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Resources: Legal Dictionary


A class of legal practitioner who is by law or custom limited to advocacy and advisory work, in any field of the law. Also known as 'counsel'.

Breach of contract

The failure of a party to a contract to perform a contractual obligation; or an anticipatory breach.

Class action

Legal proceedings which allow the claims of many individuals against the same defendant, which arise out of the same or similar circumstances, to be conducted by a single representative.

Commercial law

Areas of law having particular relevance to commerce and commercial transactions, such as contract, agency, banking, insurance, finance, export and import of merchandise, carriage of goods, mercantile agency and usages, company and partnership law.

Common law

The unwritten law derived from the traditional law of England as developed by judicial precedence, interpretation, expansion and modification.


  1. A legally binding promise or agreement; an act in law where two or more persons declare their consent as to any act or thing to be done or forborne by some or one of them for use of the others or other of them.
  2. The body of general principle pertaining to the various branches of contract law, such as sale of goods contracts or charter parties.
  3. The act of entering into an agreement.
  4. The form or document that embodies the terms of an agreement between parties, for example a `standard form contract'.


At common law, the remuneration and disbursements incurred in relation to legal work.


Control, responsibility for, or confinement.


Compensation for damage suffered; a court-awarded sum of money which places the plaintiff in the position he or she would have occupied had the legal wrong not occurred.


Any legal person against whom relief is sought in a matter, or who is required to attend proceedings in a matter as a party to the proceedings.


  1. The separate body of law, developed in the Court of Chancery, which supplements, corrects, and controls the rules of common law.
  2. A right recognised by a court of equity, based on ethical concepts, and justifying in certain cases the judicial intervention of that court.


A proceeding, conducted by a court, tribunal, or administrator with a view to resolving issues of fact or law, in which oral evidence may be taken and documentary and real evidence tendered.

Industrial law

The area of law that regulates industrial relations, that is, the relations between employers and employees and their representative organisations.


The scope of the court's power to examine and determine the facts, interpret and apply the law, make orders and declare judgment. Jurisdiction may be limited by geographic area, the type of parties who appear, the type of relief that can be sought, and the point to be decided.


The subject matter of the discipline of jurisprudence; the framework of rules and regulations governing society.


A barrister or solicitor; a person qualified to practice law.


Control, responsibility for, or confinement. .


The instruments embodying the creation and promulgation of laws by the Commonwealth and State legislatures; law made by Parliament, that is, statute law or Acts of Parliament. Law made by other bodies under the authority of Parliament is termed delegated legislation.


A person's present or prospective legal responsibility, duty, or obligation.


A permit to do something which would without a licence be unlawful.


The conduct of legal proceedings by parties before a court.


A judicial officer appointed by the executive government to hear and determine civil and criminal matters arising in courts of summary jurisdiction.


A method of dispute resolution which includes undertaking any activity for the purpose of promoting the discussion and settlement of disputes, bringing together the parties to any dispute for that purpose, and the follow-up of any matter being the subject of such discussion or settlement.


An action in tort law, the elements of which are: the existence of a duty of care; breach of that duty; and material damage as a consequence of the breach of duty.


A specified transgression of the criminal or regulatory , law. An offence may be against the common law or against the provisions of statutes or subordinate legislation.


  1. In colloquial usage, the expression of mere willingness to commence negotiations.
  2. In contract law, the expression of willingness to contract on terms stated.

Out of court settlement

In civil proceedings, an agreement where parties to proceedings, without reference to the court and at any time before final judgment, to settle or compromise all or any of the matters in issue between them.


A person who seeks relief against any other person by any form of proceedings in a court.


  1. A judgment that is authority for a case on similar facts.
  2. A document or form used as a basis or template by lawyers as a guide for drafting in analogous situations.

Product liability

  1. A responsibility or onus imposed by the law of contract and tort, or by consumer legislation on a manufacturer, distributor, or supplier to warn consumers appropriately about possible detrimental or harmful effects of a product and to foresee how it may be misused.
  2. In tort law, the liability of a company, manufacturer, or producer for defective products, which arises from the duty owed by that manufacturer to consumers of those products, irrespective of the existence of a contractual relationship.


A word which can be used to describe every type of right (that is, a claim recognised by law), interest, or thing which is legally capable of ownership, and which has a value.


  1. Proceedings by which a person is brought to trial for a criminal offence; the initiation of legal processes in the criminal jurisdiction of a court.
  2. The party conducting criminal proceedings against another person; generally called `the Crown' in higher courts.

Public liability

A risk of liability to the public at large against which an insurance policy may be obtained.


  1. A party to court proceedings against whom relief is claimed by an applicant or an appellant.
  2. A person against whom an interlocutory or procedural application is made by way of notice of motion.

Special damages

  1. Damages awarded for loss actually suffered and expenditure actually incurred.
  2. Damages in respect of a tort that is not actionable per se.
  3. Damages that are peculiar to a particular plaintiff in that they are over and above those suffered by the public at large


A class of legal practitioner, generally responsible for advising clients on legal matters, preparing legal documents, representing clients in summary matters, and instructing barristers in relation to more complex advocacy work.


A civil wrong distinguished from the law of contract, law of restitution, and the criminal law. A tort is a breach of a duty, potentially owed to the whole world, imposed by law.


  1. A person who sees or hears material relevant to an enquiry.
  2. A person appearing at a hearing to give evidence.
  3. A person who observes the signing of a legal document such as a will as and when it takes place and affirms it by adding his or her own signature on the document as an attesting witness

Without prejudice

A statement made without an intention to affect the legal rights of any person.