The Canadian Legal System

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The Canadian Legal System

  1. 1. Chapter 2: Introduction to the Legal System
  2. 2. What Is Law? <ul><li>Difficult to come up with a definition for law </li></ul><ul><li>Definition is affected by: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>History </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Theory </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Legal System in Place </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Social Realities </li></ul></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Philosophical Basis of Law <ul><li>Natural Law Theory </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What God Says It Is </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Based on Morals </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Legal Positivism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What the Ruler Says It Is </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No Moral Basis </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Legal Realism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What the Court Says It Is </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social Moral Values </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Definition of Law <ul><li>Law is the body of rules that can be enforced by the courts or other government agencies </li></ul>
  5. 5. Categories of Laws <ul><li>Substantive Law </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The rules that govern behaviour and set limits on conduct </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Procedural Law </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How rights and obligations are enforced </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Categories of Laws/2 <ul><li>Public Law </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Regulates our relationship with government </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Private Law </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Regulates personal, social and business relationships </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Civil Law Legal System <ul><li>Roman Law - Justinian </li></ul><ul><li>Codified </li></ul><ul><li>Modified by Napoleon </li></ul><ul><li>Used in Europe and most developing countries </li></ul><ul><li>Quebec’s legal system is based on the French Civil Code </li></ul>
  8. 8. Common Law Legal System <ul><li>Great Britain and Commonwealth </li></ul><ul><li>Judge-made Law </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Developed in the Courts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Based on precedent or stare decisis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>judges are bound by previous decisions of higher courts </li></ul></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Sources of Law <ul><li>Common Law </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the precedent-making decisions of the courts of Great Britain </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Law of Equity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>decisions made by Court of Chancery </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Statutes </li></ul>
  10. 10. Statute Law <ul><li>Statute Law Legislation overrides common law or judge-made law </li></ul><ul><li>Often summarizes or modifies common law. For example: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Criminal Code </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Trespass Act </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Includes government regulations </li></ul>
  11. 11. The Law in Canada <ul><li>Constitution Act, 1867 – Division of Powers </li></ul><ul><li>Statute of Westminster (1931) </li></ul><ul><li>Constitution Act (1982) </li></ul><ul><li>The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms </li></ul>
  12. 12. Conventions <ul><li>Canada inherited certain conventions or traditions from Britain </li></ul><ul><li>For example: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Democratic parliamentary system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rule of Law </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Principles established in the Magna Carta and the English Bill of Rights </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Constitution Act (1867) <ul><li>Formerly known as British North America Act </li></ul><ul><li>Sections 91 and 92 divide powers between federal and provincial governments </li></ul><ul><li>Structure of the judicial system </li></ul>
  14. 14. Question for Discussion <ul><li>Canada’s constitutional structure is essentially different from Britain’s because it consists of the federal government and ten provincial governments each with power to act in their own jurisdiction. What impact does this have on businesses operating within and between provinces? </li></ul>
  15. 15. Constitution Act (1982) <ul><li>Lists government enactments having constitutional status </li></ul><ul><li>Ends ties with British Government </li></ul><ul><li>Establishes amending formula for constitutional change </li></ul><ul><li>Charter of Rights and Freedoms </li></ul>
  16. 16. Human Rights Legislation <ul><li>Traditionally common law and custom protected human rights and individual freedoms </li></ul><ul><li>Legislation now protects individuals against human rights violations in social and private relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Canadian Bill of Rights attempted to protect individuals from abuses by government </li></ul>
  17. 17. Charter of Rights and Freedoms <ul><li>Entrenches individual rights </li></ul><ul><li>Protects individuals from infringement on their rights by governments or their agents </li></ul>
  18. 18. Charter of Rights and Freedoms/2 <ul><li>Limitations on Charter rights </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Section 1 - interference with right must be justifiable in a free and democratic society </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Section 33 - legislatures can pass acts that infringe on rights “notwithstanding” the Charter but legislation must be reviewed every 5 years </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Personal Freedoms <ul><li>Democratic Rights </li></ul><ul><li>Mobility Rights </li></ul><ul><li>Legal Rights </li></ul><ul><li>Equality Rights </li></ul><ul><li>Language Rights </li></ul>
  20. 20. Human Rights Legislation <ul><li>Canadian Human Rights Act – federal legislation </li></ul><ul><li>Provincial human rights acts – protect private relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Must comply with Charter </li></ul><ul><li>Tribunals hear complaints </li></ul>
  21. 21. Question for Discussion <ul><li>Consider the principle of supremacy of Parliament and the limitations placed on Parliament by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. </li></ul><ul><li>Is it appropriate for the Courts to have the power to declare some legislation invalid? </li></ul>

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