Federal Court of Canada


Federal Court of Canada

The Federal Court of Canada is a defunct national court of Canada set up to resolve some types of disputes arising under the central government's legislative jurisdiction. It consisted of two divisions, a Trial Division and an Appeal Division (more commonly known as the Federal Court of Appeal). The Court existed from 1971 to 2003 when it was split into two separate Courts, the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal.

Organization

The Court consisted of a first-level trial court, known as the Federal Court of Canada – Trial Division, and an appellate Court, known as the Federal Court of Canada – Appeal Division (more commonly referred to as the Federal Court of Appeal).

The Trial Division had jurisdiction to hear judicial review of decisions of federal boards and tribunals, including most immigration matters, as well as jurisdiction in admiralty, intellectual property, and disputes involving the federal government.

The Appeal Division had jurisdiction to hear appeals of decisions of the Trial Division, as well as to determine applications for judicial review of decisions made by specific boards and tribunals, set out in section 28 of the Federal Court Act. Decisions of the Appeal Division could be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, but only if leave (permission) was granted by either court.

The court did not use juries so all matters were decided by judge alone: a single judge in the Trial Division and a panel of three judges at the appeal level. Some pre-trial steps such as motions were decided by prothonotaries, a role similar to a master in other courts. The judges and prothonotaries were appointed by the Cabinet of the federal government.

Jurisdiction

Unlike the general courts set up by each province, matters could not be brought before the Federal Court of Canada unless a law explicitly allowed the proceeding. The docket of the court primarily consisted of judicial reviews of immigration, intellectual property, and federal employment disputes. The court could also deal with incidental aspects of a dispute that fell outside its jurisdiction if the primary dispute was within its jurisdiction.

The court was a national court so trials and hearings occurred throughout Canada. Any orders rendered by the court were enforceable in all the provinces and territories. This contrasts with the provincial superior courts which are organized by each province and require additional steps to enforce decisions in other provinces.

History

The federal government has the power to establish a court system under section 101 of the Constitution Act, 1867 which allows the government to create "any additional Courts for the better Administration of the Laws of Canada." In 1875, the government established the Exchequer Court. This court, modelled on the court of the same name at the United Kingdom, primarily had jurisdiction over tax issues. Over time this court's jurisdiction was extended to other matters of federal jurisdiction.

In 1971, the Federal Court of Canada was established, inheriting much of the jurisdiction of the Exchequer Court. The Federal Court of Canada gained the jurisdiction to hear judicial reviews from federal agencies and tribunals. The Federal Court of Canada had two divisions, the "Federal Court – Trial Division" and "Federal Court – Appeal Division".

On July 2, 2003 the court was again restructured. The Court was split into two separate Courts, with the Trial Division continued as the Federal Court and the Appeal Division continued as the Federal Court of Appeal.

Until 1976, there was substantial judicial support for the view that Parliament could give a federal court jurisdiction over any matter (even a matter not regulated by federal statute law). This was on the basis that "the Laws of Canada" meant not only federal statutes, but provincial ones as well. However, in "Quebec North Shore Paper Co. v. Canadian Pacific" (1976), [1977] 2 S.C.R 1054, the Supreme Court of Canada rejected this notion. The Supreme Court held that the Federal Court of Canada had no jurisdiction over matters assigned to the provinces' legislative jurisdiction.

ee also

*Court system of Canada
*Law of Canada

External links

* [http://web.archive.org/web/20021017084814/www.fct-cf.gc.ca/index_e.html Official web site as of October 2002] (via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine)
* [http://canlii.org/ca/as/2002/c8/whole.html Courts Administration Service Act, S.C. 2002, c. 8] (restructuring the Court, effective July 2, 2003)


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