negotiate in good faith, to engage in the exchange of private and confidential information on a without prejudice basis, and a motivational commitment that the participating lawyers or law firms would withdraw if the negotiations fail.
Commissioner of Oath
A formal appointment or commission governments give to individuals empowering them to certify the oath of another upon documents, such as affidavits.
A feature of a group of people seeking to be certified for a class action, that there are questions of law and fact common to the prospective group (class).
Common Fund
A fund recovered by a litigant or lawyer for the benefit of persons other than himself or his client, and that litigant or lawyer then entitled to a reasonable attorney's fee from the fund as a whole.
Common Pleas
A court to resolve civil disputes between private citizens and not otherwise involving the Crown.
Community of Interest
A term of class action law; a requirement for certification, that members of the proposed group represent a community of interests.
An individual's ability to understand the nature and object of legal proceedings being presented, and to consult with counsel.
Complete Diversity
A jurisdictional requirement of US district courts; that that all persons on one side of the controversy be citizens of different states than all persons on the other side.
Compromise Agreement
An agreement to settle a previously existing claim with a substituted performance.
Conflict of Laws
A specialized branch of law which resolves cases which have an element of conflicting foreign law.
Confrontation Clause
The constitutional guarantee in the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution which requires that an accused person have the right to be confronted with the witnesses against him.
Consent Order
An order of the court in terms which have been contractually entered into by parties to the litigation.
A person found to have committed contempt of court.
Contempt of Court
Conduct that is disobedient, obstructive or contemptuous to the Court.
Contingency Fee
A method of payment of legal fees represented by a percentage of an award.
Intentional contempt of court.
A court order that the losing party in litigation must pay the successful party's expenses plus an additional allowance, the latter as a contribution towards the winner's legal fees.
Costs Follow The Event
An award of costs will generally flow with the result of litigation; the successful party being entitled to an order for costs against the unsuccessful party.
Costs if Demanded
An award of costs which is explicitly left to the discretion of the party to whom costs are awarded.
Costs in any Event of the Cause
An entitlement to costs of an interlocutory application regardless of the ultimate result of the main action.
Costs in the Cause
The general rule in the law of costs that the ultimate victor at trial may get his or her costs against the loser and including all interlocutory applications.
A defendant's claim against a plaintiff.
Court of Record
A court of law which retains written records of its proceedings and which has the ability to fine or imprison.
Criminal Contempt
Contumacious behaviour or behaviour which tends to publicly depreciate the authority of the court or the administration of justice.
Cross Examination
The examination of a witness called by the other side at trial and for which leading questions are permitted.
Cursus Curiae Est Lex Curiae
Latin: The practice of the court is the law of the court.
A cash compensation ordered by a court to offset losses or suffering caused by another’s fault or negligence.
De Bene Esse
To take something for what it is worth, such as evidence collected for the time being, in the absence of, but in anticipation of, litigation, admissibility to be determined when such thing is sought to be used against another at trial.
To accept a document or an event as conclusive of a certain status in the absence of evidence or facts which would normally be required to prove that status.
Default Judgment
An order of the Court striking a claim because no appearance, answer, reply or defence has been filed within the applicable deadlines.
The individual, company or organization who defends a legal action taken by a plaintiff and against whom the court has been asked to order damages or specific corrective action redress some type of unlawful or improper action alleged by the plaintiff.
De Fide et Officio Judicis non Recipitur Quaestio, sed de Scientia Sive sit Eror Juris sive Facti
Latin: The bona fides and honesty of purpose of a judge cannot be questioned, but his decision may be impugned for error of law or of fact.
French for outside. In the context of legal proceedings, it refers to that which is irrelevant or outside the scope of the debate.
Deliberative Secrecy
The intentional concealment of the process of cogitating, consulting or other private methods of arriving at a judicial decision.
Demand Letter
A letter from a lawyer, on behalf of a client, that demands payment or some other action, which is allegedly due or in default.
Demonstrative Evidence
Tangible evidence tendered in court through a witness.
A mostly obsolete motion put to a trial judge after the plaintiff has completed his or her case, in which the defendant, while not objecting to the facts presented, and rather than responding by a full defence, asks the court to reject the petition right then and there because of a lack of basis in law or insufficiency of the evidence.
De Non Apparentibus Et De Non Existentibus Eadem Est Ratio
Latin: What is not juridically presented cannot be judicially decided.
De Novo
Latin: new.
A person who gives evidence verified by oath, as within an affidavit.
The official statement by a witness taken in writing (as opposed to testimony which where a witnesses give their perception of the facts verbally).
Dilatory Plea
A formal challenge which questions not the cause of action, but the propriety of the suit, or the mode in which the remedy is sought.
Direct Contempt
Contempt of Court which is aimed expressly against the dignity or authority of the Court itself in the person of its Judges or officers.
The delivery to the other side of a legal matter of relevant documents or other evidence.
A formal notice filed with the Court and served on the defendant, ending active litigation.
Discovery - Civil Litigation
The making known to the other side of a law suit, of all relevant evidence.
Dismissal Without Prejudice
A dismissal of an action before it is judges on the merits and leaves the parties as though the action had never been filed, subject to limitations in local Court rules.
A fact or point of law which brings about the settlement of a contested issue.
An official court record book which lists all the cases before the court and which may also note the status or action required for each case.
Doctor-Patient Privilege
A proposed prohibition In regards to the disclosure within legal proceedings of communications or records produced privately between a medical doctor and her/his patient, on the expectation of privilege.
Any written thing capable of being made evidence.
Double Costs
A punitive measure against a litigant for that party’s failure, in all of the circumstances, to have accepted an offer to settle that should have been accepted.
Double Hearsay
Recitals of statements of others within a statement that is itself hearsay; an out-of-court declaration containing another out-of-court declaration.
Double Plea
Two or more pleas which includes a contradictory alternative.
Duces Tecum
Latin: bring with you.
Dying Declaration
Exception to the hearsay rule: a statement of fact made by a dying victim relating to the cause and circumstances of a homicide.
Improper influence on a juror.
Also, "impanel"; the official call to duty of a jury, usually as called by the clerk of the Court in which the jury is to act, and just before the jurors are sworn in.
En banc
(French) As a full bench.
Equitable Estoppel
A bar to a party from asserting a legal claim or defense that is contrary or inconsistent with his or her prior action of conduct.
Equity Delights to do Justice, and not by Halves
A maxim of equity that once invoked successfully, equity will, fully and with finality, resolve the dispute between the parties.
A mostly informal title associated with those who practice law.
A valid excuse for not appearing in Court when summoned.
A rule of law that when person A, by act or words, gives person B reason to believe a certain set of facts upon which person B takes action, person A cannot later, to his (or her) benefit, deny those facts or say that his (or her) earlier act was improper.
Proof of fact(s) presented at a judicial hearing such as a trial.
Examination for Discovery
A recorded oral examination of the other side to litigation before trial and under oath, but not before a judge, with a view to obtaining admissions or discovering facts.
Examination In Chief
The questioning of your own witness under oath.
Examination on Affidavit
An examination under oath of the deponent of an affidavit.
A court of law designed to determine claims by the Crown.
Ex Facie Contempt
Contempt committed outside the court.
A document or object shown to the court as evidence.
Ex Juris
Latin: outside of the jurisdiction.
Ex Parte
Latin: outside the awareness of a party; for one party only.
Expert Witness
A witness with a defined area of expertise and on that basis and strictly within that area, is allowed to give opinion evidence to the Court (or jury, as the case may be).
Facial Mapping
An identification technique which distinguishes unique facial characteristics of an individual.
The written summary of a litigant's position to be taken and expounded upon in a judicial proceeding, including a concise summary of relevant facts and law and brief arguments with reference to authorities where applicable.
Fieri Facias
Latin: that you cause to be made. Mostly used to refer to a writ of judgment enforcement obtained under the old common law of England.
Final Order
An order or judgment of the Court that finally disposes of the rights of the parties.
Fishing Expedition
A speculative demand for information without any real expectation about the outcome of the demand or its relevance to the litigation.
Forum Conveniens
The court or forum most suitable for the ends of justice.
Fresh Evidence
Evidence that existed at the time of the trial, but for various reasons could not be put before the court.
The seizing of a person's property, credit or salary, on the basis of a law which allows it, and for the purposes of paying off a debt.
When a lawyer is hired to draft an official court document on behalf of a self-represented litigant.
Guardian Ad Litem
A guardian appointed to direct litigation on behalf and in the interests of a person otherwise incapable of managing their affairs.
A regular response to a specific situation.
Harmless Error
An error which beyond a reasonable doubt, did not contribute to a decision.
The presentation of evidence before an adjudicating body as may be required for a full disclosure and challenge of alleged facts.
Evidence that is offered by a witness of which they do not have direct knowledge but, rather, their testimony is based on what others have said to them.
Hired Gun
An expert with a bias or who adapts his or her expert evidence to the requirements of the party that calls him/her as a witness.
Hostile Witness
A party's witness who demonstrates such adversity to answering questions that the trial judge allows leading questions to be put to that witness.
Husband-Wife Privilege
A special right that married persons have to keep communications between them secret and even inaccessible to a court of law.
Also, "empanel"; the official call to duty of a jury, usually as called by the clerk of the Court in which the jury is to act, and just before the jurors are sworn in.
Implied Undertaking Rule
A party to whom documents are produced within litigation will not use them for collateral or ulterior purposes.
In Camera
A closed and private session of Court or some other deliberating body.
Increased Costs
A term of statute of costs which are in excess of party and party costs and which may equal or come close to completely indemnify the successful litigant.
A poor person; not penniless but in need and who has no financial support from any other.
Indirect Contempt
Contempt of court which occurs not in the presence of a judge acting judicially, but which tend to degrade the court or to obstruct or embarrass the administration of justice by the court.
In Facie Contempt
Contempt of court that occurs in the face of the Court.
In haec verba
Latin: verbatim.
Inherent Jurisdiction
The residual, automatic and ex officio authority of a court of law to regulate proceedings before it including punishing contempt.
A legal procedure to prevent a debtor from compromising property upon which a creditor holds a charge.
A court order that prohibits a party from doing something (restrictive injunction) or compels them to do something (mandatory injunction).
In Limine
Latin: at the beginning or on the threshold.
Inns of Court
The several professional associations of barristers, to which all barristers in England or Wales must belong to one, to wit, Lincoln's Inn, Middle Temple, Gray's Inn or Inner Temple.
In Personam
Latin: regarding a person; a right, action, judgment or entitlement that is attached to a specific person(s).
In Rem
Latin: regarding a thing; proprietary in nature; a right or judgment related to the use or ownership of an item of property.
Interest Reipublicae Ut Sit Finis Litium
Latin: in the interest of society as a whole, litigation must come to an end.
Interim Order
A temporary court order; intended to be of limited duration, usually just until the court has had an opportunity of hearing the full case and make a final order.
A person who, without legal right, runs a business (eg. without mandatory licenses), or who wrongfully interferes or intercepts another's business.
Pre-trial numbered and written questions on relevant matters to the litigation, sent to the other side of litigation, and for which reply is mandatory.
Inter Se
Latin: as between or amongst themselves.
One who is given standing in litigation even though they were not originally a party.
Issue Estoppel
The proposal that an argument is moot as it has been previously decided, distinctly put in issue in an earlier proceeding where it was fundamental to the decision.
Joint Affidavit
An affidavit sworn by two or more persons.
Judicial Discretion
The power the law gives the Court or a judge to choose among two or more alternatives, each being lawful.
Judicial Immunity
Absolute immunity from civil liability for official decisions or acts.
Judicial Lien
A lien obtained by judgment or other judicial proceeding.
Judicial Misconduct
Conduct on the part of a judge that is prohibited and which could lead to a form of discipline.
Judicial Notice
A doctrine which enables a judge to accept a fact without the need of a party to prove it through evidence.
Judicial Review
A process where a court of law is asked to rule on the appropriateness of the decision of an administrative agency or tribunal.
The written certification by a judicial officer that a deponent or affiant recognizes and endorses all parts of an affidavit he or she proposes to sign, and confirms that an oath has been administered in this regard to the affiant.
Jure Gestionis
The private or commercial acts of a state.
Jure Imperii
Latin: imperial authority.
Legal authority to judge or to act in a given situation or case.
A member of a jury; a person who has taken an oath to serve on a jury.
A group of citizens randomly selected from the general population and brought together to assist justice by deciding which version, in their opinion, constitutes 'the truth' given different evidence by opposing parties.
Jury Nullification
The extraordinary power of a jury to issue a verdict contrary to the law as applied to the proven facts.
Jury Secrecy Rule
A rule of law which prohibits the disclosure, by a member of a jury, of statements or opinions voiced during jury deliberations.
Jury Tampering
To unlawfully disrupt the independence of a jury member with a view to influencing that juror otherwise than by the production of evidence in open court.
A necessary prerequisite of a matter put to a court of law for resolution; that an actual and substantial controversy be at hand.
Kangaroo Court
A judicial proceeding or trial which has a predetermined outcome or where the basic legal rights of a party are jumped over.
King's Bench
Originally, the common criminal court of the common law; later, the general superior court.
An allegation that a legal right is stale under the circumstances and no longer able to support enforcement.
Law of the case Doctrine
When a court decides upon a rule of law, that decision should continue to govern the same issues in subsequent stages in the same case.
Law Reform
The review of law(s) which apply within a certain area of the law, and the recommendations for changes therein, if any.
An individual trained in the law and that has been certified to give legal advice or to represent others in litigation.
Leading Question
A question which suggests an answer; usually answerable by yes or no.
Legal Professional Privilege
A shield against disclosure of communications between a solicitor and his/her client.
Legislative Fact
Broad, general facts that are not unique and relate indirectly to the parties to litigation.
Letters Rogatory
A request of a judge in one jurisdiction to a court of another, to conduct some litigation-related task such as process service or the examination of a specific witness.
A seizure of specified property for the purposes of conversion into money.
Lex Fori
Latin for the law of the forum.
Lex Situs
A conflict of law rule that selects the applicable law based on the venue or location of something.
A legal obligation, either due now or at some time in the future.
A property right which remains attached to an object that has been sold, but not totally paid for, until complete payment has been made.
Limitations or Statute of Limitations
Loss of a legal right or cause of action because of the passage of time.
Lis Pendens
Latin: a dispute or matter which is the subject of ongoing or pending litigation.
A person who is a party to a legal action.
A dispute is in 'litigation' (or being 'litigated') when it has become the subject of a formal court action or law suit.
Litigation Loan
A loan made by a third-party to litigation, typically a finance company, to a litigant to finance the litigation, and often on harsh terms.
Litigation Privilege
Non-disclosure protection imposed on documents which come into existence after litigation commenced or in contemplation, and where they have been made with a view to such litigation, either for the purpose of obtaining advice as to such litigation, or of obtaining evidence to be used in such litigation, or of obtaining information which might lead to the obtaining of such evidence.
Latin: the place; venue.
Locus Regit Actum
Latin: The law of the place where the facts occurred.
Locus Standi
Latin: legal standing before a court.
A writ which commands an individual, organization (eg. government), administrative tribunal or court to perform a certain action, usually to correct a prior illegal action or a failure to act in the first place.
Mandate Rule
An inferior court has no power or authority to deviate from the mandate issued by an appellate court.
Manifest Abuse of Discretion
An American standard of judicial review: discretion exercised improvidently or thoughtlessly and without due consideration.
Mareva Injunction
A temporary injunction that freezes the assets of a party pending further order or final resolution by the Court.
Mary Carter Agreement
A partial settlement to litigation where some defendants settle by accepting a term of which is a loan by the settling defendant to the plaintiff, to be repaid by any monies recovered from the remaining defendant(s).
A partly-empowered superior-level court judge, used mostly for interlocutory and procedural civil hearings.
McKenzie Friend
A lawyer who steps up in court and assists a lay litigant as a friend of the court.
Medical Demonstrative Evidence
Tangible medical evidence tendered in court through a witness.
Medical Expert
A witness tendered to offer opinion evidence within the confines of his or her area of medical expertise.
Minutes of Settlement
A formal record of a contract which settles one or more live issues before a Court.
Miscarriage of Justice
A substantial wrong which occurs during a trial which so infects the proceedings as to merit quashing the result on appeal.
When a person has been named as a party to a law suit when that person should not have been added.
A matter where the issue raised concerns a hypothetical or abstract question
Moot Court
A trial on a fictional or hypothetical issue, usually hosted by law schools, as training for future barristers or litigators.
A proposal made to a Court or at a meeting and intended to be considered and decided upon.
Motion to Strike
A motion put to the Court to strike a pleading or evidence of a witness.
The triage of cases by a court to a process (track) based on predefined criteria, usually based on value and complexity
Natural Justice
Basic or fundamental judicial rights extended to a person with rights at issue.
Nemo Debet Bis Vexari Pro Una Et Eadem Causa
Latin: No-one shall be tried or punished twice in regards to the same event.
Nemo Judex In Parte Sua
Latin: no person can judge a case in which he or she is party or in which he/she has an interest.
New Evidence
Evidence of matters that occurred subsequent to the order appealed from.
nimia subtilitas in jure reprobatur, et talis certitudo certitudinem Confundit
Latin: too much subtlety in law is condemned, and so much certainty confounds certainty.
Nisi Prius
Latin: unless, before. More commonly, a civil jury trial.
Nolle Prosequi
Latin: no prosecution.
When a person, who should have been made a party to a legal proceedings, has been forgotten or omitted.
Non Potest Adduci Exceptio Ejusdem Rei Cujus Petitur Dissolutio
Latin: A plea of a matter sought from a court, cannot be contradicted by the same litigant.
Norwich Order
Pre-action third party discovery to an intended plaintiff without notice to the intended defendant.
A legal officer with specific judicial authority to attest to legal documents usually with an official seal.
Notice of Motion
A formal notice to participants in litigation of an intent to seek specific relief in an action.
Nullum Tempus Occurit Regi
Latin: time does not run against the King.
A religious or solemn affirmation to tell the truth or to take a certain action.
Obiter Dictum
Latin: an observation by a judge on a matter not specifically before the court or not necessary in determining the issue before the court.
Omnia praesumuntur contra spoliatorem
Latin: All things are presumed against the individual who destroys evidence.
Latin: the burden.
Opening Statement
A lawyer or litigant's initial remarks at trial, to the finder of fact, either a judge or jury, setting out their road-map or case theory.
Open Justice
A principle of the common law that proceedings ought to be open to the public, including the contents of court files and public viewing of trials.
Ordinary Service
Delivery of a court document by whatever simplified process set out in court rules such as, but not at all necessary limited to, use of mail or email.
Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument Litigant
Vexatious litigants who employ a collection of pseudo-legal, irrational techniques and arguments to disrupt court operations and to attempt to frustrate the legal rights of governments, corporations, and individuals.
Out-of-Court Settlement
An agreement between two litigants to settle a matter privately before the Court has rendered its decision.
Overriding Error
A standard of appellate review, an error that must have altered the result or may well have altered the result.
Palpable Error
A standard of appellate review, an error that is readily or plainly seen.
A person who is not a lawyer or is not acting in that capacity but who provides a limited number of legal services under the supervision of a lawyer.
Parol Evidence Rule
Verbal evidence is inadmissible to vary or contradict the terms of a written agreement.
The material facts which a party to litigation alleges are true and which that party will seek to prove at trial in support of the relief claimed.
Party and Party Costs
The standard award of costs being, in the result, a partial indemnity to the successful party to litigation for his or her litigation expenses.
Party Litigant
Scotland - a party to litigation who self-represents, without benefit of solicitor or barrister in court or on the record.
Past Recollection Recorded
An exception to the hearsay rule, whereby evidence of which a witness has no current recall can nonetheless be admitted for the truth of its contents as it was recorded at a time when the witness was able to verify its accuracy.
Pauper's Oath
An affidavit of indigence, of poverty.
Pendente Lite
Latin: during litigation.
A period of time fixed by law for the existence of a right.
Final or absolute; not open to challenge.
Peremptory Challenge
Also "preemptory challenge"; a party's challenge of a prospective juror for which no reason or justification need be given.
Periculo Petentis
At the risk of the perpetrator.
Per Incuriam
Latin: through want of care.
Perpetual Injunction
A permanent injunction.
Perpetuating Testimony
A mechanism for preserving testimony prior to litigation.
Personal Interest
An interest in either the subject matter or a relationship with the parties before a judicial body.
Personal Jurisdiction
The court's authority to determine a claim affecting a specific person.
Personal Knowledge
Something a witness actually saw or heard.
Personal Service
Service of a court document directly to an individual.
Perverse Verdict
A decision of a jury which runs altogether contrary to the evidence presented before it.
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.
Petitory Suit
An action in maritime law in which a person seeks to obtain a judgment as to title of a vessel independently of possession.
Piecemeal Litigation
Circumstances in which more than one court is seized of the adjudication of the same issue.
Pierringer Release
A proportionate share settlement agreement
The person who initiates, who brings or files a case with a court; who sues.
A now defunct paralegal office in England which allowed licensed non-lawyer individuals to draft pleadings.
That core document(s) of a party to litigation in which he or she formally sets out the facts and the law which support that party's position.
Plea to the Jurisdiction
A preliminary challenge to a court's authority to decide the action before it.
Scottish law: The seizure of a judgment debtor's personal property to satisfy the terms of the judgment.
A lie-detector machine.
Possessory Action
Where a party entitled to possession of a vessel seeks to recover that vessel.
Practice of Law
The giving of legal advice or of representation of another as agent in a court of law or through rules of court, or in the preparation of legal documents or in dispute or contractual negotiation.
Præcipe or Precipe
Latin: an initiating document presented to a court clerk to be officially issued on behalf of the court or a the covering memo or letter from the lawyer (or plaintiff) which accompanies and formally asks for the writ to be issued by the court officer.
Preemptory Challenge
Also "peremptory challenge"; a party's challenge of a prospective juror for which no reason or justification need be given.
Evidence that persuades a judge or jury to lean to one side as opposed to the other, during the course of litigation.
A method of acquiring or extinguishing rights through the inaction of the legal owner.
Present Memory Revived
A facilitative mechanism used at trial to assist a witness in recalling his or her memory, thus revived.
Priest and Penitent Privilege
A privilege suggesting the exclusion from evidence of matters discussed during a confession between a Roman Catholic priest and a penitent.
Prison Mailbox Rule
(USA) A rule of procedure which deems that any court document mailed by a self-represented inmate is deemed filed on the date of delivery to prison authorities for mailing.
Tending to prove.
Pro Bono
Latin: for the good.
A policy of judicial case management that promotes the balance of court involvement on a per case basis based on the value, complexity and importance of the case.
Proprio Motu
Latin: of one's own initiative.
Pro Se
Latin: on one’s own behalf.
To apologize or the taking of such other action as may be deemed by a court of law to suffice for the purposes of vacating a charge of contempt of court.
Administrative tribunals or government officials which, in their decision-making process, are subject to the rules of natural justice.
Queen's Bench
Originally, the common criminal court of the common law; later, the general superior court.
Queen's Counsel
An designation of a senior barrister indicating of its title holder faithfulness to the Crown, but more recently, contribution to the profession of lawyers.
Question of Discretion
Where an appeal predominantly takes issue with the lower court's exercise of judicial discretion.
Question of Fact
Questions about what actually took place between the parties.
Question of Law
Questions touching the scope, effect or application of a rule of law which the courts apply in determining the rights of parties.
Question of Mixed Law and Fact
An appellate standard of review of a lower court's order where the appeal issues are divided between question(s) of fact and question(s) of law.
Qui Tam
Latin: who as well.
Quo Warranto
Latin: legal procedure taken to stop a person or organization from doing something for which it may not have the legal authority, by demanding to know by what right they exercise the controversial authority.
Ratio Decidendi
Latin: reasons for a decision.
A rule of jurisdiction which enables a counterclaim against another who, although otherwise beyond the jurisdiction of the court, has voluntarily submitted to jurisdiction by iniating the principal action.
Recross Examination
The resumption of cross-examination by the original cross-examiner in order to respond to matters that may have arisen during the re-examination of a witness.
An application made to a judge that he/she not hear a particular case because of a real or perceived conflict of interest; that the judge recuse himself (abstain) from the case.
Red Herring
An irrelevant legal issue.
Redirect Examination
The re-opening of an examination-in-chief after cross-examination, to cover matters that may have arisen during cross-examination.
Remedial judicial action to right a wrong or to prevent a infringement upon a legal right.
A legal action taken to reclaim goods which have been distrained.
Res Judicata
Latin: already subject to judicial determination.
Res Noviter Veniens Ad Notitiam
Latin: Fact(s) newly coming to knowledge.
The party that responds to a claim filed in court against them by a plaintiff.
Latin: a withdrawal of a legal action.
Reverse Payment
A payment by a patent holder to an infringer in consideration of the infringer's cease and desist.
Rules of Court
Rules of procedure and conduct during the sitting of a court of law uniformly applicable to litigants and their lawyers, and governing the hearings of claims and motions, and defences or responses thereto.
Runaway Witness
A witness who, while under cross-examination, is unresponsive.
Scandalizing the Court
Personal scurrilous abuse of a judge as a judge.
Sealing Order
A Court order that restricts access to or disclosure of any record or document filed in a proceeding.
Security for Costs
Payment or deposit of money or some form of security in lieu thereof, into court, by a litigant to secure the payment of such costs if such person does not prevail.
Self-Represented Litigant
An individual who represents himself or herself in a dispute proceeding before Court.
Sequestered Jury
A jury which has been confined to a location where they can be shielded from outside distractions while their deliberations are ongoing.
The taking of someones property, voluntarily (by deposit) or involuntarily (by seizure), by court officers or into the possession of a third party, awaiting the outcome of a trial in which ownership of that property is at issue.
Sharp Practice
Prohibited conduct by a licensed lawyer in taking, or attempting to take advantage of a slip or overlooked technical matter by the other side to litigation, and to agree to reasonable requests which either prejudice his client or the interests of justice.
Sine Die
Latin: without a day. Taken to mean without fixing a day for continuation.
Small Claims
A regular court but which has simplified rules of procedure and process to deal with claims of a lesser value.
Solicitor and Client Costs
An award of all costs associated with litigation.
Solicitor and Own Client Costs
One of the most punitive awards of costs, requiring a party to pay the other's legal bill.
Special Costs
A scale of costs generally equivalent to solicitor and client costs and also approaching complete indemnity to the successful litigant.
Special Jury
A jury drawn to certain specifications given the alleged complexities of the matter to be tried.
The intentional destruction of relevant evidence when litigation is existing or pending.
Standard of Review
The applicable threshold of an appeallable error; often distinguishable as between questions of law, of fact, or mixed questions of fact and law.
The ability to sue and speak to the Court on a controversy based on personal interest in the outcome.
Stare Decisis
Latin: stay with what has been decided.
Statement of Claim
The document which sets out the plaintiff's allegations of fact and thus, engages the judicial process by seeking trial.
Statement of Defence
A defendant's written answer or reply to a statement of claim, admitting or denying each and every one of the facts contained in the statement of claim and alleging such facts as the defendant wishes to assert at trial in opposition to the plaintiff's case.
Statute of Limitations
A procedural rule which limits the time in which a party may bring an action for a right which has already accrued.
Statute of Repose
The deadline set by statute on the assertion of a right by litigation.
Statutory Lien
A lien arising solely by force of a statute on specified circumstances or conditions.
To stop; to suspend; also known as a stay of proceedings; when a law suit is suspended either indefinitely or until the occurrence of a condition imposed by the court.
An individual employed to receive and transcribe dictation.
Stipulated Judgment
USA: consent order.
(USA law) An agreement between the parties with respect to an issue before the court.
Style of Cause
The formal title of the proceedings in a court of law, usually the action number, the name of the court and the full, formal and complete name(s) of the plaintiff(s) and that of all defendant(s).
Sub Judice
Latin: under judicial consideration.
Latin: an order of a court which requires a person to be present at a certain time and place or suffer a penalty (subpoena means, literally, under penalty).
Substantive Law
Core law which determines rights and obligations, as opposed to procedural law.
Summary Judgment
A court order dismissing a claim summarily, upon application, and based on the allegation that there is no claim or defence with a reasonable prospect of success.
Summary Trial
The trial of an action by way of affidavit evidence only or by use of truncated process.
In the USA, this is one of the initial documents issued in a civil suit; giving the defendant notice of the claim and an opportunity to defend it.
Super Injunction
An injunction obtained in a secret convening of the court where in the result, the court file, the names of the parties and even the terms of the injunction order are secret except as between the parties, counsel, the judge and the court staff.
An application to a court to stay proceedings; most frequently, to stay enforcement or collection proceedings upon a judgment.
Supersedeas Bond
A contract by which a surety obligates itself to pay a final judgment rendered against its principal under the conditions stated in the bond.
Superfluous allegations, especially in regards to pleadings.
The act of supplementing a jury otherwise incomplete.
Additional jurors summoned to complete a jury.
Taxation of Costs
The formal quasi-judicial review of a bill of costs or other determination of costs payable by one litigant to another.
Temporal Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction of a state or of a court of law over a legal action as it may be affected by the effects or passage of time.
Tender of Amends
An offer to settle an emerging claim.
The oral evidence of a witness in a judicial proceeding, such as a trial.
Theory of the Case
A short, succinct statement of the theme of an action as evidence will be presented, organized and support at trial.
Third Party
A person who is not privy to a contract or a party in a lawsuit.
Third Party Claim
A claim made by a defendant within existing legal proceedings seeking to enjoin a person not party to the original action, to enforce a related duty.
Transit In Rem Judicatam
Latin: The cause of action is changed into matter of record, which is of a higher nature, and the inferior remedy is merged in the higher.
The resolution of a dispute by examination of evidence submitted by opposing litigants by a tribunal or Court of law, and determination of (1) guilt (in a criminal trial) or (2) of a civil dispute of fact or law.
Ubi Jus Ibi Remedium
Latin: For every wrong, the law provides a remedy.
Ultra Petita
Latin: beyond that which is sought.
Unbundling Legal Services
A retainer (contract) with a lawyer for legal services of limited scope.
An unequivocal declaration of intention made by a lawyer in the course of his/her practice, addressed to someone who reasonably places reliance on it.
Unfavourable Witness
When a witness called by a party merely gives unfavorable answers to questions posed during examination in chief, that party may not cross examine the witness but may still lead evidence in contradiction.
Utile Per Inutile Non Vitiatur
Latin: That which is useful is not vitiated by that which is useless.
Location or proposed district of a judicial hearing.
French: truth told; the decision of a jury.
Vexatious Litigant
An individually who habitually or persistently engages in legal proceedings, without having a legitimate claim requiring resolution.
The displacement of a judge and jury to the location of events which are being described at trial.
Viva Voce
Latin: by voice.
Voir Dire
A mini-hearing held during a trial on the eligibility of prospective jurors or the admissibility of contested evidence.
Want of Prosecution
An application to a judge to dismiss a law suit alleging that the litigant has inexcusably delayed moving the litigation along and that under the circumstances, the litigation ought to be dismissed.
A document giving a person legal authority to do a certain thing.
A cancellation of a statement of defence or counterclaim by a defendant.
Without Prejudice
A reservation made on a statement suggesting that it cannot be used against the publishing party in future dealings or litigation.
A person who perceives an event (by seeing, hearing, smelling or other sensory perception).
An official court document, signed by a judge or bearing an official court seal, which commands the person to whom it is addressed, to do something specific.
Written Submissions
A document intended for the court which summarizes the relevant facts, the law and a proposed analysis to bring to the two, on behalf of a litigant.
Zealous Witness
A witness who demonstrates disproportionate enthusiasm while testifying.

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