Questions tagged [common-law]

For questions regarding English common law, or legal systems based on judge-made law descended from it.

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39
votes
3answers
8k views

Is it a real legal principle that any ambiguity in a contract is interpreted to the benefit of the side that did not write the contract?

I have heard that there is a legal principle where any ambiguity in the contract is interpreted to the benefit of the side that did not draw up or suggest the contract text. This was presented to me ...
32
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4answers
137k views

How to prove I live in a specific address?

https://www.flhsmv.gov/ddl/address.html I need to provide proof of address for the DMV, but the process can be difficult because: I live with someone else; I do not pay rent/utilities; and they will ...
17
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3answers
1k views

Has a common law defence ever held water?

The UK is a common law country. It is a widely held belief of many people that statute Acts of parliament (i.e. most 'laws') only apply with the "consent of the governed"; and that one may be a "free ...
17
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4answers
4k views

Can someone more wealthy than me bury me in legal fees?

USA Federal Law - I have a company worth about $6m. I got on the bad side of a person with a company worth well over $750m (with attorneys on staff). The CEO threatened to bury me in an endless sea ...
15
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1answer
3k views

Is an implied physical threat via looming over someone legal?

Lets say that two individuals approach another person and start asking him questions or ask him to do something (for instance leave an area). They do not make any explicit verbal threats. However, ...
15
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3answers
1k views

How can a court avoid creating precedent?

There are a number of ways in which a judge may avoid following precedent – overturning or distinguishing a previous ruling, for instance. However, is there any way for a court (particularly a ...
14
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1answer
9k views

What is a contract and what is required for them to be valid?

What is a contract? What elements are required for validity?
12
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10answers
5k views

What distinguishes adverse possession from theft?

I understand that, in the United States, adverse possession is a legal (but very rare) way to take ownership of someone else's real property against their will. What I don't understand is how this is ...
11
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2answers
3k views

Lawyer made a key decision without consulting me. Is this normal?

While this case is happening to a relative of mine rather than myself, I will speak in first person for the sake of simplicity. I had a medical procedure performed by a licensed doctor (Dr. A). This ...
10
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3answers
6k views

How is the “permanent deprivation” element of theft proven in practice?

I never gave this much thought until I saw a prosecutor and then a judge dismiss charges of theft because it would be impossible to prove the accused intended to deprive the owner of the property ...
9
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3answers
1k views

Is there one body of common law?

I'm a bit confused by the usage of the phrase "common law" on this site. The Wikipedia article initially describes it as an abstract concept. The first paragraph reads: Common law (also known as ...
9
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3answers
2k views

What is stare decisis?

I know in general that stare decisis effectively means that once a court rules on a law that other courts can use that decision when considering their cases. But why is that the case, how is it ...
9
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1answer
1k views

Can I teach those careless kids a lesson and destroy their ball?

As we learned from the hypothetical In California, if a baseball lands in my yard, is it legally mine? I could face detinue for not returning the baseball upon request. But what if: I accidentally ...
8
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2answers
2k views

How do I interpret a court judgement? What does it mean?

So I've figured out how to read a case citation and find the text of the judgement - maybe using some of the online resources. As a novice, I'm trying to decide when the judgement actually applies. ...
7
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2answers
315 views

Can a company handle paying taxes and other bureaucracy work for a freelancer

Pardon my terminology. I'm very much not a lawyer, but I used to watch Ally McBeal as a kid, so I think I got the hang of this. This is actually a subset of a vastly larger problem, so the ...
7
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1answer
152 views

Are Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics enshrined in the law of any (inter)national jurisdiction?

The Three Laws are: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such ...
7
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1answer
102 views

Does expected value bear upon the calculation of compensatory damages?

Suppose I am given a lottery ticket. This ticket has a 1 in 1000 chance of winning me one million dollars, and will otherwise be worth nothing. Before I can see whether I've won, some guy comes along ...
6
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2answers
377 views

Legal definitions in the United States

When trying to learn about and understand law, one of the most important aspects of it is the legal definition of a word. Is there a source in which the courts refer to when looking to define a word? ...
6
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2answers
221 views

When can punching be legal?

My neighbor kissed my wife. I was pissed and wanted to punch him in his face. But I was able to suppress my anger. If I did punch him, would that be okay? I saw people punch one another over this in ...
6
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1answer
168 views

Is the law of unjust enrichment based on an 'absence of basis' or 'unjust factors' approach?

Many common-law practitioners should be familiar with the competing theories on how to conceptualise the law of unjust enrichment. Is the law still confined to an 'unjust factors' approach as ...
5
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3answers
488 views

Can contracts include irrevocable terms of imprisonment for breach?

As noted here: At least in Israel, by agreeing to marry under religious law a person is irrevocably subject to that law's rulings, to the extent that a religious court can sentence one to a term in ...
5
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1answer
193 views

Can a sitting president of the United States be indicted by one of the states?

Some lawyers say a sitting president cannot be indicted, other lawyers disagree. Apart from that, does what they are saying apply to both federal and state indictments? I mean could the president be ...
5
votes
1answer
152 views

Legal action that can be taken by nannies?

If the child being watched (9-10 years old) by a nanny frequently physically attacks the nanny, sometimes causing severe pain, can the nanny take any form of legal action? The nanny in question is a ...
5
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3answers
2k views

What's the difference between “a question of fact” and “a question of law”?

I'm trying to understand the difference between questions of fact and questions of law but it's difficult to find any good definitions of either, and it would be helpful to have some illustrative ...
4
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2answers
536 views

Pay electricity bill after being evicted on no contract?

I moved into a house and started paying rent of $110 per week however I was unaware that none of the other tenants (and hence myself) were on a contract so we were essentially squatters. The ...
4
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2answers
257 views

Does “duty to rescue” apply to a child that one has no direct responsibility for?

This appeared in a comment on another SE site: If I am sitting by a deep swimming pool and see an unsupervised toddler child playing close to the edge - and then watch the child fall in and drown, ...
4
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3answers
2k views

What is the minimum speed limit?

I was wondering if there was a minimum speed limit? I.e. if the speed limit is for example 60, is there a limit to how slow I can go before it counts as breaking the road rules? Is it relative to each ...
4
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1answer
120 views

At what point could courts in England no longer legally create new Common Law offenses?

Common Law offenses, of course, were crimes created solely through case law rather than statute. At what point was the legal authority of courts in England to create new Common Law offenses abolished?...
4
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1answer
6k views

Can you take back a gift?

Suppose that I unconditionally and unambiguously give a person a thing such as a necklace with a moderate value (say $1000): I hand it to them and say "Here, you can have this, I don't need it anymore"...
4
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1answer
537 views

Can a fugitive make a pleading?

Can a fugitive make a pleading in court to quash the warrant for their arrest? For example, let's imagine a warrant has been issued for the arrest of some person who is nowhere to be found, but ...
4
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1answer
1k views

How are the precepts of common law known? Is common law written?

The first paragraph of the Wikipedia article on common law: Common law (also known as case law or precedent) is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals that ...
4
votes
1answer
330 views

Can a real-life example be used to describe the difference between common and civil law?

I've done a lot of research into trying to understand the difference between the two systems, but their definitions are so verbose, and without examples it's more challenging. The only thing I was ...
4
votes
2answers
133 views

Do courts in a common law system ever make decisions about law without a presented case?

In the United States, the Supreme Court does not make a decision about the validity of a law without a specific case presented to them. Are there any examples of common law systems in which a court is ...
4
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1answer
130 views

Is there a legal analogy of a publisher for physical things

Background Long and complex story short, we're essentially building a legal & software framework for self-organizing 'ad-hoc' organizations. It seems like some set of our issues could be solved ...
3
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3answers
209 views

What happens to court precedent after a constitutional amendment?

What happens to the precedent (or whatever their interpretation is called) of the judicial branch when a constitution (like in the USA), is amended? Like, if a constitution said some meats were ...
3
votes
2answers
622 views

Could the USA abandon common law?

I understand that the USA has a "common law" system and that ambiguous written legislation is turned into unambiguous law by courts, such as has happened in many famous Supreme Court rulings. My ...
3
votes
3answers
88 views

Northern Ireland: Is Homicide an offence in common law or is it an offence in statute?

In one of the episodes of the British-Irish television series The Fall, a person is charged by PSNI, in Northern Ireland, with multiple counts of murder. The police officer reads out the charges in ...
3
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1answer
253 views

Who is to examine the witness who is the self-represented plaintiff or prosecutor?

Bob is a self-represented plaintiff in a civil case (or, say, private prosecutor in a criminal case). He is also a witness. If the trial is judge-alone aka bench (not jury), he is able to conduct it ...
3
votes
2answers
246 views

Elements of bribery: what is a “thing of value”?

There is lately some suggestion that a US president who withholds aid to a foreign country on the condition that the foreign country investigate a political opponent constitutes bribery. The ...
3
votes
1answer
117 views

Was new law created when the UK Supreme Court ruled against the prorogation?

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that: a ruling on a prorogation was justiciable and that the duration of the prorogation Boris Johnson advised the Queen to enact, was unlawful Does this mean new ...
3
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1answer
354 views

Are judges limited in their reasoning to arguments raised by the parties?

Bob files a civil lawsuit agaist Rob. For simplicity, let's assume they both represent themselves. At the hearing, Bob says: "Here is the evidence. Rob was wrong because of reason A, so he owes me ...
3
votes
1answer
34 views

Sentence given when a Summary only offence has imprisonment over 6 months?

I was reading into the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006. At the sentencing section, I note the following: (a)on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to a fine not ...
3
votes
1answer
44 views

Deed of undertaking between neighbours

Neighbours have an issue about their adjoining land parcels and have verbally agreed to sort it out in a certain way. One of them wants to make sure that the other is aware of the consequences and ...
3
votes
1answer
226 views

How deterministic are modern legal systems?

I am a software engineer trying to understand how judges make decisions in lawsuits. In computer and other sciences there is a concept of deterministic system: In mathematics and physics, a ...
3
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1answer
328 views

Implied insults

What are the legal differences between an explicit insult, that qualifies as slander, and an implication of the same insult? I am a German citizen, so I'd prefer answers applicable to Germany. But ...
3
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2answers
567 views

Can US courts be made to define whether a given search is reasonable (i.e. constitutional)?

In 2014, regarding the forced disclosure of the encryption keys of his email service provider company Lavabit, Ladar Levison wrote: The largest technological question we raised in our appeal (which ...
3
votes
1answer
121 views

Arizona Common Law Marriage and Kids

In Arizona, Common Law Marriage is not recognized. I heard if a couple has a common law marriage and has kids, if the man dies without a will, the kids/wife don't end up inheriting his possessions. ...
3
votes
2answers
276 views

Can a bailiff seize items belonging to a debtor's spouse or children when executing a writ of seizure?

When a writ of seizure and sale is executed against a debtor, how does the bailiff establish ownership of items that could be co-owned or bought by other family members staying in the residence. Do ...
3
votes
1answer
302 views

Have there ever been any thought crimes?

Has there ever been anywhere a law criminalizing certain thoughts? The closest I can find is The Treason Act 1351, which is still in force in Britain today. This criminalizes compassing or imagining ...
3
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1answer
1k views

If a petition is dismissed without prejudice can it be refiled?

If the rules and laws of a court allow a party to bring a petition, and that petition is dismissed with an explanation but with no mention of "prejudice," can the petitioner refile what is ...