Glossary of legal terms
Affidavit : a written statement made on oath.
Appeal : a proceeding, taken by a party to a case who is dissatisfied with a decision made, to a court having authority to review or set aside that decision.
Appearance : a document which indicates that a defendant, having being served with a summons to a Circuit Court or High Court civil action, intends to defend the action.
Appearance and defence : a document which indicates that a defendant, having been served with a claim notice to a District Court civil action, intends to defend the action.
Barring order : an order preventing the person against whom the order is made (the respondent) from entering the family home or using or threatening violence against the person who applied for the order (the applicant) or other family members.
Care order : an order placing a child in the care of Tusla (the Child and Family Agency) until he or she reaches the age of eighteen or a shorter period as determined by the court.
Certified list : a list of cases certified by counsel as being ready for hearing.
Civil bill : a document used to commence a civil case in the Circuit Court, it gives details of the parties to the case and details of the claim being made.
Claim notice : a document used to commence a civil case in the District Court, it gives details of the parties to the case and details of the claim being made.
Commissioner for oaths : a person entitled to administer oaths and take affidavits.
Debt relief notice : one of three debt resolution mechanisms introduced by the Personal Insolvency Act, 2012 to help mortgage-holders and others with unsustainable debt to reach agreements with their creditors. It allows for the write-off of qualifying debt up to €20,000, subject to a three-year supervision period.
Debt settlement arrangement : one of three debt resolution mechanisms introduced by the Personal Insolvency Act, 2012 to help mortgage-holders and others with unsustainable debt to reach agreements with their creditors. It applies to the agreed settlement of unsecured debts, usually over a period of five years.
Defence : a document delivered by the defendant to the plaintiff in response to a civil bill in the Circuit Court or a plenary summons in the High Court.
Defendant : a person against whom an action is brought; a person charged with a criminal offence.
Emergency care order : an order placing a child under the care of Tusla for a maximum period of eight days if the court considers that there is a serious risk to the health or welfare of a child.
Indictment : (a) a formal document setting out certain kinds of charges against an accused person or (b) the process by which those charges are presented against the accused.
Indictable offence : an offence which, if committed by an adult, is triable on indictment.
Injunction : an order of the court directing a party to an action to do, or to refrain from doing, something.
Interim barring order : an immediate order, requiring the person against whom the order is made (the respondent) to leave the family home, pending the hearing of an application for a barring order.
Interim care order : an order, granted when an application for a care order has been or is about to be made, requiring that the child named in the order be placed in the care of Tusla.
Intestate : dying without making a valid will.
Judicial review : a legal remedy available in situations where a body or tribunal is alleged to have acted in excess of legal authority or contrary to its duty.
Judicial separation : a decree granted by the court relieving spouses to a marriage of the obligation to cohabit.
Jurisdiction : (a) the power of a court or judge to hear an action, petition or other proceeding, or (b) the geographical area within which such power may be exercised.
Liquidated debt : a claim for a specified amount of money.
Mortgage suit : a form of proceeding to recover a debt owed to the holder of security on property – by forcing the sale of the property (usually on foot of a judgment mortgage or an equitable mortgage).
Nolle prosequi : the entering by the prosecution of a stay on criminal proceedings (not to be confused with an acquittal).
Notary public : a legal practitioner, usually a solicitor, who witnesses the signing of documents or makes copies of them in order to verify their authenticity, especially for use abroad.
Oath : a form of words by which a person calls his/her god to witness that what he says is the truth, or that what he/she promises to do he will do.
Personal insolvency arrangement : one of three debt resolution mechanisms introduced by the Personal Insolvency Act, 2012 to help mortgage-holders and others with unsustainable debt to reach agreements with their creditors. It applies to the agreed settlement and/or restructuring of secured debts up to a total of €3 million (as well as unsecured debts) over a period of six years.
Petition : document used to commence certain civil proceedings in the High Court (for example, application to wind up a company, have a person adjudicated bankrupt).
Plaintiff : a person who brings a legal action against another.
Plenary summons : document used to commence certain civil proceedings (for example, claims for non- specific damages, libel, nuisance) in the High Court where pleadings and oral evidence are required.
Protection order : an interim order, granted when an application for a safety/barring order has been made, prohibiting the person against whom the order is made (the respondent) from committing further acts of violence or threatening violence.
Revenue summons : a form of summary summons heard on affidavit, used by the Revenue Commissioners to commence civil proceedings in the High Court to recover sums due (for example, unpaid taxes).
Safety order : an order prohibiting the person against whom the order is made (the respondent) from committing further acts of violence or threatening to do so. It does not prevent the respondent from entering the family home.
Setting down for trial : a request that an action be allocated a date for hearing.
Special exemption order : an order allowing a licensee to sell alcohol outside the normal licensing hours subject to certain conditions.
Special summons : document used to begin certain civil proceedings (for example, equity claims, mortgage enforcement, administration of trusts) in the High Court to be heard on affidavit (that is, not oral evidence).
Specific performance : an order of a court which requires a party to perform a specific act, usually what is stated in a contract for example, contracts for the sale, purchase or lease of land. It is an alternative to awarding damages, and is a discretionary equitable remedy.
Summary judgment : judgment for a claim in respect of a debt or specific monetary demand. The judgment is given to the plaintiff against the defendant in a court office without the need to bring the claim to court.
Summary summons : document used to commence certain civil proceedings (for example, claims for a specific amount of money, recovery of possession by a landlord) in the High Court, to be heard on affidavit.
Supervision order : an order allowing Tusla to monitor a child considered to be at risk. The child is not removed from his or her home environment. A supervision order is for a fixed period of time not longer than 12 months initially.