The basic role of the Canadian court system is to deliver justice between two individuals or two individuals and the state. There are four levels of court in Canada. Provincial courts are the lowest in terms of power. They handle most of the day to day cases. The next court in terms of power is the provincial and territorial superior courts. These courts take care of the more serious crimes that are admitted into the system, and can also take appeals from provincial court judgments. Another that has the same amount of power as the provincial and territorial superior courts is the Federal Court.
Next are the provincial courts of appeal and the Federal Court of Appeal. The court with the most power in Canada is the Supreme Court. All members of the judiciary in Canada, regardless of the court, are taken from the legal profession. Each province and territory has a provincial court. All cases involving either federal or provincial laws take place here. These courts don’t particularly have similar names, but they follow the same rules. Provincial courts deal with the most cases, most of which include: provincial regulatory offences most criminal offences, traffic violations, family law, young offenders.
Private disputes involving money can also be dealt with at this level in Small Claims courts. As well, all preliminary inquiries take place before the provincial courts. Some provinces and territories have domestic violence court programs. These programs provide services to victims. There are specific courts set up for certain offences. The object is to address the needs of non-violent offenders who are charged with criminal offences. Youth courts handle cases that have someone with the age of 12-17 is charged with an offence.
Depending on the age of the youth, different precautions are taken, for example privacy protection. Courts at either the provincial or superior court level can be designated youth courts. These courts are often referred to as inferior, but are only called that to show the difference in power between the other courts, and it’s ranking with them. The superior courts of each province and territory both have a court of general trial jurisdiction and a provincial court of appeal. Something different about these courts is that they have more power than just their own province.
They have power over areas where the federal government is granted legislative. So, if federal legislation calls at some point of judicial authority, it is assumed that that authority will reside with these courts. Each province and territory has a court of appeal division that hears appeals from decisions of the superior courts and provincial courts. The number of judges varies per court, but a court of appeal usually has three. The courts of appeal also hear constitutional questions involving governments or governmental agencies.
Superior courts are the courts of first instance for divorce petitions, civil lawsuits and criminal prosecutions for indictable offences. Although the federal courts can be said to have the same prestige as the superior, the federal ones lack the inherent jurisdiction. Some of these superior courts have specialized branches that deal with certain matters. The Federal Court of Canada came into existence in 1971. The court that was setup before it was the Exchequer Court that had jurisdiction only over a few subject matters regulated by federal legislation.
The Federal Court of Canada had received these same jurisdictions, and was given the power of judicial review with respect to decisions of federal administrative tribunals and jurisdiction over claims. The federal court system run in Canada is similar, but not in every way, to that in the United States. The Federal government has created court for specific purposes. Most notable one is the Tax Court of Canada and any military related justice. The Court existed from 1971 to 2003. At this time, it was split into two separate Courts, the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal.
The Trial division was a first level trial court, the Appeal Division was the appellate court. The Trial Divisions has jurisdiction over intellectual property, immigration, and admiralty matters. While the Appeal Division had jurisdiction to hear the trial divisions appeals, which can then be then sent to the Supreme Court. There is one judge and no jury at the Trial division court, and a panel of 3 judges at the appeal level. These judges are appointed by the federal government. The Federal level of court is different from the general courts setup up in each province in the sense that they only accept certain cases.
These are the judicial reviews of immigration, intellectual property, and federal employment disputes. Judicial Review of decisions of federal agencies and tribunals can be made to the Federal Court or the Federal Court of Appeal as well. The court can also deal with problems that are outside its jurisdiction if the primary reason is within its jurisdiction. Unlike the provincial courts, the federal courts occur at a national level, it’s basically the same in all of Canada in terms of enforcing laws.
The Supreme Court has jurisdiction over disputes in all areas of the law, including constitutional law, administrative law, criminal law and civil law. The Court has a Chief Justice and eight other judges which are all appointed by the federal government. The Supreme Court of Canada hears appeals from the provincial or territorial and Federal courts of appeal. Permission to appeal must first be obtained from a panel of three judges of the court who may then grant or deny the request without providing reasons for the decision.
The case is only granted if it involves a question of public importance or if it involves some important issue significant enough to be considered. In s situation where a court of appeal has found someone guilty who had been acquitted at their original trial, that person has the ability to automatically appeal to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is also used as an Adviser towards the lower level courts. They can answer questions, and give their interpretation on certain laws or cases. It can also be asked by the Governor to hear references considering important questions of law.
The Governor General appoints all members of the court based on the cabinet’s recommendations. The positions are limited, members of the bar or superior judiciary of Quebec must hold three of the nine positions, three from Ontario, two from the Western Provinces and one from the Atlantic Provinces The court is in Canada’s Capital city, Ottawa. Arguments can take place from other parts of Canada through video/voice transmission. The Supreme Court has the ability judicially review over Canadian federal and provincial laws’ constitutional validity
Judges of the Canadian court system are only appointed and not elected. The higher level courts, such as the Federal and Supreme Court have their judges appointed by the federal government. The local provincial government takes care of appointing judges to the lower level and “inferior” courts. This is different than the system setup up in the United States, where judges are actually elected. The argument is that those who favor the appointment method state that allowing people to elect the judges would threaten the independence in the decision making ability of the judiciary.
For the system to be a functioning democracy, the system is to be kept the way it is. The Canadian Judicial Council is made up of the chief justices of the various courts. They receive complaints from the public concerning any questions they have regarding the behavior of certain judges. In Canada, there is a mandatory age of retirement for judges. For the Federal court, the age which was fixed into the Constitution act of 1867 is 75 years old. For the lower courts, it can be 75 as well, or 70.
The basic role of the Canadian court system is to deliver justice between two individuals or two individuals and the state. This is achieved through four levels of court. These are the provincial courts, the provincial and territorial superior courts as well as the Federal Court, the provincial courts of appeal and the Federal Court of Appeal and the most powerful, the Supreme Court. All judges are appointed by the Federal government and the provincial government. All of this is done for the needs of the public.