1. Overview of Canadian Law

Cause of Action

Regardless of how wrong someone’s actions may seem to you, the only wrongs you can submit in a court are those tied to one or more causes of action. A cause of action is a legal claim that can be brought before a court of law to seek a remedy for a wrong or injury that has been suffered. It consists of a set of facts which, if proven in court, will entitle the plaintiff to a remedy or damages from the defendant. Common causes of action in Canada include breach of contract, negligence, trespass, and defamation.


Not every wrong that occurs will be a cause to bring a court action. Law is developed for matters or disputes that are significant and courts do not hear matters that are negligible. This idea is captured in the Latin phrase: de minimis non curat lex meaning “the law does not concern itself with trifles.” It is a legal doctrine which states that courts will not consider trivial matters or disputes over small amounts of damages. This doctrine allows courts to focus on more serious matters and to prevent the court system from being encumbered with minor cases.


For example, if a person made plans with another to meet and the person who accepted the invitation does not show-up, feelings of embarrassment or humiliation may arise, but they cannot be pursued as legal matter as there is no cause of action (no basis in the law).


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Business Law and Ethics Canadian Edition Copyright © 2023 by Craig Ervine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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