Bijuralism and Harmonization
Canada is one of those rare countries where common law and civil law exist side by side and interact within the same legislative framework, reflecting Canada’s history and its legal and constitutional structure.
June 1st, 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the Federal Law–Civil Law Harmonization Act, No. 1. When this first Harmonization Act came into force in 2001, it affirmed Parliament’s and Justice Canada’s commitment towards legislative bijuralism and marked the introduction of sections 8.1 and 8.2 of the Interpretation Act, which set out the relevant principles for the bijural interpretation of federal legislation in matters that relate to property and civil rights.
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As a legacy left by the colonisation of North America by France and Great Britain, Canadian bijuralism is an expression of the coexistence of the civil law and common law legal traditions in Canada.
Following the founding of New France, the laws, customs and usages of the civil law tradition, found mainly in the Coutume de Paris supplemented by governors’ ordinances and royal edicts, becomes rooted in the territory.
Federal legislation is intended to have effect regardless of whether it finds application in a common law or a civil law jurisdiction.
In 1990, the Quebec National Assembly adopted the Civil Code of Québec, which came into force in 1994.
To date, three harmonization Acts have been adopted in order to harmonize federal law with the civil law of Quebec.
Two rules of bijural interpretation were added to the Interpretation Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. I-21 by section 8 of the Federal Law – Civil Law Harmonization Act, No. 1
Given the innovative nature of bijural legislative drafting and the commitment made in 2001 by the Minister of Justice before the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs...
Index of Bijuralism and Harmonization Caselaw
The views expressed in the studies and publications are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice Canada.
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