P, Q, R

  • paramount -

    The most important thing, above anything else. An act of paramount force is one that cannot be made subject to another for its operation.

  • paramountcy principle -

    The family law principle that the welfare of children is the most important consideration to be taken into account when court orders are being made.

  • parenting order -

    A court order for the care of children when their separated or divorced parents cannot reach agreement on a parenting plan. The order covers matters such as where the child will live, contact with the parents and financial support.

  • parenting plan -

    A written agreement between parents who are separated or divorced, covering arrangements for the care and financial support of their children, including where the children will live and who will pay for what.

  • parol agreement -

    A verbal agreement.

  • parol evidence -

    Verbal evidence. The parol evidence rule says that where a written agreement exists, verbal evidence cannot be used to change the plain meaning of that agreement as written.

  • parole -

    To free a prisoner after they have served a minimum term, but before the end of their sentence. While on parole the person may be subject to conditions such as having to report regularly to police.

  • party -

    A person or organisation directly involved in a court case. Parties include the plaintiff or applicant, the defendant, and any third party added to the action, but not independent witnesses.

  • party–party costs -

    Legal costs of one party paid by the other party, as ordered by the court. Most often paid by the losing party to the successful party. See also costs; indemnity costs.

  • pecuniary -

    Involving money. A pecuniary loss is a loss of money and a pecuniary penalty is a fine.

  • perjury -

    The criminal offence of lying under oath, when questioned in court or making a sworn statement. See also affirmation; oath.

  • permanent care order -

    A court order that a child live with someone who is not a parent of the child but now has long-term care and responsibility for the child.

  • perpetrator -

    A person who commits a crime. See also offender.

  • perpetual succession -

    The fact that a company or organisation continues even if one or more of its members dies. Legal ownership of its property is not interrupted by death because everything is owned by the company or group as a whole.

  • person responsible -

    A person who makes decisions about medical treatment for a person who cannot give informed consent to it themselves. See also informed consent.

  • personal property -

    Any property that is not freehold land (real property).

  • personal property security -

    A legal charge over a chattel or other personal property that guarantees repayment of a debt. The charge stops the debtor selling the property until the debt is paid off, and debtor agrees to give up the property to cover repayments if the debtor fails to pay. Similar to a mortgage over real property (land or real estate).

  • personal safety intervention order -

    A court order made to protect a person from violence, intimidation or harassment by someone who is not a family member. See also intervention order; family violence intervention order.

  • plaintiff -

    A person who begins a civil action against another person.

  • pleadings -

    Written statements submitted by both parties before a civil action to set out the claims being made by each party.

  • police brief -

    Evidence that the police prosecutor uses to prove the guilt of a person charged with a criminal offence.

  • portability -

    Able to be moved. For example, mobile phone numbers and health insurance contribution periods are portable (can be moved between suppliers). You can take them with you if you change from one service provider to another.

  • possession -

    (1) Having control over property. Possession is not the same as ownership. For example, a bicycle you have borrowed from a friend is in your possession but you do not own it. (2) Having illegal drugs on your person or property.

  • power of attorney -

    A formal, written legal document in which one person gives another person power to make decisions or take actions for them in certain situations. See also enduring power; supportive attorney.

  • pre-hearing conference -

    An informal, compulsory and confidential conference between the parties in a court action to try to reach a settlement or clarify any matters in dispute before the full hearing.

  • pre-sentence report -

    A report the court considers before sentencing a young person. It is usually prepared by the Department of Human Services (Victoria).

  • precedent -

    The doctrine that courts must follow past rulings of higher courts in very similar cases. For example, the County Court of Victoria must follow relevant rulings of the Supreme Court of Victoria. The precedent comes from the reasons a judge has given for their decision in a case. See also case law.

  • prerogative writ -

    An order made by the Supreme Court of Victoria or the High Court of Australia to cancel the claimed legal effect of a decision (certiorari), or to require a body to do something (mandamus), or to prohibit a body from acting outside its authority (prohibition). See also ultra vires.

  • prescribed owners corporation -

    An owners corporation that levies annual fees in excess of $200 000 in a financial year, or is responsible for a complex of more than 100 lots, including any accessory lots such as car parks or storage areas.

  • presentment -

    A document listing the charges against an accused. It is given to the court to begin a court case.

  • presumption of innocence -

    The principle in criminal law that every person is innocent until a court finds them guilty.

  • prima facie -

    Something that seems to be the case, on the face of it. For example, if a court requires a prima facie case to exist before a person can start a legal action, there must be enough evidence to suggest, without going into the case in full, that the claim could succeed.

  • prima facie case -

    A serious case which has a real possibility of ultimate success.

  • prima facie evidence -

    Enough evidence to convict a person of an offence, if the ‘best case’ of the prosecution is accepted. Prima facie evidence must be capable of proving the elements of the offence beyond reasonable doubt. However, it is always open to the defendant to raise some kind of defence, so the prosecution case may still fail in the end.

  • primary victim -

    Someone injured or killed as a direct result of an act of violence, not a secondary victim.

  • principal relief -

    The main things a plaintiff in a civil case is seeking to get from a defendant by taking them to court. It can include getting compensation from the defendant or having them do, or stop doing, something.

  • private nuisance -

    Interference with another person’s enjoyment and use of their land. Examples include neighbours making noise late at night and smells from uncollected rubbish.

  • private ruling -

    An opinion given by the Australian Taxation Office to an individual taxpayer. The ruling is binding on the ATO, so if the taxpayer acts according to the opinion, the ATO cannot take the taxpayer to court if the opinion later turns out to be wrong.

  • privative clause  -

    A provision in a statute that seeks to prevent judicial review of decisions made under that statute.

  • privilege against self-incrimination -

    An accused person’s right in criminal cases, subject to certain limits, not to do or say anything that could be used as evidence against them in a court case.

  • privileged information -

    Information that is protected and cannot be used in court.

  • privity of contract -

    The principle that only the actual parties to an agreement can be bound by it or go to court to enforce it.

  • pro bono -

    Free or reduced-fee assistance in a legal matter.

  • probation -

    A non-custodial sentence that is served in the community and which does not involve a prison term. It requires good behaviour and supervision by a probation officer for a specified period. See also intensive correction order (ICO).

  • procure -

    (1) Obtain. For example, police can procure evidence from a crime scene. (2) To encourage or influence a person to commit a crime.

  • professional indemnity insurance -

    A type of insurance that covers a person against a claim that they did not take enough care in doing their job. Lawyers and prescribed owners corporations, for example, are required by law to take out professional indemnity insurance.

  • prohibited name -

    A name that cannot be registered because it is not in the public interest to allow it. For example, an obscene or offensive name, a name that is so long that it is totally impractical, or a name that claims connection with the Olympic Games, can be refused registration.

  • prohibition -

    An order made by the Supreme Court of Victoria or the High Court of Australia prohibiting a body from acting outside its authority. See also jurisdiction; prerogative writ; ultra vires.

  • prohibition -

    An order to stop a lower court or tribunal making a decision in a case.

  • prohibition notice -

    A safety notice that bans some activity that could be a risk to workers or others at a workplace. 

  • prosecution -

    The party presenting evidence in court on behalf of the state or Commonwealth government against a person accused of committing a crime. Also called the Crown.

  • protected property -

    In bankruptcy, goods owned by a bankrupt that cannot be taken away and sold to pay creditors. This includes clothes, ordinary household furniture, some trade tools, and a car of low value. Compare divisible property.

  • protection application -

    An application to a court by the Department of Human Services (Victoria) for an author­isation to protect a child from harm. If the application is successful the court may authorise the removal of a child from their family, if the child is in danger of harm because the family or other carers are unable or unwilling to protect them.

  • protection order -

    An order made by a court in response to a protection application. This may involve removal of the child from the family.

  • prothonotary -

    The title of the chief clerk of the Supreme Court of Victoria, the equivalent of the registrar of other courts. The prothonotary is responsible for the court’s administrative functions, and can review costs and fees charged to parties, conduct mediations and bring charges for contempt of court if someone breaks the court’s rules or shows disrespect towards it.

  • provable debt -

    In a bankruptcy, a debt accepted by the trustee for proportional payment from available funds. The creditor receives a share of the bankrupt’s estate and the bankrupt is released from having to pay the full amount of the debt.

  • proxy -

    A person who has been given power to do something on behalf of another person, such as voting for them at a meeting. The document authorising the action is also called a proxy, or a proxy form. 

  • prudential -

    Honest and careful conduct in finance and business management.

  • psychosurgery -

    Brain surgery used as a way of treating mental disorders.

  • public nuisance -

    A nuisance that interferes with the rights of members of the public. For example, unauthorised blocking of a public road so that drivers could not use it.

  • public officer -

    A person appointed to act on behalf of a company or an incorporated association in any public dealings.

  • pursuant to -

    By authority of, or in accordance with, or as directed by, some court order or legislation.

  • qualified privilege -

    A defence that gives protection against a defamation lawsuit. It can be used if information was not given to cause harm, and was given to someone who had a public interest in getting it and who acted reasonably when they published it. See also absolute privilege.

  • quantum -

    An amount. For example, the quantum of damages awarded by a court is the amount of money the defendant must pay.

  • quorum -

    The number of people who have to be present in a meeting for a vote passed by the meeting to be valid. For example, one-third of all the senators have to be present in parliament for a Senate vote to be valid.

  • real property -

    Land, and any permanent buildings on the land. Also called real estate or real property. Compare personal property.

  • rebuttable -

    Capable of being proved wrong in court. Compare deemed.

  • recognisance -

    A bond or undertaking made to show a person understands what is required and will do something as promised. For example, an accused person can undertake to a court on recognisance that they will appear at a later date for their hearing. A recognisance may include a payment, known as a security, to back up the commitment.

  • referral authority -

    An authority or government department to which a planning permit must be referred for advice before it is granted.

  • registrar -

    The officer in charge of the administrative section of a court, which is known as the registry. See also prothonotary.

  • registry -

    The administrative section of a court that accepts documents filed with the court and also handles some public enquiries.

  • regulations or rules -

    Laws made by a body other than parliament but under its authority. These are made by the Governor of Victoria on the advice of the Victorian government, known as the Governor in Council. The rules are prepared and administered by government departments and statutory bodies under authority granted by a relevant Act of parliament. See also delegated legislation; local laws.

  • related victim -

    A person with a close family or personal relationship to a person who was killed as a result of an act of violence. 

  • release -

    A document signed by parties ending a court action. The party who began the action agrees to drop it, often in exchange for a payment by the other party. Also called terms of settlement.

  • remand in custody -

    An order that a person charged with an offence but has not been convicted, be kept in police custody or imprisoned until they go to court for a hearing.

  • remission -

    A reduction in the length of a prison term.

  • renewable insurance policy -

    Insurance provided for a particular period of time, of a kind that is usual to renew at the end of that period of time.

  • repairer’s lien -

    The right of a repairer to hold repaired goods until payment for their repair is received.

  • repeal -

    To cancel the whole or part of an Act of parliament or a regulation.

  • repossession -

    Taking back goods bought on credit from a debtor who still owes money on them. Repossession is an action commonly taken by creditors when a debtor fails to pay a loan on a large item with some resale value, such as a car.

  • represented person -

    A person whose financial affairs are controlled by an administrator because they are not capable of managing their own affairs due to disability, mental illness, injury or other incapacitating circumstances. State Trustees Limited is the administrator 

  • rescinded -

    Revoked or cancelled.

  • rescission -

    The ending of a contract in a manner that places the parties to the contract in the position they were in before the contract existed (where restitution is possible). For example, in a rescission of a contract for the sale of a car the seller would get back the car and the buyer would get back their purchase money. See also termination.

  • residence order -

    A parenting order that states who a child will live with – usually one of their parents – after a separation or divorce.

  • respondent -

    (1) A defendant in a civil case that has been appealed to a higher court. (2) A person against whom some originating motion has been issued by an applicant. See also appellant.

  • responsible authority -

    The government department or agency that is named in an Act of parliament as the body with power to exercise authority in a particular situation, for example granting permits or conducting inspections.

  • restitution -

    Making good, returning things to the way they were. For example a court can order restitution of stolen goods to someone who is entitled to them; a party to a contract that has been rescinded is entitled to restitution that restores the status quo.

  • restraining order -

    In family law, a court order that prohibits someone from harassing or molesting another person. See also intervention order; personal safety intervention order; family violence intervention order.

  • restraint of trade -

    A commercial arrangement that prevents a business from freely buying or selling goods or services. For example, a seller may promise the buyer of a business that the seller will not set up a new business within 10 kilometres for 4 years. A contract like this cannot be enforced if it goes on for too long, or covers a very wide area.

  • restricted community treatment order (RCTO) -

    Release into the community of a patient on a hospital order, on certain conditions, if treatment can be safely given in the community. 

  • retrospective law -

    A law that applies to something that happened in the past. For example, a law passed in 2012 that put a tax on car sales in 2011 would be a retrospective law.

  • reversed onus of proof -

    The situation where the responsibility to prove something to a court is changed, so that the party that usually does not have the burden of proof now does have it. For example, in a strict liability offence, it is the defendant who has to prove they have a defence. See also onus of proof.

  • review on the merits -

    Review of a case by a tribunal based on a full rehearing of the facts. This is different from an appeal that deals only with arguments about the law.

  • revocation -

    Cancellation of a previous law or legal document. For example, when a new will is made, the old one is usually revoked.

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