Systems of Law in Canada

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  1. Ancient Forms of Action
    During the early development of the common law, by royal order, no new causes of action could be added to the law; this resulted in the existing causes of action becoming frozen and rigid over a long period. These "frozen" causes of action are referred to as ancient forms of action.
  2. Appellate Court
    A court that reviews the decisions of lower courts or courts of first instance for errors of fact or law.
  3. Article
    In civil code systems, specific rules or groups of rules.
  4. Case at Bar
    The case currently being tried before the court.
  5. Case Law
    Legal rules derived from decided cases.
  6. Causes of Action
    Facts that give rise to a right to sue based on a legal rule or legal right.
  7. Chancellor
    The royal official who originally administered the law of equity. Later, the title was also used by judges appointed to the court of Chancery, which dealt with equity matters. In England today, the Lord Chancellor is the chief official responsible for the administration of justice in the realm.
  8. Codification
    A process that results in a coherent, theoretically related and logically consistent system of rules.
  9. Cour of Chancery
    The court that administered the law of equity.
  10. "Come into Court with Clean Hands"
    A principal of the law of equity that requires someone seeking to invoke equitable rules to have conducted himself or herself fairly and honorably in the events leading up to the lawsuit, and in the lawsuit itself.
  11. Common Law
    The Anglo-Canadian system of law that features decided cases as a principal source of law. Also used as a synonym for case law, as distinguished from law based on statutes.
  12. Court of First Instance
    The court in which a dispute is first heard and a decision is made. Also, called a trial court.
  13. Distinguishing Cases
    Showing how the facts of a case are significantly different from the facts of a case that has been cited as a precedent case.
  14. Deductive Reasoning
    A reasoning process where one draws specific, narrow conclusions based on an analysis of general principles.
  15. Doctrine
    In civil code systems, secondary sources of law that explain and expand on the articles in the codes that are the primary sources of law.
  16. Doctrine of Parliamentary Supremacy
    In a parliamentary system of government like Canada's, the legislative bodies at the federal and provincial levels are free to make whatever laws they wish within their own spheres: the courts cannot overrule them, and are limited to interpreting what the legislature intended. The doctrine has been weakened somewhat by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  17. The Enlightenment
    An 18th century European intellectual movement characterized by an interest in rationalism and scientific inquiry.
  18. Equitable Remedies
    A class of remedies that supplement and expand the principal remedies available at common law.
  19. Federal State
    One in which the power to govern is divided between two or more levels of government. Each level of government usually has supreme governing power within its own sphere; the other level of government cannot interfere with the exercise of jurisdiction.
  20. Hierarchy of Courts
    An idea that in any judicial system the courts can be ranked in terms of their power and jurisdiction.
  21. Inductive Reasoning
    A reasoning process where one makes general conclusions based on an analysis of particular facts.
  22. Injunction
    A court remedy, developed under the law of equity, where the court can order someone to do something or to refrain from doing it.
  23. Jurisdiction
    The power or authority of a court to decide matters before it. Often used to refer to the boundary or limits of judicial power, in which case one refers to matters "outside" or "beyond" the courts jurisdiction.
  24. Law of Equity
    Developed in the early common law period as an administrative response to the rigidity and occasional unfairness of the common law courts; the law of equity prevails over the common law, where there is a conflict between the two.
  25. Legal System
    Includes all of the structures, functions, values, rules, and procedures that are involved in the making and application of legal rules in society.
  26. Obiter Dicta, Obiter
    An opinion or principal of law stated in reasons for judgement, which is not the principal that decides the case; for this reason, an obiter opinion has little precedent value.
  27. On Circuit
    A method of administering justice originally used in England to make sure that judges were available in all parts of the realm and not, just in the Capital. Superior Court judges not only hear cases in the capital city, but also go on circuit, hearing cases in county towns on a regular basis. It has also been used in parts of Canada.
  28. Persuasive
    In the context of stare decisis, a case is to be considered persuasive if it should be accorded respect and should be followed, but it is not binding.
  29. Precedent Case, following Precedent
    An earlier case that is similar in facts to the case at bar so that it can determine the legal result in the case at bar. To follow the precedent means that the judge, having found a case to be a precedent, applies the rules from that case to the case at bar.
  30. Private Law
    The law governing legal relationships between individuals.
  31. Public Law
    The law relating to the operation of government, covering relations between the citizen and the state.
  32. Ratio or Ratio Decidendi
    The reason for decision, or principle on which the legal out come of the case can be determined.
  33. Stare Decisis
    A legal doctrine that says that a case determined to be a precedent must be followed, even if a judge does not favor the results that must come from application of the precedent.
  34. Statutory Law
    Law based on a statute; can be contrasted with law derived from cases, called case law.
  35. Suitor
    A person who is suing someone else.
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Systems of Law in Canada
Systems of Law in Canada
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