Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Justiciability Definition:

A necessary prerequisite of a matter put to a court of law for resolution; that an actual and substantial controversy be at hand.

Related Terms: Moot

In Cape Breton v Nova Scotia, Justice John Murphy of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court adopted this definition:

"Justiciability may be defined as a set of judge-made rules, norms and principles delineating the scope of judicial intervention in social, political and economic life.

"In short, if a subject-matter is held to be suitable for judicial determination, it is said to be justiciable; if a subject-matter is held not to be suitable for judicial determination, it is said to be non-justiciable.

"The criteria used to make this determination pertain to three factors: (1) the capacities and legitimacy of the judicial process, (2) the constitutional separation of powers and (3) the nature of the dispute before the court."

In State v Preston, Justice Barry Schaller of the Supreme Court of Connecticut also reiterated a multi-numbered test:

"Mootness is a question of justiciability that must be determined as a threshold matter because it implicates this court's subject matter jurisdiction...

"Because courts are established to resolve actual controversies, before a claimed controversy is entitled to a resolution on the merits it must be justiciable.....

"We begin with the four part test for justiciability... Justiciability requires (1) that there be an actual controversy between or among the parties to the dispute . . . (2) that the interests of the parties be adverse . . . (3) that the matter in controversy be capable of being adjudicated by judicial power . . . and (4) that the determination of the controversy will result in practical relief to the complainant."

In Metropolitan Life v Kinsman, Justice John Kokenkamp of the Supreme Court of South Dakota added:

"Justiciability — the conception that an actual and substantial controversy must be at hand before a decision can be rendered — cannot be conferred by stipulation or consent of the parties."


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