Glossary of Common Court, Tribunal and Legal Terms for Interpreters | Featured Article

Featured Articles

Read and Enjoy!

Join Translation Journal

Click on the Subscribe button below to receive regular updates.


Glossary of Common Court, Tribunal and Legal Terms for Interpreters

legal glossary for interpreters

Download the PDF Version here


This Glossary of Common Court, Tribunal and Legal Terms for Interpreters was developed to provide court interpreters with common legal terms and their definitions to assist them in performing the specialist task of court interpreting.  It was created by a special task force funded by the Australian Queensland Government.  While the aim of this report was to provide court interpreters with common legal terms and their definitions to assist them in performing the specialist task of Queensland court interpreting , the definitions are applicable to other countries. For those new to court interpreting, this guide will be an invaluable resource.  

The Queensland Government recognises the difficulty of interpreting many of these terms and phrases to different languages with little to no preparation. 

The attached pdf is a workbook with white space allocated to encourage interpreters to write their own notes and translations. Users of this glossary can also change or modify it to suit themselves.


Criminal Charges




Armed robbery in company

Taking something of value from a victim by force with a weapon, in the company of another offender or offenders.


A crime of violence against another person that causes them to get hurt. (Assault is often defined to include not only violence, but also any intentional physical contact with another person without their consent.)

Assault occasioning bodily harm (AOBH)

An assault resulting in injury that is not usually permanent.

Assault occasioning grievous bodily harm (GBH)

An assault resulting in a serious permanent injury.

Attempted murder

The crime of preparing to commit unlawful killing and trying to cause the death of another person.

Breach of bail

A violation of a bail order.

Break and enter

Illegal entry into a building.

Child endangerment

Placing a child in a potentially harmful situation, through either negligence or misconduct.

Common assault

An act of unlawful violence that does not cause any lasting injury or scarring.

Contempt of court

A court order that declares a person or organisation to have disobeyed or been disrespectful of the court's authority.


An illegal act of imitating or counterfeiting documents, signatures, works of art, etc. to trick people.


Deceitful or deceptive conduct designed to manipulate another person to give something of value.

Indecent assault

An assault accompanied by an indecent act.

Indecent exposure

The revealing to view of the genitals, which by law and public agreement should be covered by clothing.

Malicious damage

An offence of damaging property with malice (hatred).


Unlawful homicide (killing) caused unintentionally.


Unlawful homicide (killing) caused intentionally with malice.


An offence of giving false evidence (telling lies) under oath in judicial proceedings.

Perverting the course of justice

Stopping justice from being served by:

  • fabricating or disposing evidence; and/or
  • intimidating and threatening a witness, juror and/or judge.
  • for the accused to plead guilty to a lesser charge; and
  • for the prosecution to avoid the cost of a full trial.
  • a child of the aggrieved;
  • a child who usually resides with the aggrieved;
  • a relative of the aggrieved; or
  • an associate of the aggrieved.
  • Behaviour by a person (the first person) towards another person (the second person) with whom the first person is in a relevant relationship that is:
  • physically or sexually abusive;
  • emotionally or psychologically abusive;
  • economically abusive; or is threatening;
  • coercive; or
  • in any other way controls or dominates the second person to fear for the second person's safety or wellbeing or that of someone else.
  • in way that denies the second person the economic or financial autonomy the second person would have had but for that behaviour;
  • by withholding or threatening to withhold the financial support necessary for meeting the reasonable living expenses of the second person or a child, if the second person or the child is entirely or predominately dependent on the first person for financial support to meet those living expenses.
  • the respondent was present in court when it was made;
  • a police officer has personally served the protection order upon them; or
  • the respondent has been told by a police officer about the existence of the order, including the condition alleged to have been contravened.
  • an approved intervention program; and/or
  • counselling provided by an approved provider.
  • a legally binding promise or agreement; and
  • the form or document that records the terms of an agreement between parties.
  • an error arising from an accidental slip or omission;
  • a material miscalculation of figures or a material mistake in the description of a matter, person or thing mentioned in the decision; or
  • a defect of form.
    • understanding the nature and effect of the decision;
    • freely and voluntarily making a decision; and
    • communicating the decision in some way.
  • a party did not appear (and has a good reason for this); or
  • significant new evidence has come to light that was not available at the first QCAT hearing and there would be ‘substantial injustice’ to the party if it wasn’t re-opened to hear this evidence; or
  • it is more effective or convenient for QCAT to deal with the matter this way instead of by way of an appeal.

Sexual assault

An assault that is sexual in nature.


Seeking to influence or incite (provoke) to unlawful action.

Steal by finding

An offence of stealing by finding and keeping items belonging to another.


An offence of entering and remaining on enclosed lands without consent of the owner.

Unlawful detention

An unlawful act of detaining another.


Common Terms and Phrases

Commonly Used Legal Terms/Phrases




A bill that has become law after passing through required legislative steps.

Admissible evidence

Legal testimonial, documentary or tangible evidence that may be presented in court.


A written statement sworn or affirmed before a notary public or a Justice of the Peace.

Affidavit of service

An affidavit setting out how a legal document has been served on a party.


A declaration made instead of an oath.

Agreed facts

A set of specific information agreed by the defence and the prosecution, regarding the charges that are brought before the court. Usually presented after a plea of guilty.


An accused person’s defence or explanation that they did not commit the alleged offence, because they were elsewhere or with somebody else.

Alleged (unproven)

As put forward by the prosecution in relation to an offence. The court will determine if it is true or not.

Alleged facts

The circumstances of the offence proposed by the prosecution.

Alleged offender

A person suspected of committing a criminal act.

Alleged victim

A person claiming to be a victim of a crime.

Alternative charge

A back‐up charge in addition to the main charge against the accused. For example, a murder charge accompanied by an alternative charge of manslaughter. Then, even if the evidence is not sufficient to prove the murder charge, it may be used to prove the manslaughter charge.

Amicus  curiae

A solicitor, not a party to a case, who volunteers to offer information to assist a court in deciding a matter before it.

Antecedents/Criminal history

Records of previous criminal offences, usually with details of conviction, penalties and appeals.


To be present in court.

Appear as agent

To be present in court, but in the place of the law firm representing the defendant/accused.

Appear for…

To be present in court representing one of the parties in the proceeding.

Bail conditions

A set of restrictions imposed by the court upon an accused person in order to grant him/her temporary release while awaiting the court outcome. These usually involve: reporting to the police, surrendering their passports etc.


The table where the practicing lawyers and prosecutors sit during court proceedings.


A lawyer who specialises in courtroom litigation, which is different to a solicitor who has direct contact with clients for instructions. Barristers are usually instructed by solicitors for cases in the District and Supreme Courts. They usually wear a robe and wig in court as a distinction from solicitors.


The raised area in a courtroom where the presiding judge or magistrate sits.

Beyond reasonable doubt

There is no other reasonable explanation or inference. This is the level to which the prosecution must prove that the accused person committed the offence in a criminal proceeding.

Brief of evidence/Police brief

A complete set of statements, reports and forensic results that form all the evidence intended to be used against the accused person.

Burden of proof

The responsibility to prove all elements of the alleged offence. In criminal cases, this responsibility falls upon the prosecution.

Call‐over list

A list of cases that are to be called for mention.

Court attendance notice (CAN)

A field notice issued by the police advising the person that his/her offence will be dealt with in court.

Case conference

A meeting between the parties to discuss the issues in dispute in order to resolve the matter more quickly.


A verbal precautionary warning given by the police or court to a suspect or accused person stating their rights.


Judge and barrister’s office.

Circuit Judge

A judge who does not sit in just one court. He/she usually travels between different regional or country courts.

Common Law (Australia)

Federal laws enacted by the Australian Parliament and laws enacted by the states and territories parliaments.

Common purpose

The shared intention of two or more people who agreed on a criminal venture.


Payments awarded for damages and costs.

Conditional discharge

The release of an offender on the condition that he/she will be of good behaviour and not commit another offence for a specified period.


Evidence that supports and validates another.


A distinct charge in an indictment.

Court reporter

A stenographer who records the official proceeding either by shorthand or by machine to produce court transcripts.

Court transcript

A written record of all that was said and done during the course of a hearing or trial.

Court’s discretion

The court’s own prudent (wise) decision/judgement.

Criminal intent

A planned intention to commit a criminal offence.

Cross examination

Questions posed to a witness by the opposition side relating what has already been presented as evidence during evidence in chief.

(Related terms: Evidence in chief and re‐examination)


A condition imposed by the court placing time restrictions on the movements of a defendant or accused person.

De Facto

Latin: "as a matter of fact"

It is a fact that is not necessarily sanctioned by law. E.g. De facto husband and wife, who although are not legally married, live in a domestic situation as husband and wife.

Disregard a comment

To ignore a comment and not regard it as evidence.


An enclosed area in the courtroom where a defendant or accused person who is in custody sits during a hearing/trial.

Elements of the offence

Integral parts that make up the definition of an offence.

Evidence in chief

The questioning of your own witness in court to produce evidence.

Execute a search warrant

Perform legal searches upon a premises or person in accordance with conditions specified in a warrant signed by a magistrate or judge.


An object or document that is tendered as evidence in court. It is always given an identification number after being tendered and will be referred to by this number from then on.

Expert evidence

Scientific, forensic, medical and professional evidence provided by authorised and qualified experts.

Expert witness

Qualified and authorised specialised, scientific, forensic or medical professional who is requested to give expert evidence in court.


A broad spectrum of sciences that is used in seeking explanations and answers relating to evidence before a court.

Fresh charges

Newly laid charges against the accused.

Habeas corpus

Latin: ‘You have the body’

A writ that orders the detained person to be brought to court in order to justify his/her detention.

Hearsay evidence

Evidence based on what has been reported to a witness by others rather than what he has himself observed or experienced.

Hostile witness

A witness who is reluctant to tell the truth, for fear of retribution or self-incrimination. In such a circumstance, the defence or prosecution can seek leave to declare this person a hostile witness.

“I put it to you that…”

A phrase commonly used during  the cross-examination of a witness suggesting a proposition to what has happened as opposed to what the witness has stated. Mainly to pre‐empt a line of defence or argument.

For example:

"I put it to you that on the night of 19 October, you did not see the defendant entering the building across the road.”

Inadmissible evidence

Any form of tainted, illegally obtained, hear‐say or irrelevant evidence that has been refused by the court, to be admitted as evidence in court.


Latin: ‘in private’

A hearing or trial where the public and press are not permitted to observe. This is usually reserved for sensitive cases or cases where the witness or defendant is a child.


An assurance of protection from being prosecuted.

Indictable offence

An offence making one liable to be indicted in the District Court or Supreme Court.

Interim order

A temporary order granted for the duration of an adjournment.

Joint custody

An arrangement between estranged parents to share the upbringing of their child/children. Joint custody can be joint legal and/or joint physical custody.

Judge’s ruling

A judge’s authoritative decision on a debated point of law.


A final court ruling that resolves disputes in a lawsuit that determines the rights and responsibilities of the involved party.


The limitation of the power of a particular court to hear certain cases in certain areas.

Leading question

A question which is phrased in a way that can suggest a sought after answer. Leading questions are usually not allowed, however in some circumstances both parties can agree to allow leading questions for undisputed facts.


A judicial officer in the Magistrates Court.

Mens rea

Latin: ‘guilty mind’

The mental state of the offender while committing the crime. This criminal intent is one of the necessary elements of a crime.

Marked for identification (MFI)

When a piece of evidence is presented to the court but, due to the lack of further corroborating evidence or other factors, cannot yet be tendered as an exhibit. It would therefore be marked for identification.

Mitigating circumstances

Facts or circumstances which, although cannot be used as a defence, can be submitted in an attempt to reduce the seriousness of the situation.


A reason of desire or need that causes a person to do something. For example, obtaining money may be a motive for murder.

No Bill Application

An application to discontinue a prosecution either by the defence or by the prosecution after reconsidering the facts.

Non-indictable offence

A minor offence that must be heard in the Magistrates Court.

Notice to appear (NTA)

A field notice issued by the police advising the person that his/her offence will be dealt with in court.


This is when people swear on the Bible that they will tell the truth. If people have a valid reason not to swear on the Bible, they may affirm their evidence.


A motion in court, which can be made by either side, to disallow a question or evidence.


An action by the court to disallow an objection or argument.


As opposed to a suspect, a perpetrator is one who actually committed an offence.

Plea bargain

A negotiation process between the defence and prosecution, before a criminal trial begins, to give opportunity:

Post mortem examination

Latin: ‘after death’

An autopsy. An examination of a corpse to determine the cause of death.


Also commonly referred to as ‘authority’, a precedent is a legal case establishing a law, principle or rule that a court or other judicial body may apply when determining similar cases.


A preconceived adverse judgment or opinion.

Premeditated crime

A crime committed with deliberate consideration and planning.

Prima facie

Latin: ‘on the face of it’ or ‘at first sight’

A legal presumption that means that upon the initial observation, there is sufficient evidence that can be used to prosecute.

Privileged information

Details or information that is legally protected against disclosure.


Latin: ‘for the public good’

Voluntary and free professional legal services undertaken as a public service.

Public gallery

A seating area at the back of the court for the public.

Quash a conviction

To set aside or annul a conviction that was previously imposed.

Queen’s Counsel (QC)

A senior barrister who has practiced for at least ten years and is appointed to be Her Majesty’s Counsel. This membership only exists in various Commonwealth countries. QCs wear silk robes in distinction to the woollen robes worn by normal barristers.


A second chance for the defence or prosecution to ask questions of their own witness relating to evidence given during cross‐examination.

Remand/Remand in custody

A court order to temporarily keep a person in custody pending further court appearances.


To commit the same offence again.

Repeat offender

A person who repeatedly commits and is convicted of the same offence such as drink driving, speeding, stealing etc., over a short period of time.

Seek leave to appear

A requested permission made to the court to represent a person or the prosecution.

Seek leave to withdraw

A requested permission made to the court to remove oneself from a case.

Self-incriminating evidence

Self‐implicated evidence given by a witness in a trial or other legal proceedings that could subject him/her to criminal prosecution.

Show cause situation

A presumption that bail should not be granted unless the accused can satisfy the court that bail should be granted.


A member of the legal profession who may give legal advice to, prepare cases for, and represents clients in lower courts.


A witness’ written account of what they heard and saw. A civilian usually gives a statement to a police officer who assists by asking relevant questions.

Statutory declaration

A written statement declared to be true in the presence of an authorised witness, usually a Justice of the Peace Commissioner of Declarations, or solicitor.


A court order that requires a person to give evidence in court or to produce certain documents to the court.

Summary offence

Minor offence that is dealt with in Magistrates courts.


A document issued by a court that initiates legal proceedings or requires a person to attend court.


A person who takes responsibility for a bail applicant to assure the court that the bail applicant will fulfil their bail conditions by agreeing to forfeit an amount of money in the event of a breach of bail.


A known person who is suspected by the police of committing a crime.


To uphold or support an objection in court.

Tender something as evidence

To formally offer a statement, legal documents and/or tangible evidence to the court, during a hearing or trial, as proof of guilt or innocence. The tendered evidence, if accepted by the court, will be issued with an exhibit number.

Under duress

When a person is compelled by threats or coercion to commit criminal acts or to give a confession or consent to something, he/she is said to be ‘under duress’.

Vacate a trial date

The cancellation of a pre-set trial date.

Withdraw a question/comment

Retract a question that has been objected to by the opposition.

Without prejudice

With no preconceived adverse judgement or opinion.


A summons or an order made by a court requiring specific action from a person or prohibiting them from doing certain things.


Court Decisions

Court Decision/Judgements/Sentencing




A guarantee or pledge to the court.

Community service order (CSO)

A court order requiring a convicted offender to do unpaid community services for a number of hours.

Concurrent sentences

A series of sentences that are to be served simultaneously, usually for similar offences that were committed at the same time.


Personal and/or psychological help given by a professional.

Court cost

Cost ordered to be paid by a convicted offender to the court for administrative fees.

Cumulative sentence

Sentences that are served one after another by an offender, as opposed to concurrent sentences.

Custodial sentence

A sentence of imprisonment.

Drug Court

Drug Court is a court that handles the cases of non‐violent substance abusing offenders who can join voluntary drug rehabilitation and counselling programs in exchange for a more lenient sentence.

Intensive correction order (Home detention)

A sentence of imprisonment, which the convicted offender can serve at home under strict conditions.

MERIT program

Magistrate Early Referral Into Treatment Program. A Magistrates court diversion program for defendants with illicit drug use problems. Defendants assessed as suitable can undertake voluntary supervised drug treatment as part of their bail conditions.

Non‐parole period

Actual period served in custody by a convicted offender as part of a sentence of imprisonment.

Objective elements

Elements that are based on facts rather than thoughts or opinions.

Offender levy

An amount required to be paid by the defendant when they are convicted to contribute to the administration expenses of the court.

Penalty units

Penalty units are used to define the maximum penalty for fines for offences. When the amount of the penalty unit is changed, it affects the amounts of all fines.

Pre‐sentence report

A report about the circumstances of a convicted offender made before the court passes sentence. It assists the court to decide which sentence/s would be most appropriate.


A light sentence imposed by the court requiring the offender to be of good behaviour i.e. not to commit any offence for a set period and may include other conditions such as attending a course.

Released at large

The defendant has been asked to come back to court on another date, but there will be no penalty imposed if the defendant does not appear. However, the court may issue a warrant for the defendant’s arrest or deal with the charge in the defendant’s absence if they do not appear.

Sentenced to the rising of the court

A convicted offender is sentenced to stay in the custody of the court until the court is adjourned.

Sentencing options

A number of alternative sentences that the court can use.

Subjective elements

Elements that are based on feelings, beliefs and personal experience.


Help and guidance for criminal offenders provided by the Probation and Parole office.

Suspended sentence

A sentence of imprisonment that is only required to be served if the accused commits another offence within a set period of time.


Court Procedures

Court Procedures



Abort a trial

Terminate a trial before it is completed.


This is where a judicial officer will hear the case at a later date.


To call an accused person before a court to answer the charge made against him/her by indictment.


Judgment that a defendant is not guilty of a crime as charged.

Bail application

An application for an accused person to be released from custody during the court proceeding.

Bench warrant

A warrant issued by the presiding magistrate or judge for the arrest of a person.

Change of plea

A defendant changing their answers to the charge from “not guilty” to “guilty” or vice versa.

Closed Court

The court proceeding is not open to the public – usually reserved for sensitive cases or cases involving children.

Committal hearing

A preliminary hearing of an indictable offence held before a magistrate to determine whether there is enough evidence for the charges to be heard by the District or Supreme court.


A court verdict that finds a defendant guilty of a crime.


The ruling by a court that the proceeding is finalised because it is not successful.

Ex parte hearing

Latin: ‘on one side only’

A hearing done in in the absence of a party.


The transfer of an accused from one state or country to another state or country that seeks to place the accused on trial.

Hand-up committal

A committal hearing in which, with the agreement of the defence, prosecution and the magistrate, the written statements of the prosecution witnesses are simply presented to the magistrate and no witnesses appear in court.


A legal proceeding where an issue of law or fact is tried and evidence is presented to help determine the issue.


A written accusation charging that an individual named in the accusation has committed an act or omitted to do something that is punishable by law. Indictments are only made to the District or Supreme court.


An explanation of the law governing a case, which the judge gives orally to the jury after the attorneys have presented all the evidence and have made final arguments, but before the jury begins deliberations.


An inquiry by a Coroner or medical examiner, sometimes with the aid of a jury, into the cause of a violent death or a death occurring under suspicious circumstances.

Judge’s summing up

A Judges’ address to the jury at the end of the trial summarising all evidence produced in court and arguments from both sides, and instructing the jury on points of law.


A meeting between two contending parties with an independent person in order to aid them in the settlement of their disagreement.


The initial listings of a matter in court before it goes to hearing or sentencing for the purpose of entering a plea, applying for bail, etc.


The formal registration of protest against the admission of a piece of evidence at trial or a line of questioning on the grounds of some legal defect.

Opening address

An opening speech made by the Crown Prosecutor and the defence counsel to the Jury in a trial to give a brief outline of the case.

Pre‐trial hearing

A proceeding held before an official trial, mainly to clarify points of law and facts.

Registry committal

A committal that is dealt with in the registry of the court, without a hearing, using only documents filed by the parties.


The opinion, argument, etc. put forward by the contending parties in a court case.


Examination of evidence and applicable law by a court to determine the issues of specified charges or claims.

Voir dire

Old French: ’to speak the truth’

A preliminary examination of prospective jurors or witnesses under oath to determine their competence or suitability.


Levels of Court




Children’s Court

A court that deals with matters related to the care and protection of children and young people, and also criminal cases concerning children and young people.

Coroners Court

A court that conducts inquests into deaths.

District Court

The middle court in the State’s legal system. It is a trial court and can hear certain appeals. It has both a criminal and a civil jurisdiction.

Family Court

A specialist Federal court dealing only with family law matters.

High Court

The High Court is the highest court in the Australian judicial system. The functions of the High Court are to interpret and apply the law of Australia, decide cases of special federal significance including challenges to the constitutional validity of laws and to hear appeals from Federal, State and Territory courts.

Magistrates Court

The lower court in the State’s legal system. It hears less serious matters, both criminal and civil. A Magistrate hears matters alone, without a jury.

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT)

A tribunal (not a court) which determines minor civil disputes (such as consumer disputes, residential tenancies, and dividing fences), appeals against administrative decisions and hearings in relation to professional boards.

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the highest state court. It is made up of the trial division and the Court of Appeal. It has unlimited jurisdiction and hears the most serious criminal and civil matters.


Addressing People in Court

Ways of Formally Addressing and Referring to People in Court



“my learned friend”

A respectful way of referring to the opposing counsel in court.

“the accused”

The person charged with a criminal offence and tried under the court of law such as District Court/Supreme Court.

“the aggrieved”

The person in need of protection and for whose benefit a domestic violence order is made.

“the defendant”

The person charged with a criminal offence and tried under the court of law such as the Magistrates Court.

“the respondent”

The party who responds to a claim filed in court against them by a plaintiff.

“the plaintiff”

The person who initiates or files a case with a court.

“the applicant”

The person who makes an application.

“the appellant”

The person who makes an appeal.

“the Crown prosecutor”

The person who prosecutes an offender under the court of law.

“the learned Crown prosecutor”

A respectful way of addressing or referring to the Crown prosecutor by the defence counsel or the judge.

“the learned counsel”

A respectful way of referring to the defence counsel by the prosecutor or the judge.

“Your Honour”

A respectful way of directly addressing the presiding magistrate or judge.

“Your learned brother/sister, Judge…”

A respectful way of referring to another judge in front of the presiding judge.

“Mr/Madam Crown”

A respectful way of addressing or referring to the Crown prosecutor by the presiding judge.


Jury Terms




Challenge (a potential juror)

A formal objection to a potential juror called from the jury panel prior to this person being sworn in as a juror.


Discussion and consideration of evidence by the jury prior to reaching and delivering a verdict.

Empanelling the jury

A process of selecting a jury by a balloting system, from a panel of potential jurors.


The spokesperson of a jury.

Hung jury

A jury that after an extended period of deliberation, cannot reach a unanimous or majority verdict.

Jury panel

A group of potential jurors, consisting of citizens called by the Office of the Sheriff to serve jury duty.

Majority verdict

A verdict that most of the jurors agreed to (e.g. 11 out of 12 jurors agree on the verdict).

Unanimous verdict

A verdict that all of the jurors agreed to.


A finding or decision of a jury on the guilt or innocence of the accused in a criminal trial.


Domestic and Family Violence

DFV Specific Terms




The person in need of protection and for whose benefit a domestic violence order is made.


A person who the aggrieved regards as a friend; or a person who regards himself or herself as a friend of the aggrieved.

Associated domestic violence

Acts of domestic violence by a respondent towards:

Authorised person

An adult authorised by the aggrieved to appear on behalf of the aggrieved. The authorisation should be in writing. The authorisation may not be in writing where the aggrieved cannot provide authorisation and the court believes the person is authorised (for example, if the aggrieved has a physical disability that prevents this).

Balance of probabilities

The standard of proof required by the judicial officer, who must be satisfied that it is ‘more probable than not’ that the acts of domestic violence occurred.


This is where the respondent knowingly breaks any of the conditions of the protection order that the Magistrate has granted. The aggrieved should report any breaches to the Police.

Child of an aggrieved/respondent

A child, whether biological, adopted or a stepchild, of the aggrieved or respondent, or in the care or custody of the aggrieved or respondent.

Child who usually lives with the aggrieved

A child who spends time at the residence of the aggrieved on a regular or on-going basis.

Closed court

Members of the public will not be allowed at the hearing for a domestic violence protection order application. The aggrieved is allowed to have someone present throughout the proceedings to provide support and other assistance.


Compel or force a person to do, or refrain from doing something.

Conditions of an order

Conditions imposed by the court when making an order that restrict or prohibit conduct of the person against whom the order is made.


Means permission freely and voluntarily given by a person with capacity to give the permission.

Consent order

A protection order that is made by the judicial officer when the aggrieved and the respondent agree to its conditions. There is no obligation on either party to consent. Consent must be freely and voluntarily given by a person with capacity to give the consent.

Contested application

This is where the respondent disputes an application for a protection order.

Contravention of an order

This means the same as breach of an order (see above).

Couple relationship

Exists between two persons if the persons have or had a relationship as a couple.


This is where both parties make applications for protection orders against each other.


This can be when a person who gives evidence in court is questioned by the other party.

Domestic violence


Domestic Violence Order

A temporary protection order or protection order. These orders may include a number of conditions (see above).

Economic abuse

Behaviour by a person that is coercive, deceptive or unreasonably controls another person without the second person’s consent:

Emotional or psychological abuse

Behaviour by a person towards another person that torments, intimidates, harasses or is offensive to the other person.


A domestic violence order is ‘active’, or able to be enforced by the police, if:

Engagement relationship

Exists between two persons if the persons are or were engaged to be married to each other, including a betrothal under cultural or religious tradition.


The aggrieved must prove that acts of domestic violence have occurred on the ‘balance of probabilities’. Testimony from family, neighbours or a doctor, photographs of injuries and torn clothing, copies of text messages, phone records, phone recordings and comments posted on social media are examples of evidence.


A child is exposed to domestic violence if the child sees or hears domestic violence or otherwise experiences the effects of domestic violence.

Family Court of Australia

A federal court that resolves disputes about family law matters in Australia, including parenting issues and financial issues following separation.

Family relationship

Exists between two persons if one of them is or was the relative of the other.

Refer to the definition of a relative.


The Magistrate will hear evidence from both sides and either makes a protection order or dismisses the application. One side may elect not to give evidence.

Informal care relationship

Exists between two persons if one of them is or was dependent on the other person (a carer) for help in an activity of daily living. The relationship does not exist between a child and parent of a child. It also does not exist if the person helps the other person in an activity of daily living under a commercial agreement.

Interstate order

An order made by a court of another State, Territory or New Zealand.

Intimate personal relationship

An intimate personal relationship is a spousal relationship, an engagement relationship or a couple relationship.

Intimidation or harassment

An aggrieved is intimidated or harassed if followed by the respondent in public, or if the respondent loiters outside the home or workplace, injures or threatens to injure a pet, or repeatedly telephones without consent.

Judicial Officer

The person who hears the application and decides whether a protection order should be made. This will most likely be a Magistrate, as an application for a protection order is filed in the Magistrates Court.

Mention date

This is the return date on the application. The Magistrate may adjourn the application to future mention dates or adjourn the application for a hearing.

Named person

A relative, associate, or child who is protected by being specifically named in the domestic violence protection order.

No-contact condition

A respondent who is under this condition cannot telephone, speak to, or follow the aggrieved or go to a place where the aggrieved is likely to be. They also cannot email or contact the aggrieved by any other electronic means.

Ouster condition

The respondent is prohibited from remaining at the stated premises, entering or attempting to enter the premises and/or approach within a stated distance of the premises.


The child’s mother or father and anyone else having or exercising parental responsibility for the child. A parent does not include a person standing in the place of a parent of the child on a temporary basis; an approved foster carer of the child, or an approved kinship carer for the child.A parent of an Aboriginal or a Torres Strait Islander child includes a person who under Aboriginal tradition or Island custom is regarded as a parent of the child.

Police prosecutor – see prosecutor

This person can appear in court on behalf of the aggrieved. If an aggrieved would like the police prosecutor to represent them in court, then suitable arrangements should be made prior to the court appearance. The police prosecutor is able to represent the original aggrieved in an application for a protection order if a cross application is filed.

Police protection notice (PPN)

If a police officer reasonably believes domestic violence has been committed, the police office may (among other actions) issue a police protection notice, which prohibits a person (respondent) from committing an act of domestic violence towards another (aggrieved) and must be of good behaviour. A PPN may include a cool-down condition. A PPN is a short-term notice that becomes an application for a protection order heard by the court.

Premises in the ouster condition

Premises where the respondent has a legal or equitable interest, or where the aggrieved and respondent live together or previously lived together or where the aggrieved or a named person lives, works or frequents.


A prosecutor is a person who conducts proceedings on behalf of the prosecution. For matters in a Magistrates or Children’s Court, the prosecution may be conducted by a police prosecutor who could be a police officer or a lawyer employed as a police prosecutor. For Domestic and Family Violence matters, a Queensland police prosecutor may conduct proceedings on behalf of an applicant.

Protection order

A court order that prohibits one person (respondent) from committing an act of domestic violence towards another (aggrieved).


This is when people are questioned again by their own representatives in court to clarify the evidence heard by the court.

Registered interstate order

An interstate order that is registered in Queensland.


The person against whom the domestic violence protection order or a police protection notice is sought or made.

Return condition

Allows the respondent to return to the premises to recover stated personal property or to remove property.


Delivery of the application or domestic violence order to the respondent. The police do this. If the respondent is present in court, they do not have to be served with the order; however, they still need to be given a copy. If a respondent is a child under 18 years (or 18 and over only if ordered by the court), then a copy of all documents must be given to a parent of the child.

Spousal relationship

A spousal relationship exists between spouses.


A spouse includes a de facto partner and civil partner. It also includes a former spouse of the person and a parent or former parent of a child of the person.


A document issued by a court requiring the attendance of a person before the court to give evidence in person or to produce evidence to the court.

Temporary order

A temporary protection order is one that is made for a short period of time until a final decision on an application for a protection order is made by the court.

Unauthorised surveillance

Unreasonable monitoring or tracking of the person’s movements, activities or interpersonal associations without the person’s consent, including, for example, by using technology.

Variation of domestic violence order

Includes a variation of a condition, duration or the persons named in the order.

Voluntary intervention order

An order that requires the respondent to attend:


This includes anything that has been used to threaten or injure the aggrieved, for example a martial arts weapon, a bat or even a dog. Information about such weapons, and any weapons licences, may be included in the domestic violence order.

Without admissions

Where a person agrees to the making of a protection order, and being named as the respondent (a consent order), even though they do not admit to the allegations of domestic violence and the court has not made a finding that domestic violence has occurred.


Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal

QCAT Specific Terms




To suspend or put off a meeting or hearing to a future date.


Legally qualified QCAT decision-makers for minor civil disputes and other matters.


A person appointed by QCAT to help adults with impaired decision-making capacity by making certain financial and legal decisions on their behalf.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR)

Different ways to work out differences of opinion and reach an agreement outside of court; including mediation, conciliation and compulsory conferences.


A legal system or proceeding where each party with competing claims puts their best case to an impartial person who then decides the outcome.


The person presenting a case to a court or tribunal on behalf of one of the parties involved.


A written statement made by a person to be used in a court proceeding as evidence. A person who makes an affidavit must swear an oath or make an affirmation that the contents of the affidavit are true. A person who makes an affidavit may be cross-examined about its contents at a hearing.


Another name used by a person. Often, it is a false or assumed name.


A statement, still to be proved, made by a party in a legal proceeding.


A procedure, through which, in certain circumstances, a party may request a higher decision-maker to reconsider a decision made. Often leave (or permission) to appeal is required before a decision is reconsidered.

Appeal tribunal

This is the internal appeal tribunal in QCAT, where most appeals against decisions of QCAT are heard.


The person or organisation appealing a decision.


The person who has submitted an application to QCAT requesting assistance in resolving a dispute, grievance or other issue.

Breach of duty of care

Negligent or careless conduct, or failure to act, by a person who owes a duty of care to another and who fails to maintain the standard of care necessary to fulfil that duty.

Compulsory conference

A dispute resolution method used by the tribunal to mediate settlement, identify issues in dispute and make orders and directions.

Consent order

An order of the tribunal that is agreed to by both parties, and which the tribunal also agrees to make.


In a minor civil dispute, an individual who buys or hires goods or services other than for resale or in trade or business i.e. for personal use.


A contract may be a written or a verbal agreement between parties. It Is:


In some circumstances, QCAT can correct a decision if it contains a clerical mistake:

Counter-claim or counter-application

A counter-application is an application by the respondent against the applicant or another party regarding the same dispute or issue.


The process of asking a witness questions to test or check the evidence that the witness has given to the tribunal.


A decision is the orders given by the tribunal when a matter has been determined by a QCAT decision-maker.

Default decision

A decision made by the tribunal in the absence of the parties, to a dispute or a response from the respondent to an application.


Orders made by the tribunal for parties to do certain things to progress a matter e.g. to file and exchange material.

Directions hearing

A short hearing in which the member will make directions about how the dispute will be managed. Generally, the directions hearing will not deal with the substance of the dispute and will aim to streamline the matters progress.


An application is dismissed where the decision-maker decides that the application is without merit, has not been proved by the applicant or for another reason provided by the decision-maker. This does not necessarily mean the decision-maker has decided in favour of the respondent.

Enabling Act

An Act that gives QCAT the power to hear a dispute.


The facts, circumstances or documents that parties present to the tribunal to prove their case. Evidence must be given orally or in writing and if required, under oath or by affidavit.


Documents or things produced by a party which the tribunal agrees to accept as evidence. If the documents are referred to in a statement or affidavit, they should be clearly identified and attached to that statement.

Expert conclave

An expert conclave is a private meeting between experts in the same field of expertise, chaired by a member of the tribunal. The purpose is to reach an agreement on expert evidence given to the tribunal, generally used where there is conflicting evidence by different experts.

Final hearing

The hearing at which a final decision is made. After some final hearings, the tribunal will give its decision; in some, the tribunal may ‘reserve’ its decision to consider the matter, and deliver that decision at a later time.


A guardian is a person appointed to help adults with impaired decision-making capacity by making certain personal and health care decisions on their behalf.

Impaired capacity

The inability of a person to go through the process of reaching a decision and putting it into effect based on three elements:


A dispute resolution method used to assist agreement or reconciliation between parties. This involves exploring possible agreements without an adversarial hearing. Mediations are conducted by impartial dispute resolution professionals.

Part heard

The hearing of the dispute before the tribunal has not finished and more time has to be set aside to complete the hearing.


The people or companies who are named in the dispute.


A punishment, fine or disadvantage imposed for wrong conduct.

Preliminary hearing

A hearing of a particular issue that does not finalise the dispute.

Procedural fairness

Part of natural justice. The obligation to ensure that parties are given the opportunity to put their case to the tribunal, including being able to respond to another party’s case.


The way in which QCAT hears appeals (and some matters in QCAT’s review jurisdiction when enabling Acts say QCAT has to hear the matter this way).


Re-openings are different to appeals. QCAT can decide to hear the matter again (re-open it) if:


This is a person who represents a party during the tribunal process, often used interchangeably with advocate.

Reserved decision

A decision that will be announced at a later date is a reserved decision.


The party against whom a QCAT application has been made.


Where parties conduct their own case, without a third party representing them in the tribunal. Also referred to as litigant in person.

Standard of proof

The test that the tribunal must apply to the evidence and documents that parties provide to the tribunal to decide factual issues, or to decide whether a party has satisfied the test imposed by law. The standard of proof will depend on the type of matter being heard, and the factual issues disputed by the parties.


A ‘stay’ of a decision postpones a decision taking effect until a certain date.


The things that a party says to persuade the tribunal to make a decision in that party’s favour. Submissions can be written, or spoken at a hearing. Submissions are different from giving evidence.


A person who gives evidence to the tribunal.


Related Legal Organisations

Related Government Services/Organisations



Attorney-General (AG)

The chief law officer of the State and the Minister for Justice. The Attorney-General is the head of the Department of Justice and Attorney-General.

Commissioner for Declarations

A person authorised to witness and sign statutory declarations and affidavits, and to certify copies of original documents.

Community Legal Centre (CLC)

A centre that provides free legal advice mainly to disadvantaged or at risk people.

Queensland Corrective Services

The agency that provides custodial and community‐based correctional services aimed to reduce re‐offending and enhance community safety.

Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC)

An agency that investigates serious and organised crime and corruption.

Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (Communities, Child Safety, DOCS)

A department whose main role is to promote the safety and wellbeing of children and young people and to build stronger families and communities. It provides child protection services, parenting support and early intervention, foster care, adoption services, disability services and help for communities affected by disaster.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)

The agency that conducts prosecutions for indictable offences.

Justice of the Peace (JP)

A person authorised to witness and sign statutory declarations and affidavits, to certify copies of original documents, and to issue summonses and warrants.

Legal Aid Queensland (LAQ)

An agency that provides legal advice, assistance and representation to disadvantaged people.

Brisbane Domestic Violence Service

A specialised legal service for women experiencing domestic violence that informs them of their legal rights and their right to access available services.

Probation and Parole

A branch of Corrective Services which works with offenders who are supervised in the community as well as offenders who are serving a custodial sentence

Mental Health Services

Services and supports provided by the Department of Health for people with mental illnesses. Courts often require assessments from these services regarding mentally ill defendants/accused persons.

Victim Assist Queensland (VAQ)

Victim Assist Queensland is part of the Department of Justice and Attorney-General that provides support and information for victims of crimes.

Women’s Support Group

Community organisations providing information and support for women, specialising in court support for victims of crimes and Domestic Violence.

Search for Articles

Log in

Log in