Lecture Notes – Session One - Sources Introduction to the Law Chapter 1 – The Law and the Legal System Textbook pp. 8-23 What is Law? Law is… …a series of rules that govern the relationships between individuals, rules that govern the state (country), and rules that govern the relationships of businesses and other associations that exist in society. Law is constantly changing… As societies and cultures change, their values and morals change. “Law should be looked upon as a running stream, carrying society’s hopes, and reflecting all its values.” Chief Justice Bora Laskin Sources of Law Common Law “Statutes” are laws based by a properly constituted legislative body/government Judicial interpretation and application of “statute law” creates case law Law as found in the recorded judgments of the courts known as “case law”
Stare Decisis – Latin Phrase- “to let a decision stand” applies if decision: From the judges own court – Persuasive From a court of equal rank – Persuasive From a court of higher rank - Binding This is a basic Judicial Principle that Judges in lower courts must follow higher court direction when dealing with similar facts and issues Common Law Creates certainty and predictability Predictable yet flexible More flexible than a civil code Can adapt to social changes such as same sex marriage Requires familiarity with ongoing evolution of statute and case law Sources of Law Canon Law – church law Original jurisdiction over religion, family, marriage, morals, estates Influence today (Sunday shopping laws, Ecclesiastical Courts) Merchant Law Customs or rules established by merchants to resolve disputes
Example today would be the sales of goods legislation Sources of Law Equity Rules originally based on decisions of the King rather than on the law Fairness, equality, justice Overcomes the harshness and rigidity of the common law Takes precedence over common law when equity and common law conflict Over time decisions of the King became principles of equity and eventually equity and common law merged Statute Law Statute Latin word “statutum” meaning “it is decided” Laws made by governments Result of legislative process Debated, voted upon and passed through a strict process established to protect democratic principles Statute Process –Slightly different Federally and Provincially Bill – proposed law presented to a legislative body Motion – decision to read a bill the first time
Royal Assent – granted by the Governor General or Lieutenant Governor after required readings - Required in order to become law 1. Proclaimed – when a law becomes effective Revised Statutes – updated or amended to reflect changes in society ○ Updates of current laws are now done online Quebec’s Civil Code
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