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Encyclopedia > Court system of Canada

The Court system of Canada is made up of many courts differing in levels of legal superiority and separated by jurisdiction. Some of the courts are federal in nature while others are provincial or territorial. A trial at the Old Bailey in London as drawn by Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Pugin for Ackermanns Microcosm of London (1808-11). ... System of government Canada is a constitutional monarchy as a Commonwealth Realm (see Monarchy in Canada) with a federal system of parliamentary government, and strong democratic traditions. ...


The Canadian constitution gives the federal government the exclusive right to legislate criminal law while the provinces have exclusive control over civil law. The provinces have jurisdiction over the administration of justice in their territory. Almost all cases, whether criminal or civil, start in provincial courts and may be eventually appealed to higher level courts. The quite small system of federal courts only hear cases concerned with matters which are under exclusive federal control, such as immigration. The federal government appoints and pays for both the judges of the federal courts and the judges of the superior-level court of each province. The provincial governments are responsible for appointing judges of the lower provincial ("inferior-level") courts.


This intricate interweaving of federal and provincial powers is typical of the Canadian constitution.

Contents

Outline of the Court System

Very generally speaking, Canada's court system is a four-level hierarchy as shown below from highest to lowest in terms of legal authority. Each court is bound by the rulings of the courts above them; however, they are not bound by their own past rulings or the rulings of other courts at the same level in the hierarchy.

Canadian court system (Source Canadian Department of Justice)
Canadian court system (Source Canadian Department of Justice)

Image File history File links Canada_Court_System. ... Image File history File links Canada_Court_System. ...

Supreme Court of Canada

Although created by an Act of Canada's Parliament in 1875, its decisions could be reviewed by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council until 1949 when the Supreme Court of Canada truly became the final and highest court in the country. The court currently consists of nine justices, which include the Chief Justice of Canada, and its duties include hearing appeals of decisions from the appellate courts (to be discussed next) and, on occasion, delivering references (i.e. the court's opinion) on constitutional questions raised by the federal government. By law, three of the nine justices are appointed from Quebec; because of Quebec's use of civil law. The Supreme Court of Canada (French: Cour suprême du Canada) is the highest court of Canada and is the final court of appeal in the Canadian justice system. ... States currently utilizing parliamentary systems are denoted in red and orange—the former being constitutional monarchies where authority is vested in a parliament, and the latter being parliamentary republics whose parliaments are effectively supreme over a separate head of state. ... The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is one of the highest courts in the United Kingdom. ... The Supreme Court of Canada (French: Cour suprême du Canada) is the highest court of Canada and is the final court of appeal in the Canadian justice system. ... The Supreme Court of Canada consists of the Chief Justice of Canada (French: Juge en chef du Canada) and eight puisne Justices appointed by the Governor in Council (Governor General of Canada) from among superior court judges or from among barristers of at least ten years standing at the Bar... An appellate court is a court that hears cases in which a lower court -- either a trial court or a lower-level appellate court — has already made some decision, which at least one party to the action wants to challenge based upon some legal grounds that are allowed to... A Reference Question in Canada is a submission by the federal or a provincial government to the Supreme Court of Canada or the provinces respective Court of Appeal in which the submitting government would like the court to answer a legal question regarding the Constitution Acts, the constitutionality of... Civil law is the predominant system of law in the world, with its origins in Roman law, and sets out a comprehensive system of rules, usually codified, that are applied and interpreted by judges. ...


Appellate Courts of the Provinces and Territories

These courts of appeal (as listed below by province and territory in alphabetical order) exist at the provincial and territorial levels and were separately constituted in the early decades of the 20th century, replacing the former Full Courts of the old Supreme Courts of the provinces, many of which were then re-named Courts of Queens Bench. Their function is to review decisions rendered by the superior-level courts and to do references (i.e. deliver a judicial opinion) when requested by a provincial or territorial government. These appellate courts do not normally conduct trials and hear witnesses.

These courts are Canada's equivalent of the Court of Appeal in England and the various State Supreme Courts and US Courts of Appeals in the United States. Each of the above-listed appellate courts is the highest court from its respective province or territory. A province's chief justice (i.e. highest ranking judge) sits in the appellate court of that province. The Alberta Court of Appeal is the highest court in Alberta. ... The British Columbia Court of Appeal is the highest appellate court in the province of British Columbia. ... The Manitoba Court of Appeal is the highest Court of Appeal in the Canadian province of Manitoba. ... The Court of Appeal of New Brunswick is the court of appeal in the province of New Brunswick. ... Supreme Court of Newfoundland (Court of Appeal) is the highest appellate court for the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. ... The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal is the court of appeal in the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. ... The Ontario Court of Appeal is headquarted in downtown Toronto, in historic Osgoode Hall. ... The Court of Appeal of Quebec (in French: la Cour dappel du Québec) is the highest judicial court in Quebec, Canada. ... The Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan is the highest appeal court in the province of Saskatchewan. ... The Court of Appeal of the Yukon Territory is the highest appellate court for the Yukon Territory. ... Motto: (French for God and my right) Anthem: God Save the King/Queen Capital London Largest city London Official language(s) English (de facto) Unification    - by Athelstan AD 927  Area    - Total 130,395 km² (1st in UK)   50,346 sq mi  Population    - 2005 est. ... In the United States, the state supreme court (known by various names in various states) is the highest state court in the state court system. ... The United States courts of appeals (or circuit courts) are the mid-level appellate courts of the United States federal court system. ...


Superior-level Courts of the Provinces and Territories

These courts (as listed below by province and territory in alphabetical order) exist at the provincial and territorial levels. The superior courts are the courts of first instance for divorce petitions, civil lawsuits involving claims greater than small claims, and criminal prosecutions for "indictable offences" (i.e. "felonies" in American legal terminology). They also perform a reviewing function for judgements from the local "inferior" courts and administrative decisions by provincial or territorial government entities such as labour boards, human rights tribunals and licensing authorities. A trial court or court of first instance is the court in which most civil or criminal cases begin. ... In many common law jurisdictions (e. ... The term felony is used for very serious crimes, whereas misdemeanors are considered to be less serious offenses. ...

Furthermore, some of these superior courts (like the one in Ontario) have specialized branches that deal only with certain matters such as family law or small claims. To complicate things further, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has a branch called the Divisional Court that hears only appeals and judicial reviews of administrative tribunals and whose decisions have greater binding authority than those from the "regular" branch of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Although a court, like the Supreme Court of British Columbia, may have the word "supreme" in its name, it is not necessarily the highest court from its respective province or territory. The Court of Queens Bench of Alberta is the superior court of the Canadian province of Alberta. ... Supreme Court of British Columbia is the superior court for the Canadian province of British Columbia. ... The Court of Queens Bench of New Brunswick is the superior court of the Canadian province of New Brunswick. ... The Nova Scotia Supreme Court (and the Nova Scotia Family Division Court) is a superior court in the province of Nova Scotia. ... // Superior Court of Justice (Ontario) The Superior Court of Justice for Ontario, Canada is the successor to the former Ontario Court of Justice (General Division), and was created on April 19, 1999. ... Quebec Superior Court is the highest trial Court in the province of Quebec. ... The Court of Queens Bench of Saskatchewan is the superior court for the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. ... The Supreme Court of the Yukon Territory is the court of general jurisdiction for the Canadian territory of Yukon Territory. ...


Provincial and Territorial ("inferior") Courts

Main article: Provincial Court

Each province and territory in Canada has an "inferior" or "lower" trial court. Appeals from these courts are heard by the superior court of the province or territory. These courts are created by provincial statute and only have the jurisdiction granted by statute. Accordingly, inferior courts do not have "inherent jurisdiction". These courts are usually the successors of older local courts presided over by lay magistrates and justices of the peace who did not necessarily have formal legal training. Many inferior courts have specialized functions, such as hearing only criminal law matters, youth matters, family law matters, small claims matters, "quasi-criminal" offences (i.e. violations of provincial statutes), or bylaw infractions. In some jurisdictions, these courts serve as an appeal division from the decisions of administrative tribunals. Provincial Courts are courts operating locally and exist only at the provincial and territorial levels. ... In legal parlance, a trial is an event in which parties to a dispute present information (in the form of evidence) in a formal setting, usually a court, before a judge, jury, or other designated finder of fact, in order to achieve a resolution to their dispute. ... Inherent Jurisdiction is a doctrine of the English common law that a superior court has the jurisdiction to hear any matter that comes before it, unless a statute limits that authority or grants exclusive jurisdiction to some other court or tribunal. ... A Justice of the Peace (JP) is a magistrate appointed by a commission to keep the peace, dispense summary justice and deal with local administrative applications in common law jurisdictions. ...


Courts of the Federal Level

  • Federal Court
  • Tax Court of Canada
  • Federal Court of Appeal

The Federal Court and the more specialized Tax Court of Canada exists primarily to review administrative decisions by federal government bodies such as the immigration board and hear lawsuits under the federal government's jurisdiction such as intellectual property and maritime law. In law, intellectual property (IP) is an umbrella term for various legal entitlements which attach to certain types of information, ideas, or other intangibles in their expressed form. ... Admiralty law (usually referred to as simply admiralty and also referred to as maritime law) is a distinct body of law which governs maritime questions and offenses. ...


The Federal Court of Appeal hears appeals from decisions rendered by the Federal Court, the Tax Court of Canada and a certain group of federal administrative tribunals like the National Energy Board and the federal labour board. All judges of the Federal Court are ex officio judges of the Federal Court of Appeal, and vice versa, although it is rare that a judge of one court will sit as a member of the other.


Before 2003, the Federal Court was known as the Federal Court of Canada - Trial Division while the Federal Court of Appeal was known as the Federal Court of Canada - Appeal Division. In turn, the Federal Court of Canada is descended from the old Exchequer Court of Canada created back in 1875.


Although the federal type courts can be said to have the same prestige as the superior courts from the provinces and territories, the federal ones lack the "inherent jurisidiction" (to be explained later) possessed by superior courts such as the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.


Courts of Military Law

  • Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada
  • various military courts called "courts martial"
    • General Court Martial
    • Disciplinary Court Martial
    • Standing Court Martial
    • Special General Court Martial

The "courts martial" are conducted and presided over by military personnel and exist for the prosecution of military personnel, as well as civilian personnel who accompany military personnel, accused of violating the Code of Service Discipline, which is found in the National Defence Act (R.S.C. 1985, Chapter N-5) and constitutes a complete code of military law applicable to persons under military jurisdiction.


The decisions of the courts martial can be appealed to the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada which, in contrast, exists outside the military and is made up of civilian judges. This appellate court is the successor of the Court Martial Appeal Board which was created in 1950, presided over by civilian judges and lawyers, and was the first ever civilian-based adjudicating body with authority to review decisions by a military court. The Court Martial Appeal Court is made up of civilian judges from the Federal Court, Federal Court of Appeal, and the superiour courts of the provinces. The current Chief Justice of the Court Martial Appeal Court (as of September 17, 2004) is Edmond P. Blanchard.


Federal and Provincial Administrative Tribunals

Known in Canada as simply "tribunals", these are non-judicial adjudicative bodies, which means that they adjudicate (hear evidence and render decisions) like the courts do BUT are not presided over by judges. Instead, the adjudicators may be experts of the very specific legal field handled by the tribunal (e.g. labour law, human rights law, immigration law, energy law, liquor licensing law, etc.) who hear arguments and evidence provided by lawyers before making a written decision on record. Its decisions can be reviewed by a court through an appeal or a process called "judicial review". The reviewing court may be required to show some deference to the tribunal if the tribunal possesses some highly specialized expertise or knowledge that the court does not have. Nationality law is the branch of a countrys legal system wherein legislation, custom and court precendent combine to define the ways in which that countrys nationality and citizenship are transmitted, acquired or lost. ...


Appearing before some administrative tribunals may feel like appearing in a court, but the tribunal's procedure is relatively less formal than that of the court, and more importantly, the rules of evidence are not as strictly observed. In other words, evidence that would be inadmissible in a court hearing could be allowed in a tribunal hearing. The presiding adjudicator is normally called "Mister/Madam Chair", and lawyers routinely appear in tribunals advocating a matter for their clients. A person does not require a lawyer to appear before an administrative tribunal. Indeed, many of these tribunals are specifically designed to be less formal than courts. Furthermore, some of these tribunals are part of a comprehensive dispute-resolution system, which may emphasize mediation rather than litigation. For example, provincial human rights commissions routinely use mediation to resolve many human rights complaints without the need for a hearing.


What tribunals all have in common is that they are created by statute, their adjudicators are appointed by government, and they focus on very particular and specialized areas of law. Because some subject matters (e.g. immigration) fall within federal jurisdiction while others (e.g. liquor licensing) in provincial jurisdiction, some tribunals are created by federal law while others are created by provincial law. Yet, there are both federal and provincial tribunals for some subject matters such as unionized labour and "human rights" (in American legal parlance, the "civil rights" of marginalized or/and disadvantaged social groups such as women, racial minorities, the disabled, homosexuals, certain religious groups, etc.).


Most importantly, from a lawyer's perspective, is the fact that the principle of stare decisis does not apply to tribunals. In other words, a tribunal adjudicative could legally make a decision that differs from a past decision, on the same subject and issues, delivered by the highest court in the land. Because a tribunal is not bound by legal precedent, established by itself or by a reviewing court, A TRIBUNAL IS NOT A COURT even though it performs an important adjudicative function and contributes to the development of law like a court would do. Although stare decisis does not apply to tribunals, their adjudicators will nonetheless find a prior court decision on a similar subject to be highly persuasive and will likely follow the courts in order to ensure consistency in the law and to prevent the embarrassment of having their decisions overturned by the courts. Stare decisis (Latin: , Anglicisation: , to stand by things decided) is a Latin legal term, used in common law to express the notion that prior court decisions must be recognized as precedents, according to case law. ...


Among the federal tribunals, there is a small group of tribunals whose decisions must be appealed directly to the Federal Court of Appeal rather than to the Federal Court. These so-called "super tribunals" are listed in Subsection 28(1) of the Federal Courts Act (R.S.C. 1985, Chapter F-7) and some examples include the National Energy Board, Canadian International Trade Tribunal, the Competition Tribunal, the Canada Industrial Relations Board (i.e. federal labour board), the Copyright Board, and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ("CRTC").


Courts of Inherent Jurisdiction

These are the superior courts from the provinces and territories as discussed above. The words "inherent jurisdiction" refers to the fact that the jurisdiction of the superior courts is more than just what is conferred by statute. Following the principles of English common law, because the superior courts derive their authority from the Constitution, they can hear any matter unless there is a federal or provincial statute that says otherwise or that gives exclusive jurisdiction to some other court or tribunal. The doctrine of "inherent jurisdiction" gives superior courts greater freedom than statutory courts (to be explained next) to be flexible and creative in the delivering of legal remedies and relief. Inherent Jurisdiction is a doctrine of the English common law that a superior court has the jurisdiction to hear any matter that comes before it, unless a statute limits that authority or grants exclusive jurisdiction to some other court or tribunal. ... In law, jurisdiction (from the Latin jus, juris meaning law and dicere meaning to speak) is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area...


Statutory Courts

These courts include the Supreme Court of Canada, the different types of federal courts, the various appellate courts from the provinces and territories, and the numerous low level "provincial" courts. Their decision-making power is granted by either the federal parliament or a provincial legislature. The Supreme Court of Canada (French: Cour suprême du Canada) is the highest court of Canada and is the final court of appeal in the Canadian justice system. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Appeal. ...


The word "statutory" refers to the fact that these courts' powers are derived from a type of legislation called a statute and is defined and limited by a statute. A statutory court cannot try cases in areas of law that are not mentioned or suggested in the statute. In this sense, statutory courts are similar to non-judicial adjudicative bodies such as administrative tribunals, boards, commissions, etc. which are created and given limited power by legislation. The practical implication of this is that a statutory court cannot provide a type of legal remedy or relief that is not expressly or implicitly referred to in its enabling or empowering statute. Legislation (or statutory law) is law which has been promulgated (or enacted) by a legislature or other governing body. ... The Statute of Grand Duchy of Lithuania A statute is a formal, written law of a country or state, written and enacted by its legislative authority, perhaps to then be ratified by the highest executive in the government, and finally published. ...


Appointment and Regulation of Judges

Judges in Canada are appointed and not elected. Judges of the Supreme Court of Canada, the federal courts, the appellate courts and the superior-level courts are appointed by the federal government. Thus, judges of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice are chosen not by Ontario's provincial government but by the same level of government that appoints judges to the federal courts. Meanwhile, judicial appointments to judicial posts in the so-called "inferior" or "provincial" courts are made by the local provincial governments. The Supreme Court of Canada (French: Cour suprême du Canada) is the highest court of Canada and is the final court of appeal in the Canadian justice system. ... Motto: Ut Incepit Fidelis Sic Permanet (Latin: Loyal she began, loyal she remains) Official languages English Flower White Trillium Tree Eastern White Pine Bird Common Loon Capital Toronto Largest city Toronto Lieutenant-Governor James K. Bartleman Premier Dalton McGuinty (Liberal) Parliamentary representation  - House seats  - Senate seats 106 24 Area Total... Motto: Ut Incepit Fidelis Sic Permanet (Latin: Loyal she began, loyal she remains) Official languages English Flower White Trillium Tree Eastern White Pine Bird Common Loon Capital Toronto Largest city Toronto Lieutenant-Governor James K. Bartleman Premier Dalton McGuinty (Liberal) Parliamentary representation  - House seats  - Senate seats 106 24 Area Total... The judiciary, also referred to as the judicature, consists of justices, judges and magistrates among other types of adjudicators. ...


There are Canadians who would like to see their judges be elected as is the case for some American judges, but as of 2006 there is no indication that the longstanding British tradition of appointing judges will be altered in Canada anytime soon. Those who favour the appointment method point out that the election approach could possibly threaten the judiciary's ability to be independent in its decision-making. 2006 is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... In law, the judiciary or judicature is the system of courts which administer justice in the name of the sovereign or state, and provide a mechanism for the resolution of disputes. ...


Because judicial independence is seen by Canadian law to be essential to a functioning democracy, the regulating of Canadian judges requires the involvement of the judges themselves. The Canadian Judicial Council, made up of the chief justices and associate chief justices of the federal courts and of each province and territory, receives complaints from the public concerning questionable behaviour from members of the bench. Judicial independence is the doctrine that decisions of the judiciary should be impartial and not subject to influence from the other branches of government or from private or political interests. ... The Canadian Judicial Council is the regulating body for Canadian judges composed mostly of chief justices and associate chief justices of Canadas superior courts. ...


Salaries of superior courts are set by Parliament under section 100 the Constitution Act, 1867. Since the Provincial Judges Reference of 1997, provincial courts' salaries are recommended by independent commissions, and a similar body called the Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission was established in 1999 for federally-appointed judges. Holding There is a constitutional norm that protects the judicial independence of all judges. ... Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission is a Canadian commission that recommends judicial salaries for federally-appointed judges. ...


Language used in Court

Although English and French are both official languages of Canada, not every court in Canada is bilingual in real practice. It depends on which province or territory a particular court is based in. The federal courts as well as the courts in New Brunswick and Ontario are bilingual, for example, but some others (e.g. the courts in Alberta) are generally English only or, for practical reasons, do not normally provide court services in the French language. The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Bilingual (English/French) sign for Preston Street (rue Preston) in Ottawas Little Italy Bilingualism in Canada refers to laws and policies of the federal government – and some other levels of government – mandating that certain services and communications be available to the public in both English and French. ... Motto: Spem reduxit (Hope restored) Official languages English, French Flower Purple Violet Tree Balsam Fir Bird Black-capped Chickadee Capital Fredericton Largest city Saint John Lieutenant-Governor Herménégilde Chiasson Premier Shawn Graham (Liberal) Parliamentary representation  - House seats  - Senate seats 10 10 Area Total  - Land  - Water  (% of total)  Ranked... Motto: Ut Incepit Fidelis Sic Permanet (Latin: Loyal she began, loyal she remains) Official languages English Flower White Trillium Tree Eastern White Pine Bird Common Loon Capital Toronto Largest city Toronto Lieutenant-Governor James K. Bartleman Premier Dalton McGuinty (Liberal) Parliamentary representation  - House seats  - Senate seats 106 24 Area Total... Motto: Fortis et liber (Latin: Strong and free) Official languages English (see below) Flower   Wild rose Tree Lodgepole Pine Bird Great Horned Owl Capital Edmonton Largest city Calgary Lieutenant-Governor Norman Kwong Premier Ralph Klein (PC) Parliamentary representation  - House seats  - Senate seats 28 6 Area Total  - Land  - Water  (% of total... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ...


However, either official languages may be used by any person or in any pleading or process in or issuing from any Court of Canada established under the Constitution Act, 1867 and in or from all or any of the Courts of Quebec. The Constitution Act, 1867 (formerly called the British North America Act, 1867, and still known informally as the BNA Act), constitutes a major part of Canadas constitution. ...


Furthermore, under section 14 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms a party or witness in any proceedings who does not understand or speak the language in which the proceedings are conducted or who is deaf has the right to the assistance of an interpreter. Section Fourteen of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the last section under the Legal rights heading in the Charter. ... The Charter, signed by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1981. ...


Court Customs

Courtroom custom is largely based upon the British tradition with a few modifications:

  • Trial judges typically take a passive role during trial; however, during their charge to the jury, judges may comment upon the value of certain testimony or suggest the appropriate amount of damages in a civil case.
  • Selecting a jury is a minor part of a trial and is usually accomplished in a morning. Unless lawyers have explicit evidence that a member of a jury is biased they have to accept the luck of the draw.
  • Jury trials are much more infrequent than in the US and usually reserved for serious criminal cases. Judges have the right to deny a request for a jury trial if they feel that the issues are too complex or require too much time to examine.
  • In superior courts, lawyers wear black robes and white neck tabs, like barristers in the United Kingdom, but they do not wear wigs. Business attire is appropriate when the lawyer is appearing in a simple bail hearing before a Provincial Court judge or Justice of the Peace or advocating at a small claims court.
  • Judges dress in barrister's robes like the lawyers, however some certain courts have adorned robes with coloured sashes. For example, Federal Court Judges' robes are adorned with a gold sash, and Tax Court of Canada Judges' robes with a purple sash.
  • Courts are royal courts and derive their authority from the monarch. The most important symbols in a courtroom are the picture of the monarch and the heraldic Arms of Canada, although many courtrooms do not have a picture of the monarch. However, many prominent courts display Canadian and provincial flags.
  • The judge does not have or use a gavel. He or she merely raises his or her voice (or stands up if necessary) to restore order in the courtroom.
  • There are no so-called "bench motions" where lawyers from both sides "approach the bench" and have a quiet and discreet conversation with the judge while court is in session.
  • In some jurisdictions, the client sits with the general public, behind counsel's table, rather than beside his or her lawyer at counsel's table. The accused in a criminal trial sits in the prisoners box often located on the side wall opposite the jury.
  • In most jurisdictions, when entering or leaving a courtroom when there is a judge seated inside, one should bow, while standing inside the court but near the doorway, in the direction of the seated judge.
  • Judges are traditionally called "My Lord" or "My Lady", or more formally, "Your Lordship" and "Your Ladyship". Although certain jurisdictions have changed it to calling judges "Your Honour" (or "Mister Justice" or "Madam Justice"). Judges of the Supreme Court of Canada and of the federal-level courts prefer the use of "Mister/Madam (Chief) Justice". Judges of the provincial and territorial ("inferior-level") courts are referred to as "Judge [judge's surname]" while judges of any higher court, including the federal-level courts, are referred to as "Justice [judge's surname]". Yet, use of antiquated courtroom addresses such as "Me Lud" and expressions such as "Your Lordship is most generous" are inappropriate in this day and age.
  • In large Canadian cities such as Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa, the superior-level courts employ judicial officers known as "Masters" who deal only with interlocutory motions (or interlocutory applications). A Master, addressed as simply "Master" during court sessions, ranks higher than a Justice of Peace but lower than a regular trial judge. With such Masters dealing with the relatively short interlocutory motion/application hearings, trial judges can devote more time on more lengthy hearings such as trials. Since a big city courthouse would employ only a handful of Masters and because lawyers appear regularly in court for interlocutory motions/applications, a busy litigation lawyer would likely appear before the same Master on many occasions. In the Federal Court, a Prothonotary holds a similar positions to that of a Master.
  • Justices of the Peace are addressed as "Your Worship", are found only in the lower provincial courts and do not necessarily possess a legal degree.
  • When citing a Canadian court case such as Roncarelli v. Duplessis (a famous Canadian constitutional decision), it is pronounced "Roncarelli AND Duplessis".
  • When giving a document or any piece of evidence to a judge for his/her personal perusal or examination, the lawyer must not give it directly to the judge but must instead pass it to the attending court clerk (called "Mister/Madam Clerk" or "Mister/Madam Registrar") who also wears a robe and sits in front of the judge and faces the lawyers.
  • In any criminal law case, the prosecuting party is "the Crown" while the criminally prosecuted person is called the "accused" (not the "defendant"). The prosecuting lawyer is called "Crown Counsel".
  • A lawyer advocating in court always uses "I" when referring to him or herself. The word "we" is not used, even if the lawyer is referring to him/herself and his/her client as a group.
  • The judge in court calls the lawyer "Counsel" (not "Counsellor"). In Quebec, the title "MaĆ®tre" is used. Often, judges simply address lawyers as Mr. or Ms. [surname].
  • It is customary for lawyers appearing on opposite sides in court to refer to one another before the judge as "my friend" or sometimes "my learned friend".
  • All Canadian lawyers are both "barristers" and "solicitors". Instead of using the word "lawyer" in a sentence, it is traditional to use the term "solicitor", even if one is speaking of a person who practices strictly as a barrister or litigator. "Solicitor" is the general yet polite word for a Canadian lawyer, just as the word "attorney" is used for meaning an American lawyer. (e.g. Mr. Jones received a demand letter from Mr. Smith's solicitor prior to Mr. Smith's commencement of the lawsuit.) This tradition is changing, and many lawyers now simply refer to themselves and others as "lawyers".
  • Canadian lawyers do not add or use the abbreviation "Esq." (Esquire) after their names. There is, however, the abbreviation "Q.C." (Queen's Counsel) for seasoned and distinguished lawyers who have been granted that privileged designation by the Crown. Despite what this title implies, any lawyer with the right to add "Q.C." to his or her name is not necessarily employed by the Crown or advocates for the Crown.

Cherie Booth QC wearing her ceremonial robes (including full-bottomed wig) as Queens Counsel at the Bar of England and Wales. ...

External links


Courts of Canada (edit)
Supreme Court: Supreme Court of Canada
Federal Courts: Tax Court of Canada |Federal Court |Federal Court of Appeal
Courts of Appeal of the Provinces and Territories: BC | AB | SASK | MAN | ONT | QC | NB | NS | PEI | NL | YK | NWT | NU
Superior Courts of the Provinces and Territories: BC | AB | SASK | MAN | ONT | QC | NB | NS | PEI | NL | YK | NWT | NU
Provincial Courts of the Provinces and Territories: BC | AB | SASK | MAN | ONT | QC | NB | NS | PEI | NL | YK | NWT | NU
Military Court: Court Martial Appeal Court
Canadian Courts History in the Provinces and Territories: SASK

  Results from FactBites:
 
Court system of Canada - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (3267 words)
These courts are Canada's equivalent of the Court of Appeal in England and the various United States Courts of Appeals.
The superior courts are the courts of first instance for divorce petitions, civil lawsuits involving claims greater than small claims, and criminal prosecutions for "indictable offences" (i.e.
Judges of the Supreme Court of Canada, the federal courts, the appellate courts and the superior-level courts are appointed by the federal government.
Federal Court of Canada - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (740 words)
The court did not use juries so all matters were decided by judge alone: a single judge in the Trial Division and a panel of three judges at the appeal level.
The docket of the court primarily consisted of judicial reviews of immigration, intellectual property, and federal employment disputes.
The Court was split into two separate Courts, with the Trial Division continued as the Federal Court and the Appeal Division continued as the Federal Court of Appeal.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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