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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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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 judicial officer 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
(see Burden of Proof)
Insolvent and involved in a proceeding to become bankrupt or against whom a creditor has started a proceeding to put them into bankruptcy. Can be used to refer to apply to the person in this position.
A legal process by which an insolvent person is relieved of certain debts, usually with conditions.
  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.
Bench Warrant
(see Warrant)
A person designated to receive something as a result of a legal document, such as a will or insurance policy.
Best Interests of the Child
Circumstances that must be taken into account by the court when making orders concerning children in child protection and family law cases. Factors considered can include the child's needs, interests, views and preferences, and cultural and family connections.
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
(see Burden of Proof)
Proposed legislation that is brought before the legislature for approval. A bill becomes law once it is approved by the legislature, receives royal assent from the Lieutenant Governor and is proclaimed effective. The Act may be proclaimed effective on Royal Assent; by a fixed date in the legislation; or on a date to be proclaimed by the government.
  1. Mandatory
  2. When applied to a court decision or order, required to be followed in cases with similar circumstances.
An obligation or a promise given to a court. A bond includes a recognizance.
Administration Bond
A promise with a surety(ies), offered by an application or required by a judge in an estate application filed with the court.
Peace Bond
Person is ordered to keep the peace for a specified period of time on certain conditions.
Surety Bond
A written promise committing someone acting as a surety to pay a named person a set amount if the promise is broken.
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.
Burden of Proof
The degree of proof needed in a proceeding for a party to prove a disputed assertion or charge.
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.
Bench Warrant Days
Bench warrant days measure the amount of time it takes for a charge to be brought back before the courts following the issuance of a bench warrant. If an accused has fled the jurisdiction, the bench warrant days distort the data, as the delay of proceedings would be caused by the absence of the accused rather than any inherent problems in the court system.