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Legal term


Accredited Specialist

Accredited Specialists are lawyers that have been recognised by the law society as proven experts in their chosen legal area of specialisation. To be recognised as an Accredited Specialist, a lawyer must have:

- at least five years full-time practice experience;

- at least three years’ experience in their area of specialisation; and

- passed a rigorous examination process.


A written and sworn statement of fact that is used as evidence in a court case.


An application for a higher court to review the decision of a lower court.


The party filing an appeal.


The person who applies for an order in court.


An independent legal advisor whose main role is to represent clients in court. They can also advise law firms on specific aspects of cases, as they have specialised knowledge. Another name for a barrister is Counsel and a very senior barrister may achieve the post of King’s Counsel (KC) or Senior Counsel (SC).


Someone who profits or gains an advantage from something. For example, a beneficiary of a Will is someone receiving money or property from the estate.

Book build

An early stage of a class action where the affected stakeholders are identified and invited to sign up to the class action as a group member.

Case plan

The plan or ‘blueprint’ for running your claim to achieve the best outcome.


The individual, organisation or corporation who applies to the court to start legal proceedings against another (also known as ‘plaintiff’).

Class Action

Sometimes a wrongdoing can affect more than one person. A class action is a legal case filed by a person (known as the Applicant) on behalf of themselves and a group of 7 or more people (known as Members) to seek justice as a group after suffering from the same wrongdoing.

Click here to learn more about Shine Lawyers' Class Actions Practice.

Clerk (or Law Clerk)

Clerks assist and support lawyers in the preparation of the client’s case such as by preparing legal documents, taking statements, filing of material, attending conferences and researching applicable laws. As they have not been admitted to practice as a lawyer, a lawyer needs to oversee the legal aspects of their work.


Something (usually money) awarded to someone in acknowledgement of the loss, injury or suffering that person has experienced as a result of someone else’s wrongdoing.

Consent Order

A court order that all parties in the litigation agree to.

Contributory negligence

The role that someone’s own negligence played in causing their injury or loss.

Cost Agreement

A document that outlines the legal services you will receive and how you will be charged for this. The Cost Agreement also explains how our "No Win, No Fee" guarantee works for your case.


This is the total sum of the lawyer's fees (for the time and work on your case) and the out-of-pocket costs required to run your case (see 'Disbursements').


An individual, organisation or corporation being sued or accused of a wrongdoing.


The out-of-pocket costs incurred by the law firm to run your case, such as court fees, medical reports, expert reports and photocopying.


Also known as ‘disclosure’: the process where each side of a legal case gives information and documents to the other side. This is to inform the parties of the issues to be disputed and assist with how these issues may be resolved.


When the court closes a case. This could be:

- after the court has heard all the evidence and rules against the applicant; or

- before all evidence has been heard if the court declines to proceed.

Duty of care

The legal or moral responsibility to protect the safety and wellbeing of others. This includes taking reasonable steps to avoid causing foreseeable harm to another person or their property.


Materials presented in a case to prove or disprove a fact. This could include statements from witnesses, documents and other objects.


Evidence that is provided during a court case or referred to in a sworn statement.


Also known as a litigation funder, a funder is a business which covers the costs and takes on the financial risks of legal action in exchange for a potential financial return if the case is successful. Many class actions are funded to ensure there are no out-of-pocket costs for claimants.

Future economic loss

The loss of income or earning capacity of the injured person in the future.

General damages

Financial compensation for non-monetary losses like pain, suffering and emotional hardship. This is calculated based on the degree of injury suffered.

Ground(s) of appeal

The legal reason(s) used to argue that a judge’s decision was incorrect.

Group member(s)

The entire group of claimants represented by a ‘Lead Applicant’ in a class action. The Lead Applicant and group members must have suffered from the same wrongdoing.


The time and place the parties attend court to argue their case and allow the court to come to a decision.


A judicial or official inquiry or examination of evidence that usually occurs before a single judge, but in some cases can be before a jury.

Instituting proceedings

The legal term for starting a legal action in court.


A person who presides over court proceedings and decides legal disputes. The following words can also be used to refer to the judge in different scenarios: ‘court’, ‘bench’ and ‘justice’.


The written decision of a court and the reasons supporting this decision.


The level of authority a court has which defines which cases can be brought before it.

Lead applicant(s)

One person who represents an entire group of claimants (or group members) in a class action. Depending on the nature of the case, there can be more than one lead applicant. The lead applicant and group members must have suffered a from the same wrongdoing.

Leave to appeal

Seeking permission from the court to appeal a judgment made about your case by a lower court.

Legal capacity

The ability to make binding legal agreements or other legal decisions. To do so, you must be able to understand the significance of what you’re doing. If an individual is deemed not to have capacity, a litigation guardian may be appointed to act on their behalf.


Laws made by Parliament (also known as statute law, statutes or Acts of Parliament).


An individual’s or organisation’s legal responsibility.

Limitation period

A defined and strict time period to commence a compensation claim (also known as ‘statute of limitations’ or ‘time limits’). Time limits differ between states and areas of law, so it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible to ensure you don't run out of time to start your claim.


A party in a civil case (e.g. either party in a compensation claim).


The process of taking legal action.

Litigation guardian

An adult who is appointed to act and make decisions on behalf of a claimant who has impaired capacity for making certain decisions (e.g. the claimant is a child or has a mental disability).


A structured discussion held between the parties, that is facilitated by an independent person (the mediator). This is an alternative dispute resolution method to having the case argued in court. The mediator cannot force the parties to resolve their dispute, but can help with negotiations, exploring options or helping the parties to reach a settlement agreement.


When a duty of care has been breached. For example, when one party has done something (or failed to do something), which resulted in another party suffering a reasonably foreseeable injury or loss.

No Win, No Fee

Cases run on a No Win, No Fee basis mean you don’t pay legal costs until we win your case. Our costs are then paid out of your compensation to ensure there are no out-of-pocket costs to you. If your case is unsuccessful, you won’t be charged for any of our legal fees. To find out more, visit our No Win, No Fee page.

Notice of appeal

The official document that starts the appeal process.

Notice of Claim for Damages

The document which commences the legal claim for compensation. The claim form must be completed and signed by the claimant before being served on the defendant.

Notice of Intention to Defend

A defendant must file a notice with the court to confirm its intention to defend the allegations made against it. The defence sets out the reasons why the claim is denied. The defence may include a claim against the plaintiff. In that case, it is called a ‘Defence and Counterclaim’.


The individuals or organisations directly involved in a court case (i.e. the claimant and the defendant).

Past economic loss

A monetary loss already incurred, such as lost wages or lost profits.

Personal injury claim

The compensation claims process when you have been physically or psychologically injured because of someone else’s actions (or inaction).


When someone knowingly provides false information or makes a false statement after swearing to tell the truth.


The individual, organisation or corporation initiating legal proceedings to seek remedy for a wrongdoing (also known as ‘claimant’).


Previous judgments of the court which determine how later cases are to be decided because they address the same or similar issues.

Professional negligence

Failure to do something that an average member of that profession would do (or not do).

Click here to learn more about Shine Lawyers' Professional Negligence Practice.


In an appeal case, the respondent is the party responding to the appeal (filed by the Appellant).

Royal Commission

A Royal Commission is an investigation that is the highest form of inquiry on matters of public importance. A Royal Commission is run independently of the government and can hold public hearings and compel evidence. Based on its findings, the Royal Commission will then make change recommendations to the government.

Schedule of damages

A document which details the compensation being claimed and how it has been calculated.


The formal delivery of court documents to a person, organisation or company. Some documents need to be served in person, while others can be served by email, mail or fax.


An agreement reached between the parties (without the help of the court) that details the terms of how the legal dispute or claim has been resolved.


A legal practitioner who has successfully completed a law degree and holds a practicing certificate (also known as a ‘Lawyer’).

Special damages

Compensation for specific expenses incurred because of the injury, such as medication costs, treatment expenses or travel.

Statement of Claim

A document prepared by the plaintiff which details the facts of their claim as well as the remedy they are seeking.


A legal document that forces an individual, organisation or company to provide documents as evidence in a case or to attend the trial to give evidence.

Time limits

A defined and strict time period to commence a compensation claim (also known as ‘statute of limitations’ or ‘limitation period’). Time limits differ between states and areas of law, so it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible to ensure you don't run out of time to start your claim.


A written record of what was said during court proceedings or mediation.

Vicarious liability

Where a party is held responsible for the behaviour of a third party (e.g. an employer being held responsible for the unlawful conduct of an employee).


A cancellation of legal rights. For example, by signing a waiver the participant of an activity acknowledges that they are aware of the risks associated with the activity and that the activity provider is not responsible for any injuries that occur during the activity.


A Will is an important legal document that details your final wishes. It provides direction on how you would like your estate to be distributed after your death and who you want to control the process. It may also include financial and funeral directions.

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