1 mark as different; "We distinguish several kinds of maple" [syn: separate, differentiate, secern, secernate, severalize, severalise, tell, tell apart]
2 detect with the senses; "The fleeing convicts were picked out of the darkness by the watchful prison guards"; "I can't make out the faces in this photograph" [syn: recognize, recognise, discern, pick out, make out, tell apart]
3 be a distinctive feature, attribute, or trait; sometimes in a very positive sense; "His modesty distinguishes him form his peers" [syn: mark, differentiate]
5 identify as in botany or biology, for example [syn: identify, discover, key, key out, describe, name]
- , /dɪsˈtɪŋɡwɪʃ/, /dIs"tINgwIS/
- Rhymes with: -ɪŋɡwɪʃ
To see someone or something as different from others
To see someone or something clearly or distinctly
- German: erkennen
To make one's self noticeably different
- German: sich auszeichnen
In law, to distinguish a case means to differentiate the facts of the case before the court from the facts of a case of precedent where there is an apparent similarity. By successfully distinguishing a case, the holding or legal reasoning of the earlier case will either not apply or will be limited.
Whether a case is successfully distinguished often looks to whether the distinguished facts are material to the matter.
Both cases Balfour v. Balfour (1919) and Merrit v. Merrit (1971), involve a wife making a claim against her husband for breach of contract. The judge in Balfour decided that a claim could not be made because there was no intention to create legal regulations, there was no legally binding contract. However in Merrit v. Merrit, the judge decided that the facts of this case was sufficiently different in that, whilst the parties were husband and wife, the agreement was made after they had separated, in writing, thus distinguishing the case from Balfour.
Spotted cowAn analogy taught in law school is that of a case involving black and white spotted cows. A lawyer in a subsequent case involving brown spotted cows might distinguish the facts on the color of the spots.
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