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LS101 Lecture Notes - Plain Meaning Rule, Ultra Vires, Headnote

Legal Studies
Course Code
Frances Chapman

of 2
LS 101 [Type text] TUESDAY OCTOBER 9, 2012
Case Law
Headnote: summary of the facts, the issues, and the decision regarding case. Sometimes
unreliable/misleading. Written by case reporters, NOT judge.
Citation of case: formal way case is written down, ex. R.v.McCraw, [1991] 3 S.C.R. 72 (S.C.C.)
Reading Case Law Civil Law
Parties to a civil action are the “plaintiff” and “defendant” at the trial level
“appellant” and “respondent” on appeal
Order = applicant and respondent
Divorce = petitioner and respondent
Citations, legislation, Latin phrases are in italics
Format of a Written Case
Style of Case: Stergios v. Kim
Parties: Shaun James Stergios, Applicant, and Eun Kim, Respondent
Citation: [2010] O.J. No. 2455 2010 ONSC 2567
Court File #: Court File No. 2049583-04
Court: Ontario Superior Court of Justice
Judge: C.F. Graham J.
Trial: Heard: October 23, 2008; Janurary 12-15,20,22, and July 3, 2009
Decision: Judgement: July 28, 2010
Length of Decision: 355 paras.
Keywords: Family Law Spousal Support Amount Award Payor’s annual income – agreement
Headnote: Motion by Kim, the respondent, for an order for spousal support. Kim was born and raised in
South Korea. Stergios was born and raised in Canada. The parties married in 2000 and separated in
Judgement: HELD: Motion allowed. As a result of her reliance on the promises made by Stergios, Kim
suffered significant economic disadvantages..etc
Authories: Statues, Regulations and Rules Citied: Divorce Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. etc
Lawyers: Counsel: Andrea Di Basita, for the applicant etc.
Decisions: Reasons for judgment
Statue Law
3 levels of government in Canada: the federal, provincial, and municipal
Powers of law making delegated to other authorizes to fulfill goals of governing legislation
Legislation may allow governor-general or minister board to makes laws called regulations: a
rule of conduct by a law making authority which has the force of law
Canadian house of commons and the legislative assembles of the provinces and territories draft
Ultra vires: “beyond the power of the body” doing stuff beyond your authority, are they
allowed to make this legislation?
must be promulgated (must be published/reported)
Gazettes: each level of government has own, official notices regarding government posted,
announcements of government regulations
Statues of Saskatchewan (S.S.) + year published
Revised Statues of Ontario (R.S.O.)
LS 101 [Type text] TUESDAY OCTOBER 9, 2012
Analyzing a Statues
New Brunswick
[province where applicable]
[Chapter # so legista
Statutory Interpretation
Help judges reading what statue says
No contradictory provisions; there should be no conflict of laws
How does this apply to cases
1. Literal rule (plain or ordinary meaning rule) if the words in piece of legislation are clear and
unambiguous they must be given ordinary meaning, and grammatical and normal punctuation
apply, no other context
2. The Absurdity Rule (the golden rule) the normal meaning of the legislation should be used
unless this reading would result in an absurdity. A judge is allowed to move from the literal
meaning only as much as necessary to remove the conflict. Definition of absurd depends on
3. The mischief” or purposive analysis rule look at language of act (or preample to the statue).
Look at what legislators were trying to cure. Assumes that legislators had a purpose(cure).
4. Contextual Analysis Rule look at act as a whole, social conditions, other legislation, choice of
5. The Plausible Meaning rule depart from ordinary meaning of a statue only if there is a more
plausible meaning to the words
6. The Modern Rule of Interpretation characteristics of other rules, have context of legislation,
reading grammatically and in ordinary meaning
- partnership between case law and legislation, look at precedence of laws applied with legislation
- legislators can introduce new statues
- weigh evidence
1. Is there a statue that applies? If yes apply it with the plain meaning, and then add other
interpretation tools (ex. Absurdity rule) if needed
2. Is there a case that addresses this situation? Is yes apply that case. However, can those cases
be distinguished from the case at hand? Are the facts materially different than the case at