1.5 LAW IN GENERAL
• The general rules of law in Canada are a combination of,
- common law
- statute law
• The court structure is given below,
• The Adversary System - a system of opposing legal parties.
• Lower courts are compelled to follow rulings made in higher courts.
• Statues are made by provincial and federal legislatures and override common law.
• criminal law is in the federal jurisdiction, and is not within the provincial jurisdiction - ultra vires
• The theory of precedent - a basis for legal decisions. When a decision has been made in a similar case before, that decision should be used again. In apparently similar cases there might be distinctions that cause a court to not follow precedents. Occasionally precedents are used from other provinces, england, or occasionally the USA.
• Common Law - “judge made law” - previous court decisions are used as legal principles.
• Legislation - legislation can override the common law.
- this is law passed in an elected legislature
- can be a new law or a former common law
- the court then determines how to interpret and apply the legislation
• Arbitration is an alternative to a court based lawsuit. This allows maters to be argued (either by choice or as dictated by contract). Engineers may be asked to act as arbitrator, effectively this process makes the arbitrator a judge in an ad-hoc court empowered by statutes (e.g., The Arbitrations Act of Ontario). It is possible that the result will be taken to a formal court. [Re Thomas Hackett]
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