Legal remedy

Legal remedy

A legal remedy (also judicial relief) is the means with which a court of law, usually in the exercise of civil law jurisdiction, enforces a right, imposes a penalty, or makes some other court order to impose its will.

In Commonwealth common law jurisdictions and related jurisdictions (e.g. the United States), the law of remedies distinguishes between a legal remedy (e.g. a specific amount of monetary damages) and an equitable remedy (e.g. injunctive relief or specific performance). Another type of remedy is declaratory relief, where a court determines the rights of the parties to an action without awarding damages or ordering equitable relief.

In English and American jurisprudence, there is a legal maxim that for every right, there is a remedy; where there is no remedy, there is no right. That is, lawmakers claim to provide appropriate remedies to protect rights. This legal maxim was first enunciated by William Blackstone: "It is a settled and invariable principle in the laws of England, that every right when with-held must have a remedy, and every injury it’s [sic] proper redress." [1][2]



There are three crucial remedies in American law. One is from the traditional law courts of England, and is seen in the form of a payment of money to the victim. This payment is commonly referred to as damages. Compensatory damages compensate an injured victim or plaintiff, and punitive damages punish someone who because of fraud or intentional conduct, is deemed to deserve punishment. Punitive damages serve the function in civil law that fines do in criminal law.

The second category of remedy comes from the Chancellor of England, commonly called the Chancery Court, or, more commonly, equity. The injunction or restraining order is a type of equitable remedy, as is specific performance, in which someone who enters into a contract is forced to perform whatever promise s/he has reneged upon. The equitable lien and constructive trust are two additional equity remedies.

The third broad group of remedies is known as declaratory relief. With this remedial device, the court pronounces its decision about the status of a person or a law, perhaps even the parties' rights in a contract. A divorce or adoption decree is an example of a declaratory judgment. While those three round out the basic remedies in American law, there are also reformation and recission, both dealing with contracts whose terms need to be rewritten or undone.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ 1 William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England 23
  2. ^ See also Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137, 162–163 (1803).

Examples of legal remedies

Categories of remedies

External links

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