(i) Civil law or criminal law?

To tell whether the problem involves criminal law or civil law, look at your responses to 'parties'.122 The government usually takes part in criminal law matters. Police usually initiate criminal charges, followed by the government prosecutor (such as the Department of Public Prosecutions in Australia or the Crown Prosecution Service in England). So, if your dispute involves only non-government parties, then the dispute probably does not involve criminal law. But just because a government entity participates, it does not mean the problem automatically involves criminal law; governments get involved in civil matters as well as criminal matters.123

Also look at your responses to 'relief'. Civil law problems often involve someone wanting money (damages). Other civil relief includes orders to refrain from doing something and orders compelling something. Civil matters less commonly involve behavior punishable by imprisonment. So, if a party seeks imprisonment to punish certain behavior, then the dispute probably involves criminal law.124

122 We have based this section on Stephen Elias and Susan Levinkind, Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law (13th ed, 2005) 4/5.

123 Stephen Elias and Susan Levinkind, Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law (13th ed, 2005) 4/5.

124 Stephen Elias and Susan Levinkind, Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law (13th ed, 2005) 4/5.

Sponsored links