Search

Legal Terms Beginning with P

Paralegal

A person who is not a lawyer or is not acting in that capacity but who provides a limited number of legal services. Read the full definition of Paralegal on Duhaime.org

Pardon

A pardon is a government decision to allow a person who has been convicted of a crime, to be free and absolved of that conviction, as if never convicted. Read the full definition of Pardon on Duhaime.org

Parens Patriae

Latin: inherent jurisdiction of the courts to make decisions concerning people who are not able to take care of themselves. Read the full definition of Parens Patriae on Duhaime.org

Pari delicto

Latin for of equal fault. Read the full definition of Pari delicto on Duhaime.org

Pari Passu

Latin: Equitably and without preference. Read the full definition of Pari Passu on Duhaime.org

Parliament

The aggregate or assembly of institutions that comprise the legislative apparatus of government in democratic societies. Read the full definition of Parliament on Duhaime.org

Parole

An early release from incarceration in which the prisoner promises to heed certain conditions (usually set by a parole board) and under the supervision of a parole officer. Read the full definition of Parole on Duhaime.org

Parol Evidence Rule

Verbal evidence is inadmissible to vary or contradict the terms of a written agreement. Read the full definition of Parol Evidence Rule on Duhaime.org

Parricide

Killing one's father or another a family member or close relative. Read the full definition of Parricide on Duhaime.org

Partnership

An organization in which two or more persons carry on a business together. Read the full definition of Partnership on Duhaime.org

Par Value Shares

Shares issued by a company which have a minimum price. Read the full definition of Par Value Shares on Duhaime.org

Passing Of Accounts

The formal presentation of a trustee's accounts to a court for approval. Read the full definition of Passing Of Accounts on Duhaime.org

Passing-Off

Making some false representation likely to induce a person to believe that the goods or services are those of another. Read the full definition of Passing-Off on Duhaime.org

Patent

An exclusive privilege granted to an inventor to make, use or sale an invention for a set number of years. Read the full definition of Patent on Duhaime.org

Patentee

Patentee: a person to whom a patent has been granted; who appears on the official government registry of patent owners. Read the full definition of Patentee on Duhaime.org

Paternity

Being a father. Paternity suits are launched when a man denies paternity of a child born out of wedivock. Read the full definition of Paternity on Duhaime.org

Pauper's Oath

An affidavit of indigence, of poverty. Read the full definition of Pauper's Oath on Duhaime.org

Payee

The person to whom payment is apressed or given. Read the full definition of Payee on Duhaime.org

Payor

The person who makes required payment(s). Read the full definition of Payor on Duhaime.org

Pedastry

A sexual abuse crime wherein an adult male grooms and sexually assaults an adolescent male outside of his family. While promoted by the Greeks, pedastry has been a crime since at least the time of Justinian. Read the full definition of Pedastry on Duhaime.org

Pedophile

A person afflicted with pedophilia, a sexual perversion in which children are preferred as sexual partner. Read the full definition of Pedophile on Duhaime.org

Penal Code

A statute which lists and defines prohibited conduct (crimes) and the punishments associated with each. Read the full definition of Penal Code on Duhaime.org

Pendente lite

Latin: during litigation. For example, if the validity of a will is challenged, a court might appoint an administrator pendente lite with limited powers to do such things as may be necessary to preserve the assets of the deceased until a hearing can be convened on the validity of the will. Read the full definition of Pendente lite on Duhaime.org

Pen Register

An electronic surveillance device which attaches to a phone line and which registers every number dialed from a specific telephone. Read the full definition of Pen Register on Duhaime.org

Pension

A private or government fund (or payments therefrom), from which intermittent and regular benefits or allowances are paid to a person upon his or her retirement or disability. Read the full definition of Pension on Duhaime.org

Per Capita

Latin: by the head. The proposed distribution of an estate of property to surving specified beneficiaries only and not, in the event of pre-death of the beneficiary, to the heirs of the pre-deceased beneficiary. Read the full definition of Per Capita on Duhaime.org

Percolating water

Water which seeps or filters through the ground without any definite channel and not part of the flow of any waterway. The best example is rain water. Read the full definition of Percolating water on Duhaime.org

Peremptory

Final or absolute or not open to challenge. Read the full definition of Peremptory on Duhaime.org

Performance Bond

A bond contract wherein the third-party, in exchange for a fee, secures another's fulfillment of, or performance on, a contract. Read the full definition of Performance Bond on Duhaime.org

Perjury

An intentional lie given while under oath or in a sworn affidavit. Read the full definition of Perjury on Duhaime.org

Permanent Resident

An individual who has status in a country usually less than citizenship but more than just a visitor. Read the full definition of Permanent Resident on Duhaime.org

Perpetuating testimony

The recording of evidence when it is feared that the person with that evidence may soon die or disappear and that this person's evidence, if recorded, could then be used in the future to prevent a possible injustice or to support a future claim of property. Read the full definition of Perpetuating testimony on Duhaime.org

Perpetuity

Forever; of unlimited duration. There is a strong bias in the law against things that are to last in perpetuity. Read the full definition of Perpetuity on Duhaime.org

Person

An entity recognized by the law as separate and independent, with legal rights and existence including the ability to sue and be sued, to sign contracts, to receive gifts, to appear in court either by themselves or by lawyer and, generally, other powers incidental to the full expression of the entity in law. Read the full definition of Person on Duhaime.org

Personal Property

Chattels, goods, property other than real property. Read the full definition of Personal Property on Duhaime.org

Personal Representative

The person who administers the estate of a deceased person as executor or Court-appointed administrator. Read the full definition of Personal Representative on Duhaime.org

Per Stirpes

Latin: an entitlement to participate in the distribution of property, such as an estate, that flows down to the named beneficiary's next heir if he or she is otherwise unable to take his or her share. Read the full definition of Per Stirpes on Duhaime.org

Petition

The formal, written document submitted to a court, and which asks for the court to redress what is described in the petition as being an injustice of some kind. Read the full definition of Petition on Duhaime.org

Pettifogger

A petty or underhanded lawyer or an attorney who sustains a professional livelihood on disreputable or dishonorable business. Read the full definition of Pettifogger on Duhaime.org

Petty offense

A minor crime and for which the punishment is usually just a small fine or short term of imprisonment. Read the full definition of Petty offense on Duhaime.org

Physical custody

A child custody decision which grants the right to organize and administer the day to day residential care of a child. Read the full definition of Physical custody on Duhaime.org

Picket

To object publicly, on or adjacent to the employer's premises, to an employer's labor practices, goods or services. The most common form of picketing is patrolling with signs. Read the full definition of Picket on Duhaime.org

Pillory

A medieval punishment and restraining device made of moveable and adjustable boards through which a prisoner's head or limbs were pinned. Read the full definition of Pillory on Duhaime.org

Plaintiff

The person who initiates, who brings or files a case with a court; who sues. Read the full definition of Plaintiff on Duhaime.org

Plea Bargaining

Negotiations during a criminal trial, between an accused person and a prosecutor in which the accused agrees to admit to a crime (sometimes a lesser crime than the one set out in the original charge), avoiding the expense of a public trial, in exchange for which the prosecutor agrees to ask for a more lenient sentence than would have been recommended if the case had of proceeded to full trial. Read the full definition of Plea Bargaining on Duhaime.org

Pleadings

That core document(s) of a party to litigation in which he or she formally sets out the facts and the law which support that party's position. Read the full definition of Pleadings on Duhaime.org

Plene Administravit

Latin for administration (is) complete. Read the full definition of Plene Administravit on Duhaime.org

Poach

To kill or take an animal or fish from the property of another. Read the full definition of Poach on Duhaime.org

Point of Order

A term of parliamentary law and procedure which refers to an interjection during a meeting by a member, who does not have the floor, to call the attention of the chair to an alleged violation or breach of the assembly's or meeting's rules of order. Read the full definition of Point of Order on Duhaime.org

Pollution

The discharge of a toxic or contaminating substance that is likely to have an adverse effect on the natural environment or life. Read the full definition of Pollution on Duhaime.org

Polygamy

Being married to multiple wives or husbands at the same time. Read the full definition of Polygamy on Duhaime.org

Polygraph

A lie-detector machine which records even the slightest variation in blood pressure, body temperature and respiration as questions are put to, and answers elicited from a subject. Read the full definition of Polygraph on Duhaime.org

Pornography

The portrayal of sexual acts solely for the purpose of sexual arousal. Read the full definition of Pornography on Duhaime.org

Positive Law

Law proper, as opposed to moral laws, or to natural/"God-made" law. Read the full definition of Positive Law on Duhaime.org

Postal Rule

A rule of contract law that makes an exception to the general rule that an acceptance is only created when communicated directly to the offeror. Read the full definition of Postal Rule on Duhaime.org

Postnuptial agreement

A separation agreement. Read the full definition of Postnuptial agreement on Duhaime.org

Power of Attorney

A document which gives a person the right to make binding decisions for another, as an agent. Read the full definition of Power of Attorney on Duhaime.org

Præcipe or Precipe

Latin: traditionally the initiating document would be presented to a court clerk to be officially issued on behalf of the court, but now mostly refers to the covering memo or letter from the lawyer (or plaintiff) which accompanies and formally asks for the writ to be issued by the court officer. Read the full definition of Præcipe or Precipe on Duhaime.org

Praemunire

An offence initially to prefer the Pope or his authority as against the King of England or Parliament, but later included a wide assortment of offenses against the King and always leading to serious penalties. Read the full definition of Praemunire on Duhaime.org

Precatory Words

Words that express a wish or a desire rather than a clear command. Read the full definition of Precatory Words on Duhaime.org

Precedent

A case which establishes legal principles to a certain set of facts, coming to a certain conclusion, and which is to be followed from that point on when similar or identical facts are before a court. Read the full definition of Precedent on Duhaime.org

Preferred shares

A share in a company that has some kind of special right or privilege attached to it, such as that it is distinguished from the company's common shares. Read the full definition of Preferred shares on Duhaime.org

Premises Liability

The liability of an occupier of real property towards injury to others. Read the full definition of Premises Liability on Duhaime.org

Preponderance

A word describing evidence that persuades a judge or jury to lean to one side as opposed to the other during the course of litigation. Read the full definition of Preponderance on Duhaime.org

Prescription

A method of acquiring rights through the silence of the legal owner. Read the full definition of Prescription on Duhaime.org

Presumption of Advancement

A presumption in trust, contract and family law which suggests that property transferred from a parent to a child, or spouse to spouse, is a gift and would defeat any presumption of a resulting trust. Read the full definition of Presumption of Advancement on Duhaime.org

Presumption of Death

A presumption such that after a number of years, or events, an individual is presumed dead and his estate managed accordingly. Read the full definition of Presumption of Death on Duhaime.org

Presumption of Fact

A conclusion of fact constructed logically from other proven facts. Read the full definition of Presumption of Fact on Duhaime.org

Presumption of Innocence

A legal presumption that benefits a defendant in a criminal case and which results in acquittal in the event that the prosecutor does not prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Read the full definition of Presumption of Innocence on Duhaime.org

Prima Facie

(Latin) A legal presumption which means on the face of it or at first sight. Read the full definition of Prima Facie on Duhaime.org

Primogeniture

Primogeniture - oldest son inherits. Read the full definition of Primogeniture on Duhaime.org

Principal

An agent's master; the person for whom an agent has received instruction and to whose benefit the agent is expected to perform and make decisions. Read the full definition of Principal on Duhaime.org

Private International Law

A specialized branch of law which resolves cases which have an element of conflicting foreign law. Read the full definition of Private International Law on Duhaime.org

Private Law

Law which regulates the relationships between individuals. Family, commercial and labor law are examples of private law because the focus of those kinds of laws is the relationships between individuals or between corporations or organizations and individual, with the government a bystander. Read the full definition of Private Law on Duhaime.org

Privative Clause

A section of law, typically right in the statute that creates an administrative tribunal, that states that all or select decisions of that tribunal are final and conclusive and not subject to judicial review. Read the full definition of Privative Clause on Duhaime.org

Privilege

A special and exclusive legal advantage or right such as a benefit, exemption, power or immunity. Read the full definition of Privilege on Duhaime.org

Privileged Will

A will valid in spite of defect of form, when made by mariners or soldiers. Read the full definition of Privileged Will on Duhaime.org

Privity of Contract

A doctrine of contract law that prevents any person from seeking the enforcement of a contract, or suing on its terms, unless they are a party to that contract. Read the full definition of Privity of Contract on Duhaime.org

Probate

The formal certificate given by a court that certifies that a will has been proven, validated and registered and which, from that point on, gives the executor the legal authority to execute the will. Read the full definition of Probate on Duhaime.org

Probation

A punishment given out as part of a sentence which means that instead of jailing a person convicted of a crime, a judge will order that the person reports to a probation officer regularly and according to a set schedule. Read the full definition of Probation on Duhaime.org

Pro Bono

Provided at no cost to the interested party. Read the full definition of Pro Bono on Duhaime.org

Procedural Law

The rules of legal process such as the rules of evidence and of procedure in enforcing a legal right or obligation. Read the full definition of Procedural Law on Duhaime.org

Profit à prendre

A servitude which resembles an easement and which allows the holder to enter the land of another and to take some natural produce such as mineral deposits, fish or game, timber, crops or pasture. Read the full definition of Profit à prendre on Duhaime.org

Pro forma

As a matter of form; in keeping with a form or practice. Something done pro forma may not be essential but it facilitates future dealings. Read the full definition of Pro forma on Duhaime.org

Prohibition

A legal restriction against the use of something or against certain conduct. Read the full definition of Prohibition on Duhaime.org

Promisee

A person whom is to be the beneficiary of a promise, an obligation or a contract. Read the full definition of Promisee on Duhaime.org

Promisor

The person who has become obliged through a promise (usually expressed in a contract) towards another, the intended beneficiary of the promise being referred to as the obligor Read the full definition of Promisor on Duhaime.org

Promissory Estoppel

A promise made to another party to a contract that the contract will not be enforced in whole or in part and which, once acted upon, prevents subsequent proceedings to enforce the contract as against the person who relied on the promise. Read the full definition of Promissory Estoppel on Duhaime.org

Promissory Note

An unconditional, written and signed promise to pay a certain amount of money, on demand or at a certain defined date in the future. Read the full definition of Promissory Note on Duhaime.org

Proof in Common Form

A summary approval of an uncontested will by the court, subject to subsequent contest. Read the full definition of Proof in Common Form on Duhaime.org

Proof in Solemn Form

The pronouncement by a court that a will is formally approved and not subject to later contest barring fraud or the discovery of a later will. Read the full definition of Proof in Solemn Form on Duhaime.org

Property

Property is commonly thought of as a thing which belongs to someone and over which a person has total control. But, legally, it is more properly defined as a collection of legal rights over a thing. Read the full definition of Property on Duhaime.org

Propinquity

Nearness in place; close-by. Also used to describe relationships as synonymous for kin. Read the full definition of Propinquity on Duhaime.org

Pro possessore

As a possessor. For example, a person may exercise certain rights over a thing not as owner but pro possessore: as a person who possesses, but does not own, the thing. Read the full definition of Pro possessore on Duhaime.org

Propound

To offer a document as being authentic or valid. Read the full definition of Propound on Duhaime.org

Proprietor

Owner. Read the full definition of Proprietor on Duhaime.org

Pro Rata

Latin: to divide proportionate to a certain rate or interest. Read the full definition of Pro Rata on Duhaime.org

Prorogation

To end a session of a Parliament, and all business then on the agenda, until it is summoned to reconvene. Read the full definition of Prorogation on Duhaime.org

Pro Se

Latin: on one's own behalf. Read the full definition of Pro Se on Duhaime.org

Pro Socio

Latin: on behalf of a partnership. Read the full definition of Pro Socio on Duhaime.org

Prosecute

To bring judicial proceedings against a person and to administer them until the conclusion of the court proceedings. Lawyers are hired by the government to administer the prosecution of criminal charges in the courts. Read the full definition of Prosecute on Duhaime.org

Prospectus

A document in which a corporation sets out the material details of a share or bond issue and inviting the public to invest by purchasing these financial instruments. Read the full definition of Prospectus on Duhaime.org

Prostitute

An individual who offers lewd sexual acts for the gratification of a customer and in exchange for money. Read the full definition of Prostitute on Duhaime.org

Pro tempore

Latin: something done temporarily only and not intended to be permanent. Read the full definition of Pro tempore on Duhaime.org

Proxy

A written appointment given by a voting member of an organization to another person allowing the proxy holder to attend a specific meeting on the member's behalf, including the exercise of the member's voting rights. Read the full definition of Proxy on Duhaime.org

Public Defender

An attorney in the USA paid for by the state but representing an indigent individual in a criminal matter. Read the full definition of Public Defender on Duhaime.org

Public Domain

American copyright law term: works that are not copyright protected, free for all to use without permission. Read the full definition of Public Domain on Duhaime.org

Public Law

Those laws which regulate the structure and administration of the government, the conduct of the government in its relations with its citizens, the responsibilities of government employees and the relationships with foreign governments. Read the full definition of Public Law on Duhaime.org

Public Policy

Certain acts or contracts are said to be against public policy if they tend to promote breach of the law, of the policy behind a law or tend to harm the state or its citizens. Read the full definition of Public Policy on Duhaime.org

Puisne

Junior or lower in rank, as opposed to the chief justice. For example, there are 8 puisne judges on the Supreme Court of Canada and a chief justice. Read the full definition of Puisne on Duhaime.org

Punitive Damages

Special and highly exceptional damages ordered by a court against a defendant where the act or omission which caused the suit, was of a particularly heinous, malicious or highhanded nature. Read the full definition of Punitive Damages on Duhaime.org