(Original post by vahik92)
"So is this a matter of fact and not law because this is the first case of its kind? As in, there is no precedent for this case/the supreme court has not dealt with something like this before? Meaning, if there is to be a similar case to this in the future that's come to the attention of the court of appeal for instance, a judge can then say "matter of law not fact"...am i correct?
No, that's not the way to distinguish between questions of fact and law. When you read the textbooks, for every element the textbook will say whether the element is a question of fact or a question of law, so you personally need not worry about why something is a question of law or fact.
If you want to know out of curiosity about why these two questions of law and fact exist, I will try to answer your question in the following way, this is the way I see it. Some elements are questions of fact. For example, intent. As I've explained, ALL that the court needs to do is find out whether the defendand intended his act or not - very straightforward, intent has its own meaning and definition, there is no "legal" definition to intent - so, you're right when you mention the "is / is not" test - the defendant either intended or did not indend his act. Simple. But for theft, for example, one element of the offence is property, so the defendant must have appropriated property belonging to another. What is property is a question of law (and your "is / is not" test must be found in law rather than fact), because property has a legal meaning or definition found in the law of property e.g. choses in action, animals, human body parts etc. Property law has a wide range of laws and rules which describe what is property and what isn't. So, the court needs to go further in law and see whether what the defendant has stolen is a property or not. So the court goes into law, hence this is a question of law. Do you see what I mean?
"how does the question of fact thing work though? Because the judge got to decide that it qualifies as maintenance.. so his reasoning was something like:
income = how one maintains oneself = overdrawn funds
therefore income = overdrawn funds
In this specific case, the test for income was any finance used for maintenance and to pay bills. As such, the law offers flexibility to the court to hold any finance which meets the test as an income. So, in every case, the court must ask itself - is the finance e.g. overdraft used for maintenance or to pay bills? It either is or it isn't. If it is, then overdraft will be held as an income, otherwise it won't.
"what does "acted reasonably" mean? Because I thought there is no way a judge/court could (be allowed to) make an error of law.. is it just a defensive statement lol.
The authority was given power to decide whether a finance is an income or not, but, as you know, every decision of authorities may be challenged in courts who have the final say - in this case the court accepted that the authority acted reasonably in holding the overdraft as an income, the court agreed with the authority, as such the authority was not held liable.
"With regards to your shareholding example.. one can't maintain themselves through a shareholding though can they? Only after one sells it... then it ceases to be a shareholding and becomes income doesn't it? Because shareholding is an investment..
Shareholders are given dividends by the companies, that's what I meant by income. But, similarly, many people do business by buying and selling shares, so they earn money from there, as such, if the question about income is a question of fact, as I've said, virtually any finance can be held to be an income.
"So why doesn't the law state the criteria comprehensively? Are the parliament and courts just too lazy to be pedantic or do so purposefully, to allow some leeway? Is this the issue of legal language or is it to do with a common law legal tradition with regards to being free for interpretation?
So basically the decision depends on the judge's personal sympathies or internal assessment method?
The law does not state the criteria comprehensively because in many circumstances the flexibility of the law offers a greater justice. If the law states a comprehensive list of all finances being an income, some people will be able to use the gap in the law and the finance not mentioned in the law to do things which the State didn't want them to - but if you offer flexibility to the courts, no person would be able to get away. And whether questions of fact depend on judge's personal sympathies is arguable, everyone see it in their own way, I personally think judges in the UK are great and leaving them with wide discretionary powers almost always result in just results - but this is just my opinion, you are of course free to disagree and favour the "exhaustive list" approach.
I didn't understand your last paragraph.
P.S. Thanks for giving negative feedback after spending so much effort trying to help. Maybe I should become like others, always look to do harm rather than good.