Procedural law

Legal rules concerned with procedural matters, as opposed to law governing the substance of an action. The distinction is sometime difficult to draw, but it is of some importance in the conflict of laws, where procedural matters are governed by lex fori, while substantive rules may be governed by the law of another jurisdiction.

The standardisation of the method by which cases are brought, parties are given notice, evidence is presented, and facts are determined is intended to create fairness in proceedings. However, strict application of procedural law has been recognised as often unfairly discriminatory against parties unfamiliar with the legal system, as well as having the capacity more generally to slow the pace of proceedings.

Procedural systems therefore attempt reconcile the argument that judges should have greater discretion to overcome the law’s rigidity in favour of equitable justice, against the argument that judges should have less discretion in order to ensure that their personal beliefs cannot colour how the procedure is enforced.