The definitions provided below are for terms commonly used in the Federal Court, which you may come upon during the course of your proceeding.  These definitions should not be taken or used as legal advice.

To browse the glossary alphabetically, use the following links:

- A -


A bill which has passed through the various legislative steps required for it and which has become law, may be called a statute or an act. (Loi)

Address for service

In respect of a party who has no solicitor of record, the address shown on the last document filed by the party that indicates an address in Canada. In respect of a party who has a solicitor of record, the address of the solicitor of record shown on the last filed document that indicates an address. (Adresse aux fins de signification)


When a court hearing is postponed to another date or postponed indefinitely (without a set date), it is called an adjournment. (Ajournement)


The Chief Administrator and Chief Executive Officer appointed under section 5 of the Courts Administration Service Act, or a person acting on his or her behalf. (Administrateur)


A person who makes and signs an affidavit. (Déclarant)


A statement in writing based on the personal knowledge of the person making the statement, which is sworn under oath or a solemn affirmation to be true, is called an affidavit. (Affidavit)

Affidavit of service

A type of affidavit that sets out the date, time and manner in which a particular document has been served upon an individual, corporation, etc.  (Affidavit de signification)


A person may solemnly affirm the truth of the evidence they are about to give to the Court, rather than swear under oath. (Affirmer)

Amicus Curiae

Latin for “friend of the Court”.  An impartial advisor who assists the Court during the course of a hearing, to represent a position or interest, usually at the court’s request. (Amicus Curiae)

Anton Piller Order

Derives its name from the case where the order was first made (Anton Piller KG v. Manufacturing Processes Ltd [1976] Ch 55).  It requires a defendant to allow a plaintiff’s solicitors to search the defendant’s premises and remove all items covered by the order. The defendant has no advance warning that the order has been sought or granted. (Ordonnance de type Anton Piller)


Except in the case of an application that has been certified as a class proceeding, includes a person on whose behalf an application is commenced. (Demandeur)


A proceeding referred to in Rule 300, which is commenced by filing a Notice of Application. (Demande)

Back to top

- B -

Bench warrant

A warrant issued by a judge for the arrest of a person who has been held in contempt, has disobeyed a subpoena, or has failed to appear or remain in attendance at a hearing or trial. (Mandat d’amener)

Back to top

- C -

Case law

The collection of reported cases that form the body of law within a given jurisdiction and form precedents for future cases. (Droit jurisprudential)

Certified copy

In respect of a document in the custody of the Registry means a copy of the document certified by an officer of the Registry. (Copie certifiée)


A judge's private room or office where he or she works when court is not in session. (Cabinet)

Class Proceeding

A legal procedure in which many claimants, who claim to have been harmed in a similar manner by a similar party, join together to advance their claim as one. A class proceeding is advantageous where the cost would be too expensive for a sole party to pursue the claim individually. (Recours collectif)

Concurrent Jurisdiction

Shared jurisdiction with another court. For example, the Federal Court has concurrent jurisdiction with provincial Superior Courts under S. 22 of the Federal Courts Act with respect to admiralty matters. (Compétence concurrente)


Meant to be kept secret between specified parties or persons, as ordered by the Court. (Confidentielle)

Consent Order

An order made by the Court based upon the agreement of the parties. (Ordonnance sur consentement)

Contempt of Court

A person may be found in contempt of court if they disobey an order of the Court or act in such a way as to interfere with the orderly administration of justice.  The penalty for contempt may be a fine or jail. (Outrage au tribunal)


Means “the right to copy”.  In general, the right to make copies of a given work and to stop others from making copies without one’s permission.  Governed by the Copyright Act. (Droit d’auteur)


The expense related to bringing a legal proceeding to Court (for example, lawyer’s fees).  The Court has full discretionary power over the amount and allocation of costs and the determination of by whom they are to be paid.  (Dépens)


A defendant who claims to be entitled to relief against a plaintiff may make a counterclaim instead of bringing a separate action. (Demande reconventionnelle)


The term “the court” is used to refer to the presiding judge or associate judge.  (Cour)


One to whom a debt is owed. (Créancier)


Means His Majesty in right of Canada. (Couronne)

Back to top

- D -


One who owes money to another person. (Débiteur)


A judgment, order or other determination made by a judge or an associate judge, verbally or in writing. (Décision)

Default Judgment

Where a defendant fails to serve and file a statement of defence within the time set out in the Rules or any other time fixed by an order of the Court, the plaintiff may bring a motion for judgment against the defendant. (Jugement par défaut).


A person against whom an action is brought. (Défendeur)

Directions of the Court

Instructions by the Court to provide guidance regarding procedure, which may be given in writing or verbally. (Directives de la Cour)


Disclosure by the parties before trial of all relevant information and documents. (Examen)


A party may discontinue all or part of a proceeding by serving and filing a notice of discontinuance. (Désistement)

Dispute resolution

The Court takes an active role in supervising proceedings and encouraging resolution of disputes by methods such as mediation, early neutral evaluation and mini-trials. (Règlement des litiges)

Back to top

- E -


The oral and written statements and information and any actual things produced in a proceeding; anything which may be used to prove a fact or support an assertion.  (Preuve)


This is a paper, document or piece of physical evidence provided to the court at a trial or hearing, or it can form part of an affidavit, as an attachment. (Pièce)

Ex Parte

An application to the court where the other side is not given notice and is not present at the hearing. (Ex parte)

Extension of time

A period of additional time beyond the normal due date to take an action, file a document, make a decision or complete a task. (Prorogation du délai)

Back to top

- F -

Filing of documents

This is the process of adding documents to a court file by sending them to the Registry for the purpose of filing by delivery, mail, fax or electronic transmission. There is a fee to file some documents. (dépôt)

Final judgment

Any judgment or other decision that determines in whole or in part any substantive right of any of the parties in controversy in any judicial proceeding. (Jugement définitif)

Back to top

- G -


The person who owes a judgment debtor money and against whom the court issues garnishment proceedings.  (Tiers saisi)


A legal process in which a creditor asks the Court to order a third party who is indebted to a debtor, to turn over to the creditor any of the debtor’s property (such as wages or bank accounts), that is held by the third party. (Saisie-arrêt)

Back to top

- H -


When a matter is heard by a judge in a courtroom or elsewhere, by means of a telephone conference call, video-conference or any other form of electronic communication, it is called a hearing.  (Audience)


Evidence that is offered by a witness of which they do not have direct knowledge, but rather their testimony is based on what others have said to them.  In general, hearsay evidence is not admissible in court.  (Ouï-dire)


Means a Saturday, Sunday or any other day defined as a holiday in subsection 35(1) of the Interpretation Act.  (Jour férié)

Back to top

- I -


Not allowable. (Inadmissible)

In camera

An in camera hearing is held in private and not open to the general public. (À huis clos)


A court order commanding or preventing an action. (Injonction)

Interim injunction

A type of interlocutory injunction granted for a very brief period (not more than 14 days) until application for an interlocutory injunction is made. (Injonction provisoire)

Interlocutory injunction

An injunction intended to ensure that certain specified acts do not take place until the rights of the parties are finally determined by the Court. (Injonction interlocutoire)

Back to top

- J -


The power and authority of a court to hear a particular matter and decide certain issues. The jurisdiction of the Federal Court is conferred by the Federal Courts Act and, at present, close to a hundred other applicable federal statutes. (Compétence)

Back to top

- L -

Leave of the Court

Means that permission of the Court is required before a person can commence a certain type of proceeding, proceed in a certain way or file certain documents. (Autorisation de la Cour)


A party to a proceeding before the Court. (Plaideur)

Back to top

- M -

Mareva Injunction

Also known as a freezing order which freezes assets so that a defendant to an action cannot dispose of their assets beyond the jurisdiction of a court until the trial ends or judgment is determined.  (Injonction de type Mareva)


A method of dispute resolution involving a neutral third party who tries to help the disputing parties reach a mutually agreeable solution. (Médiation)

Back to top

- N -

Notice of Motion

A request to the Court under, or to enforce, the Federal Courts Rules is made by Notice of Motion.  The purpose of a Notice of Motion is to give the opposing party notice of the order being sought and the grounds for seeking the order, and to tell the Court what is being requested and why. (Avis de requête)

Nunc pro tunc

When the Court takes an action “nunc pro tunc”, that action has retroactive legal effect, as though it had been performed at a particular, earlier date. (Nunc pro tunc)

Back to top

- O -


A person swears an oath on a holy book to declare the truth of the evidence they are about to give to the Court. (Serment)


An order is a written or verbal decision issued by a judge or associate judge.  If a party or other person who is subject to an Order fails to abide by it, they may be found guilty of contempt of Court. (Ordonnance)

Back to top

- P -


In respect of an action - a plaintiff, defendant or third party.
In respect of an application - an applicant or respondent.
In respect of an appeal - an applicant or respondent. (Partie)


Except in the case of an action that has been certified as a class proceeding, includes a person on whose behalf an action is commenced. (Demandeur)


A document in a proceeding in which a claim is initiated, defined, defended or answered. i.e.: statement of claim, defence, reply. (Acte de procédure)


A decided case that furnishes a basis for determining later cases involving similar facts or issues. (Précédent)

Pre-trial conference

A meeting between the parties, their lawyers and a judge to discuss the possibility of settlement of any or all of the issues in the action and to discuss any and all other matters that may promote the timely and just disposition of the action. (Conférence préparatoire)


The regular and orderly progression of a lawsuit, including all acts and events between the time of commencement and the final judgment. (Procés)

Proof of service

An affidavit of service or acknowledgement of service filed with the Registry, as proof that a document has been served upon a party on a given date and place. (Preuve de signification)

Associate Judge

A judicial officer appointed by the Governor in Council who exercises many of the powers and functions of a Federal Court Judge. (Protonotaire)

Back to top

- R -


The Court has one Registry for all of Canada. That Registry consists of a principal office in Ottawa and other offices in the different parts of the country where convenience of litigants makes it expedient that there be such offices. (Greffe)

Registry fees

Certain documents require that a fee be paid before they can be filed with the Court.  Refer to Tariff A in the Federal Courts Rules for more information. (Droits payable au greffe)

Representative plaintiff/applicant

One whose case will speak for that of the whole class. His or her case would then be tried on behalf of the class.  Any issues which are resolved in favour of the representative plaintiff / applicant would benefit all class members. (Représentant demandeur)


A party against whom an application or appeal is made. (Défendeur/intimé)

Rules of (the) Court

Means the Federal Courts Rules and the Federal Courts Citizenship, Immigration and Refugee Protection Rules, which set out procedures for conducting a proceeding in the court, which must be followed by the parties. The Rules of the Court also include forms that must be used when a party files documents with the court. (Règles de procedure)

Back to top

- S -

Seasonal recess

The period beginning on December 21 in a year and ending on January 7 in the following year. (Vacances judiciaires saisonnières)


Self represented litigant

An individual who represents himself or herself in a proceeding before the Court, rather than being represented by a lawyer. (Plaideur non représenté)


The formal delivery of a legal document to the required person in accordance with the Federal Courts Rules.  A document so delivered is said to have been served. (Signification)


Includes a marshal, peace officer or other person to whom a writ, warrant or other process is directed. (Shérif)

Specially Managed Proceeding

A proceeding that has been taken out of the usual flow and proceeds according to directions from the case management judge. (Instance à gestion Spéciale)

Statement of Claim

A document by which an action is commenced. (Déclaration)

Stay of Proceedings

A ruling by the Court in a proceeding that stops further legal process.  The Court can subsequently lift the stay and resume proceedings.  (Suspension d’instance)

Style of cause

The name or title of a proceeding, which sets out the names of all the parties. (Intitulé de cause)


This is a document that summons a person to attend a court hearing at a specified time and place, to give evidence in Court. (Subpoena)

Back to top

- W -


A writ is an official court document signed by a Registry Officer with delegated signing authority and bearing an official court seal, which instructs the person to whom it is addressed to do something specific or refrain from doing something.  (Bref)

Written representations

The purpose of written representations is to fairly inform the opposite party of the legal and factual basis of an order being sought and to assist the Court in its disposition of the matter. (Prétentions écrites)

Federal Courts Practice, Carswell, 2015
Black’s Law Dictionary, Seventh Edition, West Group, 1999
Pocket Dictionary of Canadian Law, Third Edition, Carswell, 2002

Date modified: 2023-03-16

This is a Modal Popup Form