Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Power Definition:

An ability conferred upon a person by the law to determine, by his/her own will directed to that end, the rights, duties, and liabilities or other legal .relations either of him/herself or of other persons.

Related Terms: Right, Liberty, Power of Attorney

A term very similar, if not synonymous with the legal term, right.

In Clifford v Helvering, Justice Gardner of the Circuit Court of Appeals of the U.S.A. was content to rely on this description:

"... power is the right, ability or faculty of doing something."

In the context of powers that have been vested in others, such as by a power of attorney, the power is the authority to do anything which the grantor of the power of atorney might him or herself lawfully perform.

Mr. Justice Walter Tarnopolsky of the Ontario Court of Appeal once wrote (while still a law professor at the University of Saskatchewan School of Law):

"(T)here is another kind of advantage conferred by law which has been distinguished from a right, and that is a power.... (A) power is an ability conferred upon a person by the law to determine, by his own will directed to that end, the rights, duties, and liabilities or other legal .relations either of himself or of other persons".

"In discussing human rights and fundamental freedoms, reference is made to rights such as the right to vote or the right to retain counsel which are actually powers. For our purposes, however, no attempt will be made to distinguish between rights and powers, and they will be referred to by the more general term rights."

REFERENCES:

  • Clifford v. Helvering, 105 F. 2d 586 (1939)
  • Tarnopolsky, Walter Surma, The Canadian Bill of Rights (Toronto: Carswell Company Ltd., 1966), pages 1-3

Categories & Topics:


Always looking up definitions? Save time with our search provider (modern browsers only)

If you find an error or omission in Duhaime's Law Dictionary, or if you have suggestion for a legal term, we'd love to hear from you!