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Legal Glossary

A

Abate

The interruption of a legal proceeding

Abuse of Process

An unreasonable use or misuse of legal proceedings

Acceptable standard

The expected level of treatment from a medical or health practitioner. A case of medical negligence, malpractice or mismanagement happens when treatment falls below the ‘acceptable standard’ causing injury or harm

Accomplice

Someone who gives assistance to a person in the commission of a crime

Accused

Someone charged with committing an offence

Acquittal

To find someone ‘not guilty’

Act

A statute or a law approved by the parliament

Adduce

To offer proof in support of an argument

Adjournment

To postpone a meeting in court

Administrator

The person who has been appointed to divide up and hand out (to administer) the assets left behind by someone who has passed away

Advance Care Directive

An Advance Care Directive (ACD) is your instructions for how you want to be cared for if you become unable to make your own decisions

Affidavit

A written statement of facts or someone’s account

Agent

A person who is legally allowed to act on behalf of another person

Appeal

Asking a higher court to review a decision made by a lower court

Asbestos

A mineral fibre which was previously used in Australian building products until 1985 and can be harmful when inhaled

Asbestosis

A condition caused by inhaled asbestos fibres that restricts breathing, scars the lungs and eventually causes hardening of the lungs

Asylum Seekers

People who come to Australia seeking protection (asylum) from persecution in their home country

Attendant care

Assistance with essential daily living, usually provided regularly at home

Attorney

A term commonly used in America which is short for ‘Attorney at Law’, or what we would refer to as a solicitor or lawyer

B

Bail

Being released from custody when you agree to come to court on a set date. This agreement can have certain conditions or monetary requirements

Barrister

An expert who can provide specialist legal advice in specific areas of the law, they usually represent clients in court

Beneficiary

A person or entity that receives something, such as money or property, from someone’s estate when they pass away

Birth trauma

A claim relating to the obstetric care provided during labour resulting in injury to the baby

Black Lung

A disease that causes shortness of breath, coughing, and tightness of the chest – also known as pneumoconiosis

Breach of contract

Not honouring a legally binding agreement

Breach of duty

When a health practitioner or hospital breaches their duty of care to a patient by providing negligent treatment or treatment below the reasonable standard of care

C

Chamber Magistrate

Someone who can provide information about court proceedings, but doesn’t represent clients

Chattel

Usually in reference to ‘common property’, something such as furniture that is not fixed to the land/property and can be moved

Civil Law

Non-criminal law; a practice that helps people navigate issues with individuals, organisations or governments

Claim

A formal request for something you believe you are due

Claimant

A person making a claim

Class Action

A type of lawsuit that enables disputes and claims involving large numbers of people to be resolved in a single case

Client Charter

A set of written promises, underpinned by values and policy, explaining how a business will work with a client

Codicil

A document used to make amendments to a will

Commercial Law

Corporate law or business law; what governs people and businesses involved with commerce

Common Law

Law created by judges based on previous decisions or findings

Common Property

Common areas on a subdivision that aren’t owned by an individual lot owner such as gardens, driveways or elevators

Compensation

What you are paid or reimbursed

Complainant

A person who has made a complaint; a plaintiff

Comprehensive insurance

Usually the highest level of cover policy available

Confidentiality

When personal information is given to someone, such as a lawyer, under a confidentiality agreement then they are not allowed to share that information without consent

Consultation

An initial appointment with a professional

Consumer rights

A set of guarantees that protect consumers in the instance of issues with goods or services

Contract

A legally binding agreement

Conveyancing

Transferring ownership of land or property from one person to another

Conviction

Being found guilty of a crime

Cooling-off period

The period of time when someone can change their mind after making a purchase or an agreement

Coronial Inquest

An official inquiry and hearing to determine a person’s cause of death

Corporate Responsibility

The concept that organisations have an accountability to their stakeholders

Corroboration

A second source that supports the statement or finding of the first

Counsel

A legal advisor

Counterclaim

A claim in response to another claim

Covenant

A legal agreement

Criminal Law

Law that relates to prosecuting people who commit a crime

Cross-examination

Questioning someone in a court proceeding after they’ve already made their first statement

CTP

Compulsory Third Party (insurance)

Custody

Either imprisonment (such as being taken into custody by a police officer), or being placed under guardianship (such as a child being placed in the care of a family member)

D

Damages

Compensation for damage, such as physical injury or property damage, to a plaintiff

De facto relationship

A domestic relationship that exists between two adults who are living together as a couple but who are not married to each other

Deceased Estate

The assets left by someone who has passed away

Decree

An order given by a judge

Defective

In relation to a will; an invalid will

Defence

To contest a statement or claim in court

Defendant

A person who has been charged

Deferred professional fees

Costs that are not paid up-front but billed at a later date

Delayed or missed diagnosis

A claim relating to a health care provider failing to act on symptoms or test results causing a delay in a diagnosis and resulting in injury or harm to the patient

Dependency damages

When dependents (such as a child) of someone who has died are eligible to claim for damages (payment)

Deposition

A testimony that is taken out of court

Disbursements

Expenses that lawyers pay on the client’s behalf

Discrimination

In relation to the workplace: Disadvantaging someone because of a protected attribute such as sex, race, disability or age

Dismissal

When someone’s employment contract is terminated by their employer

Dispute

A conflict

Distrain

The seizing of goods or property

Dust Diseases

Diseases, such as cancers, that occur as the result of breathing or swallowing large amounts of asbestos fibres and dust over time

Duty of Care

The legal obligation that medical and health practitioners have to patients to take reasonable care to ensure their safety and protect them from injury and harm

E

Earning Capacity

In reference to personal injury cases; the prospective financial loss due to the result of someone’s injury

Enduring Power of Attorney

An Enduring Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to nominate one or more persons to act on your behalf

Enjoyment of life

In reference to personal injury cases; the loss of a person’s ability to do something that previously (before an injury) gave them enjoyment

Entitlements

Usually in reference to employment; the rules around a person’s right to benefits – such as penalty rates or number of breaks

Equity

Ensuring that everyone is treated the same

Excess

In relation to insurance; the set amount that you agree to pay if you have to make a claim on your policy

Express terms

Terms that are explicitly agreed

F

Failure to warn

Not being informed by a doctor (or any other health practitioner) about the relevant risks of a proposed medical treatment, such as a surgery

Financial Hardship

When someone is experiencing difficulty paying back loans

Freedom of Association

A person’s right to join an association; to unionise

Future of Financial Advice (FoFA)

Reforms designed to bring clarity to how financial advice is given, the fees charged, and to ensure that financial advisors act in their clients’ best interests

G

Gardening leave

When an employee resigns from the their job and continues to earn a salary over their notice period, but is not required to attend or complete work

Grant of Probate

The first official step in the estate administration process

H

Hearing

A proceeding at a court

Hearsay

In reference to evidence given, is a statement made out of court

I

Impairment benefits

Usually in relation to workplace injury or injury suffered in a road accident; lump sum compensation for permanent physical or psychological impairment (injury or illness)

Implied terms

Terms that are not explicitly stated but may be inferred by a common law

In camera

In private; a meeting held in a closed court or in a judge’s chambers

Inactions

Not taking an action that then results in harm

Incurred

To be liable for, such as expenses

Indemnity

When a person or entity is required to pay another as compensation for a loss or damages

Industrial Action

A way of settling a workplace dispute; to protest

Informed Consent

Usually in regard to medical practices; when you have been given adequate information about the procedures, risks, possible complications etc. and sign a legal document giving permission

Infringement notice

A ticket or a fine

Injunction

A court order or direction

Institutional Abuse

Abuse that occurred in the context of school, church, children’s home/foster care or sporting club

Intellectual property

Something intangible that you have created (such as a formula or name) that can be legally owned

Intestate

The situation when someone passes away without a valid Will

Irresponsible loan

When credit is given to someone that doesn’t meet their requirements or objectives, or they cannot afford to repay the loan without substantial hardship

J

Jurisdiction

The authority to apply the law

L

Landmark case

A notorious case that resulted in a significant outcome

Lawyer

A broad term for anyone in the legal profession, most commonly as a barrister or solicitor

Leave

In reference to appeal; the permission of a court for someone to appeal their case

Legal Aid

Legal assistance provided by the government

Legatee

In regard to Wills; a person who inherits or receives part of an estate when someone passes away

Legislation

A law or collection of laws

Letters of Administration

A court order that allows you to divide up and hand out the assets left behind by a person who died without a valid Will.

LGBTQIA

An initialism that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual. There are variations of this initialism and is often used as an umbrella term for a variety of sexual orientations and gender identities

Liability

Being legally responsible

Litigant

Someone involved in a lawsuit

Litigation

Any dispute being resolved in court

M

Magistrate

An experienced lawyer who hears cases and makes a decision

Malpractice

When a healthcare professional, hospital or other facility breaches their duty of care or acts negligently

Market Rigging

Illegally controlling the sale or the price of a product or shares

Mediation

A negotiation process to settle an issue out of court

Medical Mismanagement

When medical treatment falls below an acceptable standard

Medical Treatment Decision Maker

A person given the authority to make your medical decisions for you if you are not able to make them yourself

Melanoma

A tumour usually associated with skin cancers

Mesothelioma

A relatively rare type of malignant cancer that is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos

Misconduct

Unlawful behaviour

Misrepresentation

A false statement

N

Negligence

Failure to uphold a duty of care

Negotiation

Reaching an agreement, a middle-ground, to settle a dispute

No win no fee

A cost agreement where the client is not charged professional fees unless they win their case or have a successful outcome

O

Occupational asthma

Asthma that is either caused or made worse by someone’s workplace

Occupational disease

An illness caused by work, or any pre-existing diseases that were aggravated due to work, also known as industrial disease

Occupational injury

Injuries sustained at a person’s job, or any pre-existing injuries, illnesses or diseases that are worsened by the workplace

Offence

Breaking the law

Order

A judge’s direction (instruction)

Out of court settlement

An agreement made, or resolution reached, out of court

P

Patent

In relation to intellectual property, a legal right to exclusively own something new you have created, such as a device or a method

Plaintiff

A person making a claim in a court proceeding

Plea

A formal statement in response to a charge

Pleural plaques

Thickened patches on the lining of the chest and lung, caused by inhaling asbestos fibres

Powers of Attorney

The authority you give to someone you nominate to act on your behalf for legal, financial and personal decisions

Precedent

Something, such as a court decision, that sets the benchmark or basis for future similar issues

Pro bono

Legal services provided at no cost

Probate

Permission from the court that a Will is valid and that an executor can begin the process of administering the estate in line with the Will instructions

Product liability

Manufacturers, importers or suppliers are held responsible to consumers for loss or damage caused by defective, faulty or unsafe products and services

Progressive Massive Fibrosis

PMF is a form of silicosis: a scaring and hardening of the lungs contracted through exposure to silica dust

Prosecution

The lawyers making a case in court; the act of prosecuting

Proxy

Someone who is given the authority to take the place of or speak for someone else

Public Liability

Compensation for injuries sustained in a public, private or commercial place due to negligence or fault by someone else

Punitive damages

Usually considered a punishment; additional compensation or payments made by the defendant (wrongdoer) to the plaintiff (victim)

R

Redundancy

When a person loses their job due to a position or duties no longer being required

Regulated Entity

Any organisation that is governed by a board, commission, division of government etc.

Reimburse

To pay back; a repayment for an expense or cost incurred

Respondent

The person who the legal action is being taken against

Restraint of trade

A clause in an employment contract that attempts to restrict a person’s actions once their employment has ended

Revocation

In relation to a will; cancelling or revoking a will

S

Scheme

An organised program or plan

Self Represented Litigant

People who act in court on their own behalf without a lawyer

Settlement

When an agreement or resolution is made before the case is taken to court

Settlement Administrator

The person who divides up and hands out the payment in a class action, usually an agreed upon third party

Sexual Harassment

Illegal behaviour in which someone subjects a person to unwelcome sexual conduct, advances, requests or behaviour of any nature where they feel offended, humiliated or intimidated

Silicosis

Silicosis is a lung disease caused by the inhalation of crystalline silica

Social Justice

In regard to law practice; tackling issues of inequality and championing the rights of those who are disadvantaged

Social Responsibility

The concept that we all, individuals and businesses, have the responsibility to ensure the welfare of our society; civic duty

Solicitor

A lawyer; someone who provides you with legal advice

Special Counsel

An experienced or senior lawyer

Special damages

Items or money lost that have an exact price/cost associated, such as fees

Statement of Wishes

This is a morally (but not legally) binding and confidential document that expresses your views and wishes when it comes time to administer your estate

Strata

A strata building is a block of apartments, units or a sub-division that is governed by an owners corporation. A strata title is a type of ownership for a ‘lot’ (property) in a building

Subpoena

A document issued by the Court requesting a person to produce documents or give evidence at a hearing or trial

Summons

A document that indicates when you’re required in court

Superannuation

An employee benefit; a set regular payment put aside for when you retire

T

TAC

The Transport Accident Commission

Tenancy

An agreement where a person (a tenant) pays rent to another person (landlord) to live in their property

The National Redress Scheme

A program set up to provide some compensation to victims of institutional sexual abuse in Australia

Third Wave

In reference to asbestos; the recent increase in the number of people exposed to asbestos dust through domestic duties, such as home renovations, is known as the Third Wave

Tort

An act that causes harm to someone

TPD

In reference to insurance, the acronym for Total and Permanent Disability

Trust

The arrangement between three parties when one person or entity holds the ownership of another’s assets which will belong to a beneficiary

Trustee

The person who holds the rights to assets in a Trust

U

Unethical

Something that goes against conventional societal morals

Unfair Dismissal

When an employment contract is terminated by the employer in a way that is harsh, unjust or unreasonable

V

Void

In reference to something like a contract or ruling; something that is null, not enforceable by law

W

Waive

To agree to surrender a right

Waiver

An agreement to not pursue legal action

Warrant

An order that gives police the authority to take an action

Whistleblower

When a current or former employee (or member of an organisation) comes forward to report illegal or unethical acts

Will

The legal document that enables you to determine how your estate (your belongings) is to be distributed after your death

Without prejudice

A legal privilege in the instance of negotiation when anything said during negotiation is inadmissible in court

Witness

Someone who has information that is relevant to a case

WorkCover

WorkCover is a type of insurance that pays compensation when a worker is injured in the workplace

Writ

A document issued by a court that orders someone to do something or stop doing something

X

X-ray

In regard to medical treatments; a simple examination that photographs your body producing imagers of your internal structures

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