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A legal remedy (also judicial relief) is the means with which a court of law, usually in the exercise of civil law jurisdiction, enforces a right, imposes a penalty, or makes another court order to impose its will.

In Commonwealth common law jurisdictions and related jurisdictions (e.g. the United States), the law of remedies distinguishes between a legal remedy (e.g. a specific amount of monetary damages) and an equitable remedy (e.g. injunctive relief or specific performance). Another type of remedy is declaratory relief, where a court determines the rights of the parties to an action without awarding damages or ordering equitable relief.

In English and American jurisprudence, there is a legal maxim (albeit one sometimes honored in the breach) that for every right, there is a remedy; where there is no remedy, there is no right. That is, lawmakers claim to provide appropriate remedies to protect rights. This legal maxim was first enunciated by William Blackstone: "It is a settled and invariable principle in the laws of England, that every right when with-held must have a remedy, and every injury its proper redress." [1][2]

Types of Remedies in American Law[edit]

There are three crucial remedies in the American legal system. One is from the traditional law courts of England, and is seen in the form of a payment of money to the victim. This payment is commonly referred to as damages. Compensatory damages compensate an injured victim or plaintiff, and punitive damages punish someone who because of fraud or intentional conduct, is deemed to deserve punishment. Punitive damages serve the function in civil law that fines do in criminal law.

The second category of remedy comes from the Chancellor of England, commonly called the Chancery Court, or, more commonly, equity. The injunction is a type of equitable remedy,[3] as is specific performance, in which someone who enters into a contract is forced to perform whatever promise has been reneged upon. Two additional equitable remedies are the equitable lien and the constructive trust.

The third broad group is declaratory remedies. Common examples are the declaratory judgment and the action to quiet title, and these remedies usually involve a court's determination of how the law applies to particular facts without any command to the parties.[4] Courts give declaratory remedies about many different kinds of questions, including whether a person has a legal status, who the owner of a property is, whether a statute has a particular meaning, or what the rights are under a contract.[5]

While those are the three basic categories of remedies in American law, there are also a handful of others (such as reformation and rescission, both dealing with contracts whose terms need to be rewritten or undone).

Case-by-case remedies versus announced remedies[edit]

Remedies can be, and in American law usually are, determined case by case, and take into account many different facts including the amount of harm caused to the victim. Remedies can also be determined in advance for an entire class of cases. For example, there can be a fixed fine for all violations of a legal rule, regardless of how much harm was caused in the particular case.[6]


  1. ^ 1 William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England 23
  2. ^ See also Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137, 162–163 (1803).
  3. ^ Douglas Laycock, The Death of the Irreparable Injury Rule (Oxford Univ. Press 1991).
  4. ^ Bray, Samuel L. (2010). "Preventive Adjudication". University of Chicago Law Review 77: 1275, 1281. 
  5. ^ Bray, Samuel L. (2010). "Preventive Adjudication". University of Chicago Law Review 77: 1275, 1281. 
  6. ^ Bray, Samuel L. (forthcoming 2012). "Announcing Remedies". Cornell Law Review 97. 

Examples of legal remedies[edit]

Categories of remedies[edit]

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_remedy — Please support Wikipedia.
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221 news items

The Daily Star
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 14:00:00 -0700

Reiterating that the victims of forced disappearances here have no option of legal remedy, Hong Kong-based Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) has made written submissions to the UN Human Rights Council on the prevalence of the incidents in ...

Rock Hill Herald

Rock Hill Herald
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:58:46 -0700

Legal Remedy Brewing of Fort Mill now wants to open its first location near downtown Rock Hill. The company still plans to open a restaurant and serve its beer in the future at Riverwalk, a residential and recreational community under development near ...
Financial Express Bangladesh
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 09:18:45 -0700

Reiterating that the victims of enforced disappearance in Bangladesh have no option of legal remedy, the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) has made written submissions in the recent sessions of the UN Human Rights Council on the prevalence ...
The News International
Sun, 31 Aug 2014 19:37:30 -0700

... transparency); second, the need to treat all eligible voters equally and to give equal weight to each vote (universal and equal suffrage); and third, the requirement for timely due process about election complaints and election results petitions ...
Fort Mills Times
Fri, 15 Aug 2014 17:11:15 -0700

Legal Remedy Brewing, now on sale in Fort Mill, will build an 8,000-square-foot restaurant and brewery in Rock Hill's Riverwalk development. Bill Neurohr of Legal Remedy Brewing sent The Herald details about the new business and its recent launch into ...
Yahoo!7 News
Sun, 31 Aug 2014 22:32:47 -0700

"It's a sensible decision, and it reinforces the role of class actions working as an efficient legal remedy for large numbers of people affected by the same mass wrong. "This ruling, and this case more broadly, are further examples of how a mature and ...
MetroWest Daily News
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 19:27:27 -0700

Stow town planner Karen Kelleher, who attested the case is unlike anything she's seen, said a key question the board still must answer is if the foundation can use the state's Dover Amendment as legal remedy to build the museum. To do so, Collings ...
Portland Tribune
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 14:42:19 -0700

“The occupants will simply be required to endure the unreasonable governmental intrusion without a legal remedy,” Baldwin writes. “The (constitutional guarantee against unreasonable searches) now provides no protection against such a warrantless search ...

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