Substantive law can be broken down further
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Public Law : outlines the relationship between government and citizens Private Law or Civil Law : outlines the relationship between private citizens, and between citizens and organizations So that is how Canadian laws are organized, but where do they come from? 3 sources… Common Law

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Substantive Law can be broken down further…

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Substantive law can be broken down further

Public Law: outlines the relationship between government and citizens

Private Law or Civil Law: outlines the relationship between private citizens, and between citizens and organizations

So that is how Canadian laws are organized, but where do they come from? 3 sources…

Common Law

Statute Law

Constitutional Law

  • Canadian Law is broken into two main categories

    • Administrative

    • Substantive

Substantive Law can be broken down further…


Law 12 mr laberee

Law 12

Mr Laberee

Common Law In Canada


How did common law develop

How did Common Law develop?

  • The Battle of Hastings (1066): William the Conqueror brings feudalism to England

  • In the Manor System that formed the foundation of feudalism, Lords acted as the judge in any trial of a vassal. The only appeal was to the King…in London.

  • The result of this: judgments differed from one Manor to the next and were often arbitrary in their nature, and unjust in their outcome. Peasants revolted!

  • The remedy: the king sent judges (justicars) out into the Manors to settle controversial disputes. Judges would later meet, compare cases, and come to similar judgments for similar cases

  • Over time, similar judgments became the norm in both Public and Private (Civil) Law

  • These standard decisions became the basis for British Common Law: so called because it is Common throughout the land 


Common law based on the principle of precedent

Common Law based on the principle of precedent

  • Precedent: something that has been done in the past that can later serve as a guideline for how things should be done in the future (fancy latin: “stare decisis”)

  • How does the principle of precedent works in law? a sentence is given for a crime, and when others commit similar crimes in the future, they receive similar sentences 

  • What advantages does Common Law with its core principle of precedent have over arbitrary systems of law?

    • Adds certainty & predictability

  • Common Law is often called “Case Law” because it is based on the the decisions of previous case

  • Big cases that establish precedent are often called “landmark cases”


Substantive law can be broken down further

So essentially, when we say “Canadian Common Law” we are referring to all the laws that are the result of court casesThis is 1 of 3 sources of Canadian Law


Are there any problems with the precedent system

Are there any problems with the precedent system?

  • Society’s values change over time

    • So, we might feel today that a crime is very serious, when in the past, it was treated as a minor issue (or vice-versa)

  • Similarity, especially of circumstance, is debatable

    • For example, not all car thefts are the same

    • Today, we have so many precedents that lawyers go to court to argue about which ones should apply to their case, and which ones should not given the specific circumstances

  • The idea that any decision will influence future decisions can make it hard to do what’s right in a tough situation

    • Fear of the “slippery slope”

    • Can create real moral dilemmas


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