Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Occupation Definition:

A job, employment or the character of being physically inside or upon a place.

Related Terms: Occupant

A term of law which is used in employment law and in the law of real property.

In the context of employment law, these words of Justice Dawson of the United States District Court in United States v. Costello:

"The term occupation would commonly be understood to refer to the income producing activity to which a person devotes the major portion of his time and from which he derives the major portion of his income."

In Northern Trusts Company v Eberts, Justice Ewing of the Alberta Court of Appeal used these words:

"The term occupation ... ordinarily means that which engages time and attention.... In the first place it is reasonable to assume that the occupation to which a person regularly devotes by far the greater part of his time is his principal occupation."

Justice McTurk of the Ontario County Court adopted these words in Dale v Commercial Union Insurance Company of Canada:

"Occupation and work may not mean the same thing ... Occupation is a more elevated term, signifying a trade or calling; but each may include the idea of continuity and imply regularity in a specific line or endeavour.

"Work ... should be defined as employment having some degree of permanency though not amounting to an occupation."

In the context of real property, these words were adopted and endorsed by Justice Lamperson of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Mohammed v. Canadian Northern Shield Insurance Company:

"To continue in occupation a dweller no doubt need not be there continuously. Temporary absences might not necessarily change the occupied character of the premises....

"For a dwelling house to be in a state of occupation, there must be in it the presence of human being as at their customary place of abode, not absolutely and interruptedly continuous, but that must be the place of usual return and habitual stoppage."

Justice Craig of the Ontario High Court of Justice in MacLean v Ontario:

"To be an occupant of premises, a person must have control of them. The degree of control required to constitute such occupation depends on the facts of each case."

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