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

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Act current to 2022-05-16 and last amended on 2019-12-18. Previous Versions

Sessions and Quorum (continued)

Marginal note:Four judges a quorum by consent

 Any four judges constitute a quorum and may lawfully hold the Court in cases where the parties consent to be heard before a court so composed.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 29

Marginal note:Appointment of ad hoc judge

  •  (1) Where at any time there is not a quorum of the judges available to hold or continue any session of the Court, owing to a vacancy or vacancies, or to the absence through illness or on leave or in the discharge of other duties assigned by statute or order in council, or to the disqualification of a judge or judges, the Chief Justice of Canada, or in the absence of the Chief Justice, the senior puisne judge, may in writing request the attendance at the sittings of the Court, as an ad hoc judge, for such period as may be necessary,

    • (a) of a judge of the Federal Court of Appeal, the Federal Court or the Tax Court of Canada; or

    • (b) if the judges of the Federal Court of Appeal, the Federal Court or the Tax Court of Canada are absent from Ottawa or for any reason are unable to sit, of a judge of a provincial superior court to be designated in writing by the chief justice, or in the absence of the chief justice, by any acting chief justice or the senior puisne judge of that provincial court on that request being made to that acting chief justice or that senior puisne judge in writing.

  • Marginal note:Quebec appeals

    (2) Unless two of the judges available fulfil the requirements of section 6, the ad hoc judge for the hearing of an appeal from a judgment rendered in the Province of Quebec shall be a judge of the Court of Appeal or a judge of the Superior Court of that Province designated in accordance with subsection (1).

  • Marginal note:Evidence of appointment

    (3) A duplicate of the requisition of the Chief Justice or senior puisne judge and, where a judge of a provincial court is designated to act, the letter designating that judge shall be filed with the Registrar and is conclusive evidence of the authority of the judge named therein to act under this section.

  • Marginal note:Duties

    (4) It is the duty of the judge whose attendance has been so requested or who has been so designated, in priority to other duties of the office of that judge, to attend the sittings of the Court at the time and for the period for which his attendance is required, and while so attending that judge possesses the powers and privileges and shall discharge the duties of a puisne judge of the Court.

  • Marginal note:Travel allowance

    (5) An ad hoc judge who attends at sittings of the Court or any conference of the judges called for the consideration of judgments in cases in which that judge sat shall be paid his travel expenses and shall receive an allowance for living expenses for each day that that judge is necessarily absent from his place of residence, as provided by the Judges Act.

  • Marginal note:Delivery of judgment

    (6) In any case in which judgment is not delivered while an ad hoc judge is attending the sittings of the Court or a conference of the judges, the opinion of that judge shall be delivered as provided by section 27.

  • R.S., 1985, c. S-26, s. 30
  • 2002, c. 8, s. 175

Marginal note:Admiralty appeal

  •  (1) The Court may, in any Admiralty appeal, in which it may think it expedient to do so, call in the aid of one or more assessors specially qualified and try and hear that appeal, wholly or partially with the assistance of those assessors.

  • Marginal note:Remuneration of assessors

    (2) The remuneration, if any, to be paid to the assessors referred to in subsection (1) shall be determined by the Court.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 31

Marginal note:Three sessions

  •  (1) The Court, for the purpose of hearing and determining appeals, shall hold, in each year, in the city of Ottawa, three sessions.

  • Marginal note:Dates of sessions

    (2) The first session shall begin on the fourth Tuesday in January, the second on the fourth Tuesday in April and the third on the first Tuesday in October, in each year.

  • Marginal note:Dates may be varied

    (3) The dates in subsection (2), fixed for the beginning of each session, may be varied by the Governor in Council, or by the Court, if notice is given in the Canada Gazette not less than four weeks before the date that may be fixed for the beginning of any session.

  • Marginal note:Length

    (4) Each session shall be continued until the business before the Court is disposed of.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 32

Marginal note:Power to adjourn

 The Court may adjourn any session from time to time and meet again at the time appointed for the transaction of business.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 33

Marginal note:Court may be convened at any time

 The Court may be convened at any time by the Chief Justice or, in the event of the absence or illness of the Chief Justice, by the senior puisne judge, in such manner as is prescribed by the rules of Court.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 34

Appellate Jurisdiction

Marginal note:Jurisdiction throughout Canada

 The Court shall have and exercise an appellate, civil and criminal jurisdiction within and throughout Canada.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 35

Marginal note:Inter-governmental disputes

 An appeal lies to the Court from a decision of the Federal Court of Appeal in the case of a controversy between Canada and a province or between two or more provinces.

  • 1990, c. 8, s. 33

Marginal note:Appeals from references by lieutenant governor in council

 An appeal lies to the Court from an opinion pronounced by the highest court of final resort in a province on any matter referred to it for hearing and consideration by the lieutenant governor in council of that province whenever it has been by the statutes of that province declared that such opinion is to be deemed a judgment of the highest court of final resort and that an appeal lies therefrom as from a judgment in an action.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 37

Marginal note:Appeals with leave of provincial court

 Subject to sections 39 and 42, an appeal to the Supreme Court lies with leave of the highest court of final resort in a province from a final judgment of that court where, in the opinion of that court, the question involved in the appeal is one that ought to be submitted to the Supreme Court for decision.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 38

Marginal note:Appeal with leave of Federal Court of Appeal

 Subject to sections 39 and 42, an appeal to the Court lies with leave of the Federal Court of Appeal from a final judgment of the Federal Court of Appeal where, in its opinion, the question involved in the appeal is one that ought to be submitted to the Court for decision.

  • 1990, c. 8, s. 34

Marginal note:Appeals per saltum

 Subject to sections 39 and 42, an appeal to the Supreme Court lies on a question of law alone with leave of that Court, from a final judgment of the Federal Court or of a court of a province other than the highest court of final resort therein, the judges of which are appointed by the Governor General, pronounced in a judicial proceeding where an appeal lies to the Federal Court of Appeal or to that highest court of final resort, if the consent in writing of the parties or their solicitors, verified by affidavit, is filed with the Registrar of the Supreme Court and with the registrar, clerk or prothonotary of the court from which the appeal is to be taken.

  • R.S., 1985, c. S-26, s. 38
  • 1990, c. 8, s. 35
  • 2002, c. 8, s. 183

Marginal note:Exceptions

 No appeal to the Court lies under section 37, 37.1 or 38 from a judgment in a criminal cause, in proceedings for or on

  • (a) a writ of habeas corpus, certiorari or prohibition arising out of a criminal charge; or

  • (b) a writ of habeas corpus arising out of a claim for extradition made under a treaty.

  • R.S., 1985, c. S-26, s. 39
  • 1990, c. 8, s. 36

Marginal note:Appeals with leave of Supreme Court

  •  (1) Subject to subsection (3), an appeal lies to the Supreme Court from any final or other judgment of the Federal Court of Appeal or of the highest court of final resort in a province, or a judge thereof, in which judgment can be had in the particular case sought to be appealed to the Supreme Court, whether or not leave to appeal to the Supreme Court has been refused by any other court, where, with respect to the particular case sought to be appealed, the Supreme Court is of the opinion that any question involved therein is, by reason of its public importance or the importance of any issue of law or any issue of mixed law and fact involved in that question, one that ought to be decided by the Supreme Court or is, for any other reason, of such a nature or significance as to warrant decision by it, and leave to appeal from that judgment is accordingly granted by the Supreme Court.

  • Marginal note:Application for leave

    (2) An application for leave to appeal under this section shall be brought in accordance with paragraph 58(1)(a).

  • Marginal note:Appeals in respect of offences

    (3) No appeal to the Court lies under this section from the judgment of any court acquitting or convicting or setting aside or affirming a conviction or acquittal of an indictable offence or, except in respect of a question of law or jurisdiction, of an offence other than an indictable offence.

  • Marginal note:Extending time for allowing appeal

    (4) Whenever the Court has granted leave to appeal, the Court or a judge may, notwithstanding anything in this Act, extend the time within which the appeal may be allowed.

  • R.S., 1985, c. S-26, s. 40
  • R.S., 1985, c. 34 (3rd Supp.), s. 3
  • 1990, c. 8, s. 37

Marginal note:Appeals under other Acts

 Notwithstanding anything in this Act, the Court has jurisdiction as provided in any other Act conferring jurisdiction.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 42

Marginal note:No appeal from discretionary orders

  •  (1) No appeal lies to the Court from a judgment or order made in the exercise of judicial discretion except in proceedings in the nature of a suit or proceeding in equity originating elsewhere than in the Province of Quebec and except in mandamus proceedings.

  • Marginal note:Exception

    (2) This section does not apply to an appeal under section 40.

  • R.S., 1985, c. S-26, s. 42
  • 1993, c. 34, s. 117(F)

Marginal note:Applications for leave to appeal

  •  (1) Notwithstanding any other Act of Parliament but subject to subsection (1.2), an application to the Supreme Court for leave to appeal shall be made to the Court in writing and the Court shall

    • (a) grant the application if it is clear from the written material that it does not warrant an oral hearing and that any question involved is, by reason of its public importance or the importance of any issue of law or any issue of mixed law and fact involved in the question, one that ought to be decided by the Supreme Court or is, for any other reason, of such a nature or significance as to warrant decision by it;

    • (b) dismiss the application if it is clear from the written material that it does not warrant an oral hearing and that there is no question involved as described in paragraph (a); and

    • (c) order an oral hearing to determine the application, in any other case.

  • Marginal note:Remand of case

    (1.1) Notwithstanding subsection (1), the Court may, in its discretion, remand the whole or any part of the case to the court appealed from or the court of original jurisdiction and order any further proceedings that would be just in the circumstances.

  • Marginal note:Mandatory oral hearing

    (1.2) On the request of the applicant, an oral hearing shall be ordered to determine an application for leave to appeal to the Court from a judgment of a court of appeal setting aside an acquittal of an indictable offence and ordering a new trial if there is no right of appeal on a question of law on which a judge of the court of appeal dissents.

  • Marginal note:Time for oral hearing

    (2) Where the court makes an order for an oral hearing, the oral hearing shall be held within thirty days after the date of the order or such further time as the Court determines.

  • Marginal note:Quorum

    (3) Any three judges of the Court constitute a quorum for the consideration and determination of an application for leave to appeal, whether or not an oral hearing is ordered.

  • Marginal note:Exception

    (4) Notwithstanding subsection (3), five judges of the Court constitute a quorum in the case of an application for leave to appeal from a judgment of a court

    • (a) quashing a conviction of an offence punishable by death; or

    • (b) dismissing an appeal against an acquittal of an offence punishable by death, including an acquittal in respect of a principal offence where the accused has been convicted of an offence included in the principal offence.

  • R.S., 1985, c. S-26, s. 43
  • R.S., 1985, c. 34 (3rd Supp.), s. 4
  • 1990, c. 8, s. 38
  • 1994, c. 44, s. 98
  • 1997, c. 18, s. 138

Judgments

Marginal note:Quashing proceedings in certain cases

 The Court may quash proceedings in cases brought before it in which an appeal does not lie, or whenever such proceedings are taken against good faith.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 46

Marginal note:Appeal may be dismissed or judgment given

 The Court may dismiss an appeal or give the judgment and award the process or other proceedings that the court whose decision is appealed against should have given or awarded.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 47

Marginal note:New trial may be ordered

 On any appeal, the Court may, in its discretion, order a new trial if the ends of justice seem to require it, although a new trial is deemed necessary on the ground that the verdict is against the weight of evidence.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 48

Marginal note:Appeal may be remanded

 The Court may, in its discretion, remand any appeal or any part of an appeal to the court appealed from or the court of original jurisdiction and order any further proceedings that would be just in the circumstances.

  • 1994, c. 44, s. 99

Costs

Marginal note:Payment of costs

 The Court may, in its discretion, order the payment of the costs of the court appealed from, of the court of original jurisdiction, and of the appeal, or any part thereof, whether the judgment is affirmed, or is varied or reversed.

  • R.S., c. S-19, s. 49
 
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