A claim and an issue are very different.


Think of a claim as an assertion that is one is legally entitled to relief from a court.  Let’s say David promises to give Patty his bicycle on Tuesday.  Patty says, “Thanks for the present!” But on Tuesday David refuses to give her his bicycle. Patty decides to sue David.  She will claim that David harmed her by refusing to turn over the bicycle and that the court should help her.  She might claim that she had a contract with David and that David breached the contract.


Issues are legal questions that a court must answer before deciding a case.

In Patty’s case against David the legal question might be, “Is a defendant required to give a bicycle to a plaintiff if he promised her the bicycle but both parties considered the bicycle to be a present and the plaintiff promised nothing in return?”

To decide whether Patty should prevail on her claim the court would need to answer the issue of whether the promise to give a present is legally enforceable.  Put another way, the issue might be phrased as, “Was the promise to give a bicycle a contract between David and Patty that the court must enforce?”

Of course, a claim can raise one issue or multiple issues.  The court will identify those issues that are relevant to the case and determine the answers to the legal questions.