Taking the mystery out of legal language - some examples:

‘Interlocutory” means any court hearing occurring in the process of

preparing for a full hearing of the case before that final hearing. It would

include any applications before trial which the parties may make, or any

actions by the court to expedite the parties’ preparation and disclosure

prior to the hearing. This sometimes includes ‘interrogatories’ (which

means pre-trial questions and answers in writing under oath) and

‘discovery’ (which means forced disclosure of documents by a party which

might assist an opponent’s case).

‘Injunction’ is any order made by a court ordering any person to take or

not to take a specific action which could affect the outcome of the final

hearing of the case. They can also be part of the final decision of a court

where requested, instead of an award of damages. However, injunction

orders are discretionary & courts may decline to make them. These

orders may be made to people or organizations, even if they are not

parties to the case which the court is hearing. Injunctions can be either

temporary or final. They may also be ‘ex parte’ which means only one

party to the litigation is present seeking the court’s urgent order,

although there are strict rules applying regarding undertakings which

must be given by the applicant as to costs and damages when the court

hears only one party seeking the order.

‘Party/party costs’, compared with ‘solicitor/client costs’. The

difference between these two is that ‘party/party costs’ are those allowed

by an official court scale which are recoverable by a successful party

against an unsuccessful party in litigation where the court allows such

recovery, or which are prescribed for certain types of legal work such as

land dealings or work for deceased estates. ‘Solicitor/client costs’ are

costs actually charged by a solicitor for acting for a client, as agreed

between them in a retainer agreement and which the client must pay to

his/her solicitor. It is important to understand that ‘solicitor/client costs’

may be greater or less than ‘party/party costs’.

‘Mediation’ can be either private and voluntary or compulsory. It is a

process whereby parties in dispute meet with or without advisors, in

good faith in the presence of an independent mediator who helps the

parties to try to settle their dispute out of court. It is most useful in

commercial disputes where both parties have strengths and weaknesses

in their cases & want to save legal costs of a hearing where the outcome

might not be clear. It is also used widely in family law disputes. Usually,

the parties agree to share equally the mediator’s costs, irrespective of the

mediation outcome. Mediations are ‘off the record’ in the sense that

admissions or concessions made in mediation talks cannot be used in the

trial, if the mediation fails. The rules in many courts require the parties to

try mediation before the court will hear the case.


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