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Law & Medicine



Court System


The Canadian court system is pyramidal with:

  • Many provincial and territorial courts at the bottom of the pyramid (judges appointed by the provincial or territorial governments)
  • At the next level are the provinces' and territories' superior courts (judges appointed by the federal government).
  • Judgments from the superior courts may be appealed at the next level with the provincial or territorial courts of appeal.
  • Supreme court of Canada is at the top of the pyramid and it's decisions bind all the other courts

There are many courts which have different levels of legal superiority and are separated by jurisdiction.

Some courts are federal and provincial or territorial.

Cases that have been used to formulate the law will generally start in the Trial court level, then be reviewed in the Appellate courts and finally be heard at the Supreme Court of Canada.

The judge (or jury) are the finders of fact.  A judge usually hears medical malpractice cases in Canada.

Supreme Court of Canada

  • Created by an Act of the Parliament of Canada in 1875
  • In 1949 this court became the final and highest court in the country.
  • The court currently consists of nine justices, which include the Chief Justice of Canada
  • Court's duties include:
    • Hearing appeals of decisions from the appellate courts
    • Delivering references (i.e., the court's opinion) on constitutional questions raised by the federal government

By law, three of the nine justices are appointed from Quebec because of Quebec's use of civil law.

See wikipedia Supreme Court of Canada


Appellate courts of the provinces and territories

  • These are courts of appeal
    • Exist at the provincial and territorial levels
    • Were separately constituted in the early decades of the 20th century
    • Replaced the former Full Courts of the old Supreme Courts of the provinces
    • Many of which were then re-named Courts of Queens Bench.
  • Their function is to:
    • Review decisions rendered by the superior-level courts
    • Do references (i.e., deliver a judicial opinion) when requested by a provincial or territorial government

These appellate courts do not normally conduct trials and hear witnesses.


Provincial and Territorial Trial courts

  • Each province and territory in Canada has an "inferior" or "lower" trial court
  • Usually called a "provincial court" to hear certain types of cases
  • This is where the case first start



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