Canada’s legal system is based on the British common law system except Quebec which follows the French civil law system for private issues. Though Canada’s courts are considered to be independent of the government, the legal system is subject to Canada’s Constitution. The court searches for existing laws under common law first and later it looks for preference. Since 1996, for the Aboriginal people there is a separate court system called as Aboriginal Justice Strategy (AJS).
Canada’s Constitution is divided between federal and provincial governments. Judges of superior or upper-level courts are appointed and paid by the federal government of Canada. The Parliament of Canada consists of federally constituted general court of appeal as the Supreme Court of Canada and other federal government authorized courts like Federal Court of Appeal, the Federal Court and the Tax Court. Along with federal authority, Parliament also has been authorized exclusively on the procedure in the criminal court.
Supreme Court of Canada – This court was established as the general court of appeal for Canada and the governor-in-council appoints 9 judges to this court. Out of these 9 judges, 3 are from Bar or Bench of Québec as recognition of civil law system. The appeals from the decisions of the appeals court in all provinces and territories, and also from the Federal Court of Appeal are heard by the Supreme Court and are considered to be final. Another duty of the Supreme Court is to decide important questions related to the Constitution and controversial or complicated areas of public and private law. Also, this court has the authority to solve the important legal matters, if asked by the government.
Federal Courts of Canada – These courts comprise of federal government authorized Federal Court of Appeal, Federal Court and Tax Court. Federal Court works on the areas of maritime law, intellectual property and federal-provincial disputes while the Tax Court works on the tax cases. Federal Court of Appeal revises the judgments of both these courts and also through the judgments of administrative tribunals such as the Immigration Appeal Board and the National Parole Board appointed by federal government.
Superior Courts – These courts are the highest courts in the province and have the authority to revise decisions taken by provincial or lower courts. Judges to these courts are appointed by the federal government and their salaries are decided by the Parliament. Superior Courts are divided into two divisions – trial and appeal. Appeal division is called as Court of Appeal in the provinces and hears the appeals from the trial divisions and lower courts. While the trial division is called as the Court of Queen’s Bench in Manitoba, Alberta, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, and hears all trials of offences which are indictable except those offences over which there is absolute jurisdiction by the provincial court judge or the offenses blamed have elected for a provincial court judge’s trial.
Provincial Courts – These courts work mostly on criminal offences and on civil cases related to money in some provinces. Specialized courts, such as family courts, youth courts and small claims court are included in the Provincial Courts. Judges to these courts are appointed by the provincial governments. A court for minor offences is also present in most provinces which works on infractions of the municipal and provincial laws, referred to as the Court of Justices of the Peace in Quebec and the Provincial Offences Court in Ontario.
Additionally, there are Administrative Boards and Tribunals which deal with cases outside formal trial like the Labor Relations Board and the Canada Employment Insurance Commission. The Legal System of Canada is well-organized and helps to solve issues with deep legal study.