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Introduction to the Law

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INTRODUCTORY NOTES

Introductory points about Commercial Law

1. Ignorance of the law is no excuse as a defence
2. PLAINTIFF – brings the action DEFENDANT – defends the action
3. Burden of proof is on the Plaintiff (Applicant)
4. Standard of proof is on the balance of probabilities (degree of proof)
5. Result in Court or a Tribunal is a JUDGEMENT
6. The Court may also apply a REMEDY such as awarding damages or costs or both
7. The law is just a collection of RULES that must be enforced for the protection of all citizens.
8. ETHICS is also a set of rules that a person or institution decides to follow. The highest form of ethics is the law because it must be followed. A lower form of ethics is a Code of Conduct where an institution adds more rules to that of the law. The lowest form of ethics is a persons own morality that governs their behaviour, although some people (eg religion) try to claim that their morality is the only morality and therefore should be included in the law.

Background to the Law

1. English influence
2. Role of Judges is to interpret the law
3. Judges must have knowledge of statutes (law) and precedent which is reporting of previous judgements that may apply to a new case.
4. Role of Parliament is to make laws with some delegation to various authorities such as District and City Councils
5. Codification is an arrangement or system of law. It is not used in many countries following English law because it can be corrupted by Government. Instead, precedent is used.
6. EQUITY is a philosophical approach to the law that asks if justice has been done.
7. Disputes Tribunals can also rule on fairness where a person of less power and resources is treated equally with a person of more power and resources.
8. Our law comes from the principles of the Rule of Law (protection of a person’s rights), English statutes 9starting with the Magna Carta 1297 and the Bill of Rights 16880 and precedents, NZ statutes and precedents, conventions of the constitution and recourse to the Treaty of Waitangi where applicable.

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