Midterm Notes.docx

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Published on 19 Apr 2013
School
Western University
Department
Law
Course
Law 2101
Professor
Haley Mann September 13, 2009
INTRODUCTION TO LAW
Module: Introduction to the Legal System (5 Questions)
SEPTEMBER 15th LECTURE: Sources of Law, Common/Civil Law, Court System
What Is Law?
The publicly prescribed rules that we must follow, failing which we may suffer some
adverse consequence
o A loose and incomplete definition
o Distinguishes laws from customs
Sources of Law
Statutes
Broad and broadly applicable rules passed by legislatures (the government)
Highly diverse
o Cover a wide range of topics
Can be enacted in anticipation of future events
Passed by both provincial and federal governments
E.g. Income Tax Act, Criminal Code, etc.
Regulations (‘Subordinate Legislation’)
Detailed rules refining, applying, or further describing broad statutory statements
Passed by governor-in-council (essentially the government)
o Specifically, passed by the cabinet
The government (cabinet) has the power to pass regulations without them being
accepted by the Parliament
Regulations are the details filling in the ‘frame’ that is the statute
o ‘Meat on the Bones’
Common Law/Case Law
‘Rules’ laid down by the courts
Based on decisions resolving particular disputes
Each decision determines the law as it applies to that dispute and (in theory) helps
determine the law applicable to other similar matters
o Based on principle of ‘stare decisis
The idea that similar cases should be decided alike
o Court decisions guide the determination of future similar matters by courts
When faced with a legal issue, a lawyer will look at past decisions and try to figure
out what the ‘law’ is
Statutes rarely can determine specific cases, common law is able to
o Courts apply broad rules to particular applications
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Haley Mann September 13, 2009
Common law is the most significant source of law in Canada
Constitution
Supreme law of the country, to which all other laws must conform
Very broad statements of general principle that are given concrete application by
the courts
Both ‘Constitution Acts’ were drafted very broadly
The Charter of Rights contains a limiting clause
o If there’s a good reason to ignore these rights, we are able to do so
Etc.
E.g. International law
o Treaties, trade agreements, etc.
Lawmakers
Federal Government
Can make laws that apply across the country
Authorized to make laws respecting matters assigned to it by the Constitution Act
(1867)
Also technically responsible for government of the territories
Provincial Governments
Laws only apply within the province
Authorized to make laws respecting matters assigned to it by the Constitution Act
(1867)
Municipal Governments
Laws only apply with the municipality
Authorized to make laws only respecting matters assigned to it by the provincial
government
Zoning, bylaws, construction, etc.
Aboriginal Governments (do not need to know much about this)
Finding the Law
Statutes and regulations
o Published in hard copy and also available online
o For federal, www.laws.justice.gc.ca/en
o For provincial, www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/index.html
o For municipal, www.london.ca/d.aspx?s=/By-laws/default.htm
Case law
o Published in hard copy and also available online
o www.canlii.org
o http://jurist.law.utoronto.ca
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Haley Mann September 13, 2009
Case Names
A case name is referred to as a ‘style of cause
Civil Case
Smith v. Jones
o SmithPlaintiff
o JonesDefendant
o The ‘v.’ in the name is pronounced ‘and’
Case pronounced ‘Smith and Jones’
PlaintiffPerson suing the other
DefendantDefending against the suit
Criminal Case
R v. Jones
o RThe Crown
Also known as ‘The Queen’ or ‘District Attorney’
o JonesAccused
This case would be pronounced ‘The Queen and Jones’ or ‘The Queen Against Jones’
Appeal
Smith v. Jones
o SmithAppellant
o JonesRespondent
AppellantThe individual appealing the decision
o The appellant’s name always comes first in an appeal case
If this case were to appeal again, the style of cause would stay the same
o In order for people to keep track of the rulings
Divisions of Law
Substantive vs. Procedural
o Substantive LawGenerally laws dictating what rights people have
o Procedural LawLaws dictating how rights can be enforced
Public vs. Private
o Public LawRules relating to the relationship between the individual and
society or between governments
o Private LawRules relating to the relationship between private individuals
Civil vs. Criminal
o Civil LawPrivate lawsuit between individuals
o Criminal LawProsecution by the government to enforce a public law
Civil law vs. Common Law
o Civil LawCan also refer to the private law system operating in Quebec
based on the Civil Code, which contains a fairly comprehensive statement of
rules
In the rest of Canada, the private law system relies on past rulings
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Document Summary

Module: introduction to the legal system (5 questions) September 15th lecture: sources of law, common/civil law, court system. The publicly prescribed rules that we must follow, failing which we may suffer some adverse consequence: a loose and incomplete definition, distinguishes laws from customs. Broad and broadly applicable rules passed by legislatures (the government) Highly diverse: cover a wide range of topics. Can be enacted in anticipation of future events. Passed by both provincial and federal governments. Detailed rules refining, applying, or further describing broad statutory statements. Passed by governor-in-council (essentially the government: specifically, passed by the cabinet. The government (cabinet) has the power to pass regulations without them being accepted by the parliament. Regulations are the details filling in the frame" that is the statute. Each decision determines the law as it applies to that dispute and (in theory) helps determine the law applicable to other similar matters: based on principle of stare decisis".

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