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Legal Definitions

Tort Definitions and Legal Terms

Tort Law- in tort law, the victim of the wrongful act sues the wrongdoer for damages, and the major focus is on the compensation of the victim, while in criminal law the state prosecutes the wrongdoer and the major focus is on punishment of the wrongdoer

assault- The intentional creation in the victim of a reasonable apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive conduct

battery– The intentional infliction of harmful or offensive contact with another person

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Small  Claims Court Procedural Terms

Cause of action– valid legal ground for commencing a court action

Costs– the cost of legal fees and out-of-pocket disbursements such as filing fees, photo copying, etc.

Contra proferentem-(Latin: “against [the] offeror”),[1] also known as “interpretation against the draftsman”, is a doctrine of contractual interpretation providing that, where a promise, agreement or term is ambiguous, the preferred meaning should be the one that works against the interests of the party who provided the wording.[2]

Equitable Relief– remedies other than money damages i.e. an order to compel someone to do something, or to prevent someone from doing something   (Please note equitable relief is not granted by Small Claims Court

Legal Jurisdiction– the lawful authority of the court to deal with a particular matter i.e. monies, goods sold and received but not paid for, damage to property or personal injury, actions for unpaid rent of residential premises  where the defaulting tenant has vacated the premises (no longer bound by the RTA) , actions for recovery of monies or property with a value of $25,000.00 or less.

Limitation  Period- deadline prescribed by statue for commencing a proceedings.  Generally the limitation period is 2 years from from the day on which the claim was discovered.

Monetary Jurisdiction-$25,000.00 not including interest on the amount owing and the legal costs of the proceedings.

Non est factum– is a defence in contract law that allows a signing party to escape performance of an agreement “which is fundamentally different from what he or she intended to execute or sign.

Nunc pro tuncthe Latin phrase, “now for then” is used to refer to the common law power of the court to permit that to be done now which ought to have been done before.

Quantum meruit- a reasonable sum of money to be paid for services rendered or work done when the amount due is not stipulated in a legally enforceable contract.

Service– means delivery of a legal document to another party in the proceedings.

Waiving the excess– the plaintiffs giving up of rights to pursue any amount above the $25,00 Small Claims Court  Monetary Jurisdiction

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Provincial Offences

The Provincial Offences Act (POA) governs how charges are processed and prosecuted. It applies to all provincial statutes as well as municipal by-laws and some minor federal contraventions. POA acts are non-criminal charges, heard by a Justice of the Peace.

Charges covered by the POA  can include:

  Highway Traffic Act (such as speeding and driving while suspended)
  Liquor Licence Act,
  Trespass to Property Act
  Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act
(such as failing to have insurance)
  municipal by-law contraventions (such as allowing dog to run at large)

Many of the offences have the option of paying a fine out of court, attending a court to enter a plea of guilty, or requesting a trial date to be set.

Absolute liability: In “absolute liability” offences, the prosecutor is only required to prove that you committed the act with which you are charged.  Intent is not part of the essential elements of an absolute liability offence, and the crown need not  prove any mental element on your part. Generally speaking persons will be found guilty if the justice of the peace is satisfied about this beyond a reasonable doubt. Examples of absolute liability offences: parking and speeding offences.

Abuse of process (Common law principle)- when a person uses the criminal or civil court process to get a result that is beyond or outside the purpose of the law  i.e. a purposeful delay in the laying of charges with the deliberate intention of impairing the defendant’s ability to make full answer and defense

Actus Reus– the act  involved in doing something, especially a criminal offence (independent of the state of mind)

Aid or Abet
Aid
– means to do or omit to do anything to facilitate or assist an offence
Abet– instigate or encourage an offence

Mens Rea (Guilty Mind/ Latin definition “mens” means “mind”)-  In mens rea offences the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the act with which you are charged and that you had a guilty mind. A mens rea offence usually contains the words “wilfully,” “with intent,” “knowingly,” or “intentionally” in the law creating the offence. It is unusual for a provincial offence to be a mens rea offence. An example of a provincial mens rea offence is having in your possession a false or invalid insurance card that you know or ought to know is false or invalid contrary to s. 13.1(a) of the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act.

Res Judicata (often referred to as “Double Jeopardy”)- the legal principle that once an issue has been determined by the courts, it cannot be brought to court again. 

Strict Liability-  In “strict liability” offences, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the act with which you are charged.  You may raise a defence by proving on a balance of probabilities that you took all reasonable steps to avoid the particular act or that you reasonably believed in a mistaken set of facts which, if true, would render the act innocent. Most provincial offences are strict liability offences which means that certain defences may be available.

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Absolute liability: In “absolute liability” offences, the prosecutor is only required to prove that you committed the act with which you are charged.  Intent is not part of the essential elements of an absolute liability offence, and the crown need not  prove any mental element on your part. Generally speaking persons will be found guilty if the justice of the peace is satisfied about this beyond a reasonable doubt. Examples of absolute liability offences: parking and speeding offences.

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