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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Pardon
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.
Parental Responsibility Act, 2000
Provincial statute that makes parents financially responsible for damages caused by their children.
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.
Parole
The early release of a prisoner from imprisonment, whereby the person is supervised and required to obey conditions.
Partial Indemnity Costs
(see Costs)
Particulars
The details of a claim. A court may order a party to provide additional "particulars" to: define any issues; prevent surprise; enable the parties to get ready for trial; and facilitate a hearing.
Party
A person by or against whom a legal action is brought. The people who make promises to each other in a contract.
Party Under Disability
For civil matters, a party is under disability and thus not permitted to manage his or her own legal actions if he or she is a minor, mentally incapable, or an absentee. (see Special Party)
Paternity Agreement
(see Domestic Contract)
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.
Payor
A person who is required to pay money to another person under a court order or agreement.
Peace Bond
(see Bond)
Peace Officer
A police officer or other official who has sworn to uphold the law.
Pecuniary Damages
(see Damages)
Perjury
An intentional lie given under oath or affirmation, either in person or in writing. It is a criminal offence.
Personal Property
(see Property)
Plaintiff
A person who commences an action.
Plan of Care
In child protection cases, a plan developed by a children's aid society, a parent or other person who wishes to be involved in the child's life that sets out where the child would live, caregiving and school arrangements, and support services for the child and family.
Plea
The declaration made by a person accused of a crime as to whether he or she is guilty or not guilty of the charge.
Plea Bargain (Resolution Discussions)
Negotiated agreement between a prosecutor and an accused, including his or her lawyer, to settle a criminal case that is presented to a judge for their consideration and decision.
Pleading
A statement in writing of material facts and law on which a party to a dispute relies in support of a claim or defence.
Postjudgment Interest Rate
(see Interest Rate)
Power of Attorney
Document that authorizes a person to make, on the grantor's behalf, decisions concerning the grantor's property and personal care issues. Restrictions on the Attorney's powers, if any, should be contained in the written document itself.
Pre-Enquete Hearing
An "in camera" proceeding before a justice of the peace to determine whether an Information should be laid against a person at the private complaint of another person.
Precedent
A judicial decision or judgment that is cited as the authority for deciding a similar situation in the same manner.
Prejudgment Interest Rate
(see Interest Rate)
Preliminary Inquiry
The procedure conducted by a provincial court to determine whether the Crown has sufficient evidence for a trial of the accused. At the conclusion of the inquiry, the accused will either be discharged or ordered to stand trial (also referred to as committed for trial).
Prerogative Writs
The remedies of certiorari, habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition and quo warranto. They are also known as extraordinary remedies.
Certiorari
A remedy used by a superior court to quash an order or decision of a lower court or administrative body made without jurisdiction.
Habeas corpus
A remedy available to any person detained or imprisoned, not to hear and determine the case upon the evidence, but to immediately and in a summary way test the validity of the person's detention or imprisonment.
Mandamus
A remedy to compel the performance of a public duty.
Prohibition
A remedy used by a superior court to prohibit a lower court or tribunal from exercising or continuing to exercise an authority it does not have.
Quo Warranto
A remedy used to challenge a person's entitlement to a public office that he or she purports to occupy and exercise.
Pre-Sentence Report
A report prepared before sentencing an offender. It contains information about the offender's history that is used in assisting the court in passing sentence.
Pre-Trial Conference
(see Conference)
Prima Facie
Latin term for "at first glance"; on the surface. It describes evidence or an argument that is sufficient to establish a fact or raise a presumption unless disproved or rebutted.
Private Prosecution
(see Prosecution)
Probate
(see Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee With a Will)
Probation (Order)
(see Sentence)
Pro Bono Services
Latin term for "for the public good". Legal services provided by a lawyer, free of charge, to individuals or to groups.
Proceeding
  1. A legal process used to seek redress.
  2. A matter before the court.
Production Order
(see Order)
Prohibition
  1. See Prohibition Order.
  2. See Prerogative Writs
Prohibition Order
(see Order)
Property
Anything over which the rights of possession, use, and enjoyment are exercised.
Real Property
Used to describe land and anything attached to the land.
Personal Property
Used to describe anything not classified as real property (also known as chattels).Choses in ActionUsed to define property that is neither real nor personal, but which a person has certain rights to, like the right to an action, or the right to copyright or patents.
Prosecute
To commence and carry out a legal action in a criminal or provincial offence proceeding.
Prosecution
A proceeding in which an accused person is tried.
Crown Prosecution
A prosecution commenced by a peace officer or representative of the Crown.
Private Prosecution
A prosecution commenced by a member of the public, as opposed to a peace officer.
Prosecutor
  1. A legal officer who represents the federal, provincial, or municipal government in proceedings. In Canada, federal prosecutors handle immigration and drug related charges; provincial prosecutors handle criminal cases and some provincial offences; and municipal prosecutors handle certain prosecutions of Provincial Offences Act matters.
  2. A private individual who carries on a private prosecution.
Provincial Offences Act (POA)
Provincial statute that sets out procedures for the prosecution of offences under other provincial statutes and regulations and municipal by-laws. Under a Memorandum of Understanding, municipalities are responsible for the administration of courts hearing Provincial Offences Act (POA) matters and the prosecution of certain POA cases.
Psychiatric Assessment
(see Assessment)
Public Guardian and Trustee (Office of the)
A part of the Ministry of Attorney General that delivers services that safeguard the legal, personal and financial interests of mentally incapable adults. The office may be appointed to administer estates where there is no will, heirs or executor. The office also plays a role in protecting the public interest in charitable property.
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.
Puisne Judge
(see Judge)
Punitive Damages
(see Damages)
Paralegal
A person licensed under the Law Society Act to provide legal services in Ontario.