It seems like a lot of "punishments" can be applied to a person without having to go to court. For example a person can be banned from private or public property for any or no reason. I've seen residential leases that state a lease can be immediately terminated if a tenant commits a crime, though a courts decision is not necessary to find them guilty (clause 7, here). An employee can be terminated with cause if an internal investigation finds them guilty of misconduct (even if the process was total bogus, for example not giving them a chance to defend themselves).

Do I understand things correctly? Is the idea that these things probably won't happen to an "innocent" person? Also this does not preclude counter lawsuits, for example I've heard of a case where an employee was fired for sexual harassment but he he maintains he didn't do it and is suing his coworkers and former employer for defamation of character.

Does Habeas corpus come into play in any of these situations, or is it only applicable when physically being detained or jailed?

  • 3
    How can "a person can be banned from...public property for any or no reason"?
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 9:50
  • @phoog maybe I'm wrong about that, but my point is a person can be banned from public property without the government taking you to court. For example it would be enough for a security guard to say he saw your vandalizing something and he could kick you out. Though I guess you could sue if this wasn't true? Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 10:03
  • For example Ken Dunham's answer here quora.com/… Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 10:05
  • 3
    None of these are “punishments” as the law understands them. A punishment is a punitive action imposed by a government such as a fine or imprisonment.
    – Dale M
    Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 20:36

2 Answers 2


It seems like a lot of "punishments" can be applied to a person without having to go to court.

Yes, because everyone has the right and freedom to associate, or dissociate, with other people, and the freedom of contract, at least when the state does not decide to interfere.

The state, owing to its monopoly of legitimate violence, has a duty towards everyone under its rule and the people in many countries decided that the state's power should be significantly limited with judicial supervision where individual rights and freedoms are implicated.

Other individuals or legal persons do not in general owe a duty to be friend with you or to sign or continue a labour or rental contract with you.

At the same time, the people and their government have also decided in certain situations there exists a power imbalance (e.g. between the landlord and the tenant, the employer and the employee, groups suffering from discrimination and stereotypes) where unlimited freedom of association and contract not only harms the individual's human dignity but also harms the society as a whole (e.g. homeless and unemployment, which may lead to increased crimes etc.). Thus, in some situations, the law prohibits discrimination and provides for legal rights generally for the more vulnerable. However, this is a decision that is undertaken by each jurisdiction.

A court order is only required if the law says that you normally have a legal entitlement but the state or someone else wants to take it away or limit it, or if the law explicitly requires a procedure before the court.

Since you tagged the question with ...

Can a person be fired ... without a court order?

Yes. However, in Canada, all jurisdictions have labour laws that regulate dismissal of an employee. Dismissal without cause usually requires notice period and/or severances, depending on the length of employment.

Dismissal for cause can be challenged in court and the employer has the burden of proof to justify the cause on a balance of probabilities (more probably than not) and the terminated employee will have the right to have them heard before the court and present their evidences.

If the person occupied a unionized position, they may also be able to file grievances with the union before an arbitrator, depending on the text of the collective agreement. The collective agreements also often provide for procedural requirements before the dismissal of an employee in a unionized position. Violation of these procedural requirements may lead to the annul of dismissal or awards of damages.

Can a person be banned ... without a court order?

Yes. You have no general right to be on another person's property in Canada. Your rights end where others' property (or other) rights begin. Like said in the beginning, this is a societal decision and an act of balancing particular to each jurisdiction, for example, in some places, there exists a right to roam over certain publicly accessible lands.

The property owner or another person otherwise legally authorized has the authority to decide who they want on their property (which means what is one's own), subject to certain narrow exceptions, under common law and provincial trespassing acts. Your neighbour cannot prevent you from crossing on their land if you have a valid easement and are not abusing it. But if you are abusing your easement, your neighbour may take you to court for an order.

Here the property owner includes the state. However, like almost all decisions made by the state, in Canada and many other countries with the rule of law, can be judicially reviewed for their reasonableness, and sometimes correctness. Like all decisions made by the state, trespassing notices may be challenged if the decision is arbitrary or without legal basis.

Can a person be evicted ... without a court order?

No. In all jurisdictions in Canada, eviction, that is, the forced removal of tenant from a premise, can only be carried out by sheriffs or other legally authorized officers upon an order from a court or tribunal (often called Landlord and Tenant Board or similar), with exceptions for certain tenancies (e.g. where the landlord and the tenant share living area).

Court order is not required for the termination of a tenancy; but the termination of tenancy can only be achieved if the tenant agrees or a tribunal or court orders so.

Does Habeas corpus come into play in any of these situations

No. Habeas corpus means "that you have the body", which is an order from a judicial official to command the state to bring someone in its custody before the court, so that the legality of their detention by the state may be determined.

In Canada, habeas corpus only protects liberty interests of an individual.


The answer lies in the difference between criminal and civil law. Note for example the crime-free housing contract, which does require showing the crime by a preponderance of the evidence -- the usual civil standard of proof. An arbitrary accusation of criminal activity is not sufficient. This isn't the same as saying that a court's decision is not needed; a formal eviction action would be necessary, including a formal finding that the criminal activity had taken place, and if the tenant chose to challenge this, the dispute would end up in front of a judge.

An employee can be terminated with cause if an internal investigation finds them guilty of misconduct (even if the process was total bogus, for example not giving them a chance to defend themselves).

Whether this is true depends on the jurisdiction (most notably on the jurisdiction's labor laws) and the contractual relationship between the employee and the employer. If an employer terminates an employee for cause without actually having sufficient evidence supporting the reason for dismissal, then in many cases the employee can sue. For this reason, employers in at-will jurisdictions will often dismiss employees formally without cause even if there is cause to avoid the costs of a potential defense.

As to being banned from public property, it's similarly complicated, if not more so. A place like a shopping mall is accessible to the public but privately owned. Typically, private property owners have the ability to exclude people, but this ability may be circumscribed when the private property is a "public accommodation" as it is known in US law.

At the root of these issues, though, to get back to the first sentence of the question, is that these are not conceived as punishments per se but as civil consequences of misbehavior arising from some relationship. For example, an employer doesn't fire a disruptive or criminal employee for punishment but to maintain a workplace free from disruption and crime. If your house guest steals a painting from the wall, you don't ban him from your house as punishment -- you go to the police for that -- but to prevent him from stealing something else.

Yes, you might be wrong about your guest, just as employers and security guards and landlords might be wrong, or they might make such accusations without any evidence, not believing them to be true, out of malice or what have you. This is why we have civil litigation. In some cases, civil litigation would not help or might not be available -- you can't sue your neighbor who wrongly thinks you stole her lawnmower to force her to invite you to her next party -- but in some cases it will be.

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