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;



This is a very unusual word with two contradictory meanings. To "sanction" can mean to ratify or to approve but it can also mean to punish. The "sanction" of a crime refers to the actual punishment, usually expressed as a fine or jail term.

Latin for knowledge. In legal situations, the word is usually used to refer to "guilty knowledge". For example, owners of vicious dogs may be liable for injuries caused by these dogs if they can prove the owner's "scienter" (i.e. that the owner was aware, before the attack, of the dog's vicious character).

Search Warrant:
A court order (i.e. signed by a judge) that gives a police the permission to enter private property and to search for evidence of the commission of a crime, for the proceeds of crime or property that the police suspect may be used to commit a crime.

The status a creditor has when he has security or a right in some property that he can sell or realize on.

Something given or pledged to a person who is lending money in order to secure or guarantee payment of that debt.

Security Agreement:
A verbal or written agreement between a secured party and a debtor giving the secured party a security interest in personal property; a written agreement is not necessary of the secured party is in possession of the collateral.

The legal possession of property. In law, the term refers more specifically to the possession of land by a freeholder.

Seize or Sue:
That phrase referring to a concept that, in British Columbia and Alberta under the Personal Property Security Act, allows a secured creditor, in regard to consumer goods, to either seize or sue for the goods but not do both.  For example, a financial institution holding security over a vehicle that is used for personal use and not for business can on default either seize that vehicle and sell it in satisfaction of its debt or sue the person for what is owed, but cannot do both.

The punishment given to a person who has been convicted (i.e. found to be guilty) of a crime.

Sentencing Circles
An option in restorative justice that brings together affected people (victim, offender, police, etc.) to help sentence (decide the penalty for) the offender.

The taking of someone's property, voluntarily (by deposit) or involuntarily (by seizure), by court officers or into the possession of a third party, awaiting the outcome of a trial in which ownership of that property is at issue.

Servient Tenement:
The land which suffers or has the burden of an easement. The beneficiary of the easement is called a dominant tenement.


The transferring of property to another person or a gift.  Under certain circumstances, settlements are void against the Trustee and are brought back into the bankruptcy estate.

The person who actually creates a trust by donating property to be managed and administered by a trustee but from which all profits would go to a beneficiary. The law books of some countries refer to this person as a "donor."

A dollar realization on assets that is not sufficient to clear the debt completely.

Silent Partner:
A person who invests in a company or partnership but does not take part in administering or directing the organization; he or she just shares in the profits or losses.

Sine Die:
Adjourned without giving any future date of meeting or hearing.

Verbal or spoken defamation.

“Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.”

Slander of Title:
Intentionally casting aspersion on someone's property including real property, a business or goods (the latter might also be called "slander of goods").

Small Claims/Small Claims Court:
A Court which has simplified rules, thus encouraging non-lawyers to attend at the Court without legal representation.  In British Columbia, the amount that can be considered in a small claims action is $10,000 or less.


A term of the feudal system which referred to the tenure which was exchanged for certain goods or services which were not military in nature. Socage is often described as "free and common socage" although the "free and common" qualification is now of a purely historical significance.

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

A lawyer that restricts his or her practice to the giving of legal advice and does not normally litigate in the court room. Canadian lawyers can litigate or give legal advice.

Son of Sam law:
The phrase refers to laws that are designed to keep criminals from profiting from their crimes by selling their stories to publishers or movie makers. Named after the Son of Sam murders committed from between July 1976 and August 1977 by New York serial killer David Berkowitz, such laws authorize the state to seize money from criminals' book or movie deals and use it to compensate victims.

Special Resolution:
A term under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act whereby voting is carried out, for example when creditors accept or refuse a proposal.  In order for the Special Resolution to pass, of those creditors who vote there must be in excess of 2/3 of the dollars voting in favor and a simple majority in number of the creditors voting in favor.

Specific Charge:
A lien or security interest in a specific piece of property that can be distinguished from other pieces of property.  For example, security over a vehicle.

Springing Power of Attorney:
A Springing Power of Attorney allows you to appoint a trusted individual who will have authority to run your affairs while you are mentally incapacitated. Sometimes referred to as a "Enduring Power of Attorney" or "Durable Power of Attorney".

Stalking Horse: (US term - This strategy is seldom used in Canada)
This is the name given to the party submitting the first bid to purchase assets. The stalking horse bid can be used to solicit interest from other bidders and also acts as a floor for what will be realized at an auction.


Standing Committee:
A term of parliamentary law which refers to those committees which have a continued existence; that are not related to the accomplishment of a specific, once-only task as are ad hoc or special committees.

Stare Decisis:
A basic principle of the law whereby once a decision (a precedent) on a certain set of facts has been made, the courts will apply that decision in cases which subsequently come before it embodying the same set of facts. A precedent which is binding; must be followed.

Statement of Affairs:
The listing of a debtor's assets and liabilities and sworn under oath by the debtor before a lawyer or Commissioner for Taking Oaths.

Statement of Receipts and Disbursements:
A statement prepared in the matter of receivership or agency appointment or a bankruptcy appointment, whereby the realizations and disbursements are set out.

Status Quo:
The current state of affairs, or current position.

Statute of Limitations - Limitations Acts:
Provinces have Limitation Acts which provide a limit on the time by which an action must be started. For example, if an unsecured debt is not collected or payments are not made on the unsecured debt then after a certain time no legal action can be taken to collect the debt. In Ontario, the changes to the Limitations Act which come into force on January 1, 2004 will set two years as the term (Section 4).

The written laws approved by legislatures, parliaments or houses of assembly (i.e., politicians). Also known as "legislation".

Statutory Trust:
A trust created by the effect of a statute.

Stay of Proceedings:
The stopping or preventing of legal actions undertaken.  In the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, there is a stay of proceedings in the case of a bankruptcy or in the case of a proposal.  This stops all legal actions against the company or person.

Latin: the offspring of a person; his or her descendants. For example, inheriting per stirpes means having a right to a deceased's estate because you happen to be a descendant of the deceased.

Strict Liability:
Tort liability which is set upon the defendant without need to prove intent, negligence or fault; as long as you can prove that it was the defendant's object that caused the damage.

The process whereby, under the feudal system of tenure, a person receiving a grant of land from a lord, could himself become a lord by subdividing and subletting that land to others.

Sub Judice:
A matter that is still under consideration by a court. You will hear of politicians declining to speak on a certain subject because the subject matter is "sub judice".

To be subject to the orders or direction of another; of lower rank.

Latin: an order of a court which requires a person to be present at a certain time and place or suffer a penalty (subpoena means, literally, "under penalty").

The legal right that a person or corporation has when he pays someone's debt to recover that money from the debtor.


Subservient Tenement:
The real property that supports or endures an easement. The real property benefitting from an easement is called the dominant tenement.

Substituted Service:
If a party appears to be avoiding service of court documents, a request may be made with the court to, instead of personal service (i.e. giving the document directly to the person), that the document be published in a local newspaper, served on a person believed to frequent the person or mailed to his (or her) last known address.

A person who takes over the rights of another.

Sui Juris:
A person who possesses full civil rights and is not under any legal incapacity such as being bankrupt, of minor age or mental incapacity. Most adults are sui juris.

Summary Administration:
Under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act a summary administration bankruptcy is a consumer bankruptcy defined as a bankruptcy where the free and clear assets are less than $10,000.  Summary administration bankruptcies have stream lined procedures, making them less costly to administer.

Summary Conviction Offence:
In Canada, a less serious offence than indictable offences.

In the USA, this is one of the initial documents issued in a civil suit; giving the defendant notice of the claim and an opportunity to defend it. The summons also gives the court which issues it the authority to dispose of the matter. In Canadian criminal law, this is the document used by the police to compel an accused to attend court to answer the charges. It does not involve the arrest of the accused and is used where the police, either by the relatively less serious nature of the crime or because of the standing of the accused in the community, do not believe that arrest is necessary to ensure the attendance of the accused at court.

The person who has pledged him or herself to pay back money or perform a certain action if the principal to a contract fails, as collateral, and as part of the original contract.

Synallagmatic Contract:
A civil law term for a reciprocal or bilateral contract: one in which both parties provide consideration. A contract of sale is a classic example, where one party provides money and the other, goods or services. A gift is not a synallagmatic contract.




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