Index

June 7 , 2021

Language Used Still Matters


May 17 , 2021

Serving Uncooperative People


April 15 , 2021

Death and After-Life of Contingency Agreements


February 22 , 2021

Legal Analysis


February 2 , 2021

Costs Clarified at Last


January 4 , 2021

Urgent!


December 10, 2020

Traps and Confusion in Service Times


November 24, 2020

Don't Cut Corners


October 2 , 2020

Consent Orders


August 4 , 2020

Electronic Hearings


July 21, 2020

Ceasing to Act


June 29, 2020

Writing Skills


June 29, 2020

Keeping Up With the Law


June 22, 2020

Assets as a Test for Security for Costs


June 19, 2020

What is This Case About?


June 11, 2020

Cross-Examining Child Witnesses


May 20 , 2020

Formal Offers


May 13 , 2020

Vexatious or Self-Represented Litigants


January 7, 2020

G.S.T. and Costs


December 20 , 2019

Electronically Navigating the
Handbook


October 7 , 2019

Questioning is a Bad Word


July 29 , 2019

Dismissal for Delay


May 7 , 2019

Rule 4.31 Fallacies


March 18 , 2019

More Dangers in Oral Fee Agreements


February 11 , 2019

Weir-Jones Decisions


January 9 , 2019

Discouraging Settlements


November 30, 2018

European Court Helps You Twice?


November 23 , 2018

Courts Overruling Tribunals


November 16 , 2018

New Evidence on Appeal


October 30 , 2018

Schedule C's Role


July 17 , 2018

Loopholes in Enforcing Settlements


May 7 , 2018

Enforcement of Procedure Rules


April 16, 2018

Limping Lawsuits are Often
Doomed


April 3 , 2018

Court of Appeal Tips for
Summary Decisions


March 19, 2018

Serious Dangers in Chambers
Applications


February 13 , 2018

Court Backlog


December 18 , 2017

Lowering the Status of Courts


September 15 , 2017

Access to Court Decisions


July 4 , 2017

Strictissimi Juris


June 14 , 2017

Why Don't Your Clients Settle?


June 5 , 2017

Gap in Rules About Parties


June 5, 2017

Personal Costs Against
Solicitors


April 26, 2017

Clogged Courts


April 11, 2017

Dismissal for Want of
Prosecution


January 6, 2017

Incomplete Disclosure


December 15, 2016

Mediation


November 23, 2016

Is Contract Interpretation Law?

 

Welcome

Côté’s Commentaries

© 2016-2021 J.E. Côté

LANGUAGE USED STILL MATTERS

The big fight over how to interpret legislation has produced another battle.

For some years Canada has endured a contest between those who see the words of legislation as a very important aspect of how to interpret the legislation, and those who find the words an unimportant technicality. This dispute impacts the difference between case law and legislation, and has implications for democracy.

Driedger’s original textbook and P.-A. Côté’s textbook favor the legislation’s wording, whereas Sullivan’s text regards the wording as a narrow restraint on what the judge wants the legislation to mean. Upwards of one hundred Supreme Court of Canada decisions recite the basic rule of interpretation. All cited the second edition of Driedger’s textbook, not the later editions by Sullivan.

Maybe you have fallen behind in reading cases which seem merely to be about Quebec’s Code of Civil Procedure. In that event, here is a very recent Supreme Court of Canada decision. It is general and not confined to procedural topics.

The Supreme Court reaffirms that a judge cannot deviate from intent clearly expressed by the wording of legislation, not even because of Charter principles or values. (Unless unconstitutionality is pleaded, proved, and found.) Only where legislation remains ambiguous even after using a contextual approach, can judges make Charter values or principles govern the statute’s meaning. (Nor can parliamentary debates be used that way, especially as courts implement wording, not intent). Still less can the court ignore the statute’s language or the intent expressed in such language.

See MédiaQMI v. Kamel 2021 SCC 23.

– Hon. J.E. Côté

 

The Commentaries are intended to call the attention of lawyers to promising or threatening developments in the law, in civil procedure, in developing their skills, or simply to describe something curious, funny or intriguing.

Justice Côté recently retired from the Court of Appeal of Alberta and currently acts as an arbitrator, mediator, or referee under Rules 6.44 and 6.45 of the Alberta Rules of Court.

He may be contacted through Juriliber at email: info@juriliber.com or phone 780-424-5345.