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Acceptance of Offer

A document used to accept a formal offer to settle.


In family law cases, access refers to the right of a parent (or another important person to a child, like a grandparent) who does not have custody of a child to spend time with the child/ren on a regular basis. Access usually includes the right to request and receive information on the child/renís health, education and well-being. Types of access include reasonable access, specified access, and supervised access.

Reasonable Access

A type of access which allows the non-custodial parent (or other important person such as a grandparent) to visit with the child/ren at agreed upon times. Reasonable access gives parents the flexibility to make their own arrangements. Reasonable access works where the parents can agree upon what is reasonable.

Specified Access

A type of access which sets out certain times for the non-custodial parent (or another important person, like a grandparent) to be able to spend time with the child/ren.

Supervised Access

A type of access which allows the non-custodial parent (or another important person, like a grandparent) to spend time with the child/ren but only with another adult present. Usually, the supervising adult will be named in the order or agreement. Supervised access is generally ordered in situations where the Court believes it is necessary for the welfare or best interests of the child/ren.

Access Schedule

If parents can agree on a time and place for access, they can make the decisions surrounding this issue. However, if a decision cannot be agreed upon, the Court will likely impose an "access schedule". It is a schedule which outlines when the child/ren will spend time with the parent (or other person who has access).


A person or company charged with a crime; the defendant in a criminal trial.


A finding of "not guilty" in a criminal case.


[also called Law, Legislation, Statute]
The laws of the country and provinces are called Acts. Acts are also referred to as statutes and legislation.


A legal proceeding in a civil case.

Actus Reus

Latin for "guilty act." A voluntary action or omission that, when intentional, results in a criminal offence.


[also called Postponement]
The temporary delay in a Court proceeding. A case might be adjourned for a few hours, a few days or for months.

Administrator (Estate Trustee)

A person appointed by the court to administer the estate of a person who has died without a will or the estate of an executor named in a will.


The process in which a person, usually a child, becomes a legal member of a new family. Once an adoption is finalized, the person becomes the legal child of the adoptive parent(s) and the parental rights of the biological parent(s) are


A written statement setting out facts and evidence that is sworn or affirmed to be true. The statement is sworn to or solemnly affirmed by the person making those statements before a person authorized to administer oaths.

Affidavit of Service

An affidavit certifying that a document has been served on a party.


A solemn declaration made by a person to tell the truth in court or in an affidavit. Lying in an affirmation is perjury, a criminal offence.

Age of Majority

The age of majority is 19 years in Newfoundland and Labrador. The age of majority is the age when a person is legally considered an adult for certain purposes. For example, generally when a person is 19, he/she is able to independently enter into contracts. As well, he/she is considered an adult for the purpose of child support which is generally paid until a person reaches 19 (although it is continued in special cases, such as when the person is pursuing post-secondary education). Please note that, under the criminal law, a person can be charged as an adult when they are 18.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Resolving conflict through means other than going to court. Examples of alternative dispute resolution include: arbitration and mediation.
A process where a neutral third party, selected by the disputing parties, makes a decision on the issue in dispute.
A process where a neutral third party (mediator), selected by the disputing parties, assists parties to reach agreement on issues in dispute.

Amicus Curiae

Latin for "friend of the court." A lawyer who assists the court during the course of a hearing, to represent a position or interest, usually at the court's request.


A declaration by a judge that a marriage is invalid. If a marriage is annulled, it is as if the marriage never legally occurred.


A response to an allegation or an application.


After a judge has made a decision in a trial or hearing, if either party is not satisfied, they may be entitled to "appeal" the decision to a higher Court. This means asking a higher Court to review the decision. The person seeking to appeal must have proper grounds to appeal. This means there must be a legal reason to appeal (for example, the judge made a mistake when applying the law to the case).

Appeal Period

The time limit within which an appeal can be made.


The party or person bringing an appeal.


A person who makes or starts an application in court.


  1. The commencement of a proceeding in a court by way of filing the appropriate court form.
  2. A request made to the court.


  1. To take or seize.
  2. In child protection cases, to remove a child from his or her parents or the person having care of the child and take him or her to a place of safety. Child protection workers and police have the authority to do this.


The initial step in a criminal proceeding to confirm the identity of the accused, formally read the charges, and ask how the accused pleads.


Money that is owed to a party under a court order or agreement, but has not been paid.


  1. The determination of the rate or amount of something. For example, damages or a fine imposed.
  2. In family law cases, an analysis by a qualified professional who investigates, assesses and reports on the needs of the child(ren) and the ability of the parties to meet those needs.
  3. In criminal law cases, a determination by a qualified person of the mental condition of an accused person.
  4. In civil cases, a determination of the capacity of an individual to manage property, to make personal care decisions, or to properly retain and instruct counsel.


  1. A term for a lawyer, more often used in the United States.
  2. A person who has been appointed under a power of attorney by a capable grantor to act on their behalf. An Attorney can be for either property issues, or personal care issues, or both.

Attorney General

The principal law officer of "the Crown"; the Minister of the provincial or federal government responsible for the administration of justice.

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A commonly used term for a Recognizance of Bail. When a person is not released by the arresting officer, the person must be taken before a judge to determine whether the person should remain in custody pending trial. The term "bail" is often used to refer to the money paid as security for the person showing up the next time he or she is required to appear in court.

Balance of Probabilities

The burden of proof in a civil trial. The court must be convinced the evidence shows it is more likely than not that one side is right.
  1. Term used to describe the legal profession as a whole.
  2. A barrier that separates the judge's bench and the front row of lawyers' seats from the public area of the court.


Popularly used to mean lawyers who appear in court to argue cases. In Canada (except Quebec), all lawyers are barristers and solicitors. In England and other countries, historically barristers attended court while solicitors did not.


  1. The judge's seat in a court.
  2. Judges, singly or collectively.

Best Interests of the Child

The test that a Court uses to make decisions about custody and access. The childrenís needs and wellbeing are always the most important considerations. The Judge will consider many factors when deciding what is in the childís best interest. The Judge must decide what is best for the child, not what is best for either of the parents.

Bill of Costs

A document setting out the amount owed by one party to another for legal costs incurred in a lawsuit which are calculated based on the tariff of costs in the Rules of Court.


  1. Mandatory (required)
  2. When applied to a court decision, required to be followed in cases with similar circumstances.

Book of Authorities

A bound book containing all of the statutes and case law the party is relying on to support his or her case. Copies are made for the opposing parties and the court.

Book of Documents

A bound book containing all of the documents that are to be presented as evidence at trial. Copies are made for the opposing parties and the court.


A violation or infraction of a law or obligation.

Brief/Legal Brief

A written statement summarizing the arguments of a case. It contains factual and legal arguments, as well as references to any legislation or cases that are being relied on to support those arguments.



A matter brought before the court for a decision.

Case Law

Judge-made law and legal decisions from previous cases that form precedents for future cases. Decisions of courts relating to a particular matter or issue. Case law from the same level of court may be persuasive, but the court does not have to follow it. Case law from a higher court is binding on the lower court. For example, the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador must follow the decisions made by the Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Supreme Court of Canada. Case law is also called jurisprudence.

Case Management

A process that gives parties in dispute scheduled opportunities to discuss the case in order to streamline proceedings.

Case Management Meeting

An informal meeting between a judge and parties or their counsel to discuss and to potentially resolve issues related to the management of the issues and Court proceedings with a view to achieving the following purposes: (a) ensuring that maximum benefit is gained from each trial day; (b) making more efficient use of Court resources; (c) ensuring adequate and accurate amounts of time are reserved for trial; and (d) providing for the public interest in access to justice in a timely and cost effective manner.

Certify a Copy

To formally acknowledge in writing that a copy is an accurate copy of the original document. The certification of a document acts as an assurance that the photocopy is a true and accurate copy of the original. This is useful where it is impractical to provide or show the original document.

Cause of Action

The legal claim against the other party.

Certificate of Divorce

The final document issued by the Court at the end of a divorce proceeding. Either party may apply for this certificate 31 days after the divorce has been granted for a fee. This document says that the divorce is final and means that the parties are free to remarry.

Child Support

The amount a parent pays, usually to the other parent, for the financial support of a child under a court order or agreement.

Child Support Guidelines

The Child Support Guidelines are the rules and tables used to determine how much child support should be paid.

Children and Youth Care and Protection Act

This provincial law applies primarily to child protection proceedings such as those where the Manager of Child, Youth and Family Services has taken a child into care and asks the Court to determine if the child should be returned to a parent or left in the custody of the Director either temporarily or permanently. It is the law that child protection social workers must operate under in Newfoundland & Labrador.

Certificate of Readiness

A short document that states the parties will be ready to proceed with the trial on the date scheduled, the current estimate of the length of the trial and that the party submitting the form has completed all examinations for discovery.

Civil Litigation

A lawsuit that is brought to enforce, redress, or protect a private or civil right. It is initiated by the person who actually suffered the effects of the harm. Civil litigation usually deals with torts, contracts and other private disputes.

Cohabitation Agreement

Agreement by two people who are not married to each other, but are living together as a couple or will be living together. The agreement normally outlines their rights and obligations to each other during the time they live together, or in the event they separate.

Common Law

Legal customs and past decisions of judges (case law), in contrast to statute law.

Common Law Relationship

Two people are considered to be in a common law relationship when they live together in a conjugal (married-like) relationship without having been legally married.


To give permission or agree to something.

Consent Order

An order made by the court based upon the agreement of the parties.


A written or oral agreement that is legally binding.

Corollary Relief Judgment

A Court order that is issued as part of a divorce proceeding and usually addresses such issues as custody, access, child support, spousal support, and the division of matrimonial assets.

Contempt of Court

Disobeying an order of the court or conduct that interferes with the administration of justice. It may be punishable by fine or imprisonment.


Money spent to carry out or defend a lawsuit which a party is allowed to recover. The unsuccessful party is usually ordered to pay a part of the expenses associated with the successful partyís litigation. Costs are intended to help compensate the successful party for his/her legal expenses as a result of being in Court. Costs may also be ordered against a person who fails to follow the Courtís directions or instructions before or during a step in the case.


A document that sets out any claim the defendant might have against the plaintiff or another party related to the lawsuit started by the plaintiff. It is an independent action raised by a defendant that can be tried with the plaintiffís claim. The counterclaim acts as the defendantís statement of claim against those parties.

Court of Appeal

The provinceís highest court. This court hears appeals from the Trial Division.

Court Officer

Court staff who work at the court. In the courtroom court officers open the court, announce the judge, announce cases, record the proceedings and administer oaths for witnesses. Court officers also have other duties outside their courtroom work.

Court Registry

The official record keeper of the pleadings and all other documents that are filed in relation to a case. They are located in courthouses all over the province. Each court registry maintains its own files for each action begun in that registry.


Where the opposing party asks your witness questions. It is used to weaken the effect of the witnessís testimony, to discredit the witness and to elicit evidence in favour of the cross-examining party.

Custodial Parent

The parent who has legal custody of their child/ren.

Custody (Child Support Guidelines)

In the Child Support context, custody refers to the percentage of time a child spends in each parentís home. It has no meaning regarding parenting or decision making.

Custody (Parenting)

This describes the parenting arrangement made for the care of the children after parents separate. Custody refers to decision making and responsibility for the children. There are different types of custody arrangements.



An amount of money to compensate for loss or injury.


Default is the failure to do something. Examples are not obeying the terms of a Court order or not filing documents the Court needs.

Default Judgment

A final judgment that is awarded when one party has not complied with the Rules or fails to defend the claim against him or her.


The person sued in a civil lawsuit started by a notice of civil claim.

Direct Examination

Where a party asks their witness questions. Direct examination is also called examination-in-chief.


Out-of-pocket expenses incurred in lawsuit (e.g., court filing fees).


The termination of a lawsuit by the plaintiff or petitioner using a document called a notice of discontinuance.

Discovery Process

The way the parties in an action started by a notice of civil claim discover what happened in the case. It allows the parties to collect information in order to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the case. The process can include: discovery of documents, examinations for discovery, interrogatories, pre-trial examination of witnesses, and notices to admit.


The legal ending of a marriage.

Divorce Judgment

An order from the Court that says that two people are divorced. Normally the divorce judgment becomes effective on the 31st day after the date of the judgment.


A list of the Court matters to be heard on a particular day in Court.

Domestic Contract

In family law, a contract between people setting out their obligations towards and expectations of each other. Types of domestic agreements include: marriage contracts, cohabitation agreements and separation agreements.

Domestic Violence

Any or all of the many different forms of abuse and mistreatment that people may experience in their intimate domestic relationships.



Where one party takes measures under the law or with permission of the court to compel the other party to obey a court order.


The property that a person owns or has a legal interest in. Often used to describe the property after the person's death.


Oral and written statements, information and objects presented to the court to prove or disprove the facts that are necessary to a claim or to a defence. It can be given by witnesses or can be presented to the court in the form of documents or other things.

Ex Parte

Latin term, meaning made in the absence of the opposing party. In certain circumstances, applications or motions brought by a party may be heard without notice to the other party.


The questioning of a witness under oath or affirmation.
Direct Examination
The questioning of a witness in a trial or other proceeding, conducted by the party who called the witness to testify.
Cross Examination
The examination of a witness by an opposing party to develop or test the truth of evidence given by the witness during direct examination.

Examinations for Discovery

A meeting where one party asks an opposing party a series of questions. The examination takes place in the presence of a court reporter who records each question and its answer and then provides a transcript (a written record) of the examination. The party answering questions must take an oath or give a solemn affirmation that they will tell the truth. No judges or court officials are present during examinations for discovery.


A document, record, or piece of physical evidence admitted as evidence in court or before a tribunal. A document attached to and made a part of an affidavit.


A witness who has developed skill and knowledge on a subject and gives evidence to help the court understand technical and scientific issues raised by the pleadings. He or she may give opinions in areas that would not normally be within the judgeís knowledge. The expert must be shown to possess the necessary skill and qualifications in the area in which the opinion is sought. An expert can give evidence in person or by writing a report called an expert report.

Expert Report

A report by an expert that includes the expertís qualifications, the instructions given to the expert about the lawsuit, and the expertís opinion.



A document in a court case in which a party sets out a concise argument, stating the facts and laws relied on.

Federal Court

This court has jurisdiction over all matters involving federal laws and tribunals.


  1. A charge for services.
  2. Court fees payable in various proceedings as set out by regulation.


Taking a document to the court registry to be stamped and placed in the court file.

Financial Statement

Document that sets out a person's income, expenses, property, debts and liabilities.

Final Judgment

A courtís final decision about the rights and obligations of the parties in a case.

Final Submission

A statement made after all the evidence has been presented at trial. A party, or their lawyer, summarizes the fact they have proven and points out anything the other party has failed to prove. A party may also discuss any case law that supports their case. It is also called a closing statement.

Formal Offer to Settle

A document used to make an offer to settle according to the Rules. Sets out what the party is willing to accept or do to settle the case. It is not filed with the court or mentioned to the judge until after a judgment is released.



A third party who owes money to a debtor, but must instead pay it to the court or a government agency, to the benefit of a creditor.


A process whereby a person who has a court order for payment can demand money owed to a debtor by someone else. Most often, people garnish wages or bank accounts.

Guardian/Guardian Ad Litem

A person given legal authority by law or court order to have custody of another person or their property or both, because they are not able to manage their own affairs.



Generic [general] label to describe a court proceeding.


Testimony that is given by a witness who relates what others have said.




Imputed Income

In family law, when a judge finds that the amount of income a parent discloses is not accurate, the judge may attribute additional income to that person for purposes of calculating child support. A judge can also impute income when no income information is provided.

In Camera

Private/closed; said of hearings that are not open to the public or the media.

Income Support

Financial benefits paid by the Provincial government to adults in the province to meet their daily living expenses.


A formal document containing the indictable offences upon which an accused will be tried. Indictments are used in the Supreme Court.

Inherent Jurisdiction

A power vested in the court that is does not come from a statute or law, but from the very nature of the court as a superior court. Courts use this power to maintain their authority and to prevent the abuse of court processes.


A court order requiring someone to do something or to refrain from doing something.

Interlocutory Application

One party asks the court to make an order, which in most cases is not a final one. These applications often deal with issues that arise in the course of a lawsuit that require a court order.

Interim/Interlocutory Order

An order that is valid for a specified period of time or until there is a final order. It usually directs one of the parties to carry out a step in the proceeding before the trial is heard. It does not finally dispose of the case or claim before the Court.

Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act

The Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act and the Regulations made under it apply where either the person who is seeking a support order or the person who is being asked to pay support lives outside the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It can be used to obtain a new order for child, spousal or partner support or to vary an existing order. It cannot be used to apply for or to vary an order with respect to custody of or access to a child.


A series of written questions addressed to one party by the other party to be answered in writing. The questions are usually straightforward to answer. The answers must be provided in the form of an affidavit.


Dying without having made a valid will.


Joint Custody

A parenting arrangement where parents make major decisions about the children together. The day-to-day decisions for the children are made by the parents whom the children are with. The children may reside with one parent the majority of the time or they may spend equal amounts of time with both parents.

Jointly and Severally Liable

Where two or more individuals are liable for the same wrong the person wronged may bring an action against all of the individuals, or against one of the individuals for the full amount.


The person authorized to determine legal matters in court.
Puisne Judge
A judge or justice other than the chief judge or chief justice of a court.
Supernumerary Judge
A judge who has the option to retire, but who instead chooses to sit half of the time of a full-time judge.


A judicial decision; the determination of a court; a court's sentence or decision on the major question in a proceeding.

Judgment Creditor

In civil cases, a person who is owed money under a court judgment or order. The term "recipient" is used in support enforcement cases.

Judgment Debtor

In civil cases, a person who owes money under a court judgment or order. The term "payor" is used in support enforcement cases.

Judicial review

A courtís power to review the actions of other branches or levels of government as provided for by law. A courtís review of a lower courtís or an administrative bodyís factual or legal findings.


The legal authority of a court to hear a particular matter.


A group of people sworn to deliver a verdict after considering evidence delivered to them concerning the issue.


  1. The principle of giving every person his or her due.
  2. A judge.

Justice of the Peace

A judicial officer who has authority to do a variety of things in criminal matters, including, issuing warrants and hearing bail applications and provincial offence trials.


Leave of the Court

Permission of the judge or court.

Legal Aid

Legal services mainly funded by government to assist those who are financially unable to retain a lawyer privately. The Newfoundland and Labrador Legal Aid Commission administers NL's legal aid program, which includes legal aid offices, duty counsel, and certificates for private lawyers.

Limitation Period

The statutory time limit for commencing a legal proceeding. Statutory means set out in law.

Legal Advice

Advice from a lawyer about the law as it applies to a particular case. It usually includes information about whether a party should do something or why a party should do something.

Legal Information

General information about the law or how to do something in a lawsuit.

Limitation Period

The period of time that a party is allowed to wait before starting a case. The Limitation Act sets out different time periods for different types of cases. Most limitation periods range from 2 to 6 years and start on the day the event being sued over happened, or the day the party found out about his or her possible claim. After a limitation period has passed a lawsuit cannot be started.

Liquidated Damages

A claim where the amount sued for can easily be determined by referring to documents or other evidence.

List of Documents

A list of all the documents that relate to the issues in a case and are in a partyís possession or under a partyís power and control. The list also includes any documents that may be privileged. This list is provided to the other parties in the discovery process and tells them where the documents can be examined.


Legal proceedings before a court.


Marriage Contract

A contract entered into by two persons who are married to each other, or who intend to marry each other, in which they agree on their respective rights and obligations during the marriage, or in case of separation, divorce, annulment or death.

Matrimonial Home

The matrimonial home is the home and land that spouses shared together as a family. It could include a house, trailer, mobile home, and condominium. Under the Family Law Act, both spouses have an equal share of the matrimonial home, regardless of whether it was previously owned by one spouse, how and when it was acquired, or if it was purchased in only one name. This right can be varied by Court order or contract.

Matrimonial Property

A term defined by the Family Law Act. Matrimonial property includes all property acquired by either or both spouses during the marriage with some exceptions. The exceptions include: gifts, inheritances, trusts, settlements, personal injury awards, personal effects, business assets, property exempted under a marriage contract or separation agreement, family heirlooms and property acquired after separation. Other exemptions may apply.


Mediation is a non-binding process for working out disagreements with the help of a trained, impartial person (a mediator). Mediation allows disputes to be settled outside of court. Mediators do not judge who is wrong or right. They encourage people to focus on common interests and work towards a mutually acceptable solution.

Mens Rea

Latin term for "guilty mind." The intent to commit the offence.


A process used to make a request to a judge for an order, either before, during, or after a trial or other proceeding.



Any form of non-facilitated communication that allows the parties to discuss the steps they need to take to resolve the dispute. Negotiations can take place between the parties directly, or through others (such as lawyers) acting on behalf of the parties.

Notice of Application

A document that tells the parties and the court the date of an interlocutory application.

Notice of Civil Claim

A document that notifies both the court and the people who are being sued that a lawsuit has started. This document sets out the facts of the claim, the legal consequences arising from those facts, the remedy or relief the plaintiff is asking for and where the trial is going to be held.

Notice of Withdrawal of Offer

A document that withdraws a formal offer to settle.

Notice to Admit

A document that contains information and documents relevant to the case. This document is sent to the other party who will then admit or deny the information and documents. Information and documents that have been admitted by the other party do not need to be proven by a witness at trial.



A solemn declaration, followed by a swearing to God or an honoured deity, whereby the person promises to tell the truth.

Opening Statement

A statement made by each party at the beginning of the trial. The party or their lawyer gives a brief overview of the issues and the evidence/facts they intend to prove.


A ruling made by a judge or master that tells a party to do something or not do something. It can also refer to the document that sets out the decision of the judge or master.

Originating Application

A lawsuit started with a petition.



A process that allows people who were convicted of a criminal offence, but have completed their sentence and demonstrated they are law-abiding citizens, to have their criminal record kept separate and apart from other criminal records. All information pertaining to convictions will be taken out of the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) and may not be disclosed.

Parenting Plan

A plan developed by parents which sets out their arrangements for the care of their children after separation. The plan can be informal or can be contained in a separation agreement or court order.


  1. A person by or against whom a legal action is brought.
  2. The people who make promises to each other in a contract.


In law, the question of who is the father of a child.


The person who is owed money under a court order or agreement. Also called a recipient.


A person who is required to pay money to another person under a court order or agreement.

Payment into Court

A process by which, when money is or may be owed to a party, he or she can request an order from the court requiring the other party to pay money to the clerk of the court, in trust, as security for future payments. Where parties are entitled to money, and not capable of managing their money because of their age or other disability, the money can be paid into court in order to protect the incapable person's interest.


An intentional lie given under oath or affirmation, either in person or in writing. It is a criminal offence.


A document that starts an originating application. It sets out the basic facts of the event or transaction, the legal consequences and the remedy or relief the petitioner is asking for.

Petition Respondent

A person who defends a lawsuit started by a petition.


A person who starts a lawsuit by a petition.


A person who starts a lawsuit by a notice of civil claim.


The declaration made by a person accused of a crime as to whether he or she is guilty or not guilty of the charge.


A written statement of the facts that a party relies on to support their claim or defence. These documents must be filed with the court to start and respond to a lawsuit.

Pre-trial Examination of Witnesses

This process is used if there is a witness to the proceeding who is not a party to the action. The examination takes place in the presence of a court reporter and a transcript is provided. The witness must give an oath or solemn affirmation that he or she will tell the truth during the examination.

Privileged Document

A document the other party is not entitled to see because it was created during confidential communications between a lawyer and his or her client, or was created to help conduct the litigation.

Pro Bono Legal Advice

Legal services donated to individuals free of charge.

Process Server

A professional document server.

Provincial Court

The lower level trial court which deals with small claims, family, youth criminal offenders, criminal and traffic matters.

Provisional Order

A child support order that is made in one province but has no legal effect until it is confirmed in another province.

Publication Ban

A court order or law that prohibits the publication of information that might identify a complainant, offender, child, or witness, or prohibits the publication of a report of the hearing or trial or a specified part of the hearing or trial.



To terminate or void something.


R. v. (name)/The Queen v. (name)

The title of proceeding of a criminal case. The 'R.' stands for Regina or Rex, which are the Latin words for Queen or King. The 'v.' stands for versus, but it is often read aloud by using the term "and" instead.


This is a process which allows the parties to update child support based on their incomes without going back to court. The service automatically recalculates the amount of child support paid based on annual tax information in cases where a court order or domestic agreement (which has been filed with the court) contains a recalculation clause.


In family law cases, a person who is entitled to receive support under an order or agreement. Also called a payee.

Reciprocating Jurisdiction

In family law cases, another province, territory or country that has entered into an agreement with NL for the enforcement of support orders and the making or changing of support orders. Reciprocating jurisdictions are listed in a regulation under the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act.


A legislated form used by the court that sets out the terms under which a person will be released on bail or on a peace bond and when he or she is expected to return to appear before the court.

Registered Office

A head office or chief place of business. It is the office where documents may be served on the company and where certain documents and books must be kept. The address of this office is on file with the provincial Registrar of Companies.


With respect to a court, the administrative officer who has been assigned some or all of the responsibilities of registrar, such as filing and issuing particular documents, maintaining the court's record and performing other duties under the Rules of Civil Procedure, the Courts of Justice Act, and other legislation.


Statutory instruments that usually set out practical information or procedures relating to a particular statute. They provide specific instructions about how to implement the statute and tend to change more often than the statute itself.


A document signed by the parties to acknowledge that they are giving up all claims in connection with the legal dispute. It is usually signed as part of a settlement.


To cancel.

Reserved Judgment

When the judge postpones making a decision to research, study the law, or review the evidence presented during the proceeding.


A person against whom a claim is made in an application, answer or appeal.


The formal answer or reply to a Court application that sets out the facts of the defence. It should address the claims made by the Plaintiff/Applicant and state clearly the reason the Defendant/Respondent is defending the action.

Rules of Court

Rules that govern the practice and procedure of the Supreme Court and which are to be followed by the parties. They provide guidelines for each step in the litigation and set time limits for when certain steps must be completed.



An imprint affixed to a document to prove authenticity and attest to its accuracy.


Closed to the public. If the court seals a court file or a court document filed, public access is only permitted by order of the court.


An examination of a person's body or private property to find evidence, conducted by a public authority who is acting pursuant to a court order or other legal authority.

Security for Costs

A court order that a party pay money into court to ensure that money will be available to pay for costs ordered by the court, if the party is not successful in pursuing his or her claims.


The formal delivery of a legal document to the required person in accordance with the Rules of court.


In family law cases, where spouses are living separate and apart and one or both of them has the intention of ending the relationship.

Separation Agreement

Agreement by two people, who cohabited and have separated, in their respective rights and obligations.


An agreement between the parties in a dispute. A settlement can end or avoid a court proceeding. It usually involves the payment of money.

Settlement Conference

A short meeting with a judge who is not going to be hearing the trial. At this meeting, the parties briefly explain to the judge their own positions on each issue. The judge then gives a brief opinion based on how he or she thinks the case could be resolved. This meeting is used to help settle cases.

Shared Custody

According to the Child Support Guidelines, shared custody is when the children live at least 40% of the time with each parent. Note: the only place where this term is found in legislation is in the Child Support Guidelines. It is defined in the context of the amount of time a child lives with each parent.

Sine Die

Latin term, meaning "without a day". Used to describe an indefinite adjournment of a proceeding.


In Canada (except Quebec), all lawyers are both barristers and solicitors. In England and other countries, historically, barristers attended court, while solicitors did not.

Solicitor-Client Privilege

The confidentiality of communications between a lawyer and client where they relate to seeking, forming, or giving legal advice.

Small Claims Court

A division of the Provincial Court for claims under $25,000.

Sole Custody (Child Support Context)

The child lives mainly with the person receiving child support.

Sole Custody (Parenting Context)

In a sole custody arrangement the children live primarily with one parent who has decision making responsibility. The other parent usually has the right to have the children spend time with him or her and request and receive information about the children.

Solemnization of Marriage Act

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the legal requirements for getting married can be found in the Solemnization of Marriage Act.

Split Custody (Child Support Context)

According to the Child Support Guidelines, split custody is when the parents have more than one child and each parent has sole custody (as defined by the Child Support Guidelines) of one child. In other words, one or more children live mainly with one parent and one or more children live mainly with the other parent.

Spousal Support

Money paid by one spouse to another to contribute to the other spouse living expenses.


A party's right to make a legal claim or seek judicial redress.

Standard of Proof

The amount of proof needed in order for one side of a dispute to prove their case in court. Balance of Probabilities: This is the standard of proof used in civil and family matters. Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: This is the standard of proof used in criminal matters. This higher standard of proof reflects the potentially serious consequences (loss of liberty) in criminal cases.

Stare Decisis

Latin term for the principle by which a precedent or decision of one court binds lower courts.


Laws created by the Parliament of Canada or the Provincial Legislature. They are also called legislation or Acts.

Stay of Proceedings

An order suspending a legal proceeding.

Style of Cause

The top part of every court document that identifies the registry number and location, the level of court and the names of the parties. It is how the court registry identifies the file. It is sometimes called the style of cause.


Statements and arguments urging the decision maker to make particular findings of fact and apply the law in the manner proposed by the person making the submission.


A document that notifies a witness that he or she is required to attend in court to give evidence at a trial and that failure to do so may result in a charge of contempt of court.

Substituted Service

When the required person cannot be served in accordance with the regular rules, an application to serve the documents in a different way can be made.

Summary Judgment

A different way to obtain a final judgment without having to go through a full trial. A summary judgment application is usually only made in those cases where it is clear that the other party cannot win because he or she has no case or defence.

Summary Trial

A trial based on affidavit and other evidence that can result in a judgment even if there is a dispute between the parties about the facts behind the claim or the defence to the claim. This is different than a summary judgment which is only given if there is no outstanding issue that needs to be resolved.


A document issued by a Court, agency, board or commission, or another person, requiring a person to attend and to produce documents or other things.

Supreme Court

The higher level trial court. This court also hears appeals from the Provincial Court, and sometimes reviews the decisions of certain provincial tribunals and public decision-making bodies.

Supreme Court of Canada

The highest level of court in Canada. This court hears appeals from decisions of the Federal Court and from decisions of all the appeal courts of the provinces.


Monetary assistance that a person provides for his or her dependent(s), for example, child support or spousal support.

Support Enforcement Program

The Support Enforcement Program (SEP) is a service provided by the Support Enforcement Division of the provincial Department of Justice. It is a program designed to make the exchange of spousal and/or child support payments run as smoothly as possible.



Dying having made a will.


Person making a will or who has died having made a will.


The evidence which a witness gives.


A civil wrong, other than breach of contract, for which a remedy may be obtained, usually in the form of damages.


The record of oral testimony in a legal proceeding that was taken by a court reporter.


The hearing of the case before a judge where evidence is presented, arguments are submitted and a final judgment is made.

Trial Brief

A bound book of documents containing a summary of the issues, a list of witnesses and the evidence they will give (and the time they will take at trial), a list of expert reports, time estimates for opening and closing statements, the order or result each party is seeking, and any case law or legislation that will be used at trial.

Trial Record

A bound book that contains all the pleadings and other documents to be put before the court at the trial. Copies are made for the opposing parties and the court.

Title of Proceeding

Sets out the names of all the parties to a proceeding and whether they are involved personally or as a representative of a business or other entity.

Trier of Fact

The person(s) who hear testimony and review evidence to rule on a factual issue. For example, in a jury trial, the jurors are the triers of fact, whereas in a trial before a judge-alone, it is the judge.


Legal rights that apply where one person holds and deals with property on behalf of or for the benefit of another person.
Constructive Trust
A type of trust that may arise where one person contributes to the worth of another person's property. The court may find that it is a constructive trust if the property owner is unjustly enriched and the contributor receives no benefit. The effect of a constructive trust is that the owner of the property may have to hold the property in trust for the contributor.
Resulting Trust
An action taken with the intent of creating a trust, where property is given from one person to another to control and act as trustee.


A person who holds and manages assets in trust for someone else.



A case, or a step in a case, which is not defended by the responding party.


  1. A promise or assurance that a person will do what is asked of them.
  2. A form of judicial interim release that depends on a promise made.

Undue Hardship

In child support cases, a judge may order an amount different than the Child Support Guideline amount when the judge is convinced that ordering that amount would cause excessive financial difficulty to one of the parties involved. In order to convince the court that there is undue hardship, the person claiming it must be able to show that he/she has a good reason to claim undue hardship (the court will only accept a limited number of reasons) and the person must show that his or her household is at a lower standard of living than the other parentís.

Unified Family Court

Term occasionally used to describe the Family Court branch of the Supreme Court.

Unjust Enrichment

A benefit obtained by one person at the expense of another, without a legal justification for it.



Unliquidated Damages

An amount claimed that must be assessed and determined by a judge. For example; a claim for pain and suffering arising from an injury.



A change to a court order or other legal document, made on the authority of a court.


To change.


A judge or jury's decision in a trial.

Vexatious Litigant

Someone who persistently, and without reasonable grounds, brings proceedings in any court, or conducts a proceeding in a troubling manner. Once declared a vexatious litigant by a court, that person cannot start or continue any civil legal proceeding without the court's agreement.

Victim Impact Statement

A written statement prepared by victim(s) describing the impact of the offence on their life.

Victim Surcharge

An offender who is convicted or discharged of an offence under the Criminal Code, Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, or Provincial Offences Act, must pay a victim surcharge in addition to any other punishment imposed on the offender, unless the court exempts the offender from paying.

Voir Dire

A trial within a trial. A procedure to determine the admissibility of certain evidence in advance of the evidence being admitted.



To abandon a right or to refrain from insisting on a right or a formality.


A judicial order directing a peace officer to do something such as arrest someone, search or seize something, or enforce a judicial order.


When a defendant withdraws his or her defence using a document called a notice of withdrawal.

Without Prejudice

Information contained in a document or communicated between the parties that cannot be used against that party in court if the parties are unable to settle the matter. Generally, negotiations to settle a dispute are conducted on a ďwithout prejudiceĒ basis.


A person who gives evidence in a proceeding orally under oath or affirmation, or by affidavit.