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LWSO203 - Canadian Court Structure.docx

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University of Calgary
Law and Society
LWSO 203
Marywyatt Sindlinger

Canadian Court Structure 1) Role of the Courts Key function: decide the legal cases that come before the court by the claimants according to legal principles  Many come to court that aren’t legal (emotional, economical). The court only deals with legal aspects. Passive: only decide cases brought to them (wait until there’s a problem brought to them) Legal resolution to a legal dispute  Most legal disputes never make it to the court house. Most negotiated through lawyers. Express community values through decisions  Some would argue they are a reflection of a particular ideology instead of a community value Courts hear three types of cases: Trials, Appeals and Preliminary Matters 2) Trials 1 judge Parties call witnesses and present evidence (opening statement, calling all forms of evidence, cross – examination, judge’s decision) Civil cases: plaintiff, defendant, liable or not liable Criminal cases: Crown/Prosecutor, Accused/Defendant, guilty or not guilty (unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt) 3) Appeals Panel of 3 judges at Court of Appeal or 7-9 judges at SCC No evidence is called or witnesses in court Parties are trying to establish that the trial judge made a reversible error of law Possible result: uphold trial decision, vary trial decision, overturn trial decision, send back for a new trial 4) Preliminary matters - Issues that need to be determined prior to trial Alternative Dispute Resolution  Clients are notorious for hearing only what they wanna hear 5) Inferior vs. Superior Courts Inferior courts: powers derived from statute (piece of legislature sets out their powers) Superior courts: inherent powers derived from King’s authority as fountain of all justice. Exception is if a certain area of law has been delegated from a different statute to a different court (Ex. First Nation suing the government) 6) Federally Created vs. Provincially Created\ Federally created courts: SCC, Tax Court, Federal Court of Canada s. 101 of Constitution Act 1867 – divided legislative powers between Federal and Provincial domain.  Inferior/superior and provincial superior appeal court – provinces made these  Sec. 101 - Parliament created a general court of appeal for Canada – Supreme Court of Canada Provincially created: Provincial Inferior court, Provincial Superior Courts s. 91(24) of Constitution Act 1867 7) Provincial Inferior Courts Name: Provincial Court of Alberta Inferior Court – statutory powers Provincially created and appointed, all provinces have different names; judges appointed by province of Alberta Trial Court – one judge hearing evidence and coming to a conclusion Various Divisions: Youth, Family, Criminal, Small Claims (less than 25,000 dollars) 8) Provincial Superior Court – Trial Name: Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta Superior Court – inherent powers Provincially created, judges federally appointed Mainly a trial court But also hears appeals from Prov Inferior Trial Court 9) Pro
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