Legal Glossary - A

 

Account of Profits

A remedy given by courts where a person has made an unauthorised profit in breach of a rule of equity. The guilty respondent is forced to pay to the applicant a sum of money equal to profits they made from an unlawful abuse of the applicant’s reliance on them, or from confidential information. For example a company director making a commercial profit from a business using confidential information about the company, or a trustee mishandling trust money to their own gain.

 

Act of Parliament

Laws passed by Parliament are assembled into a document called an Act. Known as a 'bill' until formal assent by the Governor or Governor General. See also Legislation and Statute. Compare with Regulation.

 

Adduce

The act of questioning witnesses at trial and presenting their evidence to the court. Usage: 'To adduce evidence.'

 

Administration

A corporation experiencing difficulty in avoiding insolvency may apply, or be mandated, to be placed under administration. Under administration the corporation may continue trading, but it is run by an accredited independent administrator who runs the company not for profit, but for the resolution of debt.

 

Administrative Law

The rules governing the validity of decisions made by government, including politicians, public officials, their delegates and their agents. Agents include companies acting on contract to administer a statutory regime.

 

Admissibility

The status of any fact presented in evidence, relating to whether a court is lawfully able to consider it. For instance, if evidence originates from a person who is not at court to testify to it themselves, then it is inadmissible as hearsay. Other rules of evidence also govern admissibility.

 

Adverse possession

A right granted to a person occupying the land of another without the title holder’s knowledge or consent, constantly for a period of 15 years. The occupant may claim full legal title to the entire property.

 

Affidavit

A written statement of evidence, made under oath before a notary public, lawyer or other authorised officer. Similar to a signed statement, but of greater worth as evidence. Affidavits are required as part of a brief of evidence before a court.

 

Agent

An independent person or company acting under authority on behalf of another. Eg: an insurance broker acting for an insurance client, or an employee of a government body making decisions on behalf of the Crown, affecting members of the public. Agents generally have the rights and responsibilities of their client or principal, with respect to the subject of their appointment (their scope of duty).

 

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

 A range of methods for settlement of legal disputes without going to the trouble and expense of litigation. Common forms of ADR include mediation, conciliation and arbitration.

 

Appeal

An application to a higher court to review a decision of a lower court or tribunal. An appeal from a trial decision of any court may be made to the Federal Court, or Supreme Court.

 

Appellant

A party to a court case who lodges an appeal.

 

Arm’s length

The description of the relationship between parties to a valid contract. They must be independent of each other and must not have a special relationship. Thus courts are disinclined to find a contract in existence between family members, or where there is a severe power imbalance exists, in spite of any written evidence.

 

Assign

To transfer to another person – the assignee – all or some of the rights and obligations held by the assignor, under a contract. Noun: Assignment.