​The Courts Administration Authority maintains a glossary of legal terms to give guidance on the meaning and usage of legal words and phases.


Title Description
Abet To assist or encourage as an accomplice in the commission of an offence, being present when the offence is committed. One who abets is a principal in the second degree.

Level of responsibility for an action

Accused A person charged with an offence; the defendant in criminal proceedings.
Acquittal A setting free from a criminal charge.
Act of Parliament A statute; a legislative decree of parliament.
  1. a civil proceeding instituted by one party against another;
  2. the right of instituting legal proceedings.
Actus reus (in the analysis and definition of criminal offences) the physical component of a particular crime, being the action itself, as opposed to the necessary accompanying state of mind (see mens rea) [L: guilty act, from the entrenched mistranslation of the maxim actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea as "no guilty act without a guilty mind", rather than ‘act does not make a man guilty unless his mind be guilty’]
Ad hoc For this purpose. The phrase is often used in the sense of "impromptu".
Ad testificandum For the purpose of giving evidence. [L] See also subpoena
Adjourn To suspend or postpone, especially a meeting or hearing to a future date.
Adjudicate To determine an issue or dispute in a judicial manner.
This is the process of collecting the assets, paying the debts and distributing the balance of a deceased’s estate according to the will of a deceased person.  If there is no will, or the will does not dispose of the deceased’s estate in whole or in part, then the undisposed of estate is distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy.
Administrative Appeals Tribunal A statutory body forming part of the framework of administrative law introduced by federal parliament since 1975. This non-judicial mechanism for the review of administrative decisions was established under the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975. Matters over which the tribunal has jurisdiction include taxation, social welfare, deportation of migrants, etc. An administrative decision of a Commonwealth agency may be taken to the tribunal as a form of appeal, and the tribunal can then review the case on its merits and make recommendations. Appeals on questions of law from decisions of the tribunal are heard by the Federal Court of Australia, which sits as a full court when the tribunal was constituted by a Federal Court judge. Abbrev: AAT.
Administrator A person appointed by the court to administer an estate which lacks an executor.
A person appointed by the Court to administer the estate of a deceased person when a person dies intestate, or when an executor is not appointed by will, or when the executor does not or cannot act.
Admiralty jurisdiction Jurisdiction over maritime matters, including damage to ships and cargoes, collisions at sea and seafarers wages.
Admissible evidence Evidence which may be adduced in court. See also rules of evidence.
Adoption The legal process by which a child becomes the child of the adopting parent and ceases to be the child of any person who was its parent before the adoption.
Adult A person who has attained 18 years of age.
Advocate The person presenting a case to a court or tribunal on behalf of one of the parties involved.
Affidavit A written statement, sworn or affirmed, which may be used as a substitute for oral evidence in court.
Affirmation A solemn declaration, being the secular equivalent of an oath.
Age of consent The age at which a person is judged capable in law of consenting to sexual intercourse (generally, 16 for females, 18 for males).
Agent A person authorised to act on behalf of another (the principal). A general agent (or universal agent) is one with general authority to act, or with authority to act in transactions in the course of his/her ordinary business. A special agent is one with authority to act for a special purpose only. An agent of necessity is a person deemed to have authority to act as an agent for another in an emergency. An agent’s remuneration is usually a commission or a fee.
Agreed facts Often in written form, a statement of facts agreed to by all parties.
Alias A false name.
Allegation An assertion, still to be proved, made by a party in a legal proceeding.
Allocatur The certificate of a taxing officer stating costs allowed. [L: it is allowed]
Allocatus In a criminal trial, the invitation to the convicted person, after pronouncement of the verdict, to comment as to why the court should not impose its penalty.
Alternative counts (in an indictment) alternative descriptions of the same offence.
Alternative verdict A verdict of guilty in respect of an offence other than that with which the accused was charged, eg manslaughter for murder.
Amicus curiae A person, not being a representative of a party to the proceedings, permitted to argue a point of law or fact before the court, usually on behalf of some party indirectly interested.
Anor Another.
  1. an application to a higher court to review the decision of a lower court on the ground that it was in some way flawed;
  2. a rehearing, as the result of such an application.
  1. formal notice of a defendant’s intention to take part in the proceedings;
  2. the presence in court of a party, either personally or be legal representative.
Appellant A party who appeals against a judicial decision which is not in his/her favour. See also Appeal.
Appellate Relating to appeals; having power to decide appeals.
choice or selection by an individual or panel (for
example, a judge)
Arraign To call a prisoner to the court to answer the charge in the indictment.
Arrears A debt owing after the time for payment.
  1. the process by which a court is able to seize a person’s money or property for the purpose of ensuring that a judgment can be satisfactorily rendered. Attachment of a debt involves the seizing of a person’s money in order that a judgment debt can be paid to the judgment creditor. It may be used in a garnishment to seize the garnishee’s funds;
  2. the arrest of a person for disobedience to or contempt of the court.
Attestation The act of witnessing, eg that a document has been signed.
Automatism An inability to control physical reflexes, produced by some external cause. It is a criminal defence.
Autrefois acquit A plea that the prisoner has already been tried for and acquitted of the same offence
Bail In criminal proceedings, the release of a prisoner from legal custody into the custody of persons acting as sureties, undertaking to produce the prisoner to court at a later date or forfeit the security deposited as a condition of release. The term may also be applied to the security, or to the person acting as surety. Neither security nor sureties are obligatory in a modern grant of bail.
Bailiff An administrative officer performing the functions of a sheriff in connection with a lower court.
  1. an imaginary barrier isolating the bench and the front row of counsel’s seats from the rest of the court;
  2. (of the house) a bar or rail opposite the presiding officer’s chair in a house of parliament, marking off the body of the house a space to which non-members may be admitted for certain purposes;
  3. to prevent or block the bringing of a legal action or claim;
  4. to block, destroy or put to an end to, as in to bar an entail.
Bar table The table in a courtroom at which the advocates sit.
Barrister A legal practitioner whose main function is to act as an advocate in court.
  1. a collective term for judges;
  2. the judges of a court of law.
Bench warrant A warrant for arrest issued by a court.
Beyond reasonable doubt
Standard of proof required in a criminal case (where facts proven establish the guilt of a person)
Bill of costs A solicitor’s account of costs incurred on the client’s behalf.
Bona fide In good faith; honestly [L]
  1. a formal undertaking, such as a contract under seal, which binds a person to pay a sum of money in default of fulfilling some condition or acknowledges the existence of a debt;
  2. an instrument of indebtedness generally issued by a government or by semi government bodies/ Bonds issued by companies are call debentures;
  3. an undertaking by an offender to be of good behaviour for a certain period.
Burden of proof

(in the law of evidence)

  1. the obligation on the party who asserts a matter to establish his/her case by adducing sufficient supporting evidence and/or argument to satisfy the required standard of proof. In criminal trials, the burden rests on the prosecution, except in the case of certain defences
  2. the obligation to adduce evidence sufficient to be considered by the jury at a trial.
By-law Subordinate legislation, generally at the local government level.
Call over The reading out in court of a list of cases yet to be dealt with in order that hearing dates may be arranged.
Case category Categorises the different cases for statistical purposes. The case category does not affect any other aspects of the case.
Case event Any activity of a court process being created at a Registry which is then broken down to specific events such as initiating events or enforcement events.
Case law Principles of law established by judicial decisions rather than by legislation.
Case list A daily list of matters for hearing. Each matter will be listed on the case list next to the number of the courtroom so that you know where you are supposed to be. Case lists are sometimes still called by their old name of “cause lists”.
Case stated A submission from a lower to a higher court, setting out a decision of the lower court and requesting an opinion on a point of law involved in the decision.
Caseflow statistics Will monitor and track events and gauge time lapses against pre-determined time standards.
Cause of action The circumstance or combination of circumstances giving rise to a right to bring a legal action.
Caveat A legal notice lodged with the appropriate court or authority to prevent further steps being taken in certain processes (eg granting of probate) until the claim of the caveator has been determined. (Let him beware)
Caveator One who lodges a caveat.
Certified copy A copy of a document, endorsed by a person with authority to do so as being a true copy of the original.
  1. rooms for the use of judges or other court officials, adjacent to the courtroom;
  2. offices occupied by barristers.
Circuit court A court in a provincial centre, to which judges are rostered by the central administration.
  1. the quotation of an authority in legal argument;
  2. a reference to the report of a case, comprising the year, an abbreviation of the relevant series of law reports, and the page number;
  3. the calling before the court of a person not party to an action.
Civil Law
  1. law pertaining to matters between private citizens (as distinct from criminal law, administrative law or industrial law), as in civil proceedings, civil remedy, civil wrong;
  2. law pertaining to civilians, as opposed to military law;
  3. (in comparative law) a system of law based on Roman law, typified by the codification of large areas of law and a relative freedom from the constraints of precedent, in contrast to legal systems developed from the English common law.

(in civil law systems) law applicable to ordinary citizens, as distinct from commercial law.

Closed court A court from which the public has been excluded.
Codicil A document which may add to, alter or revoke a will in some way.
  1. to consign to custody in an institution;
  2. to send to a higher court for trial by jury.
Committal proceedings Proceedings to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to put a person on trial for an indictable offence.
Common law The unwritten law based on court decisions and customs, as distinct from statute law.
Common seal The official seal of a corporation, used to authenticate documents issued in the name of the corporation.
Usually an amount of money to cover the loss the
person has suffered
Complainant One who makes a complaint.
  1. information in written form giving details of an alleged criminal offence. This is a means by which summary and committal proceedings may be commenced;
  2. in certain jurisdictions, the means by which various civil matters are initiated.
Conciliation The bringing together of parties in dispute with the aim of settling prior to the court being involved. Mainly civil matters.
Concurrent sentence A sentence to be served at the same time as another sentence.
Conference A meeting between solicitor and counsel for discussion of a case.
  1. (in criminal law) a statement admitting guilt concerning the charge, whether made formally, ie by pleading guilty, or informally, out of court;
  2. (in civil proceedings) a formal admission, as in confession and avoidance (a pleading in defence admitting the allegations made by the other party but seeking to deflect them with allegations of one’s own)
Consent judgment A judgment effected by agreement of the parties.
Contempt of court Disobedience to or open disrespect of a court or legislature, its rules or orders, or conduct likely to prejudice a hearing. In some jurisdictions sanctions are provided by statute. In others a tribunal may be able to punish contempt of its authority as a consequence of its status as a superior court of record.
Conviction A finding that an accused is guilty of the crime charged.
Coram In the presence of.
Costs The sums of money which the successful party is entitles to recover for reimbursement of particular expenses incurred in litigation.
  1. a barrister, barristers (collectively);
  2. in criminal law, to advise concerning the commission of a crime.
Count In criminal procedure, a paragraph in an indictment charging one distinct offence.
Counterclaim A substantive claim made by a defendant against the plaintiff, capable of grounding an independent action, but dealt with for the sake of convenience in the proceedings initiated by the plaintiff.
  1. a judicial tribunal;
  2. the seat of a judicial tribunal.
Court of appeal A State court exercising the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction in civil matters.
Court of Criminal Appeal A State court exercising the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction in criminal matters.
Court of record A court the proceedings of which are made part of a permanent record, and which has the power to punish contempt.
Court of summary jurisdiction A Magistrates Court exercising primarily criminal jurisdiction.
Creditor A person or entity to whom a sum of money is due from another (the debtor).
  1. of or pertaining to crime; pertaining to criminal as opposed to civil law;
  2. a person convicted of a crime.
Cross examination The interrogation of one party’s witness by the opposing party.
Crown Solicitor The government solicitor.
Cumulative Added one to another, as in cumulative sentences.
  1. (In family law) the right to have, and the responsibility to make decisions concerning, the daily care and control of a child;
  2. (In relation to choses in possession) a physical holding not amounting to possession.
  3. (In relation to choses in possession) a physical holding not amounting to possession.
Damages Pecuniary compensation for damage suffered, as paid by the person causing it or awarded by a court in a civil law proceeding.
Days of grace Additional days allowed for the doing of some act after the expiry of the original time limit.
Debt A sum of money due from one person or entity to another.
Debtor A person or entity who owes a sum of money to another (the creditor).
Decision The determination, usually in the form of a reasoned statement, reached by a court or tribunal after hearing a case or an issue in dispute. A statement of opinion or recommendation, or observations on the side which do not go to the essence of the matter, may not be a decision. The existence of a decision may determine whether an appeal or review of tribunal proceedings is available.
  1. a statement asserting facts, as in declarations of deceased persons;
  2. a declaratory judgment
Default Failure to perform an act legally required, especially failure on the part of a defendant to give notice of intention to take part in legal proceedings.
  1. in pleading, the formal contesting of the plaintiff’s statement of claim or the prosecutor’s case by the defendant or the accused;
  2. a legally recognised justification or excuse, eg provocation, as a defence to murder;
  3. collectively, the defendant and the legal agents of the defendant.
Defend To contest a criminal charge or civil claim.
  1. (civil) the other party against whom civil proceedings are brought against them;
  2. (criminal) a person charged with a criminal offence in a lower court;
A form of government where the sovereign power rests with its citizens directly or indirectly through representation
Demurrer A traditional form of pleading in reply, alleging that the opponent’s plea was misconceived in law.
Deposition A statement under oath, taken down in writing for use in subsequent court proceedings.
Dietrich application Named after a High Court case where a party named Dietrich argued successfully for a stay of halt of action against him on the grounds that he was poor and would not be able to fund an adequate defence and therefore would not receive a fair trial.
  1. a judge’s instruction to the jury on a matter of law;
  2. the administrative function and process of a tribunal to ensure that hearings are expeditiously and justly conducted. The power to give such directions is either expressly conferred by statute or arises from a tribunal’s power to regulate its proceedings and procedure.
Directions conference A pre-trial hearing held in order to expedite settlement and/or streamline the case about to be heard, in which the parties identify all points of contention and points upon which agreement has been reached.
Directions hearing
A hearing before a trial to encourage the parties to settle and/or reduce the amount of points that the parties are arguing about. Both parties will be able to set out what they can agree on and what they won’t agree to.
Discovery (before a hearing or trial) the production by one party, at the request of the other, of a list all documents currently or formerly in the party’s possession relating to the case.
District Court An intermediate court, presided over by a District Court judge, superior to the lowest level of courts which are presided over by magistrates, and inferior to the Supreme Court.
Dock The stand in which the accused is placed.
A brief or bundle of papers
Double probate A second grant of probate made to one or more of the other executors named in the will who did not initially apply for a grant of probate.
DPP Director of Public Prosecutions.
Duces tecum You will bring with you [L] See also subpoena
Duty solicitor A solicitor rostered to attend a court in order to advise or represent persons without legal representation due to appear in court that day.
Choice or selection by electors or voters
Empanel The process of selecting potential jurors to sit on a criminal trial.
Enforcement The process by which the law seeks to deter breach of statutes, regulations, rules of common law, awards and agreements by individuals and/or organisations. Enforcement takes place when proceedings are taken to penalise persons who might have disobeyed the law or an award.
Estreatment Forfeiture of a guarantee.
Evidence Data tending to support or prove a fact at issue in judicial proceedings.
Ex gratia Out of grace; as a matter of favour (of a payment made without any admission of legal liability). [L]
Ex officio By virtue of office [L]
Ex parte On the application of one party to an action in the absence of the other. [L]
Examination The formal interrogation in a court or tribunal of a person bound by oath or affirmation to answer truthfully.
Executor A person appointed by a testator in his/her will to carry out the provisions of the will.
A person appointed by will to administer the estate of a deceased person.
Exhibit A material object displayed in court to illustrate or amplify verbal evidence.
Extradition The delivery by one state to another of a person subject to criminal proceedings in the receiving state.
Family Court of Australia A federal court operative since 1976 and exercising jurisdiction over family law under the provisions of the Family Law Act 1975.
Finding The determination of a factual issue, as a result of judicial inquiry.
Fine In criminal law, a sum of money payable to the Crown by an offender as punishment.
For mention only A short hearing.
Full bench A sitting of a court or tribunal consisting of more than one judge.
Full Court An appellate or reference court constituted by not less than a prescribed quorum of judges sitting together. Colloquially also, full bench.
Functus officio Having discharged his duty. The phrase is used of an agent or official who, having performed his/her function, has no further authority in a matter [L].
General gaol delivery Appearance of all prisoners in gaol for arraignment on the first day of each month.
Grant of representation Authority to administer a deceased person’s estate, given by an appropriate court. A grant of probate is made to an executor nominated by the deceased in a will, but where for one reason or another there is no executor to act for the deceased, letters of administration are granted to an administrator.
Grant of representation (“GRANT”)
A certificate issued under seal by the Court appointing an administrator, or authenticating the right of an executor, to administer the estate of a deceased person and vesting title to assets in the executor or the administrator.
Guarantor One who gives a guarantee; a surety.
Guardian ad litem A person appointed to stand in the place of a minor (or other under legal disability) made party to a suit.
Guilty Legally responsible for a criminal offence.
Hearing A general term for the presentation of a matter before a tribunal.
Hung jury A jury unable to reach a verdict.
In camera In private, ie, in a judge’s private room or in a closed court.
Freedom from control by an outside influence (for example, judges should be independent of the influence of the government when deciding cases)
Indictable offence A more serious crime, triable by jury. In contrast to summary offence.
Indictment A formal written accusation charging a person with an offence to be tried by jury.
Industrial Court An industrial tribunal constituted by judges or legally qualified persons and dealing with various judicial functions. The court which under the Workers Compensation Act, 1971 has the jurisdiction to hear and determine questions or disputes in relation to the liability to pay workers compensation.
Information A document by means of which criminal proceedings may be initiated in a magistrate’s court, stating the details of the alleged criminal conduct.
Instruct (of a solicitor) to request a barrister to present a particular case in court and to furnish him/her with the information and material necessary to do so.
Interlocutory Interim; temporary or provisional, pending determination or final judgment.
Interrogatory A written question on a relevant issue, submitted by one of the parties in a civil proceeding to the other before the trial, requiring a written response. Interrogatories are part of the discovery process.
Intestate Without having left a valid will, or having left a will which does not dispose entirely of one’s property.
A person dying without a will or a valid will.  A person is said to die partially intestate when a will does not dispose of the whole of the deceased’s assets.  For example, the will may only appoint an executor or dispose of part only of the deceased’s assets; see administration.
Joinder The inclusion of several clauses of action or of several parties in a single proceeding.
JP Justice of the Peace
Judge A judicial officer whose function is to adjudicate on matters brought before a court for decision. In Australia, only those who preside over intermediate or superior courts are generally classified as judges. The title of Judge is applied to judges of the intermediate courts, while the title of ustice is reserved for judges of the superior state courts and all federal courts.
Judgment The court’s decision as to the rights of parties in an action brought before it, sometimes including the reasoning and any interpretation of phrases in legislation or awards which led the judge to the decision.
Judgment by default Judgment against a defendant who fails to take the steps necessary to bring a defence before the court of otherwise respond.
Judgment by direction In civil proceedings in some jurisdictions, a direction by the judge on the application of the defendant that judgment be entered for the defendant on the ground that the plaintiff has failed to establish a prima facie case.
Judgment creditor The party to whom a judgment debt is owed.
Judgment debt A debt which a court has ordered to be paid. The party ordered to pay it is the judgment debtor and the party to whom it is owed is the judgment creditor.
Judgment debtor The party liable to pay a judgment debt.
  1. the power of a State to legislate and enforce its laws;
  2. the power or authority of a court to exercise judgment (over some matter);
  3. the territory over which such power is exercised.
Juror A member of the jury
Jury A body of 12 persons without legal experience, chosen at random from the general community, and given the responsibility of determining questions of fact on the basis of evidence presented in criminal trials on indictment.
Another term for stealing or theft
  1. the process of making or enacting laws;
  2. a law or a body of laws enacted, including not only acts of parliament but also delegated legislation.
Letters of administration
A grant by the Court appointing an administrator to administer the estate of a deceased person.
Letters of administration with the will annexed
A grant by the Court appointing an administrator when there is a will but no executor or when the executor does not or cannot act.
Lien A type of security over property. Under a legal lien, the creditor has the right to retain possession of a debtor’s property until the debt is paid. Where the property retained is connected with the debt owed, the lien is a particular lien; where there is no connection, the lien is a general lien. An equitable lien, however, may exist irrespective of possession and arises by operation of law rather than by express agreement, conferring on the creditor rights over certain property of the debtor.
Litigation Civil action by one party against another.
Magistrate A judicial officer presiding over a court of the lowest tier (ie with summary criminal jurisdiction and a limited civil jurisdiction). They are addressed as ‘Your Honour’ or Sir/Madam. Magistrates don’t usually wear robes and wigs as they do in some of the other courts.
Magistrates Court An inferior court presided over by a magistrate. It usually has summary criminal jurisdiction and a limited civil jurisdiction but may also have a special jurisdiction when sitting as a Youth Court, Coroner’s Court or industrial magistrates' court.
Maintenance order A court order for payment of money towards the support of a spouse of child.
Master A legally qualified officer of a Supreme Court, empowered to perform auxiliary judicial duties.
Matter In Australian constitutional law, a question involving the conflicting claims of specific parties, to be settled by the determination of the court. Case, or parts of a case.
Mens rea (in the analysis and definition of criminal offences) the requisite mental constituent of a particular crime. [L]
Minor Indictable offence An offence punishable by a maximum of five years gaol. It can be heard either by a magistrate or a District Court judge.
Mistrial A trial without legal effect because some fundamental error in the proceedings.
Motion An application or request to a court, generally made orally by a party in open court.
My learned friend The phrase customarily used by counsel when referring to opposing counsel in court.
Native title Title to land based on traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island law and custom. In 1992, the High Court of Australia recognised that Murray Islanders were entitled "as against the whole world, to possession, occupation, use and enjoyment of the lands of the Murray Islands" (see Mabo v Queensland [No 2] 919920 175 CLR1). This meant that Australia could no longer be regarded as terra nullius at the time of colonisation. The extent of the native title of a group of indigenous people depends upon that group’s particular customs and traditions. Native title can be lost in a number of ways, including the indigenous people losing their connection with the land, Crown grants of freehold title, and other grants which are inconsistent with its existence.
Not favouring any side
Next friend A person appointed to stand in the place of a plaintiff who is a minor, or otherwise under legal disability.
No case In civil or criminal proceedings, a submission by one party that the other party has failed to establish a prima facie case. Such a submission, if successful, results in dismissal of the case.
Nolle prosequi A decision by the state or by a plaintiff, in criminal or civil proceedings respectively, not to proceed with all or part of a case. [L]
Non-parole period That part of a prison sentence before the expiry of which a prisoner cannot be released on parole. The non-parole period is, however, subject to remission for good behaviour.
Non-proving executor An executor who is named in the will but who is not applying to prove the will.
Not guilty The plea to a criminal charge where the accused wants to put the prosecution to the task of proving his/her guilt. A verdict of "not guilty" signifies the prosecution’s failure to establish the accused’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt
Notice practitioner A specific practitioner of a representing law firm to whom notices relating to a case party represented by that law firm are specifically directed.
Offence A crime. The word is especially associated with crimes created by statute and capable of being dealt with summarily.
Opening address Counsel’s introductory speech to the court, in which the party’s case and evidence to be adduced in support are outlined.
Order The command or direction by a court or tribunal.
Out of court settlement The private settlement of litigation.
Parole The conditional release of a prisoner before the expiration of the sentence.
Part heard This means that the case has begun.
Particulars (in pleadings) details of a claim or defence.
Party A person, group or organisation who takes part in a transaction or legal proceeding.
Payment into court One of the accepted methods of out-of-court settlement of legal proceedings, entailing payment by the defendant into an account maintained by the court of an amount estimated by the defence as adequate to satisfy the plaintiff’s claim. The plaintiff’s acceptance of the amount before the trial effectively disposes of the action.
Per se By itself. A wrong is actionable per se if it can be sued upon without showing that it has caused actual damage. [L]
Personal applicant
A person who seeks to obtain a grant without the intervention of a practitioner.
Personal representative
An executor or administrator
Personal service The delivery of a writ etc, by leaving it in the presence of the person to be served and drawing his/her attention to its nature.
Perverse verdict A verdict of a jury unreasonable in the light of the evidence; or contrary to the judge’s direction on a point of law.
Plaintiff A person who brings a civil action.
Plea A contention put forward by one party in answer to the accusation of the other party, eg a plea of not guilty in a criminal case.
Plead To make a plea in a civil or criminal proceeding.
Praecipe A form requesting a court officer to issue or prepare some document.
Prasad direction An invitation to a jury by a judge to find the accused not guilty prior to hearing the defence case. The jury is entitled to decline the invitation and elect to continue the trial. At any time thereafter during the defence case, should it wish to do so, the jury can unanimously find the defendant not guilty.
Presiding judicial officer A justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the District Court, master or magistrate. The senior member of a panel of judicial officers is sometimes called the President.
Pre-trial hearing A conference between opposing counsel for the purpose of narrowing down the issues and to seek agreement on which matters should be presented at the trial.
Prima facie At first appearance. [L]
Prima facie case A court case supported by evidence capable of establishing it to the satisfaction of a jury in the absence of any evidence from the opposing side.
Prisoner A defendant who has been placed into custody or on bail.
Privileged will A will made by a privileged testator (ie one in whose case the usual formalities of writing, witnesses, signature etc are waived). Statutes of different jurisdictions define privileged testators as members of the armed forces on actual military service and seamen when at sea.
Probate A document issued by the court certifying that a will has been proved as valid, and authorising the executor named in the will to administer the estate. An executor may not begin to administer an estate until probate has been granted.
Probate A grant by the Court certifying that the deceased’s will is valid or “proved” and that authority to administer the estate has been granted to the executor.
Probate jurisdiction Jurisdiction over grants of representation of the estates of deceased persons, and ancillary matters.
Probation As an alternative to imprisonment of offenders, freedom under supervision, conditional on good behaviour.
Proceedings A general term for civil or criminal cases.
Proof That which establishes the existence or non-existence of an alleged fact.
  1. the institution and conduct of criminal proceedings against an accused;
  2. (in a criminal trial) the side prosecuting as opposed to the defence.
Proving a will Having a will accepted as genuine in order to obtain a grant of representation.
Proving executor The executor who is applying to prove the will
Public Trustee A statutory corporation sole, authorised to perform the functions of executor, administrator and trustee.
QC Queen's Counsel (a member of the senior of the two grades of barrister)
Quash To set aside, cancel.
R Rex (the King) or Regina (the Queen), ie the Crown (in the context of prosecutions by the state).
Rebuttal Evidence called to rebut or destroy the effect of prior evidence.
Recidivism Tendency to relapse into criminal behaviour.
Recognizance An obligation, acknowledged before a court or magistrate, to pay a debt, appear in court, be of good behaviour, etc.
Recovery in value for damage caused (usually the payment of money for replacement or repair)

Individual physical locations of business offices of the Courts Administration Authority throughout South Australia eg Port Adelaide, Mount Gambier, Elizabeth, Adelaide.

The business office of the court where you go to file your claim, defence and any other documents. The registry will inform you when the court will hear your matter and they will also be able to help you with any questions you have about the court process.

Remand To recommit or readmit an accused to custody or to bail respectively, pending further court proceedings.
Renouncing Executor/Administrator The name of the executor/administrator who is renouncing his right and title to a grant of representation.
Renunciation A document filed at the Probate Registry signed by either the executor or administrator renouncing his right and title to a grant of representation.
Reseal The sealing in the probate jurisdiction of a grant of representation which was issued by another court outside of the probate jurisdiction.
Respondent A party called to answer legal proceedings by petition or appeal, including a party responding to an application or notification of an industrial dispute lodged with an industrial tribunal.
Retrial A new trial, ordered in certain circumstances by a court of appeal.
Right of challenge Each accused person and the Crown has the right to challenge the selection of up to three jurors before they take their seats in the jury box, without giving any reason, by simply saying ‘challenge’.
Sentence The determination by the court of the penalty to be imposed on a convicted person.
Sheriff An officer with responsibility for the service of process, the enforcement of civil judgments and the provision of juries.
Sine die Without appointing a day on which to reconvene.
SM Stipendiary Magistrate.
Statement Written evidence stating facts.
Stay of proceedings The permanent or temporary discontinuance of an action, by order of the court.
Subpoena A writ issued by a court ordering a person, with penalty for non-compliance, to come before it to give evidence or to produce relevant documents.
Sue To initiate an action in civil law against another person or body for a perceived wrong.
Summary jurisdiction The jurisdiction, exercised by a magistrate’s court, to try persons accused of minor criminal offences without a jury.
Summary offence A minor criminal offence triable before a magistrate without a jury. In contrast to indictable offence.
Summing up A judge’s review of the evidence and explanation of the law relevant to the case for the benefit of the jury before they retire to consider their verdict.
Summons An originating notice calling on a person to appear before a court for a specified purpose.
Surety One who gives another an undertaking to answer for any debt or default of a third party in respect of a dealing between the second and third parties.
Suspended sentence A sentence pronounced but not carried into effect, as long as the offender does not offend again within a given period.
Taxation of costs Scrutiny and adjustment by a court officer of costs claimed to have been incurred in litigation.
Time of holding (for example, a position or title)
Testator The maker of a will.
Tipstaff An officer of a higher court whose function is to maintain order in the courtroom.
Trustee company A company authorised by statute or by its own constitution to act as a trustee, executor or administrator, as required.
Under oath A witness having sworn to tell the truth. This can be done by swearing on a bible, Koran etc. Or by secular affirmation.
Undertaking A promise, pledge or guarantee, especially one made by a party in the course of legal proceedings.
Voir Dire A hearing by the judge in the course of, but apart from, the main trial (and in the absence of the jury where the trial is by jury), in order to settle a question raised by either party concerning any fact which has to be assumed for the purposes of the trial proper, eg the hostility, expertise, or competence of witnesses, or the voluntariness of confessions. It is sometimes called the "trial within a trial".

Written authority to do some act, eg to carry out a search or make an arrest.

Bench warrant - used for non-appearance of a prisoner on bail and authorises their arrest and appearance before the court.

Will A person’s declaration of intention, oral or written, concerning arrangements to take effect on or after his/her death. Strictly speaking, a will comprises a person’s testamentary instruments, although the term is sometimes used for the main instrument, as distinct from a codicil.
A document whereby a testator disposes of the testator’s property on death and usually appointing an executor to administer the estate.
One who tells what she or he has seen, heard or otherwise observed
Youth Court A special court in each Australian state and territory with jurisdiction over offences committed by children and young persons up to the age of 17 or 18. The trial is summary, without a jury, in a closed court.