Accountant – A person whose job is to keep, audit or inspect financial accounts and records. They may provide a statement to a court of the administration of property that they hold as a trustee, executor, administrator or guardian.
Accruals/Cash – Two different methods of accounting for business. The cash method tracks the actual money coming in and out of your business. In this method, a sale is not recorded until the money has been paid into your account and costs are not recorded until you've paid an invoice. In the accrual method, the income and expenses are recorded at the time they occur, rather than the time that the money changes hands.
Accused – The term assigned to the person who is alleged to have committed a crime.
Adjourn – When a matter proceeding through the judicial system is postponed to another date, the matter is said to be adjourned to that date.
Actus reus – This is a criminal law term used to describe the act behind the crime. For most typical crimes, to prove the offence, the actus reus (the act) needs to be proven. The intent also needs to be proven in a crime. This is called the mens rea (see Mens rea).
Administrator – (business) A person responsible for the performance and/or management of a business' administrative operations; (estate) a person appointed by a court to deal with the estate of a deceased who did not leave a will.
Admissibility of evidence – The evidence which can be presented in court, especially one that is relevant to the case.
Advocate – A lawyer who speaks in court on behalf of a client.
Affidavit – A written statement of fact sworn on oath or affirmed to be true before a person with appropriate authority and is used in civil proceedings as evidence-in-chief of a witness.
Airport watch list – A list maintained by the Australian Federal Police of children who are at risk of being removed from the country.
Alternative dispute resolution – The process for resolving disputes that does not involve the court making a decision. For example, through mediation or negotiation. See Mediation.
Annuity – A fixed sum of money payable annually.
Annul – To declare an agreement, decision or result invalid or void; (marriage) to declare a marriage to be invalid and have no legal existence.
Appeal – An application to a higher court, tribunal or other authority for a reversal of an administrative or legal decision of a lower court, tribunal or other authority. The person who applies for the appeal is called the appellant (see Appellant).
Appellant – A person who makes an appeal to a higher court, tribunal or other authority for a reversal of an administrative or a legal decision of a lower court, tribunal or other authority (see Appeal). An appellant is generally called a "party".
Applicant – The individual who applies to a court to make an order against another person or persons. The applicant is also known as the "plaintiff" (see Plaintiff).
Application in a case – The documents filed to start a case in court.
Approved Auditor – To be an approved auditor, a person must be a member of an accounting body (CPA Australia, Institute of Chartered Accountants or National Institute of Accountants) and hold a current Public Practice Certificate.
APRA Australian Prudential Regulation Authority – A government agency responsible for regulating super funds and other bodies in the financial services industry, ensuring that they operate within the requirements of the superannuation legislation.
Arbitration – A dispute resolution procedure that does not involve the court. Instead, the dispute is settled by an unbiased third party who is called an "arbitrator". In family law, arbitration can only be used for disputes on property.
ASIC Australian Securities and Investments Commission – A government organisation that is set up under and administers the ASIC Act 2001. Most of their work is carried under the Corporations Act 2001.
ASIC Act 2001 – Under the Act, ASIC is responsible for regulating the corporate, market and financial services sectors. It collects information on companies and other corporate bodies that are registered under the Corporations Law in Australia to maintain the country's economic well-being.
Assessable income – Income that is subject to tax (the amount that is in excess of the tax-free threshold). Examples of assessable income are salary, interest on bank accounts, dividends from investments, bonuses, pensions and rent (as a landlord).
Attorney – A person appointed to act on behalf of another person (e.g. someone who can't look after their own affairs) in regards to property and financial matters. A Power of Attorney, which is a legal document, is used to appoint the attorney; an American term for "lawyer".
Audit – An examination of a company's financial records and statements by an independent auditor to ensure that their income tax returns are correct, they pay the right amount of tax, and the statements meet legal conditions and reflect the true financial position of the company.
Australian Business Number (ABN) – An identifier that businesses use when dealing with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and other government departments and agencies.
Australian Competition and Consumer Law – Law laid out in the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. The purpose of the Act is to enhance the welfare of Australians by promoting fair trading and competition and providing consumer protection.
Australian legal practitioner – An Australian lawyer who holds or is taken to hold an Australian practising certificate.
AVO Apprehended Violence Order – An order which is made by a court against the person from whom they believe someone has reasonable grounds to fear violence, intimidation, harassment or stalking. There are two types of AVOs: Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) and Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO). An ADVO is made when a person seeks protection from someone who they have or have had a domestic relationship with, while an APVO is made when a person seeks protection from someone who they don't have a domestic relationship with.
Bad debts – Money owed that can't be recovered because the debtor has gone into bankruptcy or the extra cost of pursuing the debt is more than how much the creditor could collect.
Bail – When a person is charged with a criminal offence, released and no longer in custody pending the time until their trial, this release is called being on bail. Bail can be granted to a defendant with conditions such as reporting to police, not interfering with witnesses, or adhering to a curfew. Bail can also be granted unconditionally.
Balance of probabilities – The standard of proof in civil law cases and is the likelihood that something is more likely than not to be true.
Barrister – An Australian legal practitioner whose Australian practising certificate is subject to a condition that the holder is authorised to engage in legal practice as or in the manner of a barrister only; a court lawyer. Barristers are called "Counsel" or "Senior Counsel", and wear black robes and occasionally wigs.
Bench warrant – A warrant issued by a court for the arrest of an accused person who has failed to appear in court.
Beneficiary – (estate) A natural person or other legal entity who is left with all or part of a deceased's estate in a will; (contract) a person who is intended to benefit from the provisions of a contract as a result of an arrangement or a condition being met although not a party to the contract.
Beyond reasonable doubt – This is the standard to which all crimes must be proven. A jury or judge must be satisfied that the offence is proven beyond reasonable doubt.
Bona fide – Made or done in good faith; genuine.
Burden of proof – This is the term that determines who has the responsibility of proving the offence or defence. The prosecution bears the burden of proving the offence, whilst the defence bears the burden of proving any defence it may rely on.
Business activity statement (BAS) – A form that businesses submit to the ATO to report their taxation obligations, including such things as Pay as You Go withholding (PAYGW), Pay as You Go instalments (PAYGI), Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT), Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) and Luxury Car Tax (LCT).
Business law – This includes all of the laws (e.g. state and federal laws, administrative regulations) dictating how to start, buy, run, close and sell a business.
Calderbank letter – An offer of settlement delivered in the form of a letter that is without prejudice save as to costs.
Capital Gains Tax (CGT) – A tax charged on the profit you make when you sell an asset for more than it cost you, such as a building. However, most homes and cars are exempt from this.
Capital loss – The loss incurred from the disposal of shares or other assets that have been held for investment purposes.
Care order – A Family Court order placing a child into the care of the government for a specified period of time.
Carry forward loss – A loss that is incurred in one financial year, which is then carried into the following financial year in order to offset that year's tax liability.
Case – A general term for any Cause of Action (see Cause of Action), lawsuit, or all the evidence and testimony compiled by one party in a lawsuit to present in court.
Cause of Action – The fact or combination of facts that gives a person the right to seek judicial redress or relief against another. Also, the legal theory forming the basis of a lawsuit.
Centrelink – A government programme managed under the Department of Human Services, Centrelink provides social security benefit payments and other services to people who need them.
Child Maintenance – This is when the court orders the parent who's not living with their child to offer them financial support. The term refers to Stage 1 cases in which the parties apply for a court order or a court-registered agreement for maintenance.
Child Support – The same as Child Maintenance but it refers to Stage 2 cases, where the amount of support the parent not living with their child must pay is calculated by the Child Support Agency within the Department of Human Services or through private agreement.
Child Support Agency – Part of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) which administers the Child Support Scheme, collects child support and maintenance, enforces payments, and works out the amount of child support that's payable.
Civil law – A branch of law that deals with private interests. It's not criminal in nature e.g. contracts, negligence, property, family, etc.
Class action – A claimant brings an action in court for a group of people. There are no limits to the types of claims that one can bring through the class action system. In Australia, these include shareholder, cartel class, financial services, product liability and planners class actions. Also referred to as "representative proceedings/action".
Client – (legal) A person for whom the solicitor is engaged to provide legal services for a matter.
Client documents – Documents to which a client is entitled.
Collateral contract – A written or oral subsidiary contract which exists side by side a main contract.
Commercial loan agreement – A legally binding contract that is entered into between a lender and a borrower, that regulates the mutual promises made by both parties. It details all aspects of the monetary transfer.
Committal proceedings – Before any crime is presented before a jury, the court must determine in a committal proceeding if there is enough prosecution evidence for the matter to be heard at trial. If the magistrate determines that the evidence is capable of satisfying a jury beyond reasonable doubt, then the matter goes to a jury trial.
Common law – Law that has been developed by judges in courts; case law; precedents. When judges make certain observations or decisions, those decisions are preserved in common law as precedent.
Commonwealth Criminal Code – Provides a statement of the major criminal offences against Commonwealth law.
Compensation – Money paid to an individual who suffered injury or loss by the person who the law considers is responsible for the said injury or loss. The amount to be paid to make up for the damage or loss caused will depend on the facts of the case.
Complainant – The term given to a witness the subject of a criminal offence. Typically, the victim of an offence is called the "complainant" during the trial or hearing.
Compromise – Includes any form of settlement of a case, whether pursuant to a formal offer under the rules or procedure of a court, or otherwise.
Conciliation – A process in which disputes are resolved using a conciliator as the parties make negotiations. The aim of conciliation is mutual agreement, instead of coming to a decision that's in favour of one side.
Conference – In practice, it's a meeting of the parties and/or their solicitors in order to settle a case. In legislation, when the Senate and House of Representatives can't agree on a bill to be passed, they appoint a committee of conference to resolve their disagreement.
Consent orders – An agreement between the parties which have been made into legally binding orders by a court.
Consideration – Something of legal value e.g. money, service, objects, etc. that is given in exchange for a promise.
Consolidation – In law, consolidation can either refer to the union of two corporations into one corporate entity, or to the union of two claims or actions at law for trial or appeal.
Contract – An oral or written legally binding agreement between two or more parties that is intended to create one or more legal agreements between them.
Contracts Review Act 1980 – The Act represents a change in the approach of the law in regards to contracts and is also designed to protect consumers.
Contributory negligence – A defence in an action for damages where it is claimed that the plaintiff's/claimant's negligence caused or contributed to the harm suffered by plaintiff/claimant.
Corporate trustee – Corporation authorised by law to act in a fiduciary (see Fiduciary) capacity for individuals and other corporations.
Corporations law – This refers to the Corporations Act 2001, which is administered by ASIC (see ASIC). The law applies to the corporate sector, namely companies and other corporate bodies that are registered under the Act.
Cost agreement – A formal arrangement between a solicitor and a client regarding costs. The agreement outlines the costs that the client must pay the solicitor in order for them to act on behalf of the client in a court case.
Cost base – The cost value assigned to an asset when it was purchased. This can sometimes involve including other costs associated with acquiring, holding or disposing of the asset.
Costs – A court order for the losing party to pay the costs of the winning party (see Party/party costs). There could be a difference between how much the losing party has to pay and the costs to be paid to a person's solicitor (solicitor/client costs).
Counterclaim – Also known as a cross claim is a claim made by the defendant (cross-plaintiff) against a plaintiff (cross-defendant) intended to off-set or reduce the plaintiff's (cross-defendant's) original claim.
Court – A place where justice is administered; a body of people that's presided over by a judge or magistrate and acts as a tribunal in civil and criminal cases; or a meeting of a judicial assembly.
Court list – A daily schedule of cases published by a court.
Court of Appeal – A court which hears appeals against the decisions made by the other courts (such as the lower courts) and usually consists of three judges.
Creditor – A natural person or entity to whom money is owed by a debtor who has been provided goods, services or a monetary loan.
Cross claim – See Counterclaim.
Cross-examination – This is the questioning of a witness in a hearing, trial, or proceeding by the party who did not call the witness. It typically involves closed questions that invite yes or no only answers.
Custody – (family law) Formerly used to refer to the daily care and control of a child or children; (criminal law) the detention of an individual by the police or in prison.
Customs – The official department that's responsible for administering and collecting the duties, taxes and charges (e.g. GST, WET and LCT) imposed by the government on imported and sometimes exported goods and merchandise that are of a certain declared value. The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service administers customs duty.
Damages – This is what a party seeks in a civil case. It usually involves compensation or reimbursement for lost income, etc.
Debt forgiveness – Writing off more than one loan to a troubled firm in order to restructure debt so that the balance remaining can be paid.
Debt recovery – The process of getting people or companies to pay money that they owe to other people or companies, when they have not paid back the debt at the time that was arranged. All of the local courts in Australia have a Small Claims Division or a General Division that offers a debt recovery procedure. You can use the Small Claims Division to make a claim between $2,000-$10,000 or the General Division for claims between $10,000-$100,000 (in some cases, you can make a claim between $100,000-$120,000).
Deed of arrangement – (bankruptcy) A formal legal document that sets out an agreement between a debtor and its creditor to pay all or part of its outstanding debts, as an alternative to bankruptcy.
Deed of settlement – A formal legal document that sets out an agreement and is executed by the parties to the agreement. It is often used when one party has to transfer ownership of a property (such as a home) to the other party. A settlement deed is often used in divorce cases.
Defamation – Communication, either by way of comment or publication, of a false statement to a third party that harms one's reputation.
Default judgment – A judgment made by a court in favour of one party as a result of another's failure to take action. It is often a judgment in favour of the plaintiff when the defendant fails to appear in court or fails to file a defence.
Defence – The defence team (including the defendant and their legal representatives); a written statement (pleading) by the defendant which sets out the facts that the defence team will rely on in a civil lawsuit; or the contesting of the plaintiff's claim or case by the defendant.
Defendant – The person against whom a civil or criminal action is filed.
Deponent – The person who signs an affidavit giving an oath or affirmation that its contents are true.
Depreciation – For accounting purposes, depreciation indicates how much of an asset's value has been used up. Businesses can deduct the cost of a tangible asset as a business expense, but these must be depreciated depending on what the asset is and how long it will last.
Directions hearing – When a legal matter proceeds through the court, there are several steps before the final hearing or jury trial. The Judge or magistrate will give orders along the way to each party to prepare the matter for hearing or trial. These orders are called directions. Directions may include when evidence is to be served on the other party, when documents ought to be filed, or when a defence is to be filed etc.
Disbursement – The act of paying money. In a solicitor's bill, this may be payment for expenses such as photocopying and telephone calls, and/or payment by a solicitor to a third party for example court's filing fee, expert's report, etc.
Discharge – The performance of an obligation; the release from an obligation or charge.
Dividend – A payment made by a company to its shareholders, in the form of a fixed amount per share held.
Divorce – A legal procedure that ends a marriage.
Double Tax Agreement – An agreement between two countries which decreases the tax bill for a person who's a resident of one country but is a citizen of another country. With the agreement, the taxpayer doesn't have to pay tax to both countries. Generally, the amount of tax owed will depend on how many days the taxpayer worked in both countries.
Duty of care – This is the responsibility of a person to exercise reasonable care over other people in the course of business or activity. For example, a shopping centre owes a duty of care to its shoppers to ensure that if the floor is wet, it is blocked off and well signed.
Eligible Termination Payments – A lump sum payment that an employer makes to an employee when they leave the company. This can include salary in lieu of their notice period, unused leave entitlements, a gratuity or compensation.
Encumbrance – A charge, debt, or liability that a person owes is called an encumbrance. For example, a mortgage is an encumbrance over property.
Engagement – The appointment of a solicitor or of a solicitor's law practice to provide legal services for a matter.
Equitable damages – A payment of damages to the wronged party (the defendant) in respect of a common law wrong. Equitable damages allow the defendant to buy themselves out of their obligations under the contract.
Equitable remedies – These include non-monetary remedies, such as injunctive relief (see Injunctive relief) and specific performance, which is when the court orders a defendant to perform their contract obligations when it believes that a payment of damages isn't enough for a just settlement of the case.
Equity – A system of legal rules developed to make the common law fairer and more just; the extent of a person's ownership of property; (finance) the difference between the value of the assets and the cost of liabilities.
Evidence – A document, material object or an oral testimony from a witness that is used to prove or disprove facts in a court case. Whether evidence can be used in a legal proceeding will be based on its admissibility (see Admissibility of evidence).
Examination – This can either refer to the questioning of a witness by a lawyer (direct examination) or a hearing before a judge or magistrate to decide if the defendant charged with a crime should go to trial (preliminary examination).
Examination-in-chief – The initial questioning of a witness in a hearing, proceeding or trial, by the party who called that witness. Alternatively, that evidence can be presented in an affidavit or written statement.
Exclusion Clause – (contract) A term, provision or clause in a contract which attempts to exclude or avoid a party's liability for a contractual breach.
Executor/Executrix – The person appointed in a will to deal with the estate of a deceased person. A man is referred to as the executor and a woman is called the executrix.
Exempt income – Income that is exempt from tax.
Exhibit – A document admitted into a jury, or hearing, or civil proceeding.
Ex Parte – An ex parte application to the court is made by one party to the proceeding (or by an interested person who is not a party to the proceeding) without the presence of the other party/parties; an ex parte decision is a decision made by a judge without the requirement for all parties involved to be present.
Expert evidence – Admissible evidence given by an expert in a particular field to help the court make a decision or judgment, such as a testimony that is related to a professional, scientific or technical subject.
Family law – A branch of law that deals with family matters, rights, duties and finances.
Family Law Act 1975 – An Act of the Commonwealth Parliament that deals with family law and which established the Family Court of Australia.
Family law courts – This includes the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.
Family trust election – An election made in order to make a trust a family trust for tax purposes.
Fault – Legal blameworthiness in all areas of the law. When a person is found to be at fault, it means they have committed a wrongful act or omission that has caused injury to another person as a result of their negligence, carelessness or ignorance. The term also refers to the actus reus (see Actus reus) and the defendant's mental state.
Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) – Tax to be paid on non-salary benefits given to employees.
Federal Circuit Court – This court hears simple family law matters, such as children's issues, divorce and the settlement of property.
Federal Commissioner of Taxation – The person in charge of the ATO.
Federal Court of Australia – A Commonwealth-established court that deals with disputes that arise under Commonwealth Law, including immigration, trade practices and copyright.
Federal law – The law that applies to the whole country and is not limited by state borders. For example, competition and consumer law are federal laws.
Fees – Fees paid to lawyers and the court. The payment for legal services can take the form of an hourly charge, a flat or contingent fee, statutory or court-approved fees, or a combination of fees.
Fiduciary – An individual (e.g. trustee, company director) in whom another (e.g. beneficiary, company) has placed their trust to look after assets for them.
Fiduciary duty – A legal duty by the fiduciary to act for the benefit of another party, e.g. a company has a fiduciary duty to its shareholders.
Financial planner – A qualified professional whose job is to help individuals and companies meet their long-term financial goals by analysing their status and establishing a programme.
Financial Services Reform Act 2001 – An Act to change the law relating to the market and financial services sectors.
First instance – This is the name given to the proceeding heard in the first court in which it appeared; called its original jurisdiction.
Forensic accountant – A person who utilises their accounting, auditing and investigative skills to examine a company's financial statements in order to find evidence that is admissible for a lawsuit or criminal prosecution.
Fraud – The act of lying to or deceiving someone for one's own personal or financial gain. In court, an individual or group of people can be convicted of fraud.
Full court – When a court has all its judges on the bench. This term is typically used to describe appellate courts, and whether there is one Judge hearing the appeal or a full court, that is, all judges hearing the appeal.
Further and better particulars – In pleading, this refers to extra information that is needed to provide sufficient accuracy of pleaded facts in an earlier document. If a party thinks the facts are insufficiently pleaded, they'll make a request for further and better particulars of the said document, since an insufficiently pleaded accusation would be difficult to respond to.
Grouping – A term used to ascribe the rights and duties of a group member to another member or the entire group. If the companies are engaged in different businesses, the group is called a "conglomerate".
Goods and Services Tax (GST) – Goods and Services Tax, which is a 10% tax on most goods and services consumed in Australia.
GST Credit – The GST amount that a business can claim credit for. Because businesses pay GST on goods and services and charge GST to their customers, they can claim a credit for the GST that they have paid.
Guarantee – To promise to do or pay something, or adhere to an act. The promise can also be to guarantee another person's actions or payment.
Habeas Corpus – A document the court issues to release a person from unlawful confinement.
Hardship – In legal proceedings, people experiencing financial hardship can apply to a court to be exempted from paying court fees.
Hearsay evidence – Evidence that is not based on what a person directly heard or saw, but rather on what another person told them they heard or saw.
High Court – In the Australian court hierarchy, the High Court of Australia is the Supreme Court and final Court of Appeal. This means it hears appeals from the lower courts.
Inadmissible – The admissibility of evidence refers to its ability to be produced into a jury trial, proceeding, or hearing. Rules of evidence govern whether what a witness says, or whether a document or thing is admissible. When it is not admissible, the evidence is determined to be inadmissible.
Income – Monetary earnings as a result of employment, business or investment.
Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 – An Act of the Parliament of Australia which determines the laws relating to how income tax is calculated.
Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 – A rewrite of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936, with new matters added in. The Act was rewritten because previous amendments have made it thousands of pages long and extremely complex.
Incurred – To become subject to. In accounting, this is to communicate that an expense has occurred and should be recognised on the income statement.
Indemnity – A security against or an exemption from liability for damages. The term is based on an agreement between two parties, where a party pays for the losses or damages caused by the other party.
Indemnity costs – These are calculated and rewarded by the court when the conduct of the offending party was very offensive or the position they adopted had no merit. The offending party will have to pay a higher rate than the party/party costs.
Indictable offence – Crimes are divided into categories of indictable or summary offences. An indictable offence is a serious criminal offence and typically must be determined before a jury trial.
Injunction – This is a legal term referring to an order from court directing someone to do or not to do something. For example, an injunction not to engage in type of trade. If an injunction is breached, then the party who breached it is found to be in contempt of court. The injunction may be interim/temporary (until a further order is made) or permanent.
Injunctive relief – An equitable remedy (see Equitable remedy) granted when money damages are not able to compensate the plaintiff's violation of rights. It consists of a court order called an injunction, requiring an individual to do or not do a specific action. Failure to comply with a notice of an injunction is punishable by being held in contempt of court.
Inquest – A discussion or investigation into something that has happened, especially something undesirable. For example, a court proceeding in which the coroner conducts an investigation of the death of a person who died in suspicious circumstances.
Instructing solicitor – A solicitor or law practice who engages another solicitor to provide legal services for a client for a matter.
Insurance – A policy contract in which the insured party pays a premium to the insurer, who in return agrees to pay for any loss suffered by the insured as specified in the policy; or a legal insurance that protects policyholders against the potential costs of legal action brought by or against them.
Insurance claim – A request made to an insurance company demanding payment based on insurance policy terms. An insurance claim is reviewed by the company and once they approve it money is paid out to the insured or a claimant acting on behalf of the insured.
Insurance Contracts Act 1984 – This Act applies to insurance contracts and was formed in order to ensure that fair balance is struck between the interests of insurers and the insureds.
Intentional tort – An act that is intended to cause harm to another person and leads to legal liability. The person who commits a tort is called a "tortfeasor". An intentional tort could result in the plaintiff receiving a large civil award because the tortfeasor intentionally committed the act. For example, poisoning someone's food, defamation, invasion of privacy, etc.
Intercompany pricing – The setting of prices on goods and services sold between subsidiaries, divisions or groups within a company. Also called "transfer pricing". For example, if a subsidiary sells goods to the parent company, the cost of the goods is the transfer price.
Interlocutory pleadings – Part of the interlocutory proceedings, which is one of the first things to be done before a civil case comes to trial. Interlocutory pleading is the preparation of the formal written statement so that there are no surprises when the trial begins.
Interrogatories – A procedure whereby a party or its solicitor is required to answer in writing, and usually on oath, specific questions relevant to the dispute(s) prior to the trial, which answers may be tendered against such party as evidence in the trial. Interrogatories applies to the Supreme and District Courts and to the General Division of the Local Court.
Intervention – A procedure in which the court allows a third party called the "intervener" to join an ongoing lawsuit. They can either join the plaintiff or the defendant.
Intervention order – A police order or a court application ex parte that regulates a defendant's behaviour towards a protected person. An intervention order may be sought in order to prevent domestic or non-domestic abuse.
Intestate – The condition of an estate of a deceased who died without a valid will. When a person dies intestate, intestacy rules will apply and the deceased's properties will be distributed according to the relevant statutory table of intestacy.
Judge – A court official who is appointed to make the final decision about a case that goes to trial, including the imposing of sentences and awarding of damages.
Judgment – A decision made by a judge or court after all the evidence is heard at a hearing – this is called an "ex tempore" judgment. A "reserved" judgment is when the court postpones the judgment delivery to a later date to allow more time to consider the evidence presented in the case.
Judgment in default – See Default judgment.
Jurat – The part of the affidavit that a person signs on oath or affirmation is called the jurat.
Jurisdiction – The basis for the court's authority; the source or scope of its power. For example, in a jury trial in the Supreme Court, the jurisdiction is the indictable jurisdiction.
Law practice – (a) An Australian legal practitioner who is a sole solicitor; (b) a partnership of which the solicitor is a partner; (c) a multi-disciplinary partnership; or (d) an incorporated legal practice.
Lawyer – An Australian legal practitioner who's approved by the Supreme Court as being entitled to practice as a solicitor or barrister; or an Australian registered foreign lawyer who practises as or in the manner of a solicitor.
Legal costs – Amounts that a person has been or may be charged by, or is or may become liable to pay to, a law practice for the provision of legal services including disbursements but not including interest.
Legal profession legislation – A law of a State or Territory that regulates legal practice and the provision of legal services.
Legal services – Work done, or business transacted, in the ordinary course of legal practice.
Legal funding – A third-party funding company provides money to the person involved in a lawsuit (litigant) so they can pay for their legal costs, in return for a share of the proceeds of a successful dispute. If the litigant loses, they don't have to pay back the money so the third-party funding company loses their money. Also known as "litigation funding" and "third- party funding".
Legal professional privilege – A rule of law that protects communications between a lawyer and their client from disclosure under court or statutory compulsion. Also called "client legal privilege".
Legislation – When Parliament introduces new Acts or bills that are adapted into laws, they are known as legislation.
Letter of demand – A letter or notice from a creditor or lawyer stating that legal action will be taken if a debt isn't paid.
Liability – A legal phrase for stating who has legal responsibility for an action. That is, who is liable.
Lien – The holding of someone else's property as a way of securing payment of money or some other obligation. A bank typically holds a lien over a person's property by way of mortgage.
Liquidation – The process of finalising the affairs (or part of it) of a company or partnership and its assets and properties are redistributed.
Litigation – The legal court process; a lawsuit or other resort to the courts to determine a legal matter.
Litigation funding – Also known as "legal funding" and "third-party funding". See Legal funding.
Loans – Something that is borrowed, especially a sum of money that is expected to be paid back with interest. This includes litigation/lawsuit loans (see Legal funding) and beneficiary loans (exists between the trustee and the beneficiary in a debtor/creditor relationship).
Losses – This term is often related to damage, deprivation and injury to a party. In insurance law, a loss is the liability of the insurer, a reduction in resource value, or a liability increase. It's referring to the monetary injury resulting from an event for which the insurance was taken out. Loss of earning capacity is an injury to an individual as it means they can't earn income in the future, but it can be recovered in a tort case as an element of damages.
Main residence – Your primary place of occupancy. Factors affecting if a place is your main residence include length of time, intentions and other things such as having personal belongings there.
Maladministration – Can refer to a breach of trust, an abuse of power or a criminal act by a government body or public official.
Mala fides – Something that is done in bad faith and with the intent to deceive another person. It's often used interchangeably with the term malice, particularly in cases dealing with defamation.
Master – A legal officer of the Supreme Court who is authorised to perform auxiliary judicial duties.
Mediation – A dispute resolution procedure that doesn't require a decision of the court.
Mediator – An impartial third party in a mediation that helps the parties reach an agreement by controlling the communication and negotiation process. They do not adjudicate and/or impose penalties.
Medicare levy surcharge (MLS) – A tax the government uses to encourage people on higher incomes to take out private health insurance. Liability for the surcharge occurs when a taxpayer (or their dependant/s) doesn't have the right level of private patient hospital cover and their income goes over the relevant surcharge threshold.
Member – A person belonging to a legislative body or another government branch. For example, a member of the court or the House of Representatives.
Mens rea – This is a phrase used in criminal law to describe the intent of an offence. For most typical criminal offences to be proven, the act needs to be proven (see Actus reus), and it needs to be shown the person intended to commit the act. The intent behind the crime is called mens rea.
Misfeasance – Can refer to something that is done badly but is still legal, or an officer of a company who does something which is a breach of trust or duty.
Misleading & deceptive conduct – In consumer law, the term describes behaviour by a trader that creates a false impression with consumers.
Mitigation – Circumstances which suggest a reduction in the usual penalty, whether it is damages or a level of punishment. A matter in mitigation can include presenting to the court that a person is of good character.
Natural justice – These are essentially rules of fairness and acting without bias that lawyers and courts must apply.
Negligence – This is a legal phrase that refers to an instance when someone has failed to take reasonable care of another to avoid foreseeable harm to other people or their property, and as a result has caused them some type of injury or damage.
Net income – The amount of income remaining after all costs, expenses, interest and taxes.
Net loss – When revenues of a business are less than the cost of goods sold and operating expenses; the opposite of making a profit.
Non-concessional contributions – After-tax contributions made to a person's superannuation.
Non-discount capital gain – A capital gain that is not eligible to be discounted (i.e. it has not been held for longer than 12 months).
Non est factum – "It is not in my deed". A defence raised when a party is mistaken about the nature of the document they are signing – essentially that, through no fault or neglect of their own they were unable to understand the meaning or the significance of the document they were signing.
Notice of motion – A formal written notice to one or more parties that a party has filed a motion (involving them in a lawsuit) before a court and the hearing will take place on the date specified on the notice.
Notice to produce – A notice served by a party to the other party, which requires them to bring certain documents to the hearing.
No win no fee – This means that if a client doesn't win their case, they don't have to pay legal fees to their solicitor.
Oath – This is the promise or pledge by a person that the evidence they give is the truth. This oath is given by a witness when they are in the witness box, before giving evidence in a jury trial. An oath can also be given when a witness signs an affidavit to be used in a civil proceeding.
Obiter dictum – In case law, Judges may give observations on the law in their judgments. These observations or comments are called obiter dictum.
Objections – A lawyer's protests about the legal propriety of questions asked by the opposing solicitor or barrister to the witness, with the intent to make the Judge decide if the question/s can be asked.
Offence – A violation or breach of the criminal law or rule; an illegal act.
Offer of compromise – A voluntary offer by a party to another to settle a dispute in an amicable manner (usually by paying money) and therefore avoid or end the lawsuit or other legal action. Also called an "offer of settlement".
Onus of proof – See Burden of proof.
Opponent – The practitioner appearing for a party opposed to the client of the solicitor in question; or an unrepresented party.
Order – Includes an instruction by command, judgment, decision or determination of a court.
Ordinary income – Income derived from the ordinary course of carrying out your business.
Particulars – Details of a claim or defence which are required to inform the other party as to the extent of their case. Also see Further and better particulars.
Party – Includes each one of the persons or corporations who or which is jointly a party to any matter.
Party/party costs – Fair and reasonable costs that the losing party has to pay the winning party.
Pay as You Go (PAYG) – A system that businesses and individuals use to pay instalments of tax on their employment, business or investment income.
PAYG Withholding – A system in which tax is withheld from the payments made by employers (or other payers) to their employees (or other payees) so that they can meet their tax obligations.
Payments – An amount paid or payable. This can include professional costs paid to the lawyer representing a party; solicitor/client costs paid by a client to a solicitor; and payment into court (money paid by the defendant to the court for payment to the plaintiff).
Perjury – The legal phrase for lying under oath.
Plaintiff – In a civil proceeding, the plaintiff is the person who initiated the legal claim.
Pleadings – Pleadings set out the facts that each party relies on in its case. These pleadings are contained in statements of claim or summons (for civil matters), or in the indictment or court attendance notice (for criminal matters).
Pleas in mitigation – When a person pleads guilty to a criminal offence with which they are charged, an oral address is made to the court in order to help it in sentencing the offender.
Power of attorney – A formal written legal document by which one person gives another the power to deal with their financial and legal affairs during their lifetime. The person appointed is referred to as the 'attorney'.
Practitioner – A person or law practice entitled to practise the profession of law.
Precedent – The doctrine that governs the entire body of common law. The precedent states that the way the law is applied on one case will govern its application on all similar future cases. That case being precedent for the future matters.
Prerogative writs – A writ that is issued by a higher court which prevents lower courts and officials from exceeding their powers or compels them to exercise their functions. See also Habeas Corpus.
Preservation Age – The age a person must reach before they are allowed to access their superannuation. This age is based on the date of birth of a person.
Primary producer – A person who carries on a business of primary production, e.g. the production of raw materials for industry. A primary producer may be exempt from land tax if they use land for primary production.
Principal – A solicitor who is the holder of a principal practising certificate, within the meaning of legal profession legislation.
Private ruling – Binding advice that sets out how a piece of legislation applies to you in reference to a specific scenario.
Privilege – Having legal entitlement to do something unlawful (e.g. defamation by a parliament member) or being exempt from something the law requires (e.g. solicitor not giving evidence in court as instructed by their client).
Pro Bono – Short for 'pro bono publico' which means "for the public good". In the legal context, it means work performed by lawyers for free or on a reduced fee basis as a public service.
Procedural fairness – A common law duty requiring a person or body to act fairly and ensure justice is done when making administrative decisions that affect the rights, interests and legitimate expectations of an individual. See also Natural justice.
Professional negligence – An act or misconduct where a professional such as a lawyer fails to effectively exercise their duties due to negligence, resulting in injury, loss or damage to their client.
Property settlement – The division of property between a couple upon separation, either by agreement or a court order.
Prosecutor – A solicitor who acts on behalf of the crown in criminal proceedings.
Quash – When a court sets aside an order, it quashes it.
Ratio decidendi – In a judgment, the legal reasoning that sets a precedent for future laws is called the ratio decidendi.
Recovery order – An order made by the court authorising the return of a child or children to a person or parent's care.
Registrar – A lawyer who has legal authority to perform administrative tasks, such as granting divorces, signing consent orders, and deciding the next step in a case.
Regulations – Under every Act there exists subordinate legislations called regulations. These typically contain more procedural style laws to complete the Act.
Regulatory authority – An entity identified in legal profession legislation which has the responsibility for regulating the activities of solicitors in that jurisdiction.
Release – A written document that terminates any legal liability between the releaser and the realesee.
Repeal – This is term to describe the ending of an Act or statute as law. The Act is said to be repealed.
Representative action – See Class action.
Rescission – The termination or cancellation of a contract.
Residence – The place where you have your permanent home or principal establishment and to where, whenever you are absent, you intend to return.
Residual value – The capital amount which remains at the end of a pension or annuity term and is specified in the deed or contract of a super fund.
Respondent – A person against whom an order has been issued or a claim brought. The respondent may choose not to respond to the orders sought by the applicant/plaintiff. Also known as a "defendant" (see Defendant).
Retainer – A fee paid to a lawyer by a client to act in a case. Also called a "retaining fee".
Retrospective – This is the principle that a law applies to facts or events that existed before the law came into effect. Most laws are not able to apply retrospectively unless the Act expressly states it does.
Reversionary beneficiary – The person nominated to continue to receive your pension income payments after you pass away.
Self-managed superannuation fund – A superannuation fund where the members are also the trustees and run the fund for the benefit of themselves.
Sequestration order – An order made by the court upon an application by a creditor for bankruptcy, involuntary bankruptcy.
Set aside – To set aside a court judgement or order is to annul or revoke an earlier court judgment, so that it no longer has effect.
Settlement – A formal arrangement between the parties to resolve a dispute out of court; or an arrangement where property is bestowed on a trust for the benefit of people decided by the settlor.
Small business concessions – Small businesses are eligible for a wide range of concessions, including simplified depreciation for depreciating assets, exemption from payroll tax and from FBT on car parking, and concessions for trading stock, prepaid expenses, CGT and GST.
Small business entity – An entity operating a business that has an aggregated turnover below $2 million.
Social security – Financial support from the government for people who aren't earning income.
Solicitor – An Australian legal practitioner or an Australian registered foreign lawyer who gives advice to their clients on legal matters and represents them in court.
Solicitor with designated responsibility – The solicitor ultimately responsible for a client's matter or the solicitor responsible for supervising the solicitor that has carriage of a client's matter.
Specific performance – An order made by the court to a person to perform their obligations under a contract.
Spouse contribution – A contribution by a person to their spouse's superannuation fund. Some contributions are eligible for a tax offset on such payments.
Spouse (Spousal) Maintenance – Financial support paid by a spouse to another after they separate.
SSAT – Social Security Appeals Tribunal, which is a statutory body that reviews decisions made by the Department of Human Services.
Statement of claim – The document a party files to commence a civil proceeding against another party. It sets out the facts that the party relies on to seek damages.
Status conference – A pre-trial meeting of the lawyers with a judge in a pending legal matter in order to check on the progress of the case. The status conference is also when the trial date is set.
Statute – An Act of the State or Federal Parliament.
Statutory demand – A written demand made under the Corporations Act 2001. A debtor company who fails to comply with the demand to pay a debt or to apply to the court to set it aside will be considered insolvent and could result in the winding up of the company.
Stay of proceedings – The legal term to stall a legal proceeding, either indefinitely or for a period of time.
Strict liability – A category of criminal offences where only the act needs to be proven and it does not matter whether the act was committed intentionally or not.
Strike out – To erase, cross out. You can have the court 'strike out' your opponent's claim if you think it's vexatious (see Vexatious), insulting or wrong, which means the claim won't proceed. Or, you can have the court 'strike out' your opponent's defence if a denial is made without facts to back it up or the facts can't amount to a defence, which means you could then enter judgement against your opponent.
Sub judice – A matter that is still being considered by a court and therefore can't be spoken of outside the court.
Subpoena – A document endorsed by the court or the laws that require a person to produce certain material (subpoena to produce documents), or to attend court as a witness (subpoena to appear).
Substantial benefit – A benefit which has a substantial value relative to the financial resources and assets of the person intending to bestow the benefit.
Substantiation – Producing evidence to support or verify a claim, e.g. bills, receipts, or even an eyewitness.
Sub trusts – A trust that is derived from another trust so that the main trust's beneficiaries become the derived trust's trustees. Also called a 'derivative trust'.
Suitors' fund – A fund that can be drawn upon to help pay the costs incurred by litigants when decisions are overturned or varied by a court on appeal, or proceedings are rendered abortive by the death, illness, retirement or resignation of a judge or magistrate.
Superannuation – Also known as 'super', is a system in which regular payment is made into a fund by an employer for an employee to provide for their retirement. People can also make extra contributions to their superannuation.
Superannuation charge – Under the Superannuation Guarantee Charge Act 1992, a charge is imposed on employers who don't make the required minimum super contributions on behalf of eligible employees.
Superannuation Complaints Tribunal – An independent statutory body that deals with complaints about super funds.
Superannuation guarantee contribution (SGC) – The compulsory superannuation payments that an employer must make on behalf of their employees.
Superannuation guarantee – A system of superannuation support, where it is compulsory for employers to pay 9.5% (as of 1 July 2014) of an employee's salary into a super fund. Also see Superannuation and Superannuation charge.
Superannuation law – The branch of law that deals with super funds, as well as taxation, compliance and prudential issues relating to superannuation.
Supreme Court – Also known as the High Court of Australia (see High court) according to the Australian court hierarchy and is the final Court of Appeal. It hears appeals from the lower courts and deals with the most serious crimes (e.g. murder), as well as civil claims that exceed $250,000.
Tax Acts – Laws passed by Parliament to deal with taxation in Australia, such as income tax assessment acts and taxation administration acts.
Taxable Australian property – Property on which you are required to pay tax. This includes: a direct interest in real property situated in Australia or a mining, prospecting or quarrying right to minerals, petroleum or quarry materials in Australia; a CGT asset that you have used to carry on a business through a permanent establishment in Australia; an indirect Australian real property interest, which is an interest in an entity (including foreign), where you and your associates hold 10% or more of the entity and the value of your interest is principally attributable to Australian real property.
Taxable income – The income on which a person is liable to pay tax, after deductions from their assessable income.
Taxation Administration Act 1953 – It provides for the administration of certain Tax Acts.
Taxation of Financial Arrangements (TOFA) – The taxation of gains and losses from financial arrangements. TOFA applies to businesses that have high turnover and/or asset values (e.g. financial institutions, super funds) which satisfy the above-threshold tests.
Tax avoidance – A person or company that takes advantage of the law to reduce their tax liability using legal means.
Tax evasion – A person or company that breaks the law in order to reduce their tax bills, e.g. concealing income by understating income or overstating deductions.
Tax File Number (TFN) – A number issued by the ATO to individuals and businesses for increasing the efficiency of administering tax and other systems of the Commonwealth Government, e.g. income support payments.
Tax free threshold – The amount of income that can be earned before tax is required to be paid.
Tax law – The branch of law that deals with taxation. In Australia, taxation comes in many forms, including income taxes and GST. The taxes collected go to paying public services and transfer payments (e.g. economic wealth redistribution).
Tax offset – An amount that can be used to directly reduce the amount of tax payable on a person's taxable income. They can reduce tax to zero but it cannot result in a refund.
Taxpayers' Charter – The charter outlines the rights and obligations of taxpayers, as well as the obligations and service standards of the ATO.
Tax records – Records required for preparing an accurate income tax return and supporting the claims you make in order to claim all of your entitlements.
Tax ruling – A document or piece of legislation that provides directions on how to treat a scenario for tax purposes.
Terra nullius – The legal phrase meaning 'empty land'. When Captain Cook first landed in Australia, he declared it terra nullius. The legality of this was overturned in a legal decision commonly referred to as the 'Mabo decision'.
Test individual – The individual specified in a family trust election.
Tort – A civil wrong, other than a breach of contract, where a person causes harm to another (either intentionally or not) and which could result in a claim for damages.
Trading losses – The amount of principal losses in a company account. It is the losses made on financial markets through trading goods and services. Also known as 'operating losses'.
Trading profits – Profits made from the trading of goods and services on financial markets. The profits made on positions held (investment holdings) for less than a year are taxed at ordinary income rates (e.g. income other than capital gains).
Transition to retirement – The process by which a person can begin to tap into their superannuation if they have reached their preservation age whilst not having to completely retire. This allows them to receive an income stream and reduce their working hours.
Tribunal – A dispute resolution body other than a court. A tribunal hears and decides disputes with less formality and less strict rules of evidence.
Trust account – A bank account into which money held on trust are deposited. A solicitor uses the account to deposit the money that a client gives for managing a case until it's needed.
Trustee – An individual or a board member who holds assets and looks after it on behalf of another for that person's benefit.
Trust monies – Money held by a solicitor in a trust account on behalf of their client and in connection with the provision of legal services. Also see Trust account.
Trusts – A financial arrangement where a person (the trustee) holds property or assets for the benefit of other people (the beneficiaries).
Types of trust – The three most common types of trusts are discretionary family trusts, unit trusts and hybrid trusts. The other trusts include fixed trusts, bare trusts, testamentary trusts and superannuation trusts.
Ultra vires – When a court or law is acting beyond its powers (or its jurisdiction).
Unconscionable conduct – Conduct that is considered very harsh or oppressive and goes against good conscience. Unconscionable conduct in court usually deals with transactions between dominant and weaker parties, as the dominant party takes advantage of a weakness of the weaker party. Unconscionable conduct is prohibited in equity and by statute.
Undertaking – A promise made by a party to the other party, during legal proceedings, to do or not to do something. An undertaking can be enforced by law.
Unliquidated – Undetermined; unassessed; not assigned a monetary value. For example, an unliquidated claim for damages involves the court determining a monetary value for the damages.
Utmost good faith – A legal or insurance contract must be made in perfect good faith, which means it shouldn't conceal anything. All parties are legally obliged to reveal to others any information that could influence their decision to enter into the contract.
Vexatious – Legal action that can be described as frivolous or without basis. If a person is said to take on many legal proceedings without any basis, the person may be described as a vexatious litigant.
Voluntary disclosure – A tax amnesty program where a delinquent taxpayer chooses to voluntarily disclose information that hasn't yet been reported to a tax agency, thus avoiding liability to penalty or prosecution that's usually associated with prior non-disclosure.
Void – Of no legal effect; not valid.
Waive – To intentionally relinquish one's legal right, interest; to refrain from claiming or insisting on.
Warrant – A written instruction by a magistrate to an officer to arrest someone and bring them before the court (warrant of apprehension), to arrest and imprison someone (warrant of commitment), to seize someone's goods to pay a debt (warrant of distress), to seize and sell real estate (warrant of seizure and sale of real estate), or to search a property (search warrant).
Withholding tax – If a person doesn't provide a bank with their TFN, the bank will be required by law to withhold (deduct) tax from any interest earned on the account. The term can also refer to income tax that an employer withholds from employee wages and then pays to the government. It can also be a tax levied on income from securities that are owned by a non-resident.
Writ – A court order, in writing, that directs a person not to do something or to perform an obligation.
Written submissions – A document that summarises the relevant facts and contains accurate references to the evidence; it saves the court time and helps the judge. Written submissions can be used as an alternative to an in-person hearing, especially if it'll be costly to get to the location of the hearing, if the facts aren't disputed, or if credibility issues don't need to be determined.