Law of Canada

Canada is a constitutional monarchy modeled on the British system which is governed by courts formed under the common law system. The Canadian Constitution divides powers between federal and provincial competences, since 1982 the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms functions as an entrenched bill of rights.

Table of contents
1 Public law
2 Private civil law
3 Youth Justice
4 Courts in Canada

Public law

The enactment of Criminal law is under the jurisdiction of the federal government and thus Canada has one Criminal Code that is applicable throughout Canada. However the administration of justice and penal matters are under the jurisdiction of the provinces, so each province administers most of the criminal and penal law through a provincial and municipal police forces. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police functions as a federal police force somewhat similar to the US FBI. Eight of the ten provinces have contracted the RCMP to act as their provincial police force. As well the federal parliament has various other public law powers including the regulation of commerce, the military, international relations, etc.

Private civil law

Under the Canadian constitution the powers dealing with private law matters rests with the provinces. All the provinces follow common law jurisprudence except for Quebec where the law is French in origin and its civil law system in incorporated into the Civil Code of Quebec though the court system is run on civil procedures more similar to that of English courts. While the courts are common law they tend to follow decisions of other common law jurisdictions outside North America, i.e. other commonwealth countries, rather than the United States, their closest common law neighbour.

Youth Justice

Canadian youths receive special treatment under Canadian law and are prosecuted according to the terms of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Courts in Canada

The ultimate court is the Supreme Court of Canada which since 1949 has been the court of last resort for all issues of law. Prior to that date, cases could be appealed to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Great Britain. Article 92 courts exist throughout Canada and are often called Superior Courts. While the judges in these courts are appointed through a federal process the courts are administered by the provinces. As well there are appelate courts in each province and territory and a federal court system, which unlike the United States federal court system, only deals with issues that clearly fall under the sole jurisdiction of the federal government.



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