Guide to Canadian Legal Links
Here are some links related to the Canadian law and how the legislation and application in court is a shared responsibility between the federal and provincial government. To better understand the roles and duties of Canada’s court system, it is important to acknowledge the relationship between government and law, and how they influence each other. Three levels divide the structure of Canada’s court system: provincial, territorial, and federal. These levels vary in authority and jurisdiction. Supreme court judges are appointed by the Governor General rather than elected, while provincial court judges are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor. The following is a list of useful links to various Canadian government agencies, law schools and societies, referral services, lawyer services and contacts, and links to organizations that provide pro bono legal services.
Canada is a constitutional monarchy as well as a parliamentary democracy, with executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, although the Governor carries out the royal duties of the country.
- The Government of Canada consists of a federation of Canadian provinces and territories, organized as a parliamentary democracy.
- The Parliament of Canada is made up of the Senate and the House of Commons. The 105 upper house members are appointed by the governor, while 308 lower house members are voted by Canadian citizens.
- The Department of Justice works to ensure Canada as a just and law-abiding society with a proper and fair system of justice. Canada’s Dept. of Justice website provides resources regarding the Minister and Attorney General, as well as programs, initiatives, mandates, publications, and news. Information on specific Canadian laws and statutes can also be searched by title through the website.
Provincial and Territorial Court
Providing limited jurisdiction in each of Canada’s provinces and territories, the Provincial and Territorial Courts are employed for criminal, civil, and small claims cases. Common cases heard in these courts include traffic violations, divorce settlements, and family/custody issues. Statutes typically govern decisions at this judicial level.
- The Alberta Provincial Court serves the province of Alberta, providing civil, criminal, family, traffic, and youth courts.
- The British Colombia Provincial Court serves the province of British Colombia as a first point of entry into the justice system.
- The Manitoba Provincial Court serves the province of Manitoba, primarily as a criminal court.
- The New Brunswick Provincial Court serves the Province of New Brunswick as the entry point for both adults and juveniles charged with offenses under the Criminal Code.
- The Northwest Territories Territorial Court serves the Northwest Territories in much the same way a provincial court serves its province.
- The Nova Scotia Provincial Court serves the province of Nova Scotia.
- The Ontario Provincial Court is made up of the Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice.
- The Prince Edward Island Provincial Court is made up of three judges who serve the province.
- The Quebec Provincial Court has jurisdiction over civil matters, criminal and penal matters, and other youth matters.
- The Yukon Territorial Court deals with adult criminal prosecutions and young offender matters within the territory.
In 2003, the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal was split into two separate entities. Cases that violate or involve federal law are tried in Federal Court. The court is created of a Chief Justice and 32 other judges. Common cases heard in Federal Court pertain to issues of immigration, intellectual property disputes, and maritime law.
- The Federal Court of Canada is a trial court that hears legal disputes arising in the federal domain.
- The Federal Court of Appeal has appellate jurisdiction over the Federal Courts rulings.
- The Supreme Court of Canada is the final court of appeal and judicial body holding the highest authority in Canada.
- The Tax Court of Canada hears cases in tax related matters.
Law School and Law Society Links
Canada consists of a common law jurisdiction, which is developed by judges and court decisions. To practice law in Canada, a Bachelor of Laws must be acquired in an accredited 3-year program.
- The Jurist Listing of Canadian Law Schools is a comprehensive list of Canadian law schools.
- The Federation of Law Societies of Canada is the coordinating body for Canada’s 14 law societies.
The Canadian Law List offers a listing of nearly 60,000 practicing lawyers and 20,000 law offices in Canada. Listings for lawyers by specific region/territory is provided below.
- The Law Society of Alberta provides referrals for legal services in the province.
- The British Columbia Branch of the Canadian Bar Association helps clients find lawyers within the region.
- The Public Legal Information Society of Newfoundland offers referrals to individuals seeking a lawyer in Newfoundland.
- The Law Society of the Northwest Territories offers referrals organized by areas of practice that best suit your needs.
- The Law Society of Upper Canada offers referral services to individuals in the province of Ontario.
- The Community Legal Information Association of Prince Edward Island offers a toll free lawyer referral service by phone.
- The Barreau du Quebec offers referral services by field of law and region.
- The Law Society of Yukon provides referrals to lawyers in the territory.
Pro Bono Legal Services
Pro bono legal services are provided as a public/voluntary service by licensed law professions for those who cannot afford legal help.
- Access Probono seeks to promote access to justice in British Columbia by providing services for clients of limited means.
- Pro Bono Law Ontario is a charitable organization that provides pro bono legal services to individuals in the province of Ontario.
- Pro Bono Students Canada is an organization that puts law students at the service of the public, offering pro bono services (under the supervision of licensed professionals) and gaining valuable experience.
- Calgary Legal Guidance provides legal information, advice and representation to disadvantaged Calgarians.
- The Edmonton Community Legal Centre provides free legal services to low-income individuals.