The Law Dictionary

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REFER Definition & Legal Meaning

Definition & Citations:

1. When a case or action involves matters of account or other intricate details which require minute examination, and for that reason are not fit to be brought before a jury, it is usual to refer the whole case, or some part of it, to the decision of an auditor or referee, and the case is then said to be referred. Taking this word in its strict, technical use, it relates to a mode of determining questions which is distinguished from “arbitration,” in that the latter word imports submission of a controversy without any lawsuit having been brought, while “reference” imports a lawsuit pending, and an issue framed or question raised which (and not the controversy itself) is sent out. Thus, arbitration, is resorted to instead of any judicial proceeding; while reference is one mode of decision employed in the course of a judicial proceeding. And “reference” is distinguished from “hearing or trial,” in that these are the ordinary modes of deciding issues and questions in and by the courts with aid of juries when proper; while reference is an employment of non-judicial persons


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