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Private Law

Course Code: LGST 2210
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Department: Legal Studies
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course examines the role of law in regulating four types of legal relationships: relationships established by agreement (contract law); relationships based upon widely recognized legal duties owed to others (tort law); relationships based upon respective interests in property (property law); and relationships based upon fiduciary obligations (the law of trusts). Throughout the course consideration will be given to the role of government in regulating private law relationships.

Course Content

1. Introduction and Overview

  • The scope of private law
  • The public/private distinction

2. The Concept of Legal Personhood

  • The role of the individual and legal personhood
  • Natural legal persons vs. artificial legal persons
  • Legal personhood and the role of dependants

3. Contract Law: Relationships Based upon Agreement

  • The importance of the elements of offer, acceptance and consideration
  • The mental element of a contract: the intention to create legal relations and consensus ad idem
  • Excuses for non-performance of a contract

4. Tort Law: Relationships Based upon Duties Owed to Others

  • Civil wrongs vs. public wrongs
  • Classification of torts: intentional vs. unintentional
  • Intentional torts: assault, battery, false imprisonment, defamation, and trespass
  • Unintentional torts: negligence and nuisance
  • Liability in negligence

5. Property Law: Relationships Mediated by Interests in Property

  • Classifications of property: real vs. personal; tangible vs. intangible
  • Property rights: different interests in property
  • The public interest and limitations on property rights

6. Trust Law: Relationships Based on Trust and Confidence

  • The legal concept of equity and the concept of fiduciary obligation generally
  • Fiduciary duty in the context of care and management of property: the trust
  • Fiduciary duty outside the context of care and management of property

Methods of Instruction

The following methods of instruction will be utilized:

  • lectures
  • class discussions

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be based upon the course objectives and will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policies. The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the course. Evaluation will be based upon the following:

  • Exams
  • Research paper or other written assignment
  • Class attendance and participation

An example of one possible evaluation scheme would be:

Class attendance and participation    10%
Midterm exam  30%
Research paper  30%
Final exam  30%
Total 100%

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this course the successful student will be able to:

  1. Describe the scope of private law and the importance of the public/private distinction.
  2. Explain the importance of the autonomy of the individual in the development of private law.
  3. Describe the concept of legal personhood as an artificial creation with reference to the role of natural persons and artificial persons in the Canadian legal system.
  4. Explain the requirements for a legally valid contract.
  5. Identify the circumstances in which non-performance of a contract is legally permissible.
  6. Describe the differences between public and private wrongs.
  7. Describe the classification of torts.
  8. Explain the different intentional torts including assault, battery, false imprisonment, defamation, and trespass.
  9. Identify and describe the unintentional torts of nuisance and negligence, and explain the basis for liability in negligence.
  10. Describe the legal classification of property in the Canadian legal system.
  11. Explain different types of legal interest a person may have in property.
  12. Describe the role of the public interest in placing limitations on property rights.
  13. Describe the concept of a fiduciary duty.
  14. Explain the difference between a trust and other fiduciary obligations.
  15. Describe the role of government in regulating private law relationships.
  16. Explain the role private law principles play in discrete areas of law including family law, consumer protection law, and aboriginal law.
  17. Read statute and case law critically and with good comprehension.
  18. Apply private law principles to real and hypothetical situations involving disputes arising out of private law relationships.

course prerequisites

CRIM 1160


Courses listed here must be completed either prior to or simultaneously with this course:

  • No corequisite courses


Courses listed here are equivalent to this course and cannot be taken for further credit:

  • No equivalency courses

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.