Public Policy – the policy (course of action) in relation to the administration of the law, to protect and promote the general welfare of the public

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public policy:
(16c)

1. More narrowly, the principle that a person should not be allowed to do anything that would tend to injure the public at large.

2. The collective rules, principles, or approaches to problems that affect the commonwealth or (especially) promote the general good; specifically, principles and standards regarded by the legislature or by the courts as being of fundamental concern to the state and the whole of society <against public policy>.  *  Courts sometimes use the term to justify their decisions, as when declaring a contract void because it is “contrary to public policy.” — aka policy of the law. [1]

1. The policy of the law; the policy in relation to the administration of the law.  Practically synonymous with public good or public welfare. National Bank of Commerce v Greenberg, 195 Tenn 217, 258 SW2d 765, 38 ALR2d 1337.

The policy of promoting the public welfare and opposing that which is at war with society and in conflict with the moral principles of the period. 17 Am J2d Contr § 175.

The protection and promotion of public welfare, including public health and morality. Hanks v McDaneIl, 307 Ky 243, 210 SW2d 784, 17 ALR2d 1.

That principle of law which holds that no subject or citizen can lawfully do that which has a tendency to be injurious to the public or against the public good. Consumers’ Oil Co. v Nunnemaker, 142 Ind 560, 41 NE 1048.

A will-o’-the-wisp of the law which varies and changes with the interests, habits, needs, sentiments, and fashions of the day. Wallihan v Hughes, 196 Va 117, 82 SE2d 553.

Not a matter of principle to be laid down by the court, although the court may be called upon to determine what the public policy is in a particular respect, as for example, where it must determine whether a contract is or is not invalid because it is contrary to good public policy. 20 Am 12d Cts § 64. [2]

1. A term referring to the concept that law should be properly be created, interpreted, and applied in a manner that promotes the good and welfare of the people. [3]

      Excerpt from William R. Anson’s Principles of the Law of Contract (Arthur L. Corbin ed., 3d Am. ed. 1919):

     “The policy of the law, or public policy, is a phrase of common use in estimating the validity of contracts.  Its history is obscure; it is most likely that agreements which tended to restrain trade or to promote litigation were the first to elicit the principle that the courts would look to the interests of the public in giving efficacy to contracts.  Wagers, while they continued to be legal, were a frequent provocative of judicial ingenuity on this point, as is sufficiently shown by the case of Gilbert v. Sykes [16 East 150 (1812)] . . . : but it does not seem probable that the doctrine of public policy began in the endeavor to elude their binding force.  Whatever may have been its origin, it was applied very frequently, and not always with the happiest results, during the latter part of the eighteenth and the commencement of the nineteenth century.  Modern decisions, however, while maintaining the duty of the courts to consider the public advantage, have tended more and more to limit the sphere within which this duty may be exercised. [4]

References:

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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[4]: William R. Anson, Principles of the Law of Contract 286 (Arthur L. Corbin ed., 3d Am. ed. 1919).

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