Official Languages Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. 31 (4th Supp.))

Act current to 2016-11-21 and last amended on 2015-06-23. Previous Versions

Marginal note:Notices, advertisements and other matters that are published
  •  (1) A notice, advertisement or other matter that is required or authorized by or pursuant to an Act of Parliament to be published by or under the authority of a federal institution primarily for the information of members of the public shall,

    • (a) wherever possible, be printed in one of the official languages in at least one publication in general circulation within each region where the matter applies that appears wholly or mainly in that language and in the other official language in at least one publication in general circulation within each region where the matter applies that appears wholly or mainly in that other language; and

    • (b) where there is no publication in general circulation within a region where the matter applies that appears wholly or mainly in English or no such publication that appears wholly or mainly in French, be printed in both official languages in at least one publication in general circulation within that region.

  • Marginal note:Equal prominence

    (2) Where a notice, advertisement or other matter is printed in one or more publications pursuant to subsection (1), it shall be given equal prominence in each official language.

Marginal note:Instruments directed to the public

 All instruments directed to or intended for the notice of the public, purporting to be made or issued by or under the authority of a federal institution, shall be made or issued in both official languages.

Marginal note:Both versions simultaneous and equally authoritative

 Any journal, record, Act of Parliament, instrument, document, rule, order, regulation, treaty, convention, agreement, notice, advertisement or other matter referred to in this Part that is made, enacted, printed, published or tabled in both official languages shall be made, enacted, printed, published or tabled simultaneously in both languages, and both language versions are equally authoritative.

PART IIIAdministration of Justice

Marginal note:Official languages of federal courts

 English and French are the official languages of the federal courts, and either of those languages may be used by any person in, or in any pleading in or process issuing from, any federal court.

Marginal note:Hearing of witnesses in official language of choice
  •  (1) Every federal court has, in any proceedings before it, the duty to ensure that any person giving evidence before it may be heard in the official language of his choice, and that in being so heard the person will not be placed at a disadvantage by not being heard in the other official language.

  • Marginal note:Duty to provide simultaneous interpretation

    (2) Every federal court has, in any proceedings conducted before it, the duty to ensure that, at the request of any party to the proceedings, facilities are made available for the simultaneous interpretation of the proceedings, including the evidence given and taken, from one official language into the other.

  • Marginal note:Federal court may provide simultaneous interpretation

    (3) A federal court may, in any proceedings conducted before it, cause facilities to be made available for the simultaneous interpretation of the proceedings, including evidence given and taken, from one official language into the other where it considers the proceedings to be of general public interest or importance or where it otherwise considers it desirable to do so for members of the public in attendance at the proceedings.

Marginal note:Duty to ensure understanding without an interpreter
  •  (1) Every federal court, other than the Supreme Court of Canada, has the duty to ensure that

    • (a) if English is the language chosen by the parties for proceedings conducted before it in any particular case, every judge or other officer who hears those proceedings is able to understand English without the assistance of an interpreter;

    • (b) if French is the language chosen by the parties for proceedings conducted before it in any particular case, every judge or other officer who hears those proceedings is able to understand French without the assistance of an interpreter; and

    • (c) if both English and French are the languages chosen by the parties for proceedings conducted before it in any particular case, every judge or other officer who hears those proceedings is able to understand both languages without the assistance of an interpreter.

  • Marginal note:Adjudicative functions

    (2) For greater certainty, subsection (1) applies to a federal court only in relation to its adjudicative functions.

  • Marginal note:Limitation

    (3) No federal court, other than the Federal Court of Appeal, the Federal Court or the Tax Court of Canada, is required to comply with subsection (1) until five years after that subsection comes into force.

  • R.S., 1985, c. 31 (4th Supp.), s. 16;
  • 2002, c. 8, s. 155.
Marginal note:Authority to make implementing rules
  •  (1) The Governor in Council may make any rules governing the procedure in proceedings before any federal court, other than the Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal, the Federal Court or the Tax Court of Canada, including rules respecting the giving of notice, that the Governor in Council deems necessary to enable that federal court to comply with sections 15 and 16 in the exercise of any of its powers or duties.

  • Marginal note:Supreme Court, Federal Court of Appeal, Federal Court and Tax Court of Canada

    (2) Subject to the approval of the Governor in Council, the Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal, the Federal Court and the Tax Court of Canada may make any rules governing the procedure in their own proceedings, including rules respecting the giving of notice, that they deem necessary to enable themselves to comply with sections 15 and 16 in the exercise of any of their powers or duties.

  • R.S., 1985, c. 31 (4th Supp.), s. 17;
  • 2002, c. 8, s. 156.
Marginal note:Language of civil proceedings where Her Majesty is a party

 Where Her Majesty in right of Canada or a federal institution is a party to civil proceedings before a federal court,

  • (a) Her Majesty or the institution concerned shall use, in any oral or written pleadings in the proceedings, the official language chosen by the other parties unless it is established by Her Majesty or the institution that reasonable notice of the language chosen has not been given; and

  • (b) if the other parties fail to choose or agree on the official language to be used in those pleadings, Her Majesty or the institution concerned shall use such official language as is reasonable, having regard to the circumstances.

Marginal note:Bilingual forms
  •  (1) The pre-printed portion of any form that is used in proceedings before a federal court and is required to be served by any federal institution that is a party to the proceedings on any other party shall be in both official languages.

  • Marginal note:Particular details

    (2) The particular details that are added to a form referred to in subsection (1) may be set out in either official language but, where the details are set out in only one official language, it shall be clearly indicated on the form that a translation of the details into the other official language may be obtained, and, if a request for a translation is made, a translation shall be made available forthwith by the party that served the form.

Marginal note:Decisions, orders and judgments that must be made available simultaneously
  •  (1) Any final decision, order or judgment, including any reasons given therefor, issued by any federal court shall be made available simultaneously in both official languages where

    • (a) the decision, order or judgment determines a question of law of general public interest or importance; or

    • (b) the proceedings leading to its issuance were conducted in whole or in part in both official languages.

  • Marginal note:Other decisions, orders and judgments

    (2) Where

    • (a) any final decision, order or judgment issued by a federal court is not required by subsection (1) to be made available simultaneously in both official languages, or

    • (b) the decision, order or judgment is required by paragraph (1)(a) to be made available simultaneously in both official languages but the court is of the opinion that to make the decision, order or judgment, including any reasons given therefor, available simultaneously in both official languages would occasion a delay prejudicial to the public interest or resulting in injustice or hardship to any party to the proceedings leading to its issuance,

    the decision, order or judgment, including any reasons given therefor, shall be issued in the first instance in one of the official languages and thereafter, at the earliest possible time, in the other official language, each version to be effective from the time the first version is effective.

  • Marginal note:Oral rendition of decisions not affected

    (3) Nothing in subsection (1) or (2) shall be construed as prohibiting the oral rendition or delivery, in only one of the official languages, of any decision, order or judgment or any reasons given therefor.

  • Marginal note:Decisions not invalidated

    (4) No decision, order or judgment issued by a federal court is invalid by reason only that it was not made or issued in both official languages.

 
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