This Legal Studies glossary contains terms and concepts relevant to Australian law, courts and legal processes. This page contains words from ‘E’ to ‘K’. This glossary is written and maintained by lawgovpol.com authors:
To empanel is to select and appoint individuals onto a jury.
Entrapment is a situation where police or other law enforcement officers encourage an individual to commit a criminal offence that they would not otherwise have committed.
Entrenched rights are rights guaranteed in the text of a constitution. They can only be changed by amending the constitution.
Evidence is material presented at a trial or hearing, either in testimony or as exhibits. Evidence is used to draw conclusions about relevant facts of the case.
Exclusive powers are constitutional powers that belong solely to the Federal parliament and not the States.
Latin, ‘by one party’. An ex parte matter or decision is one made by a court where one or more of the parties involved are not present.
Explicit powers are powers specifically outlined in the text of a constitution or legislation.
explicit rights (see express rights)
Express rights are rights that are clearly and definitively protected in the wording of a constitution or legislation.
A false confession is a dishonest admission of guilt to a criminal offence. False confessions can be given voluntarily or under coercion.
The Family Court is a superior court in the Federal court hierarchy. It is responsible for hearing matters relevant to family law, such as the validity of marriage, separation and divorce, child custody, contact, access and property.
The Federal Court is the Commonwealth equivalent of State Supreme Courts. It hears civil disputes and some criminal matters governed by Commonwealth legislation. The Federal Court is subordinate only to the High Court.
Federal government (see Commonwealth government)
Federalism is a political system where law-making powers are shared between more than one level of government. Australia’s federalism has one Commonwealth or national government, six State governments and numerous local governments.
Federal Magistrates’ Court
The Federal Magistrates’ Court is the lowest court of the Federal hierarchy. It deals mainly with cases such as bankruptcy, immigration claims and family law disputes.
A felony is an American term describing a serious criminal offence, usually one that might attract a substantial prison term. In Australian law the broad equivalent to a felony is an indictable offence.
A fine is an amount of money payable to the court, levied as a sanction for a criminal offence.
The First Reading is the formal introduction of a bill into parliament. Its short and long titles are read aloud, then the bill is tabled and placed on the agenda for debate.
Fraud is an act of deception, intended to achieve personal gain or to damage another party. Fraud is an indictable offence.
Freedom of Information (or FOI)
Freedom of Information laws, or FOI, are laws that guarantee citizens access to information held by a government, provided they have a ‘need to know’ and the release of this information does not jeopardise public safety.
The Full Bench is a sitting of a tribunal or court where all its judges are in attendance, usually because the matter is significant.
The government of the day refers to the political party or party coalition with a majority in the House of Representatives (Commonwealth) or lower house (States). The government of the day forms the executive government, appointing ministers.
A governor is a vice-regal officer, the representative of the Crown at State level.
The governor-general is a vice-regal officer, the representative of the Crown at Commonwealth level.
Latin, ‘have you the body’. Habeas corpus is a long standing legal principle that protects individuals from unlawful detention and mistreatment. A writ of habeas corpus requires the police, government or other authority to produce a detained person before a court, to ensure that due process is followed.
A hand-up brief is a form of committal hearing where documents alone are tendered to the court as evidence.
harmonisation of laws
Harmonisation is a series of law reforms that remove contradictions, inconsistencies or loopholes between laws in two separate but neighbouring jurisdictions.
Hearsay is information about an event or situation, provided by an individual who had no direct experience of it. Second- or third-hand reports, rumour and gossip all constitute hearsay. In most cases hearsay is not considered admissible evidence in criminal trials.
The High Court is the most superior court in the Australian court hierarchy. It is the highest court of criminal and civil appeal. The High Court is also responsible for challenges to legislation and constitutional interpretation.
House of Representatives
The House of Representatives is the lower house of the Australian Federal parliament. It is where the majority party forms the government of the day.
house of review
A house of review refers to second or alternative chamber in a bicameral parliament or assembly. The house of review examines, checks and debates bills introduced in the other chamber.
Human rights are core rights that guarantee individuals protection from harm, exploitation and mistreatment. They include the right to life, as well as freedom from discrimination and persecution.
A hung jury is a jury that is irrevocably split and unable to reach a decision.
Implied rights are rights that are deemed to exist, even if they are not explicitly outlined in the text of a constitution or legislation. Implied rights are derived from constitutional or statutory interpretation and outlined in court decisions.
Inadmissible evidence is material submitted to a trail or hearing but not allowed by the judge, usually because it does not meet the rules of evidence.
Latin, ‘in a chamber’. An in camera meeting, hearing or trial is held with no public or media access.
An indictable offence (pronounced in-dite-able) is a criminal offence of a serious nature. Indictable offences require presentation before a judge and jury and, if proven, can result in strong sanctions such as imprisonment. In other jurisdictions indictable offences are known as felonies.
An injunction is a court order requiring a party to do, or to refrain from doing, a particular thing. A common form of injunction is a restriction on the publication in the media of names or material.
in loco parentis
Latin, ‘in the place of a parent’. In loco parentis is a legal principle requiring teachers, guardians and other supervisors to ensure the safety and well being of children when their parents are absent.
An inquest is a formal inquiry, summoned and conducted by a coroner, to establish causes for a sudden and unexplained death. The findings of an inquest may recommend the laying of criminal charges to police.
The inquisitorial system is a legal system used in parts of Europe. In this system judges take an active role in the investigation and cross-examination of witnesses.
Latin ‘in its place’. In situ evidence is found in its natural location and is thus less likely to have been disturbed, manipulated or corrupted.
institutional law reform
Institutional law reform originates from bodies or organisations specifically created to review the law and suggest changes. These bodies include parliamentary committees and the Commonwealth and State law reform commissions.
interest group (see lobby group)
intervention order (see injunction)
In statutory interpretation, intrinsic materials are sections or phrases contained in legislation that assist a judge to interpret other parts of the legislation. Intrinsic materials can take several forms, including instructions for interpretation and definitions of terms or concepts.
A judge is an independent official who oversees the operation of a court and acts as an arbiter of justice.
Of or relating to judges and their role in the legal system.
Judicial discretion is the power of judges to make decisions using their personal judgement, based on the facts at hand. A common example of judicial discretion is a judge’s capacity to decide appropriate sanctions and sentences, taking into account factors such as circumstances, mitigation and prospects for rehabilitation.
justice of the peace (or JP)
A justice of the peace, or JP, is a civilian of good character who is authorised by the state to exercise minor judicial powers. The powers of a JP vary across jurisdictions but often include the authority to witness and notarise documents and affidavits, to issue search warrants and hear bail applications.
A jurisdiction describes the area where a particular parliament, court or authority has the power to pass or enforce laws. Parliaments and courts may not operate outside their jurisdiction.
A jury is a panel of independent adult citizens who attend a trial and consider the evidence presented, then reach a verdict. An individual jury member is known as a juror.
A foreperson is a member of the jury, elected by other jurors to act as a representative and spokesperson for the jury. The foreperson has the task of asking questions or seeking clarifications from the judge, as well as delivering the jury’s final verdict.
Jury selection is the process of reviewing jury candidates and empanelling a jury. In most jurisdictions the jury members are chosen randomly from the electoral roll, summoned to the court and examined. Potential jurors may be subject to challenge by either of the parties involved in the case.
The Koori Court is a division of the Magistrates Court of Victoria. The Koori Court is available to offenders who plead guilty to criminal offences. The matter is then transferred for hearing and sentencing in the Koori Court. This specialist court allows for involvement of indigenous community leaders, a more informal procedure and less legal jargon than mainstream courts.