A Canadian law firm is a Canadian business entity formed by one or more lawyers to engage in the practice of law. The primary service provided by a law firm in Canada is to advise clients (individuals or corporations) about their legal rights and responsibilities, and to represent their clients in civil or criminal cases, business transactions and other matters in which legal assistance is sought.
The Canadian legal system has its foundation in the British common law system, inherited from being a part of the Commonwealth. Quebec, however, still retains a civil system for issues of private law. Both legal systems are subject to the Constitution of Canada. Law Firms In The News
The Constitution of Canada is the supreme law in Canada. It is an amalgam of codified acts and uncodified traditions and conventions. The core parts are found in the Constitution Act, 1867 (formerly the British North America Act), which outlines the system of government and the powers of the federal and provincial governments, among other matters. The Constitution also includes the Constitution Act, 1982, which contains the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, an entrenched bill of rights.
Smaller Canadian lawfirms tend to focus on particular specialties of the law (e.g. patent law, labor law, tax law, criminal defense, personal injury); larger firms may be composed of several specialized practice groups, allowing the firm to diversify their client base and market, and to offer a variety of services to their clients.
The enactment of criminal law is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government. The Canadian Criminal Code is applicable uniformly throughout the entire country. Provinces cannot enact criminal legislation and any attempt to do so will be deemed ultra vires (outside its jurisdiction) pursuant to sections 91 and 92 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
The provinces, however, are responsible for the administration of courts, including criminal courts, within their respective provinces, despite their inability to enact criminal laws. So, even though there are provincial criminal courts, this is not to be confused with provincial criminal laws, which do not, in fact, exist.
Provinces do have the power to promulgate quasi-criminal or regulatory offences in a variety of administrative and other areas, and every province has done so with myriad rules and regulations across a broad spectrum.
Prior to the enactment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, it was fairly common for a provincial law to be challenged on the grounds that it was a criminal statute, and thus ultra vires or beyond the province’s legislative authority. For example, several provincial acts attempting to restrict pornography, prostitution, and abortion procedures were struck down as being enactments of criminal law.
The area of civil law in Canada encompasses numerous areas of law that involve disputes between parties, which includes individuals, corporations, and government. Parties will seek remedies from the court in contractual matters, tort disputes, and property law cases, among others.
Administrative law is a growing area of Canadian law. This is the body of law dealing with federal and provincial administrative tribunals, including labour boards, human rights tribunals, and workers’ compensation appeal tribunals. Decisions of these tribunals can be reviewed by superior courts (or, in the case of federal tribunals, the Federal Court Trial Division or the Federal Court of Appeal), but the courts tend to give at least some deference to the tribunals. The degree of deference will depend on factors such as the specialized nature and expertise of the tribunal.
Procedural law in Canada encompasses several aspects of the justice system. The laws of evidence regulate the admissibility of evidence in courts and tribunals. The level of government which sets these rules depends on who has jurisdiction over the particular area of law. The functioning of the Courts is regulated by the laws of civil procedure which are codified in each province’s civil procedures rules.