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Index of Legal Terms

A definitive collection of legal terms that are used by attorneys in contracts, agreements and other legal documents in South Africa.

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Pact: A contract; an agreement; a treaty; a covenant.

Panel: A list of potential jurors who might serve in a particular trial; the members of a commission.

Paper: A legal document; an instrument; a written statement or memorandum.

Par: Equal; average; normal.

Par value: An arbitrary minimum price at which each share of corporate stock can initially be sold by a corporation.

Pass: 1. To pronounce or declare, such as to pass judgment or to pass sentence. 2. To be approved, such as a tax declaration that is passed by the revenue authorities.

Past due: Overdue, such as a payment of an obligation or debt.

Patent: 1. The right of monopoly over the manufacture, sale, and use of a device or process that one has discovered or invented, such patent being granted by law or statute. 2. A grant of mineral rights to public land. 3. As an adjective, patent means obvious or evident.

Payable: Due; a legally enforceable debt.

Payee: The person to whom a bill is to be paid.

Payoff: The time for a settlement of a debt; a reckoning.

Peculation: The unlawful taking over of government property or funds for personal use by an individual who has had such property or funds entrusted to his care.

Pending: Not yet decided; often used to refer to a suit that has been started but not yet finished.

Pension: A sum of money paid periodically to a retired employee, with such funds derived from accumulated contributions made over the years by the employee and employer, or by the employer alone.

People: The citizens; the state; the nation; the constituted government. A criminal prosecution is stated as the people against ________, meaning that all the people are prosecuting an alleged perpetrator of a crime.

Per annum: By the year. Interest due per annum means interest due each year (Latin).

Per se: By itself (Latin); taken alone; simply stated.

Percentage: A portion of 100.

Performance: The fulfilment of a contract or agreement, thus terminating an obligation.

Perjury: False testimony; the telling of an untruth when acting as a witness in a court proceeding; the making of a false statement in an affidavit; the willful swearing to a falsehood in a matter before a court. Perjury occurs when someone has taken an oath to tell the truth and then knowingly tells an untruth; lying under oath. Perjury is punishable by severe fines and/or imprisonment.

Permission: Legal consent to perform an act, without which consent, the act would be illegal; the license to do something; sufferance.

Permit: 1. A license; a permission given in writing. 2. To tolerate; to license; to grant permission.

Personal injury: 1. Damage (injury) to the body. 2. A personal wrong or violation of a personal right. Such personal injury is frequently the basis for lawsuit against the wrongdoer. Personal injury is not limited to physical body harm.

Personal liability: The obligation to pay business-related debts from an owner's personal, non-business assets.

Personal property: All property, except real estate, that can be owned; includes money, jewelry, vehicles, stocks, copyrights, etc.

Pertain: To relate to; to belong to.

Pertinent: Relevant; directed toward the issue being discussed; apropos; related; germane.

Petition: A written, formal request for a particular thing to be done or a certain act to be carried out. In equity proceedings, a petition is in actuality a complaint.

Plaint: A complaint; the presentation of a plaintiff's claim in a lawsuit.

Plaintiff: The party who is bringing a lawsuit against a defendant; the person or persons who are suing.

Plaintiff / Applicant: The parties who institute a civil matter (an aggrieved person). The Plaintiff is a person in an action procedure and the Applicant is a person in the application procedure.

Plan: 1. A procedure designed to reorganize a company so as to pay off debtors and to continue the operations of a business, such a plan taking place in a bankruptcy proceeding. 2. A sketch or outline of something to be done.

Plea: The response by one who is accused of a crime; the answer the law requires of a defendant who is accused.

Pledge: The granting of physical possession of goods or personal property to a person to whom one owes a debt. The creditor holds such property as security until the debt is paid.

Policy: 1. A course of action to be followed or avoided. 2. The programs and aims of a government in caring for its people. 3. A document issued by an insurance company.

Political: Pertaining to government; pertaining to the establishment of policies for governing a community, state, or nation.

Poll: To question each juror to hear whether he agrees with the verdict.

Pool: An association of merchants who jointly buy or sell a certain commodity or commodities.

Portion: 1. A share; a part. 2. The part of a parent's estate that is given to a child.

Positive evidence: 1. Eyewitness testimony 2. Testimony by a witness that he has himself seen or heard something take place.

Post-mortem: An autopsy; an examination of a dead body carried out to determine the cause of death. In Latin, post mortem means after death.

Postpone: To delay; to put off to a later date; to defer.

Potential: Possible, as distinguished from actual; capable of coming into being; a latent possibility, such as a person who has great potential to become successful but has not presently achieved success.

Pour-over will: A specialized will that simply "pours over" the testatorÆs remaining assets into the testator's Living Trust or Joint Living Trust.

Power: The authority and ability to do something; the right and capability of carrying out some act; the right of jurisdiction.

Power of attorney: 1. A written document stating that one appoints another to act in his behalf as an agent, giving him the authority to carry out certain specified acts. 2. A written document giving an attorney the authority to appear in court on someone's behalf.

Powers: The authority and ability to do something; the right and capability of carrying out some act; the right of jurisdiction.

Practicable: Something that can be accomplished; feasible; workable.

Practice: 1. The way things are usually done; custom; habit. 2. A method of proceeding in courts for the enforcement of rights or the correction of wrongs. 3. A continuing occupation, such as the practice of law or the practice of medicine.

Prayer: A request, such as is usually contained in a complaint asking for relief occasioned by a wrong committed by the defendant.

Precaution: Measure taken in advance, in order to avoid a mishap or to produce a good result; foresight; prevention or preventive measures.

Precedence: The right to precede or to go before; to take precedence means the privilege of going ahead of, rather than after; to consider first.

Preclude: 1. To make impossible; to stop; to prevent. 2. To exclude; to rule out.

Predecease: To die before another person dies.

Predecessor: A person who precedes, or goes before, another person. (President Ford was President Carter's predecessor in office.)

Preferred stock: A type of stock that gives the shareholder greater rights to dividends or other benefits than those rights held by common shareholders.

Premarital agreement: An agreement made between a man and woman prior to their marriage. It often includes provisions for the disposal of property should separation, divorce, or death ensue; an antenuptial settlement; a prenuptial agreement; an antenuptial contract.

Premises: 1. The basis or bases for an argument presented to a court; the real substance of a lawsuit; the introductory proposition that should lead to a conclusion. 2. Property.

Premium: The amount paid for insurance coverage.

Prescription: 1. A means of acquiring a right through continued possession and use over a prolonged period of time. As an example, a person who has used a right of way across another person's land for the past ten to twenty years may be said to have become entitled to that right of way through prescription. 2. A written order by a physician, given to a patient for presentation to a pharmacist. Such prescription orders a medication or medications that the pharmacist will prepare and contains information on dosages and use.

Presence of the testator: A signing of a will within the sight of the testator. This implies that witnesses are present and that the testator is conscious and knows what he is signing.

Present: 1. Being at a certain place at a certain time. 2. To lay a motion or case before a court for consideration and action.

Preservation: The act of keeping something in good condition and safeguarding it from damage or harm; the act of preserving.

President: The chief executive officer of the United States; a presiding or managing officer of a legislative body, business, organization, committee, etcetera.

Presume: To believe; to accept as true, even before conclusive evidence has been presented; to assume.

Pretences: Acts of pretending or making believe; a false pretence is a calculated, thought-out misrepresentation of facts.

Previous question: A parliamentary procedure carried out to end debate and cause a question to be voted upon immediately. As an example, someone moves the previous question. If the legislative body approves such a motion, then the issue must be voted without further debate.

Primary: 1. Chief; first; principal. 2. A convention, meeting, or voting of voters to select a candidate who will represent their political party.

Primary Beneficiary: Person who is the first choice to receive a gift. If the primary beneficiary is dead, the gift goes to an alternate beneficiary.

Principal: 1. An amount of debt or loan, excluding any accumulated interest. 2. Primary, most important, main. 3. In a Principal-Agent relationship, the Principal authorizes the Agent to act for the Principal.

Principle: A doctrine; a fundamental belief; a clear truth, universally accepted, such as the principle of law that one should be punished for committing a crime.

Priority: The right to take precedence over another; the state of being ahead in time, therefore, having priority; a legal preference.

Privilege: A benefit or right enjoyed by an individual, a group of people, a company, etcetera, not enjoyed by others; special dispensation; an exemption from the performance of some act that others are required to perform; an immunity.

Probability: Likelihood; something that may be true or may have happened has a probability of truth or fact. Probability may be great or small.

Probable consequences: Those results or consequences that have a good likelihood of taking place following a particular act or event; outcomes that a reasonable person could have foreseen.

Probate: The legal process of recording a WILL in the appropriate place, generally a probate court, and proving that it is valid.

Proceeding: 1. The presentation and prosecution of a lawsuit before a court. 2. A case in court.

Process server: A person who hands a summons or subpoena upon a witness or defendant.

Produce: 1. To exhibit; to show; to place before one's view, as the promise of attorney to produce a particular witness in court.

Profess: To declare publicly; to acknowledge openly.

Profit sharing: An arrangement in a company or corporation whereby employees and officers share in the profits of the business. Such profit sharing usually constitutes only part of the pay the employees receive for their work.

Prognosis: The probability of recovery from an illness.

Prohibit: To prevent or forbid by legal means.

Promise: A statement that binds a person to do something. A promise may be a matter of law, of conscience, or of honor; it may be written or verbal.

Promissory note: A written document stating that a certain debt will be paid at a specified time or within a specified period of time. The note will bear the signature of the debtor and will state to whom and when the money will be paid.

Proof: The establishment of truth through evidence; the effect of evidence; a conviction of the mind that a certain fact in issue has been established as true.

Property: 1. Anything that can be owned, such as land, buildings, stocks, securities, jewelry, money, patents, copyrights, various rights, etcetera. 2. The legal right to ownership of a thing or things.

Proposal: 1. A suggestion put forth for the purpose of obtaining acceptance. 2. A measure put before a legislative body. 3. An offer.

Proprietary: Ownership of a thing by a particular person; an exclusive claim to the rights of ownership of an item.

Proprietary Information: Information that the owner has a right to protect.

Proprietary rights: Rights and privileges of an owner of property.

Prosecute: To proceed and to maintain a legal action, such as a prosecuting attorney who tries in court to prove an accused person to be guilty; to attempt to enforce by legal action.

Prosecution: Following an established procedural process.

Protest: 1. Dissent; disapproval; a written statement, by someone making a payment, that he thinks the payment is illegal, exorbitant, unwarranted, etc. , thus reserving the right to get the money back. 2. An objection to a legal rule or judgment.

Protocol: 1. Accepted methods of procedure among diplomats, heads of state, etcetera; ceremonial rules and procedures. 2. A rough draft of an agreement or contract, or of a treaty between nations.

Provided by law: A phrase denoting that something has been prescribed (provided for) by an existing statute (law).

Proxies: 1. An individual authorized to act for another. A Proxy acts as a substitute or a representative. A Proxy can be authorized to vote for a shareholder of a corporation. In some states, a Proxy can be authorized to make health care decisions for another. 2. The document which authorizes an individual to act for another.

Proximate: Direct, as opposed to indirect; immediate, as opposed to delayed.

Proxy: 1. An individual authorized to act for another. A Proxy acts as a substitute or a representative. A Proxy can be authorized to vote for a shareholder of a corporation. In some states, a Proxy can be authorized to make health care decisions for another. 2. The document which authorizes an individual to act for another.

Psychiatrist: A physician who specializes in and treats disorders of the mind and mental disease.

Public: 1. Belonging to an entire community, whether it is a town, city, county, state, or nation. 2. The citizens of a town, city, county, state, or country. 3. The body politic. 4. Owned by a government, as distinguished from something that is privately owned.

Publish: To let it be known to the public; to print for general circulation; to give publicity to; to print a manuscript.

Punitive damages: An award to a plaintiff beyond actual possible loss. Such damages are by way of punishing the defendant for his act.

Purport: To imply; to claim; to mean; to convey law; the full scope of an enacted statute.

Pursuant to: Conforming to; done in consequence of; following; according to.

Pursue: To follow through, as to pursue a claim until it is finally established; to continue actively a cause of action until its final conclusion.

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