Canadian Legal Documents






These definitions are quoted from: BARRON’S CANADIAN LAW DICTIONARY 2009.

Absolute discharge

A direction of the court in which a person who has either pleaded guilty or been found guilty of an offence is deemed not to have been convicted.


In contracts, acceptance to create a binding contract is the assent to an offer by words or conduct on the part of the person to whom the offer is made.


An accomplice is one who is concerned with another or others in committing or attempting to commit a criminal offence.


An admission, declaration, affirmation, or confession.


To set free or judicially discharge from an accusation or suspicion of guilt. An individual is acquitted either when a verdict of not guilty has been rendered at the close of a trial or when an appellate court decision has absolved him/her of the charges that were the bases of the action.


One who is appointed to handle the affairs of a person who has died intestate; one who manages the estate of a person who has left no executor. An administrator is empowered to carry out duties and functions by documents known as Letters of Administration.


By court order, a person of the age of majority may adopt a child born of another so that the child becomes the child of the adopting parent and the adopting parent becomes the parent of the adopted child.


A written statement in the name of a person known as the deponent who signs and swears to its veracity; a written statement made or taken under oath before an officer of the court of a notary public or other person who has been duly authorized to certify the statement.


The word alimony is properly and usually used in reference to financial support payments where the marriage tie still subsists as in the case of judicial separation or in reference to payments for the wife’s support pending the hearing of a divorce petition. The word maintenance is the proper term to be used in reference to payments subsequent to the divorce.


Insolvency, the inability of a debtor to pay his/her debts as they become due; the legal process by which assets of the debtor are liquidated to pay off creditors.


In general, the person receiving or designated to receive a benefit or advantage. The person named in a will to receive property under the will.

Bill of Sale

A written agreement under which title to personal chattels is transferred; in a more technical sense, a document evidencing a contract of the sale of goods that may be required to be registered under the various provincial Bill of Sale and Personal Property Security statutes.

Canadian Bill of Rights

An Act for the recognition and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Canadian Citizen

Under the Citizenship Act R.S.C. 1985 a person is a citizen if
(a) the person was born in Canada after February 14 1977;
(b) the person was born outside Canada after February 14, 1977 and at the time of his/her birth one of his/her parents, other than a parent who adopted him/her was a citizen;
(c) the person has been granted or acquired citizenship, and in the case of a person who is fourteen years of age or over on the day that he/she is granted citizenship, he/she has taken the oath of citizenship.

Cause of Action

A claim in law and fact sufficient to demand judicial attention; the composite of facts necessary to give rise to the enforcement of a right. A Right of Action is the legal right to sue; a cause of action is the set of facts that give rise to a right of action.

Civil Marriage Act

Under this Act two persons of the same sex can be legally married in Canada.


A supplement to a will or an addition made by the testator and annexed to and to be taken as part of a testament. A reference to the will carries with it a reference to that which is merely a supplement to it, and the mere fact that the testator describes the will only to its original date is not sufficient to exclude the inference that the will referred to is the will as modified by the codicils.


The state of dwelling or living together as husband and wife; often with reference to persons who are not legally married and usually, but not always, implying sexual intercourse.


In commercial transactions, collateral security is any property which is assigned or pledged to secure the performance of an obligation.

Common Law Partner

A term used by the federal government and some provincial legislatures to extend benefits and obligations to partners who live together in conjugal relationship without being married. This applies to both opposite-sex and same-sex partners.


Remuneration for work done; indemnification for injury sustained.

Contempt of Court

An act or omission tending to obstruct or interfere with the orderly administration of justice; or to impair the dignity of the Court of respect for its authority.


The branch of law that determines the circumstances in which a promise shall be legally binding on the person making it.


Possession of a unit of property by two or more persons.


A person retained by a client to plead his/her cause in a court of law.


As applied to property, it is not ownership, but a keeping, guarding, care, watching, inspection, preservation, or security of a thing. As applied to persons, it is such restraint and physical control of the person to whose custody it is subjected.


Monetary compensation the law awards to one who has suffered damage, loss, or injury by the wrong of another.


A law; a judgment or order of the court. In relation to dissolution of marriage.


An instrument in writing that conveys an interest in land from the grantor to the grantee; an instrument used to effect a transfer of realty.


Any material substance on which the thoughts of people are represented in writing, or any other species of conventional mark or symbol.


One who gives or makes a gift; a creator of a trust; a party conferring a power.


A term that signifies the relation between a person and the property in which he/she has an interest. More technically, it refers to the degree, nature and extent of an interest or ownership in land.


A written instrument such as a deed temporarily deposited with a third party, a stranger to the transaction, by agreement of the parties directly involved. It is to be held by him/her until certain specified conditions are fulfilled and then delivered by him/her to the other party to take effect absolutely.


Dispossession of a tenant by his or her landlord.


The person to whom the execution of a will is entrusted, that is, the duty to carry out its provisions. Anyone capable of making a will can be an executor.


To declare innocent of any blame or wrong doing; to dismiss any charges or allegations or criminal activities brought against a person.

Family Law

The law governing family relationships.


Generally, the termination of a right to property when there is a default by the mortgagor in a mortgage agreement.


Intentional deception resulting in injury to another.


The determination of a court of competent jurisdiction upon matters submitted to it. Any decision made by a Judge in the course of a trial with or without a jury, which may materially affect its result and lead to an acquittal.


The estate in real property of a lessee, created by a lease. A lessee is granted exclusive right to possession for a certain term, while the lessor retains a reversionary interest.

Legal aid

The provision of publicly funded legal services to persons demonstrating financial need. In Canada, legal aid is administered provincially so the qualifications and range of services provided vary from province to province.


The act of keeping in good repair, in efficient working order, in an efficient state. An agreement to finance or in any way assist in the litigation of another person in consideration of having a share in the fruits of litigation giving rise to an action in tort.


An informal process of settling disputes through the intervention of a neutral third party, referred to as a mediator. A mediator has no legal authority to impose a settlement on the disputing parties; he/she can only advise or assist the parties in reconciling their differences.

Notary Public

A person authorized to administer oaths, take affidavits, and execute, authenticate, or certify documents or copies of documents.


The relation that subsists between parties carrying on business in common with a view to profit. A relationship resulting from contract.

Paternity suit

An action to prove the father of an illegitimate child and to provide maintenance for the child.


An act of perjury as a false statement by a person, with intent to mislead, knowing that the statement is false whether or not such a statement is made in a judicial proceeding.


A prayer (formal request) from a person or group to a power or person for the exercise of his authority in the redress of some wrong.

Power of Attorney

An instrument in writing authorizing another to act as one’s agent or attorney. It confers upon the agent the authority to perform certain specified acts or kinds of acts on behalf of his/her principal.


The procedure for determining the validity of a will and for the property distribution of an estate. The surrogate or probate court of the province has jurisdiction to issue certificates of probate to acknowledge that the will has been proved and registered and that the administration of the estate will be executed.

Pro Bono

For the good of; for the public good or welfare. This term is often used in reference to legal services offered pro bono by a lawyer; legal services that are donated by the lawyer.

Promissory note

A legal document that is a negotiable instrument where the maker agrees to pay a specific sum at a definite time.


To release parties from further obligation to each other and restore the parties to the positions they would have occupied if the contract had never been made.


Act of making good, or of giving the equivalent for, any loss, damage or injury.


The appointment of a barrister or solicitor to take or defend proceedings, or to counsel or otherwise act for the client.

Security Deposit

Money that a tenant deposits with a landlord to ensure the landlord that the tenant will abide by the lease agreement; a fund from which the landlord may obtain payment for damages caused by the tenant during his/her occupancy.


A judicial officer of limited jurisdiction, who administers matters of probate and intestate succession.

Tangible Property

Property, either real or personal, capable of being possessed and of being perceived by the senses; accessible; identifiable.


Generally, a tenant’s right to possess an estate, whether by lease or by title. A tenancy cannot be created unless exclusive possession is conferred on the tenant.

Without Prejudice

A phrase that may have the effect of excluding from evidence the documents upon which it is written.

These definitions are quoted from: BARRON’S CANADIAN LAW DICTIONARY 2009.


Canadian Legal Documents | Legal Definitions

Power of Attorney | Business Documents | Will | Name Change
Property Lease or Rental | Bill of Sale | Loan Agreement | Family Law