You will find commonly used legal terms in this glossary. You can click on the letter to jump to the words that begin with that letter or scroll down the page.



Monetary award ordered in a civil case as compensation for a wrong done. Damages can be awarded for a number of reasons including for direct compensation for a quantifiable loss or to punish a party for continued bad behaviour. See also Remedy.

Dangerous Offender

A dangerous offender is an offender who has been convicted of a serious personal injury offence and the court has found him or her to be a danger to society. If the court finds an offender to be a dangerous offender, a jail sentence will be given for an indeterminate period of time.


An amount of money, a service, or an item of property that is owed to somebody.


A ruling on a legal issue or a question about evidence. May also refer to the court hearing in which the judge will give his or her ruling about the issue at hand.


Person responsible for making decisions that end disputes between people; includes members of tribunals, judges at courts, and arbitrators.

Defence Counsel

The lawyer representing the person charged.


The accused in a criminal case.


The formal or official discussion or debate of something. For example, the jury would deliberate on the verdict in a court case.

Desk Order Divorce

An undefended (uncontested) divorce. The parties can ask for a divorce order by filing a Requisition with other documents and they do not have to appear before a judge in the Supreme Court.

Detention Order

When a detention order is given, the accused is denied bail and remains in custody until the conclusion of the trial, subject to bail reviews in Supreme Court. A detention order may also contain conditions not to contact the victim, witnesses, or other named persons.

Direct Examination

The questioning by the lawyer or party who called the witness is called the direct examination. This may also be referred to as examination-in-chief.

Direct Indictment

With the written consent of the Attorney General an accused may be tried on an indictable matter in Supreme Court without a preliminary inquiry preceding the trial.


The act of making the Crown's case known to defence by providing information on the evidence or circumstances of the case. The Crown must disclose, or share, with the accused all the relevant information gathered in the investigation so that the accused can fully defend him or herself against the charges. See also Particulars.


In family or civil law, the process of exchanging necessary information, such as financial statements, with the other party.


A disagreement or argument about something.

Division of Property

After a relationship breakdown, a decision needs to be made on how property owned by the couple is divided. This can be done by agreement or by a judge.


An ending of a marriage by an official decision in a court of law. Only married couples can divorce.

Divorce Act

Federal law that gives the Supreme Court the authority to grant divorces and, as part of the divorce, to deal with child support and spousal support, child custody and access. Only married couples are covered under the Divorce Act. Support, parenting arrangements, guardianship and contact as well as property division for unmarried couples is covered under the Provincial Family Law Act.

Divorce Judgement

A document issued by a court which says that a marriage is over. If the judgement has not been appealed within thirty days, the divorce will become final.

Divorce Order

Court Order granting a divorce.


A formal piece of writing that provides information or acts as a record of events or arrangements. They can be used as evidence in trials.

Domestic Violence (Family Violence)

The term includes violence or the threat of violence by an intimate partner and by other family members, wherever this violence takes place and in whatever form. It may occur during, at the end, or following a relationship. Domestic violence includes violence against children.


A domicile could be where one has a permanent home, where one lives most of the time or where one intends to have a permanent home. A party's domicile may have an impact on the jurisdiction of the court to hear an action or deal with certain claims made in an action.


Forcing someone to do something by psychological or emotional pressure; a defence to the enforcement of a contract. If, for example, a separation agreement was entered into under duress, that may be a ground to dispute or set aside that agreement.