Glossary

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This legal glossary is a basic guide to common legal terms. A lawyer is in the best position to advise you about your legal rights and responsibilities.

Different terms may have different meanings based on the specific area of law or the context in which they are being used. For legal terms not referred to in this glossary, or for more comprehensive definitions, you may wish to refer to a legal dictionary or to an internet resource.

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Court
A place where justice is administered.
Supreme Court of Canada
The Supreme Court of Canada is Canada's final court of appeal. It hears appeals from provincial and territorial courts of appeal and from the Federal Court of Appeal.
Court of Appeal for Ontario
The highest court in the province. It hears appeals from lower Ontario courts. Decisions of the Court of Appeal may be further appealed on a question of law to the Supreme Court of Canada, if the Supreme Court agrees. In criminal matters, a person who is convicted of an indictable offence may also appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada as of right on any question of law on which a judge of the Court of Appeal dissents.
Superior Court of Justice
The Superior Court of Justice hears criminal prosecutions of indictable offences, summary conviction appeals, bail reviews, estates, civil suits (over $25,000), and, where the Family Court branch of the Superior Court of Justice does not exist, the court also hears family cases other than child protection, secure treatment, adoption cases and appeals of child protection cases.
Divisional Court
The Divisional Court is a branch of the Superior Court of Justice. The court hears appeals and reviews of decisions by government agencies, tribunals and boards, as well as some appeals.
Family Court
The Family Court is a branch of the Superior Court of Justice. It hears all family cases. Where the Family Court does not exist, jurisdiction over family matters is divided between the Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Justice.
Small Claims Court
The Small Claims Court is a branch of the Superior Court of Justice. The court hears civil actions for claims up to $25,000.
Ontario Court of Justice
This court hears criminal and Provincial Offences Act prosecutions, Provincial Offences Act appeals, and, in areas where the Family Court branch of the Superior Court of Justice does not exist, the court also hears family cases other than cases that contain claims for divorce or division of property.