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Classifying Law

Sources of Canadian Law

What do you think?


1. Which of these situations involve law? 2. Explain how the law is involved in the situations you have chosen.

Sources of Law in Canada


In Canada laws originate from three sources:
1. The Canadian Constitution
(Constitutional Law)

2. Elected Government Officials


(Statute Law)

3. Previous Legal Decisions


(Common Law)

Sources of Law in Canada


Each source of law
has a different level of authority Constitutional Law overrides Statute Law Statute Law overrides Common Law

Common Law
Called Common Law
because it is common to all and has a general universal application Also called Case Law because its sources include decision made by judges in previous cases

Common Law

Common Law
Constantly evolving
as judges decide new cases based on previous decisions This legal principle is known as stare decisis Lawyers also look to favourable precedents to argue the outcome of cases

Common Law

Common Law
Rule of precedent
does not always apply A case may be identified that is sufficiently different from previous cases warranting a different decision This is called Distinguishing a Case

Common Law

Statute Law
These are laws
passed by elected representatives in the form of acts Acts are passed into law in Parliament or provincial legislatures Many laws today are statutes common law decisions that have been codified

Statute Law

Statute Law
Statutes generally
override common law Common law only prevails when no statute law exists When a judge interprets and applies a statute law the decision sets precedence

Statute Law

Division of Powers
Each level of government has the power to enact legislation in its own area of political jurisdiction

Jurisdiction is the political or legal authority to pass and enforce laws, or the judicial authority to decide a case

Division of Powers
Federal Government
Enacts laws within its own jurisdiction Includes criminal law, military, and
banking and currency Everyone in Canada is subject to these laws The federal government passes legislation in other areas as well

Division of Powers
Provincial Governments
Enacts laws within its own provincial
jurisdiction Includes laws affecting health care, education, and roads and highways Everyone in the province is subject to these laws

Division of Powers
Local Governments
Create laws known as bylaws These are regulations that deal with
local issues such as snow removal and downtown parking rates

Division of Powers
Aboriginal Governing Structures
As outlined in the Indian Act, each
band has the authority to make bylaws that apply to its reserve land An Aboriginal government can also be established that can make law regarding marriage, education, and adoption for example

Constitutional Law
A body of law that
Constitutional Law

determines the structure of the federal government Divides law making powers between the federal government and the provinces

Constitutional Law
Limits the powers
Constitutional Law

of government by setting out certain basic laws, principles, and standards that all other law must adhere to

Constitutional Law
Overrides all other
Constitutional Law

laws Any law passes not in accordance with the Constitution will be struck down by the courts as unconstitutional