Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition

Canadian Law Dictionary.

A; B; C; D; E; F; G & H; I; J; L; M; N; O; P; Q; R; S; T; U; V; W;

Canadian Law Dictionary. A comprehensive dictionary of Canadian legal terms including the most detailed dictionary of Canadian Bankruptcy terms extant.

A reduction in some amount that is owed, usually granted by the person to whom the debt is owed. For example, a landlord might grant an abatement in rent. In estate law, the word may refer more specifically to a situation where property identified in a will cannot be given to the beneficiary because it had to be sold to pay off the deceased debts. Debts are paid before gifts made in wills are distributed and where a specific gift has to be sold to pay off a debt, it is said to "abate" (compare with "ademption").

A barbaric form of corporal punishment meted out in the middle ages where persons would be permanently blinded by the pressing of hot irons to the open eyes.

To take someone away from a place without that person's consent or by fraud. See also " kidnapping".

The act of encouraging or inciting another to do a certain thing, such as a crime.

Ab Initio:
Latin: from the start.

Complete and without conditions.  For example, a bankrupt, usually after nine months receives an Absolute Order of Discharge, which means all of his debts, with certain exceptions, are wiped out.

Abstract of Title:
A chronological history of property showing the chain of title from its original grant to the present ownership.

Acceleration Clause:
Any clause in a contract which spells out that when certain actions are taken, the clause comes into effect.  A common acceleration clause is the clause in a lease that says if a company goes into bankruptcy, three months rent is due as a preferred claim.

The act of accepting something, usually a contract.  For example, an offer is made to some person that that person buys certain goods for a certain amount of money.  If the person to whom the offer is made agrees, then the offer is considered to be accepted.


Goods that are installed in or affixed to other goods.

Accord and Satisfaction:
A term of contract law by which one party, having complied with its obligation under a contract, accepts some type of compensation from the other party (usually money and of a lesser value) in lieu of enforcing the contract and holding the other party to their obligation.

The imperceptible and gradual addition to land by the slow action of water.

Action or inaction which binds a person legally even though it was not intended as such.

A bill which has passed through the various legislative steps and, hence, has become law.

Act of God:
An event which is caused solely by the effect of nature or natural causes and without any interference by humans whatsoever.

Ad Colligendum Bona:
When a person dies and there is no apparent executor or administrator, a person can be appointed by Court order and for the limited and sole purpose of collecting, inventorizing and preserving the assets of the deceased until an appropriate full-fledged administrator can be found or appointed. This person is known as an administrator ad colligendum.

Ad Damnum:
Latin: refers to the parts or sections of a petition that speaks to the damages that were suffered and claimed by the plaintiff.

A proceeding in a Court of law where one person seeks a Court Order for the enforcement of that person's or company's rights.

An attachment to a written document. For example, affidavits may be addendums to a petition as a petition may be an addendum to a writ.

A reference to the fact that property identified in a will cannot be given to the beneficiary because it no longer belonged to the deceased at the time of death.

Adhesion Contract:
A fine-print consumer form contract which is generally given to consumers at point-of-sale, with no opportunity for negotiation as to it's terms, and which, typically, sets out the terms and conditions of the sale, usually to the advantage of the seller.

Ad Hoc:
Latin: for this purpose; for a specific purpose.


Ad Infinitum:
Latin: forever; without limit; indefinitely.

Ad Litem:
Latin: for the suit. A person appointed only for the purposes of prosecuting or defending an action on behalf of another such as a child or mentally-challenged person. Also called a guardian ad litem.

The delay or postponement usually to another time of a meeting or action.

Adjustment Date:
The date on which parties agree that certain financial adjustments will be made to a contract.  For example, on the sale of property, there is an adjustment date set which is the time for the costs, such as property taxes, water, etc., to be apportioned between the purchaser and the vendor.

Administrative Law:
Synonymous with "natural justice." Administrative law is that body of law which applies for hearings before quasi-judicial or administrative tribunals.

Bankruptcy Law: A Trustee or person appointed or designated by the Superintendent of Bankruptcy to administer consumer proposals.

Deceased Pesons: A person who administers the estate of a person deceased. Female administrators are called "administratrix."

Abbreviation for alternative dispute resolution.

Adverse Possession:
The possession of land, without legal title, for a period of time sufficient to become recognized as legal owner. The more common word for this is "squatters."

A statement by a person in which the person states that to the best of his or her knowledge, the facts in question are true.  An affidavit is sworn before a Notary, Commissioner for Taking Oaths, lawyer or some other judicial officer who can administer oaths.

Affirmation (Solemn ):
A solemn promise that has the same effect as a religious oath.

After Acquired Property:
Property of a bankrupt acquired between the date of bankruptcy and prior to the bankrupt's discharge from bankruptcy.

A person who has received, usually by appointment, the power to act on behalf of another.

Agent - Section 427 of the Bank Act:
A person, usually a Trustee in Bankruptcy, appointed by a bank to realize on its security as defined under Section 427 of the Bank Act.  The security covered is inventory.

Aggravated Damages:
Special and highly exceptional damages awarded by a court where the circumstances of the tortious conduct have been particularly humiliating or malicious towards the plaintiff/victim.

An amount given to one spouse by another while they are separated or divorced.

To sell or give completely and without reserve; to transfer title to somebody else. A voluntary conveyance of property, especially real property.

A kind of land ownership that is unfetterred, outright and absolute. It is the opposite of the feudal system and supposes no obligation to another (ie. a lord).

A piece of paper which has been attached to a contract, a cheque or any promissory note, on which to add signatures because there is not enough room on the main document.


Alternative Dispute Resolution:
Also known as "ADR"; methods by which legal conflicts and disputes are resolved privately and other than through litigation in the public courts, usually through one of two forms: mediation or arbitration. The advantages of ADR are speed and money: it costs less and is quicker than court litigation. ADR forums are also private. The disadvantage is that it often involves compromise.

The merging of two things together to form one such as the amalgamation of different companies to form a single company.

Something which is not cast in stone; which can be changed or revoked, such as a will.

To change, to revise, usually to the wording of a written document such as legislation.

Amicus Curiae:
Latin: friend of the court. Refers more specifically to persons asking for permission to intervene in a case in which they are neither plaintiff or defendant, usually to present their point of view (or that of their organization) in a case which has the potential of setting a legal precedent in their area of activity.

Animus Contrahendi:
Latin: an intention to contract.

To make void or to cancel.

To date back; retroactively. To date a document to a time before it was written.

An event or document which pre-dates a marriage. For example, an "antenuptial agreement" is one which is signed before marriage. A antenuptial gift is a gift given by one spouse to the other before marriage.

To ask a more senior Court or person to review a decision of a subordinate Court or person.

The act of showing up in Court as either plaintiff, defendant, accused, or any other party to a Court action.

Appellate Practice:
Appellate practice refers to the procedure of conducting an appeal, whereby a court decision is appealed to a higher court.

The act of making a request usually of the Court, for example, an application to have a bankrupt discharged.

The act of designating, or the acquisition of some, responsibility or position.  For example, the Court can appoint a Trustee in Bankruptcy as Receiver of some property.


Things attached to real property or, by their nature, belonging with real property; e.g., an easement or a right of way.

A dispute resolution mechanism, whereby an independent neutral third party is appointed to hear and consider the merits of the dispute, and who renders a final and binding decision called an award.

Arm's Length:
The act of dealing with a person who is not a relative but an independent third party.

The amount of money by which a contract or obligation is in default.

The valuing of a thing or property

A thing, chattel, resource or item or piece of property owned or controlled by a person or company.

To give or to transfer responsibility to another.

Assignment of Book Accounts:
The assigning by a company or business to a lender, usually a bank, the interest that the person or company has in accounts receivables.

Assignment into Bankruptcy:
The act of a person who places himself or his company into bankruptcy pursuant to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

Satisfaction or reparation of a wrong or injury; to make up for errors or deficiencies.

To turn over; e.g., rent; a tenant agrees to recognize a new party as landlord.

An alternate word for lawyers or " barrister & solicitor", used mostly in the USA.

Audi Alteram Partem:
Latin: a principle of natural justice which prohibits a judicial decision which impacts upon individual rights without giving all parties in the dispute a right to be heard.

Autrefois Acquit:
French word now part of English criminal law terminology. Refers to an accused who cannot be tried for a crime because the record shows he has already been subjected to trial for the same conduct and was acquitted.

A Vinculo Matrimonii:
Latin: of marriage. The term is now used to refer to a final and permanent divorce.

Land accretion that occurs by the erosion or addition of one's land by the sudden and unexpected change in a river stream such as a flash flood.

Latin: a mother's brother. "Avuncular" refers to an uncle.




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