Resource Library

Free Online Legal Resources

Legal Dictionary

P

  • Par value shares

    Shares issued by a company which have a minimum price. Shares which are without par value or "non par value shares" are shares which may be sold at whatever price the company's board of directors decides.
    Back To Top
  • Paralegal

    A person who is not a lawyer or is not acting in that capacity but who provides a limited number of legal services. Each country differs in the authority it gives paralegals in exercising what traditionally would be lawyers' work.
    Back To Top
  • 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. It is typically used to remove a criminal record against a good citizen for a small crime that may have been committed during adolescence or young adulthood. Although procedures vary from one state to another, the request for a pardon usually involves a lengthy period of time of impeccable behavior and a reference check. Generally speaking, the more serious the crime, the longer the time requirement for excellent behavior. In the USA, the power to pardon for federal offenses belongs to the President.
    Back To Top

  • Parens patriae

    Latin: A British common law creation whereby the courts have the right to make unfettered decisions concerning people who are not able to take care of themselves. For example, court can make custody decisions regarding a child or an insane person, even without statute law to allow them to do so, based on their residual, common law-based parens patriae jurisdiction.
    Back To Top
  • Pari delicto

    Latin for "of equal fault." For example, if two parties complain to a judge of the non-performance of a contract by the other, the judge could refuse to provide a remedy to either of them because of "pari delicto": a finding that they were equally at fault in causing the contract's breach.
    Back To Top
  • Pari passu

    Latin: Equitably and without preference. This term is often used in bankruptcy proceedings where creditors are said to be "pari passu" which means that they are all equal and that distribution of the assets will occur without preference between them.
    Back To Top
  • 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. Any violation of those conditions would result in the return of the person to prison.
    Back To Top
  • Parricide

    Killing one's father or another a family member or close relative.
    Back To Top
  • Partnership

    A business organization in which two or more persons carry on a business together. Partners are each fully liable for all the debts of the enterprise but they also share the profits exclusively. Many states have laws which regulate partnerships and may, for example, require some form of registration and allow partnership agreements. One of the basic advantages of partnerships is that they tend to allow business losses to be deducted from personal income for tax purposes (see also limited partner).
    Back To Top
  • Patent

    An exclusive privilege granted to an inventor to make, use or sale an invention for a set number of years (eg. in Canada, 17 years). Normally, no one company can retain a monopoly over a product or service because this is considered to economically harmful to society. But as a financial incentive to potential inventors, the state grants a temporary monopoly to that inventor through the issuance of a patent.
    Back To Top
  • Patents, Trademarks & Copyrights

    the area of law dealing with an idea, invention, trade secret, process, program, data, formula, patent, copyright, or trademark or application, right, or registration (often times referred to as intellectual property law).
    Back To Top
  • Paternity

    Being a father. "Paternity suits" are launched when a man denies paternity of a child born out of wedlock. New technology of DNA testing can establish paternity thus obliging the father to provide child support.
    Back To Top
  • Paternity Judgment

    legal determination of fatherhood
    Back To Top
  • Payee

    The person to whom payment is addressed or given. In family law, the term usually refers to the person who receives or to whom support or maintenance is owed. In commercial law, the term refers to the person to whom a bill of exchange is made payable. On a regular check, the space preceded with the words "pay to the order of" identifies the payee.
    Back To Top
  • Payor

    The person who is making the payment(s). Again, in the context of family law, the word would typically refer to the person to a support or maintenance debtor. In commercial law, the word refers to the person who makes the payment on a check or bill of exchange.
    Back To Top
  • Pen register

    An electronic surveillance device which attaches to a phone line and which registers every number dialed from a specific telephone. This surveillance device is not as effective as wire-tapping.
    Back To Top
  • 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. Another example is an injunction pendente lite, to last only during the litigation and, again, designed simply to preserve something until the decisive court order is issued.
    Back To Top
  • Pension & Benefits

    the area of law dealing with compensation under given conditions to a person following retirement from employment or to surviving dependents.
    Back To Top
  • 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.
    Back To Top
  • Perjury

    An intentional lie given while under oath or in a sworn affidavit.
    Back To Top