RULE OF THREE. [THREE, RULE or.] RULE (in Law) is an order of one of the three superior courts of Common Law. Rules are either general or particular.
General rules are such orders relating to matters of practice as are laid down and promulgated by the court for the general guidance of the suitors; the power of issuing rules for regulating its practice being considered incident to the jurisdiction of the court. By recent acts of Parliament, the judges are authorised to make rules of a more com prehensive nature, relating as well to pleading as to practice. Formerly each court issued its own general rules, without much consideration as to what was the practice in other courts. Of late the object has been to assimilate the practice in all the courts of common law.
Rules not general are such as are confined to the particular case in reference to which they have been granted. Of these, some, which are said to be " of course," are drawn up by the proper officers on the authority of the mere signature of counsel, without any formal appli cation to the court ; or in some instances—as upon a judge's fiat or allowance by the master, &e.—without any signature by counsel ; others require to be handed in as well as signed by counsel. Rules which are not of course are grantable on the application, or, as it is technically termed, " the motion," either of the party actually interested or of his counsel. Where the grounds of the motion are required to be particularised, the facts necessary to support it must be stated in an affidavit by competent witnesses. After the motion is heard, the court
either grants or refuses the rule. A rule, when granted, may, according to the circumstances, be either "to show cause," or it maybe "absolute in the first instance." The term "rule to show cause," also called a " rule nisi," means that unless the party against whom it has been obtained shows sufficient cause to the contrary, the rule, which is yet conditional, will become absolute. After a rule nisi has been obtained, it is drawn up in form by the proper officer, and served by the party obtaining it upon the party against whom it has been obtained, and notice is given him to appear in court on a certain day and show cause against it. He may do this either by showing that the facts already disclosed do not justify the granting of the application, or he may con tradict those facts by further affidavits. The counsel who obtained the rule is then heard in reply. If the court think proper to grant the application, or if no one appears to oppose it, the rule is said to be made "absolute." If they refuse the application, the rule is said to be " discharged." Rules may be moved for either in reference to any matter already pending before the court, as for a change of venue in an action already commenced, or for a new trial, &e.; or in respect of matters not pending before the court, as for a criminal information, a mandamus, &c.
A copy of a rule obtained from the proper officer is legal proof of the existence of such a rule.