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.


Pain and suffering

A type of damages that is money given to a party for experiencing emotional problems (pain, fear, etc.) after being harmed by the respondent.

Parenting Arrangement

The arrangements made by the guardians for the care of the children, including where the child lives and who is responsible for their upbringing.

Parenting Plan

A plan developed by parents who have separated. The plan is a document which sets out the decisions the parents have made about their children including such issues as support, parenting responsibilities, and parenting time.

Parking Violation

 A crime or infringement of a law or rule with respect to parking regulations.


Parole is the early release of an offender from incarceration (jail) in which he or she serves the remainder of his or her sentence in the community under supervision and specific conditions.


Particulars are information about the alleged offence, which is contained in the Crown file and is disclosed to the defence and/or accused person (i.e. police narrative, witness statement). This is vetted to ensure no confidential material is disclosed. Also called Disclosure. 

Party (Parties)

Person or organization, company, or government agency in a dispute that a tribunal or court will handle, including the defendant, the Crown, applicant or a claimant, a complainant or appellant and respondent. Other participants such as witnesses, lawyers, or agents are not parties.


The term used to describe the spouse who pays support or maintenance.

Peace Bond

A protection order made by a judge in court to help protect one person from another. Peace bonds list certain conditions, based on individual needs, that the person named in it must follow. Peace bonds are made in criminal court and may be made against anyone. Police will apply for a peace bond and Crown counsel will handle the matter in court. Peace bonds may be either made pursuant to section 810 of the Criminal Code or Common Law. Those made pursuant to Section 810 of the Criminal Code include a Finding or Admission of Fact and can have effects on future family matters. They may be called an 810 Recognizance. Common Law Peace Bonds are made when the judge exercises his inherent common law jurisdiction to keep the peace and may have a lesser effect on family matters. Peace bonds differ from Restraining Orders in several elements as the latter are used in Civil matters.


Perjury occurs when a person gives evidence in court that he or she knows is false. As outlined in the Criminal Code, anyone who commits perjury is guilty of an indictable offence and may be liable to imprisonment for a term not more than fourteen years.


A person who commits an offense or crime.

Personal Items

Items typically used exclusively by one person, such as jewellery, that are not included in family assets.

Personal Property

Somebody’s tangible moveable property such as automobiles, boats and money. It does not include land.


A pleading in a civil action by which the plaintiff or person suing sets down the cause of action and invokes the court's jurisdiction to make a decision in the case.


The person who petitions the court to take action in a civil case.


Former term for the person who begins a lawsuit in civil court. Now called the Claimant.


A plea is the answer given by an accused when charged with a criminal offence. If the Accused enters a “not guilty” plea, they will have a trial. If they enter a “guilty” plea, they will go straight to sentencing.


Initiating documents filed in a lawsuit. A legal document setting out either a claim or a defence to a claim. Usually, in Supreme Court the pleadings consist of the Notice of Family/Civil Claim, Response to Family/Civil Claim and Counterclaim.

Pre-Sentence Report

A pre-sentence report is a report prepared by a probation officer that the judge may use in determining a sentence for a person who pleads guilty or is found guilty. The pre-sentence report may include information regarding the accused's background such as their family, education and employment.

Pre-Trial Conference

A pre-trial conference is a meeting between Crown and defence, in the presence of the trial judge to discuss the case before the trial begins. It is used to check to make sure everyone is ready to proceed with the trial as scheduled. 

Pre-Trial Conferences

If the parties are unable to agree on a resolution, and the case has to go to trial, then there may also be a pre-trial conference so that everyone is clear in advance about the legal issues and how the trial is to proceed.


The requirement of a court to follow earlier decisions of a superior or previous court. For example, following a decision that can be used subsequently for a similar type of case.

Preliminary Hearing/Inquiry

A preliminary hearing is a court proceeding that is held before the trial to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed with the charges. During the preliminary hearing the Crown prosecutor can call witnesses to convince the judge that there is sufficient evidence against the accused to proceed with a trial.


The presiding judge is the judge who has been selected to hear the case in question.


Something that is likely to exist, occur, or be true, although evidence is insufficient to prove or predict it with certainty.


Probation is a sentence, or portion of a sentence in which the offender is released into the community under the supervision of a probation officer and must follow certain conditions such as being of good behaviour, abstaining from alcohol, not contacting the victim, etc.


In law, the whole of the conduct of a legal action, from beginning to end, and all steps in between; may also be used to refer to a specific hearing or trial.

Promise to Appear

The accused may be arrested and then released by a police officer after promising to appear in court on a specific date. The document signed by the accused is called a "Promise to Appear".

Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

It is the responsibility of Crown counsel to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt before the court can convict. Therefore, after hearing all the evidence, if the court has reasonable doubt about whether the accused is guilty, the accused receives the benefit of that doubt and is acquitted. Also see Burden of Proof.

Proof of service

An affidavit or receipt that confirms that another document was served to a witness or a party and tells when and how the document was served.


Includes everything a person owns, such as a car, house, television, appliances, and furniture. It also includes bank accounts, pension benefits, insurance policies, stocks, bonds and other investments.


Prosecution is when legal proceedings are started against a person charged with a criminal offence.


A legal officer who represents the federal, provincial or municipal government in legal proceedings. Also called Crown Counsel.

Protection Order

An order (either a Peace Bond or a Restraining Order) made by a judge to protect one person from another. The order lists certain conditions the person named in it must follow – usually that he or she can have no direct or indirect contact with the other person.

Provincial Court

Provincial Court is the first level in the BC court system, dealing with criminal, quasi- criminal (Provincial Statute Violations), family, youth, small claims, and traffic and municipal matters. This Court also conducts preliminary hearings.

Publication Ban

A publication ban is a Court order that prohibits the publication or broadcasting of trial information.