Glossary - O
Lawyers often use technical terms. This guide to common legal words will make it easier for you to understand the law and Victoria's legal system. It will help you understand the legal information you need to read when you have a legal issue or problem.
A person's promise to tell the truth in court. A person taking an oath places one hand on the Bible or other holy book to demonstrate how seriously they take their promise.
- obiter dictum
Words said or written by a judge, when deciding a court case, which are not necessary for the decision. For example, a judge in the Supreme Court of Victoria might say in passing that the law on theft in the United Kingdom is not the same as the law on theft in Victoria. Since the Supreme Court is not bound by United Kingdom law, the judge's comment about it is not necessary for the court's decision.
A criminal act.
A public official appointed to investigate citizen complaints against government departments and statutory authorities. The term can also refer to an umpire who resolves consumer complaints in a particular industry, for example, banking.
- on their own undertaking
- onus of proof
The responsibility to prove a case in court. In criminal trials, the prosecution must prove its case, leaving no reasonable doubt about it. In civil (non-criminal) cases, the plaintiff must prove that their claims are more likely to be true than false.
- order nisi
An order that will come into force at the end of a stated period unless a specified event happens.
- originating motion
An application that starts a court proceeding. The process, which is different for different courts, is set out in rules made by the court.