Glossary of terms

When you are representing yourself it is important to know the precise legal meaning of words used at the Court.

Action
A civil proceeding in a Court (also referred to as proceeding, case or matter).

Adjourn
To move the date of a hearing; to close the Court; to be resumed at a later date/time.

Administrative mention
A deadline set by the Court by which time the parties need to provide timetabling orders.

Admit
To acknowledge a fact.

Affidavit
A written statement made on oath, given instead of verbal evidence.

Affirmation
A declaration made instead of taking an oath.

Application
A request made to a court for orders to be made on your case, for example, application for an adjournment.

Assessment (civil jurisdiction)
The process of estimating or quantifying the monetary value of a plaintiff’s loss or damages.

Associate
The Judge’s support staff who records orders made in court and provides other assistance to the Judge as required.

Authentication
The validation of an order of the Court which is signed and sealed by the Registrar on the prescribed form.

Case number
A number assigned to each case or matter for record keeping purposes.

Case conference
A dispute resolution process to attempt to bring the parties together to discuss the dispute in the spirit of resolution.

Cause of action
A brief statement detailing the nature of a civil claim by one party against another.

Compensation order
An order made by the Court requiring a party to pay compensation to another person for loss or damage suffered as a result of that party’s action or omission.

Consent order
A written document requesting the Court to make an order(s) that have been agreed to by all parties. All parties to a proceeding sign the document so indicate their agreement. Consent orders are often used to establish a timetable for the management of a proceeding to trial, to adjourn directions hearings and to dismiss proceedings.

Court Connect
Free information search facility of the Court's Case and List Management System available to the community and accessible from the County Court website.

Cross-examination
After examination-in-chief of a witness called by one party, the other party has a right to question or cross-examine the witness. Rules of evidence apply.

Damages
A court assessment (whether by judge alone or by a jury) of monetary loss suffered as a result of a civil wrong or breach of contract.

Default judgment
Judgment by registrar where one party fails to file an appearance or a defence with the Court.

Directions hearing
A pre-trial hearing where orders are made to assist parties to prepare a case for trial.

Discontinued
Where the plaintiff makes the decision not to continue with proceedings against the defendant and files a notice of discontinuance with the Court.

Discovery
A procedure by which documents relevant to the action are disclosed to the other party/s, before the case is heard at trial.

Dismissed
An order by the Court finalising a proceeding. A case may be dismissed at any part of the process for a number of reasons.

Examination
Questioning of a person under oath or affirmation in open Court. Rules of evidence apply.

Exhibit
Any item or document shown to the Court that is to be part of the evidence in a case.

Ex parte
An order made in the absence of one of the parties.

File and serve
Lodge a document with the Court (file) and ensure a copy of the document is received by a party (serve).

Hearing fee
A fee paid for each day or part thereof that the matter is before a judge for trial.

His/Her Honour
The formal form of reference to a judge.

Injunction
A Court order that prevents someone from doing something.

Inspection
A pre-trial procedure whereby parties to an action are permitted to view the discovered documents of the other party (see also Discovery).

Interlocutory application
A matter which arises between commencement of an action and final determination of a case.

Interrogatories
A procedure by which questions relevant to an action are asked of the other party, before the case proceeds to trial (see also Discovery).

Judicial resolution conference
A form of mediation conducted by a judicial officer where parties attempt to reach a settlement.

Judgment
The sentence or order of the Court in a proceeding.

Judgement creditor
A party who was successful in the case and to whom money is now owed.

Judgment debtor
A party who was unsuccessful in the case and by whom money now needs to be paid.

Judgment in default
Judgment by registrar where one party fails to file an appearance or a defence with the Court.

Jurisdiction
The power of a court to hear and determine a case. The extent of legal authority of a court.

Jury
The panel of people selected from the community to decide on liability and damages. In a civil matter juries are not always used.

Legal aid
Government funded legal assistance provided to a person for representation in court.

Legal practitioner
A person registered as a barrister or lawyers within a Federal, State or Territory Court.

Liability
A legal responsibility or obligation.

Liberty to apply
A right granted by the Court, to be heard by the Court without having to take the usual procedural steps such as filing a summons.

Litigation
Legal proceedings before a court.

Litigation guardian
Person appointed to deal with litigation on behalf of a child or person without legal capacity.

Mediation
A process whereby parties meet with a mediator to attempt to reach a settlement.

Minutes of consent order
A draft order, the terms of which are agreed to by all parties, submitted for the approval of the Court.

Minor
A person under the age of 18 years, who does not have full legal capacity.

Notice of Appearance
A prescribed form that alerts the court and the other party that the claim will be challenged or disputed.

Notice of Defence
Response to the allegations made by the plaintiff in the statement of claim and states the facts that the defendant intends to prove to defend the claim.

Oath (juror, witness)
A solemn promise made by a person before his God that he will say what is the truth, or will do what he promises to do.

Order
A command or direction issued by a court or tribunal requiring a person to do or refrain from doing something.

Originating Motion
A court form that is used, in particular circumstances, to start a civil case and give notice of the proceeding to the party(ies) who the plaintiff asks the Court to make orders against.

Part-heard
A hearing not yet completed and adjourned to a new date.

Particulars (of damage)
The details of the claim (or the defence) in an action which are necessary in order for the other party to know what case has to be met.

Party
A term used to refer to a person or organisation involved in a court proceeding. For example, a plaintiff and defendant are parties to a court proceeding.

Pleadings
The written documents which are exchanged between the parties in a civil case, which define the issues in dispute and ultimately make up the court file. They contain the facts and evidence to be relied on by the respective parties to the case. This includes the statement of claim and notice of defence.

Practice note/practice direction
Written notes of practice decisions made by the Court, with which it is expected that practitioners/parties will comply.

Prayer for relief
Part of a statement of claim indicating the relief or remedy sought from the Court.

Prescribed form
A form required by legislation.

Pre-trial hearing
Any hearing in relation to an action which takes place before the final determination of a case.

Pro Bono
A term used when a lawyer performs legal work for a person without charging a fee.

Proceeding
A term used to describe the court case between two or more parties.

Registrar
A court officer responsible for maintaining a register or record of court proceedings.

Reinstatement
When a finalised matter is re-listing for hearing.

Request for further and better particulars
A document filed by a party requesting another party to provide more information about the matter; more specific detail.

Serious injury application
An application to the Court to determine whether the plaintiff has suffered a “serious injury” according to the definition in the relevant Act.

Serve
Giving or sending a document to another person or company.

Set aside (to cancel)
Usually used in relation to a court order. For example, application to set aside default judgment.

Setting down (for hearing)
The fixing of a date for a hearing to commence.

Settlement
Agreement between parties in a civil proceeding which leads to the finalisation of the matter.

Statement of claim
The factual outline of a legal claim, including the outcome that a plaintiff asks the Court to make in favour of the plaintiff.

Strike out
An order by a judge that something be removed from the Court’s record. For example, a defence may be struck out where a judge decides that the defendant has not complied with the overarching obligations of the Civil Procedure Act 2010.

Submissions
Arguments that a party makes in support of its position regarding an aspect of its case or the conduct of the proceeding.

Summons/Interlocutory application
A document issued by the Court requiring a person to attend at the Court for the purposes set out in the document.

Subpoena
A document compelling a person to attend court to give evidence, to produce a documents or thing, or do both.

Suppression order
A Court order preventing publication of certain information about a particular case.

Third party notice
The formal document filed by the defendant by which a third party proceeding is commenced against another who is not already a party to the original proceeding.

Timetabling order
An order made setting dates why which the parties must do things.

Tipstaff
A member of the Judge’s staff responsible for order in the courtroom, the swearing or affirming of witnesses, supervision of juries and other assistance to the Judge as required.

Transfer of proceedings
The re-assigning of a matter from one court to another or from one jurisdiction to another.

Vacate
To set aside a hearing or trial date, or an order previously made by a court.

Witness
A person who has personal knowledge of the facts relevant to the issues in a proceeding.

Writ
A court form that is used to start a civil case and give notice of the proceeding to the party(ies) who the plaintiff asks the Court to make orders against.

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Page last updated: 16 September 2018