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Supreme Court Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. S-26)

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Act current to 2022-01-12 and last amended on 2019-12-18. Previous Versions

Supreme Court Act

R.S.C., 1985, c. S-26

An Act respecting the Supreme Court of Canada

Short Title

Marginal note:Short title

 This Act may be cited as the Supreme Court Act.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 1

Interpretation

Marginal note:Definitions

  •  (1) In this Act,

    appeal

    appeal includes any proceeding to set aside or vary any judgment of the court appealed from; (appel)

    Court

    Court means the Supreme Court of Canada continued by section 3; (Cour suprême ou Cour)

    court appealed from

    court appealed from means the court from which the appeal is brought directly to the Supreme Court, whether that court is one of original jurisdiction or a court of appeal; (juridiction inférieure)

    final judgment

    final judgment means any judgment, rule, order or decision that determines in whole or in part any substantive right of any of the parties in controversy in any judicial proceeding; (jugement définitif)

    judge

    judge means a judge of the Court and includes the Chief Justice; (juge)

    judgment

    judgment, when used with reference to the court appealed from, includes any judgment, rule, order, decision, decree, decretal order or sentence thereof, and when used with reference to the Supreme Court, includes any judgment or order of that Court; (jugement)

    judicial proceeding

    judicial proceeding includes any action, suit, cause, matter or other proceeding in disposing of which the court appealed from has not exercised merely a regulative, administrative or executive jurisdiction; (procédure judiciaire)

    Registrar

    Registrar means the Registrar of the Court; (registraire)

    Supreme Court

    Supreme Court has the meaning given in this section to “Court”; (Cour suprême ou Cour)

    witness

    witness means any person, whether a party or not, to be examined under this Act. (témoin)

  • Marginal note:Application to the territories

    (2) For the purposes of this Act, the expression “highest court of final resort in a province” includes, in Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut, the Court of Appeal of that territory.

  • R.S., 1985, c. S-26, s. 2
  • 1993, c. 28, s. 78
  • 2002, c. 7, s. 237(E)

The Court

Marginal note:Original Court continued

 The court of law and equity in and for Canada now existing under the name of the Supreme Court of Canada is hereby continued under that name, as a general court of appeal for Canada, and as an additional court for the better administration of the laws of Canada, and shall continue to be a court of record.

  • R.S., 1985, c. S-26, s. 3
  • 1993, c. 34, s. 115(F)

The Judges

Marginal note:Constitution of Court

  •  (1) The Court shall consist of a chief justice to be called the Chief Justice of Canada, and eight puisne judges.

  • Marginal note:Appointment of judges

    (2) The judges shall be appointed by the Governor in Council by letters patent under the Great Seal.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 4

Marginal note:Who may be appointed judges

 Any person may be appointed a judge who is or has been a judge of a superior court of a province or a barrister or advocate of at least ten years standing at the bar of a province.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 5

Marginal note:For greater certainty

 For greater certainty, for the purpose of section 5, a person may be appointed a judge if, at any time, they were a barrister or advocate of at least 10 years standing at the bar of a province.

  • 2013, c. 40, s. 471

Marginal note:Three judges from Quebec

 At least three of the judges shall be appointed from among the judges of the Court of Appeal or of the Superior Court of the Province of Quebec or from among the advocates of that Province.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 6
  • 1974-75-76, c. 19, s. 2

Marginal note:For greater certainty

 For greater certainty, for the purpose of section 6, a judge is from among the advocates of the Province of Quebec if, at any time, they were an advocate of at least 10 years standing at the bar of that Province.

  • 2013, c. 40, s. 472

Marginal note:No other office to be held

 No judge shall hold any other office of emolument under the Government of Canada or the government of a province.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 7

Marginal note:Residence

 The judges shall reside in the National Capital Region described in the schedule to the National Capital Act or within forty kilometres thereof.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 8
  • 1974-75-76, c. 18, s. 1
  • 1976-77, c. 25, s. 19

Marginal note:Tenure of office

  •  (1) Subject to subsection (2), the judges hold office during good behaviour, but are removable by the Governor General on address of the Senate and House of Commons.

  • Marginal note:Cessation of office

    (2) A judge shall cease to hold office on attaining the age of seventy-five years.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 9

Marginal note:Oath of office

 Every judge shall, before entering on the duties of the office of judge, take an oath in the following form:

I, ..........., do solemnly and sincerely promise and swear that I will duly and faithfully, and to the best of my skill and knowledge, execute the powers and trusts reposed in me as Chief Justice (oras one of the judges) of the Supreme Court of Canada. So help me God.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s.10

Marginal note:How administered

 The oath referred to in section 10 shall be administered to the Chief Justice before the Governor General in Council, and to the puisne judges by the Chief Justice or, in the case of absence or illness of the Chief Justice, by any other judge present at Ottawa.

  • R.S., 1985, c. S-26, s. 11
  • 1993, c. 34, s. 116(F)

The Registrar and Other Officers

Marginal note:Appointment of Registrar and Deputy Registrar

  •  (1) The Governor in Council may by instruments under the Great Seal appoint fit and proper persons, being barristers or advocates of at least five years standing, to be Registrar of the Supreme Court and Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court respectively.

  • Marginal note:Staff

    (2) Such other officers, clerks and employees as are required for the purposes of the Court shall be appointed under the Public Service Employment Act.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 12

Marginal note:Tenure and salary

  •  (1) The Registrar and Deputy Registrar shall be appointed to hold office during pleasure and shall each be paid a salary to be fixed by the Governor in Council.

  • Marginal note:Duties

    (2) The Registrar and Deputy Registrar shall devote their full time to their respective positions and shall not receive any pay, fee or allowances in any form in excess of the amount provided under subsection (1).

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 13

Marginal note:Office and residence

 The Registrar shall keep an office in the city of Ottawa and the Registrar and Deputy Registrar shall reside in the National Capital Region described in the schedule to the National Capital Act or within forty kilometres thereof.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 14
  • 1974-75-76, c. 18, s. 2
  • 1976-77, c. 25, s. 20

Marginal note:Functions of Registrar

 Subject to the direction of the Chief Justice, the Registrar shall superintend the officers, clerks and employees appointed to the Court.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 15
  • 1976-77, c. 25, s. 20

Marginal note:Library

 The Registrar shall, under the supervision of the Chief Justice, manage and control the library of the Court and the purchase of all books therefor.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 16
  • 1976-77, c. 25, s. 20

Marginal note:Reports

 The Registrar or the Deputy Registrar, as the Chief Justice directs, shall report and publish the judgments of the Court.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 17
  • 1976-77, c. 25, s. 20

Marginal note:Jurisdiction as judge in chambers

 The Registrar has such authority to exercise the jurisdiction of a judge sitting in chambers as may be conferred on the Registrar by general rules or orders made under this Act.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 18

Marginal note:Duties of Deputy Registrar

 The Deputy Registrar shall exercise and perform such of the powers and duties of the Registrar as are assigned to the Deputy Registrar by the Registrar, and may exercise and perform all the powers and duties of the Registrar in the event that the Registrar is absent or unable to act or the office of Registrar is vacant.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 19

Marginal note:Public Service Employment Act and Public Service Superannuation Act

 The Public Service Employment Act and the Public Service Superannuation Act, in so far as applicable, extend and apply to the Registrar and Deputy Registrar.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 20

Marginal note:Sheriff

 The Sheriff of the County of Carleton, in the Province of Ontario, is ex officio an officer of the Court and shall perform the duties and functions of a sheriff in connection therewith.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 21

Barristers, Advocates, Attorneys and Solicitors

Marginal note:Barristers or advocates

 All persons who are barristers or advocates in a province may practise as barristers, advocates and counsel in the Court.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 22

Marginal note:Attorneys or solicitors

 All persons who are attorneys or solicitors of the superior courts in a province may practise as attorneys, solicitors and proctors in the Court.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 23

Marginal note:Officers of the Court

 All persons who may practise as barristers, advocates, counsel, attorneys, solicitors or proctors in the Court are officers of the Court.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 24

Sessions and Quorum

Marginal note:Quorum of judges

 Any five of the judges of the Court shall constitute a quorum and may lawfully hold the Court.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 25

Marginal note:Delivery of judgment

  •  (1) A judgment of the Supreme Court may be delivered

    • (a) in open court; or

    • (b) by depositing with the Registrar, for each judge who has heard the case, a written opinion, a copy, signed by the judge, of the written opinion with which the judge concurs or a statement certifying the judge’s concurrence.

  • Marginal note:Idem

    (2) Where a judgment is delivered pursuant to paragraph (1)(a), a majority of the judges who have heard the case shall be present.

  • R.S., 1985, c. S-26, s. 26
  • R.S., 1985, c. 34 (3rd Supp.), s. 1

Marginal note:Opinion of absent judge

  •  (1) A judge who has heard a case for which judgment is delivered pursuant to paragraph 26(1)(a) and who is absent from the delivery of judgment may sign a copy of the opinion with which the judge concurs or, where the judge has written an opinion, give the opinion to a judge present at the delivery of judgment, which concurrence or opinion shall be announced or read in open court and then left with the Registrar or reporter of the Court.

  • Marginal note:Opinion of judge who is retired or ceases to hold office

    (2) A judge who has resigned the office of judge, or who has ceased to hold office under section 9, shall, within six months thereafter, for the purposes of this section, be deemed to be absent at the delivery of judgment in any case heard by that judge in which judgment has not been delivered during his tenure of office.

  • Marginal note:Concurrence

    (3) A judge who has heard a case for which judgment is delivered pursuant to paragraph 26(1)(b) and who has not written an opinion may sign and deposit with the Registrar a copy of the opinion with which the judge concurs or a statement certifying concurrence with an opinion.

  • Marginal note:Notice of deposit of judgment

    (4) Where judgment is delivered in a case pursuant to paragraph 26(1)(b), the Registrar shall send notices of the deposit of judgment to the solicitors of record for the case or their agents.

  • R.S., 1985, c. S-26, s. 27
  • R.S., 1985, c. 34 (3rd Supp.), s. 2

Marginal note:When a judge may not sit

  •  (1) No judge against whose judgment an appeal is brought, or who took part in the trial of the cause or matter, or in the hearing in a court below, shall sit or take part in the hearing of or adjudication on the proceedings in the Supreme Court.

  • Marginal note:Quorum in such case

    (2) In any cause or matter in which a judge is unable to sit or take part in consequence of this section, any four of the other judges constitute a quorum and may lawfully hold the Court.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 28
 
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