JAN 9, http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/deptmin/pub/ccsajc/
Canada’s Court System
• The Canadian system of government depends on a dynamic relationship among its three branches – the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary or courts
o Legislature has the power of making, altering and repealing laws
o The Executive is responsible for administering and enforcing the laws.
o The Judiciary has the task of settling disputes according to law – including disputes about how the legislative and executive powers are handled
o Independent courts are the hallmark of a strong democratic society
• we have laws to deal with crimes such as robbery or murder and other threats and challenges to society
• laws regulate common activities such as driving a car, renting an apartment, getting a job or getting married
• Laws are more than just commands. A law balances individual rights with the obligations that people share as members of society. For example, when a law gives a person a legal
right to drive, it may also restrict that right with traffic laws, and make it a duty for her or him to know how to drive.
• The basic role of courts in Canada is to help people resolve disputes fairly and with justice, whether the matter is between individuals or between individuals and the state
• courts interpret and establish law, set standards, and raise questions that affect all aspects of Canadian society
• most disputes do not in fact end up in the courts at all. People tend to settle their differences informally – through alternative dispute resolution. Like Harvey and Mike always trying
to get settlements
• Both the federal government and the provincial and territorial governments pass laws, and they also share the administration of justice
• the provinces and territories are responsible for providing everything necessary for their courts, from building and maintaining the courthouses, to providing staff and resources such
as interpreters, court reporters to prepare transcripts, sheriffs, and registry services, to paying provincial/territorial court judges; yet the judges for the superior courts are appointed
and paid by the federal government.
Canada’s Court System
• there are four levels of court in Canada
o Provincial/territorial courts: handles the great majority of cases that come into the system.
o Provincial/territorial superior courts: deal with more serious crumes and take appeals from provincial/territorial court judgements.
o On the same level, but responsible for different issues is the federal court
o At the next level are the provincial/territorial courts of appeal and the federal court of appeal.
o Highest level is the supreme court of Canada. •
• Each province and territory, with the exception of Nunavut, has a provincial/territorial court, and these courts hear cases involving either federal or provincial/territorial laws
• Provincial/territorial courts deal with most criminal offences, family law matters (except divorce), young persons in conflict with the law (from 12 to 17 years old), traffic violations,
provincial/territorial regulatory offences, and claims involving money, up to a certain amount (set by the jurisdiction in question)
• Private disputes involving limited sums of money may also be dealt with at this level in Small Claims courts.
• all preliminary inquiries – hearings to determine whether there is enough evidence to justify a full trial in serious criminal cases – take place before the provincial/territorial courts.
• Drug Treatment Court (DTC) program: to address the needs of nonviolent offenders who are charged with criminal offences that were motivated by their addiction. Those who
qualify are offered an intensive combination of judicial supervision and treatment for their dependence, drawing on a range of community support services.
• Youth courts handle cases where a young person, from 12 to 17 years old, is charged with an offence under federal youth justice laws.
o Procedures in youth court provide protections appropriate to the age of the accused, including privacy protections.
o Courts at either the provincial/territorial or superior court level can be designated youth courts.
• Some provinces and territories (such as Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and the Yukon) have established Domestic Violence Courts in order to improve the response of the justice
system to incidents of spousal abuse by decreasing court processing time; increasing conviction rates; providing a focal point for programs and services for victims and offenders;
and, in some cases, allowing for the specialization of police, Crown prosecutors and the judiciary in domestic violence matters.
Provincial/Territorial Superior Courts
• Each province and territory has superior courts, names will differ.
• the Nunavut Court of Justice deals with both territorial and superior court matters
• The superior courts have "inherent jurisdiction," which means that they can hear cases in any area except those that are specifically limited to another level of court.
• The superior courts try the most serious criminal and civil cases, including divorce cases and cases that involve large amounts of money (the minimum is set by the province or
territory in question).
• In most provinces and territories, the superior court has special divisions, such as the family division. Some have established specialized family courts at the superior court level to
deal exclusively with certain family law matters, including divorce and property claims
Courts of Appeal
• Each province and territory has a court of appeal or appellate division that hears appeals from decisions of the superior courts and provincial/territorial courts.
The Federal Courts • The Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal are essentially superior courts with civil jurisdiction.
• can only deal with matters specified in federal statutes (laws).
• The Federal Court is the triallevel court; appeals from it are heard by the Federal Court of Appeal.
• The Courts’ jurisdiction includes interprovincial and federalprovincial disputes, intellectual property proceedings (e.g. copyright), citizenship appeals, Competition Act cases, and
cases involving Crown corporations or departments of the Government of Canada.
Specialized Federal Courts
• Tax court of Canada: gives individuals and companies an opportunity to settle disagreements with the federal gov’t on matters about federal taxes and revenues.
o This court is independent of the Canada revenue agency and all other gov’t departments. Headquarters are in Ottawa.
• Military Courts: this was established under the National Defence Act to hear cases involving the Code of Service Discipline. This code applies to all members of the Canadian
Forces as well as civilians who accompany the Forces on active service.
o it lays out a system of disciplinary offences designed to further the good order and proper functioning oof the Canadian Forces.
• Court Martial Appeal Court: appeals from military courts. Its function is comparable to that of a provicinial/territorial appeal court, and it has the same power as a superior
• Trial by Jury: under the Charter of Rights, people accused of a serious crime can choose to be tried by a jury or by a judge alone. A jury is a group of people, chosen