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Commercial Litigation

Word or PhraseDescription
AppealA case that is escalated to a higher court so the decision made in the lower court can be reviewed.
Anton Piller OrderA court order which requires the defendant to permit the plaintiff, or the plaintiff’s legal representatives, to enter the defendant's premises in order to obtain evidence essential to the plaintiff's case.
BankruptAn insolvent individual whose finances are managed by an independent trustee.
Breach of ContractFailure by a party to a contract to perform the service or action agreed in the contract.
Building DisputeAny dispute which arises out of a construction contract or which is related to any type of structure that is built on land; or an agreement about the building of any structure on land.
Civil LitigationAny court proceedings which are not of a criminal nature.
Commercial LitigationAny court proceedings where the subject matter of the dispute stems from a commercial relationship or a business transaction.
ContractA legally enforceable agreement between two or more persons or organisations with obligations and promises that are enforceable.
Corporate DisputeAny dispute that stems from the dealings of an Australian company.
CounterclaimA claim by a defendant against a plaintiff.
DamagesA court-ordered requirement to pay money, generally in compensation for loss suffered as a result of civil wrong or breach of contract.
DebtMoney owed by one person or a business to another.
DebtorA person who owes money.
Debt AgreementAn agreement between a person or business with a creditor regarding the repayment of debts. This arrangement is less formal than bankruptcy.
DefamationFalse and derogatory statements about another person published in the press, electronic media or by word of mouth, without any justification recognised by law.
Directors DisputeAny dispute between company directors that concerns the affairs of a company.
DisputeAny situation where one party desires a different outcome to another party.
Employment DisputeAny dispute related to an employment (or in some cases, subcontractor) relationship.
EstoppelA principle that prevents someone from asserting something contrary to what they have previously said or done, or from going back on their word.
Franchise DisputeA dispute concerning a franchise agreement between a franchisor and franchisee.
Freezing OrderA freezing order is an interim injunction that restrains a party from disposing of or dealing with his assets. The usual purpose of a freezing order is to preserve the defendant's assets until judgment can be obtained and enforced.
Garnishee NoticeA garnishee notice is issued to a third party who holds money for you, or who owes you money. It requires that third party to pay ‘your money’ to the judgment creditor to satisfy your debt.
IndemnityA requirement to compensate for costs, expense or loss due to the act or default of another.
InjunctionA court order that orders someone to do, or refrain from doing, a particular thing.
InsolvencyInability of a person (company/individual/partnership) to pay their debts as and when they fall due.
Interim OrderA temporary court order allowing, or prohibiting, certain actions until a full hearing is conducted.
Intellectual Property DisputeAny dispute that concerns the ownership of design rights, copyright, creative rights or the ownership of property which does not have a physical nature but which is the fruit of somebody's creativity.
LiquidationThe process by which an insolvent company has its affairs wound up.
Meeting of CreditorsAny meeting called by an external administrator (liquidator, receiver, administrator etc.) or a trustee in bankruptcy, which brings together the creditors of a company or person so that they can ask questions and vote on certain motions.
Part IX AgreementA legally binding agreement between a debtor and creditors.
Part X AgreementAn agreement between an insolvent person with his or her creditors so that the person can pay off their debts without becoming a bankrupt.
Property DisputeAny dispute which relates to property holding or the reorganisation of real property (e.g., subdivision, development application etc.).
Public ExaminationThe examination of company directors or certain other classes of people in a formal way before a court so that a liquidator, trustee-in-bankruptcy or certain other people can obtain information on oath.
ReceivershipThe appointment of an external party to control the business or assets of the company, and if necessary, sell the assets or business so that a secured creditor gets paid back their debt.
RestructuringThe action or process of restructuring a business in distress, in order to preserve its value for employees, creditors and shareholders.
SolvencyThe ability to pay debts as and when they fall due.
Statutory DemandA letter written by a creditor to a company debtor pursuant to the Corporations Act demanding payment of an undisputed debt within 21 days from the date of service of the letter. Failure to comply with the demand in the letter within the given timeframe has serious consequences for the company debtor.
Subcontractor ChargeA security obtained by a subcontractor pursuant to the Subcontractors Charges Act 1974 over monies owing by the contractor to the subcontractor, which monies remain payable by the head contractor to the contractor.
Tax DebtAny debt or alleged debt which is owing to the Australian Taxation Office or claimed by them.


Corporate & Business Law

Word or PhraseDescription
ABNAustralian Business Number which is a unique identifier issued to a person or an entity carrying on an enterprise by the Australian Business Register ("ABR") operated by the Australian Taxation Office ("ATO").
ACNAustralia Company Number which is a unique nine digit number issued to a company by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission ("ASIC").
AcquisitionThe purchase of an asset.
ASIC (Australian Securities & Investment Commission)Independent Australian government body that acts as Australia's corporate regulator.
Bare TrustA basic trust in which the beneficiary has a right to both income and capital and may call for both to be remitted into his own name. Often used for self managed superfund borrowings.
Business NameA business' registered trading name registered with ASIC.
Buy Sell OptionsAn agreement between co-owners of a business granting each other options to buy or sell their respective interests upon the occurrence of specified event (often death or incapacity).
ChargeTo grant a security interest over the assets of a company.
ConstitutionRules of a company.
ContractA formal, legally binding document between two or more parties.
Discretionary TrustA trust where the trustee determines to whom income and capital are distributed pursuant to the terms of the trust deed. Also referred to as a family trust.
Due DiligenceInvestigation of a business or company prior to purchase.
Fiscal YearAn accounting period of 12 months (normally 1 July to 30 June).
FranchiseA right to carry on a business using another's business model under an agreement.
Franchise AgreementAn agreement setting out the terms of conditions between a franchisor and franchisee for business operations.
FranchiseeAn individual or company that is granted a licence to conduct operations under a franchisor’s business model.
FranchisorA company that allows an individual (franchisee) to operate at a location under their business name and model.
Going ConcernA business that will continue to operate after the sale from a seller to a buyer.
GuaranteeTo provide a promise or assurance that obligations will be fulfilled.
GuarantorA person who provides a guarantee.
Hybrid TrustA trust which mixes elements of a discretionary trust and a unit trust so that a beneficiary has a fixed entitlement to some part of the income or capital of the trust but the trustee has discretion to distribute some part of the income or capital.
IndemnityAn agreement where one person indemnifies another for certain acts or omissions.
Joint VentureAn agreement for two or more parties to undertake a project.
LeaseThe right to occupy premises with exclusive possession.
LiquidationThe process of collecting and converting assets to money to pay debts, while in the process of closing the business down.
Loan AgreementA contract between a borrower and a lender which sets out the terms of conditions agreed by both parties.
MortgageAn agreement that creates a charge over land between a lender and borrower.
PartnershipAn agreement between parties to carry on a business in common with a view to make a profit.
SecurityAn asset that is pledged to secure a promise or obligation.
SharesA fractional part into which the capital stock of a company is divided.
ShareholderThe owner of shares in a company.
Shareholders AgreementAgreement between shareholders in a company.
StakeholderA person, group or organisation that has an interest in an organisation such as clients, employees and shareholders.
TurnoverMonies received by a business within a certain time-frame.
Unit TrustA unit trust is a trust structure that allows persons to hold assets and provide profits that go straight to individual unit owners instead of reinvesting them back into the general trust fund.
VendorA person or company offering something for sale.
Walk in walk outAn arrangement where a buyer of a business takes over all existing stock and all debtors and creditors on the settlement day.
WarrantyA written promise that a state of affairs exists.
Winding UpSee “Liquidation”.

Criminal Law

Word or PhraseDescription
AggrievedPerson making the DVO application.
AssaultAn offence of causing physical injury to another.
Criminal/defence lawyerPerson who represents accused people.
Domestic violence order (DVO)An order taken out to ensure that a person cannot harass/intimidate/contact another.
FraudAn offence of gaining an unauthorised financial benefit.
Indecent treatmentAn offence of touching/interfering with children under the age of 16.
JailThe institution prisoners are kept.
Magistrates/District/Supreme CourtThe venue where traffic and criminal matters are heard.
Obstruct policeThe offence of not obeying police.
PenaltyThe outcome of pleading guilty.
Pleading guiltyAdmitting to committing an offence.
Protection orderAnother phrase for above.
Public nuisanceThe offence of acting offensively in public.
RapeAn offence of non consensual sex.
RespondentPerson against who the DVO has been taken out against.
RobberyAn offence of stealing.
TrialThe process of defending a charge.


Family & De Facto Law

Word or PhraseDescription
AccessOld term for visitation with a child.
AdoptionFormal process to bring a child into a family unit.
AVO/DVOApprehended violence order/domestic violence order – designed to protect a party from physical, emotional, psychological and other abuse.
BFA - Binding Financial AgreementLegally binding document which divides your assets.
Child ProtectionA matter involving the Department of Child Safety removing a child from a parents care.
Child representationThe role of the Independent Children’s Lawyer i.e. to work out the best interests of a child.
Child SupportThe responsibility to financially support a child.
Child Support AgreementA legally binding document which changes your child support payments by consent with the other parent.
Conciliation conferenceA mediation conducted by the court in property settlement matters.
ContactNewer term for access – spending of time with a child.
CustodyOld term for the primary care of a child. Who the child lives with.
De FactoNon-married couples living together in a “married type” manner.
DivorceThe formal ending of a marriage. Divorcing your husband/wife.
Family consultantThe person appointed by the court to write a brief report about the family situation and provide recommendations.
Family reportAn interview process which involves the parents of the child and significant others, designed to provide assistance to a court on working out the best interests of a child and how to support them.
First return dateThe first date after an application is filed with a court.
ICLIndependent Children’s Lawyer.
Interim hearingA process whereby the Court considers the application and response documentation of each party, hears submissions and makes a decision which is not the final decision.
Lives withCurrent term for where a child spends most of their time.
MediationA round table type discussion involving the parties and sometimes their lawyers, designed to try and bring about an agreement with the assistance of an independent person.
MentionA court date that is used to check progress of a matter.
(equal shared) Parental ResponsibilityGuardianship, responsibility for the long term decisions concerning a child such as education, religion.
Parenting PlanA less formal agreement between parents about the day to day arrangements for the child.
Property SettlementThe arrangement, for de facto or married couples, whereby the court decides who receives what portion of the property pool they have accumulated during the relationship. Dividing your assets.
ResidenceNewer term for custody – primary residential care of the child.
SeparationWhen parties no longer wish to live together or be seen as a couple or husband and wife.
Sole occupancy/ouster orderAn application designed to secure the residential arrangements for one party, which involves the other party being formally told to leave the residence and find somewhere else to live.
Spends time withFormerly access – visitation or spending of time with the other parent.
Superannuation splittingA formal process whereby a portion of one party’s superannuation is split off to the other party’s superannuation fund.
SurrogacyArrangement whereby someone independent from a couple carries a baby to term, altruistically or commercially.

Property & Development

Word or PhraseDescription
AbatementOfficial reduction, allowance or rebate.
Access RightsThe right to enter and exit a property over an adjoining property.
Ad VoloremIn proportion to value.
Arm’s LengthA transaction completed on a commercial basis, with no personal interests or relationships between the buyer and seller.
Asset & Liabilities StatementA one page summary of the borrowers’ assets and liabilities in order to determine net equity for credit purposes.
Assignment of ContractThe transfer of a contract to a third party.
Body CorporateA body run by the owners of strata title schemes responsible for maintaining and managing shared, common property such as carparks and gardens.
Building Format PlanDeals with the type of subdivision that usually occurs within a building.
CaveatNotification of an interest in the property from someone other than the owner.
Caveat EmptorLatin term meaning “let the buyer beware”.
Certificate of TitleOfficial documentary confirmation of ownership of land.
Certificate of OccupancyOfficial confirmation the dwelling complies with statutory requirements and is ready for occupation.
ChattelsAny fixed asset, such as machinery, tools and fittings associated with the land that are not fixed to the land or can be easily removed with no permanent damage to the land.
Common PropertyCommunity facilities such as pools, gardens and barbeques normally associated with strata title schemes.
Cooling Off PeriodA period of time after the contract has been signed where the purchaser may cancel the contract.
ConveyancingThe legal process of buying and selling land.
CovenantsAn obligation on a person to do something or not do something.
DevelopersPersons or companies who develop land.
Development ApprovalAuthorisation by regulatory authority to change the structure of the land.
EasementsA right granted to a person over land.
EgressThe exit point of a property.
EncumbranceA charge or liability on the property.
Feasibility StudyThe assessment of whether a project is financially viable.
Force MajeureClause that removes liability of not meeting obligations due to unforeseen events, such as natural disasters.
GazumpingVendor agrees to sell property, but then sells to another on more favourable terms.
Head LeaseA lease from the freehold owner to a tenant that is intended to be the holder of subsequent leases to sublessees that will be the tenants in actual possession of the leased premises
IngressThe entry point of a property.
Joint TenantsProperty owned by two or more persons where ownership is automatically transferred to the other joint tenant(s) on the death of a joint tenant.
Joint VentureAn agreement for two or more parties to undertake a project.
Land DevelopmentThe development of land.
LeaseThe right to occupy premises with exclusive possession.
Management RightsThe right to manage strata title schemes.
Off-the-Plan ContractsBuying an apartment off-the-plan means signing a contract to purchase an apartment that is yet to be built.
Option AgreementAn option agreement is an agreement between a buyer and seller that gives a person the option to buy or sell a particular asset at a later date at an agreed price.
Personal Property and Securities Act 2009 (“PPSA”)PPSA deals with the registration of security interests over a property.
Property PurchasePurchase of property.
Property SaleSale of property.
Standard Format PlanDefines land horizontally with marks on the ground (usually pegs).
Stamp DutyA tax that relates to the transfer of assets or property (also known as transfer duty).
Strata Title SchemesMethod of dealing with shared ownership of property and operates across of range of strata options such as high rises, mixed-use buildings, townhouses, community villages, residential complexes, and duplexes.
Survey PlanFormal record of land’s legal boundaries, including dimensions and size of property.
ResumptionThe action, on the part of the Crown or other authority, of reassuming possession of land and rights previously granted to another.
TenancyThe right to occupy premises with exclusive possession.
Tenants In CommonProperty owned by two or more persons where there is no automatic transfer of ownership to the other owners upon the death of one tenant in common.
UnencumberedA property free of encumbrances.
Unit TrustA unit trust is a trust structure that allows persons to hold assets and provide profits that go straight to individual unit owners instead of reinvesting them back into the general trust fund.
YieldThe expected future income a property may deliver.
ZoningGuidelines provided by council regarding the permitted use of land and buildings within a specified area.

Traffic Law

Word or PhraseDescription
BailBeing able to remain in the community rather than in custody when awaiting a criminal matter to be heard before a court.
Disqualified drivingOffence of driving when you have been told by a court not to drive.
Drink driveDriving with alcohol in your system putting you over the legal limit.
Drug drivingDriving with drugs present in your system.
Magistrates/District/Supreme CourtThe venue where traffic and criminal matters are heard.
Special hardship licenseApplication made to the court when you have accumulated too many demerit points to enable you to keep driving for work purposes.
SpeedingDriving in excess of the speed limit.
Work licenseApplication made to the court when you have been caught drink driving to enable you to keep driving for work purposes.


Wills & Estates

The laws that determine how an estate will be distributed when there is no will. These rules are contained in the Succession Act 1981.

Word or PhraseDescription
AdemptionOccurs when property gifted in a will is no longer in the testator’s estate at the time of the testator’s death.
AdministrationThe process of collecting the assets, paying the debts, and distributing the estate in accordance with the will (or, if there is no will, in accordance with the intestacy rules).
Advance Health DirectiveA special form of document that gives directions about a person's health care wishes.
AHDSee Advance Health Directive.
BDBNSee Binding Death Benefit Nomination.
BeneficiaryA person who is entitled to a portion of an estate or trust.
Binding Death Benefit NominationA direction that obligates the trustee of a superannuation fund to pay superannuation death benefits to a particular person or to the estate. Not every superannuation fund recognises a BDBN.
Blended FamilyA family consisting of two or more families after getting remarried after divorce. Blended families can raise particular issues with estate planning and estate disputes.
Business Succession PlanningMaking sure that your business is able to carry on without you.
Challenging a willSee “Contesting a will”.
ChildA person under the age of 18 years, including adopted children or step-children. It also refers to adult children, who have rights in relation to their parents’ estates.
CodicilA document that amends a will. It must be properly signed and witnessed, like a will.
Construction of a willHow a will is construed (interpreted). In other words, the meaning of the will. While probate is concerned with determining what the will says, construction is about determining what the will means. If there is uncertainty about the meaning of a will, an interested party can apply to the Supreme Court to have the will construed.
Contested probateAlso called “Probate in Solemn Form”. When there are doubts about the validity of a will, the court can be asked to determine whether a particular will is valid. The most common basis for contesting the validity of a will is that there is doubt about the testamentary capacity of the person who made the will. Another basis for contesting the validity of a will is that the will was made as a result of undue influence. The validity of a will may also be contested on the basis of lack of knowledge and approval.
Contesting a willThe main ways of contesting a will are by contested probate or by a family provision application.
De facto partnerA de facto partner may be entitled to a share of an estate under the intestacy rules. A de facto partner may also be entitled to make a family provision application. For the purposes of the Succession Act 1981, the definition of de facto partner is found in section 32DA of the Acts Interpretation Act 1954 (Qld)
Deductible Gift Recipient (“DGR”)A DGR is recognised by the Australian Tax Office as a charitable entity that is entitled to receive income tax deductible gifts. Your will may gift part of your estate to a DGR.
Donatio mortis causaLatin phrase describing a binding verbal gift, where the gift is made in expectation of imminent death. Plural: donationes mortis causa. A will must be in writing, but this type of gift can be verbal.
DuressThe use of threats, violence and other constraints to influence someone into doing something against their will or better judgement.
Enduring Power of AttorneyA special form of document authorising someone to act on behalf of another person. It is "enduring" because it continues to be effective when the person making it no longer has capacity to manage their own affairs.
EPASee “Enduring Power of Attorney.”
EstateAll of the assets and liabilities of a deceased person. The word can also apply to the affairs of a living person, but it is not commonly used in that context except in a bankruptcy.
Estate AdministrationWhen you are the executor of a will and you need help attending to paying the final bills and distributing the assets to the beneficiaries, we are able to provide this service.
Estate PlanningThe process of anticipating and arranging, during a person's life, for the management and disposal of that person's estate during the person's life and after death.
Executor/ Executrix/ ExecutricesA person appointed by a will to administer a deceased person's estate. Executrix is the feminine version, and "executrices" is the feminine plural. Nowadays, "executor" is used as a term that is gender-neutral.
ExecutionThe formal process of signing your will and having it witnessed.
Family Provision ApplicationThe spouse, children (including step-children), and some categories of dependants of a deceased person may be entitled to claim further provision from an estate, overriding the terms of a will or the intestacy rules. In Queensland, this type of claim can be brought in the District Court or the Supreme Court, depending on the amount of provision claimed. The court may override the will (or the intestacy rules) if the applicant shows a need for further provision from the estate.
FPASee “Family Provision Application”.
Further provisionSee “Family Provision Application”.
GuardianshipSee “Testamentary Guardian.”
InfantAt law, an “infant” is anyone who is not an adult.
IntestacyAn estate where there is no will.
Intestacy RulesThe laws that determine how an estate will be distributed when there is no will. These rules are contained in the Succession Act 1981.
Inadequate ProvisionWhere a person has left by their will (or intestacy) insufficient for the needs of their spouse, child or dependant.
Joint tenancyA form of property ownership between two or more people, where the survivor/s automatically take complete ownership of the property on the death of any of the co-owners. In contrast, see tenancy in common.
Knowledge and approvalFor a will to be valid, the testator must know and approve what is in the will.
Letters of administration on intestacyWhere there is no will, the court may appoint someone to administer the estate in accordance with the intestacy rules. The court's authorisation is called letters of administration.
Letters of administration with the will annexedAlso known by the Latin phrase "Letters of administration cum testamento annexo." When the executor does not obtain probate, another person may be appointed by the court (by being granted letters of administration) to administer the estate in accordance with the will.
MediationResolving an estate dispute (most commonly a Family Provision Application) with the use of a third party as a mediator between the parties.
Mutual willsWills made in accordance with an agreement that the testators will leave their estates in a particular way.
No Win No FeeIf you want to contest a will, we can consider the details of your claim, the number of other potential beneficiaries and the size of the estate and consider if we will act for you on a “no win no fee” basis.
ProbateA document issued by the Supreme Court confirming the authority of the executor to administer an estate.
Probate in Solemn FormSee “Contested probate”.
Reading of a willFormal meeting where a lawyer will discuss the will in detail for friends and family of the deceased. A reading of the will can occur before or after a funeral.
Revocation of a WillCancellation of a will, generally by making a new will.
Rule in Saunders v VautierThe rule under which beneficiaries of a trust, if of full age sound mind and unanimous, may direct the trustees to end the trust and transfer the trust property to themselves as beneficiaries absolutely.
Rule against PerpetuitiesThis rule requires that no interest in property is valid unless it vests (other than under a trust) not later than twenty-one years, plus the period of gestation, after some life or lives in being which exist at the time of the creation of the interest. More commonly, the period of 80 years applies. This rule ensures that a testator cannot make any provision regarding property that would impact the property long after the testator has died.
SMSFSelf Managed Superannuation Fund. An SMSF is governed by its trust deed and by other relevant laws such as the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (Commonwealth).
Solemn Form ProbateSee “Contested probate”.
Statutory WillAn uncommon term for when a court approves the making of a will for someone who does not have testamentary capacity.
Succession Act 1981This is the main statute that governs succession law in Queensland.
Succession LawThe area of law that deals with inheritance upon death.
SuperannuationSuperannuation death benefits do not automatically form part of an estate. This will depend on whether the trustee of the superannuation fund exercises a discretion (or is obligated, pursuant to a binding death benefit nomination) to pay the superannuation to the estate.
Tenancy in CommonA form of property ownership between two or more people, where a deceased owner's share becomes part of his/her estate, which he/she is able to dispose of in a will. In contrast, see joint tenancy.
Testamentary Capacity

Testamentary capacity refers to the mental capacity of a person to make a will. A person may have sufficient mental capacity to make a will even though they are physically incapacitated. The following is one way of stating the legal tests for testamentary capacity (paraphrasing the test in Banks v Goodfellow, as re-stated in Read v Carmody):

  • Did the testator have the capacity to understand the legal nature and significance of making a will?
  • Was the testator capable of being aware of, at least in general terms, the nature, extent and value of the testator's property?
  • Was the testator capable of being aware of those who may reasonably be thought to have a claim upon the testator's testamentary bounty, and the basis for, and nature of, the claims of such persons?
  • Did the testator have the ability to evaluate, and to discriminate between, the respective strengths of the claims of such persons?
  • Did the testator suffer from a condition (whether "mental illness" [or psychosis] in the strict sense, or any other form of "mental disorder", including, but not limited to, deterioration in higher intellectual function, or dementia) which detrimentally affected the testator's consciousness or sense of orientation, or which had brought about disturbances to the testator's intelligence, cognition, thought content, thought processes, judgment and the like (whether or not that condition may be transient, or, if appropriately treated, reversible)?
If the testator fails any of those tests, then he/she does not have testamentary capacity.
Testamentary Guardian

Person/s appointed by your will to look after your infant child/ren.

Testamentary Trust

A type of trust created by your will.

Testamentary Discretionary Trust

A testamentary discretionary trust is one where the trustee has the discretion to distribute capital and income in the same or differing proportions between a group of beneficiaries nominated in a will.


A person who makes a will. Testatrix is the feminine version. Nowadays, "testator" is used as a term that is gender-neutral.


Testator's Family Maintenance application; same as FPA.


A trust exists where the legal owner of property holds that property for the benefit of the beneficiaries of the trust.


An individual person or company who has control of property in trust with a legal obligation to administer it solely for the purposes specified in the trust.

Undue Influence

When a person has been coerced into making a will, that will is invalid as it is said to have been made as a result of undue influence.


A revocable disposition of property, taking effect upon death.


See “Testator/Testarix.”


Person who is present when you sign your will and sees you sign it.

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