Understanding the Law
January 6, 2006

A look at legal words and terms

We will commence the New Year with a look at some frequently used words and terms in our continuing attempt to understand the law.


-This is a bond or obligation which a person enters into before the High Court or Magistrate Court binding him under penalty to do some particular act, for example, to appear before the court, to keep the peace or to pay a debt. A person who applies for bail may on his recognizance with or without sureties be admitted to bail under the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act. {{more}}The successful applicant before the court will be released and if he is in prison. an order will be issued to the Superintendent of prison for his release.


A person could be guilty of perjury if he willfully makes false statements that are material to the cause in court. It is to prevent the witnesses from making false statements that they are required to swear or make an affirmation to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth before evidence is given.

Hearsay Evidence:

This is the evidence of a fact not perceived or observed by the witness with one of his senses but what is said by another. The evidence is normally dependent on the credibility of another person. Hearsay evidence is generally not accepted in court but there are exceptions.


This is the evidence that a person gives in a trial in court or in an affidavit or deposition. The evidence in court is normally given under oath or affirmation. When evidence is given in the written form the person giving it must insert his or her signature.

Contempt of Court:

A person is said to be in contempt of court if he or she acts in a way so as to disregard the authority of the court by insulting the judge/magistrate or disobeying his or her orders. Contempt of court is punishable by imprisonment of the offender or a fine.

Presumption of death:

The presumption of death is made when there is no direct evidence of the fact. A person could be presumed dead if the person has not been heard from for seven years. However, if a person dies in a sea, air or land disaster and the body is not found, the person could be presumed dead and a death certificate obtained from the Registrar of the High Court under Registration of Births and Deaths Act, Chapter 179 of the Laws of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Revised Edition, 1990.

Power of Attorney:

This is the power that is given by one person to another to act for him in his absence for example to convey land, to receive a debt or to sue a party. This power may be given to one or more persons. When given to more than one person those persons may act separately or together. There are the general and the special powers of attorney. A special power of attorney can be given to convey land or to apply for a grant of administration in the estate of the deceased.