Skip to Main Content

Law Basic Primers

Legal Research and Writing

Canadian Legal System

The Canadian legal system is based largely on the English common law system, with the civil law system operating in the province of Quebec. The legislative procedures at both the federal and provincial levels closely follow the model of the British parliament. The court system is also derived from the court system of Great Britain, but with important features also set out in the Canadian Constitution.

Articles on the basics of Canadian law and government (Canadian Encyclopedia):

Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction as it Applies to Legislation

Sections 91 and 92 of the Canadian Constitution set out the areas of Canadian law that are under federal jurisdiction, and those that are under provincial or territorial jurisdiction. Legislation passed by the federal parliament will apply to all of Canada, while legislation passed by a provincial or territorial legislature will apply only to the province or territory that passed the legislation. When you search for legislation on particular topics in a comprehensive legal database like CanLII relevant legislation from all jurisdictions will be retrieved, unless you limit the search to a particular jurisdiction. This will help you determine what may be applicable to you - e.g. federal legislation that applies to all of Canada, provincial legislation that applies only to the province/territory that passed it, or a combination of both. Many areas of law have relevant legislation at both federal and provincial levels.

Jurisdiction as it applies to Case Law

Jurisdiction also applies to case law, but in a less clear cut way than it does to legislation. For example, although case law from a particular province is generally considered to be more applicable to issues taking place in that province than cases from other provinces, there are other factors a judge may take into consideration when deciding whether an earlier case can be used as a precedent in the current case. It is strongly recommended that whenever you are researching case law for a personal matter, you obtain the assistance of a qualified legal professional. 

Canadian Government