In law, the term reasonable refers to idea of having thorough, fair and sensible judgement. This term entails the act(s) of being just, rational, appropriate, ordinary or usual in the circumstances. This generic concept is used consistently throughout the subject of law. For instance this concept is used determine who a reasonable person may be, what reasonable limits may be and reasonable doubts.

Firstly, in law, the concept of a reasonable person is often used to resolve various issues. A reasonable person is a composite of a relevant community’s judgment as to how a typical member of said community should behave in situations that might pose a threat of harm to the public. The “reasonable person” concept can be found applied in many areas of the law.

For instance, it performs a crucial role in determining negligence in both criminal law—that is, criminal negligence—and tort law. For example, in most public restaurants, owners are expected to put up caution signs when the floor is wet. If the owner fails to do so and an individual suffers from injuries as a result the owner will be charged with criminal negligence. The courts will keep in mind the concept of what a reasonable person would have done to avoid the situation and pass judgments while taking that into account.

Secondly, the concept of reasonability in law is implemented in terms of reasonable limits. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. Section 1 applies to every section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This section allows limits on our rights and freedoms when the limitation can be justified by the government.

For example, freedom may be limited in order to prevent infringement of the rights or freedoms of others. The rights and freedoms included in the Charter, although guaranteed, are not absolute. Section 1 states that in order for a Charter right to be lawfully limited, the limit must be “demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.” This basically means that limiting someone’s Charter rights must be reasonable in that it must seek to address an issue of pressing or substantial concern, done in a legal or lawful manner, and that it cannot have a disproportionate impact or effect.

Lastly, the concept of reasonability is used as a basis when it comes to determining beyond a reasonable doubt. Reasonable doubt is basically a threshold or burden of proof in criminal cases, and a requirement in most modern criminal law systems, which requires the prosecutor or district attorney to prove to the trier of fact to be sure, not certain, of the accused guilt, before convicting.

For example, in criminal cases, the onus is on the accusers to prove that the accused is reasonably guilty. This ensures that sufficient evidence is provided when accusing an individual of a crime and supports the notion of being innocent until proven guilty. Everything is done with reason and fairness.

The concept of reasonability or the use of the term reasonable is present in various aspects of the law such as determining who qualifies as a reasonable person, reasonable limits, and be and beyond a reasonable doubt.

author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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