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Legal Glossary - D



Harm done by one party to another; monetary compensation claimed to settle a legal dispute. Compensatory damages are calculated to cover the repair of harm done or to aid in coping with irreparable harm. Exemplary damages are designed to punish the defendant for bad behaviour. Damages is the most common form of remedy sought.



A written document declaring obligations assented to or actions thereby executed. A deed is sworn before a solicitor and signed by the executor. A well known, but increasingly obsolete example is the title deed defining the ownership of real estate. Other deeds may have an effect like a contract, except that it is one-sided.

DefenceCommonly, the argument of a defendant/respondant. More literally, a document putting the case of a defendant/respondant. Each allegation made by the plaintiff/applicant in their statement of claim must be answered in the defence. Points of disagreement between the parties are referred to as “issues”. See also Reply.



The individual or corporation against whom/which legal proceedings are commenced. Also known as a respondent – the choice of terminology depends on which court will hear the matter. In an appeal it is the party who/which did not commence the appeal. The defendant/respondent is normally required to commence their response by filing a document called a defence. Formerly the defendant to criminal proceedings was called the Accused.



A person imbued with authority to act on behalf of the government, often under a commissioner, to make decisions on behalf of the Crown. A delegate differs from a government agent in that they wield power in their own name rather than in the name of a commissioner or other such person.


Determination of fact                                

Also finding of fact. Court findings as to the meaning of facts presented to it. Determinations of fact cannot be appealed against.



A process initiated by solicitors in the interlocutory stage of proceedings. During discovery the parties must inform each other of documents they have in their possession which relate to the matters in dispute. The parties’ representatives then physically collect and copy those documents.


Duty of Care

A duty incumbent on all persons under negligence law to protect the wellbeing of all other persons who may be affected by one’s own actions or omissions. A plaintiff must prove the defendant had a duty of care with respect to them in order to establish a negligence claim.

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