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Wednesday, June 13th, 2018 technology  research  practice

A Research Tip

  • Research & Writing

Periodically the question arises: how does one determine which English acts are still in force in Canada?

The short answer is that there is no comprehensive list of what English statutes are still in force in Canadian jurisdictions. In J.E. Cote, “The reception of English law”, (1977) 15 Alberta Law Review, 29-92, the author lists a number of statutes and the provinces in which they were still in force in 1964. This list is based in part on Appendix C (pages 1060-1064) of W.H.P. Clement, The law of the Canadian constitution, 3d ed. (Toronto: Carswell, 1916) which listed a number of British statutes “the operation of which in the Colonies has been in question in the Courts”. However, Cote’s list was not exhaustive, and some of the acts have subsequently been repealed.

Some English statutes in force in Ontario were published in volume 3 of the Revised Statutes of Ontario 1897. This volume lists imperial constitutional acts, imperial statutes in Ontario ex proprio vigore, and a table of ”imperial statutes in force in Canada ex proprio vigore” as of 1901.

The Revised Statutes of British Columbia 1911, vol. IV contains a collection of English statutes, but “does not purport to be an exhaustive collection of English Acts that may be applicable in the Province of British Columbia.”

The British Columbia Courthouse Library’s “English Acts Applicable in BC” states that:

“The Law & Equity Act, R.S.B.C. 1996 chapter 253, sections 1 to 3, currently states that with the exception of section 28 of the Offences Against the Person Act, 1828 and all sections of the Real Property Act, 1845, the Civil and Criminal Laws of England as they existed on November 19, 1858 and insofar as they are not from local circumstances inapplicable, are in force in British Columbia, subject to change by BC law.”

If you are trying to determine if a specific statute is still in force for a given province, it is worthwhile checking the publications of that province’s law commission. For example, the Law Reform Commission of Saskatchewan’s Report on Disposal of English Statute Law in Saskatchewan (May 2006) lists English statutes that are still in force in Saskatchewan; this is the most extensive list produced by any of the provinces.

The status of a given statute may also be referred to in the case law, for example in McKenzie v. McKenzie, (1970) 11 D.L.R. (3d) 302, 73 W.W.R. 206 (BCCA)  it was concluded that the Poor Relief Act, 1601, 43 Eliz., c. 2, as amended by the Poor Law Amendment Act, 1834 (U.K.), c. 76 was not a part of the laws of British Columbia. It is worth using the international volume of Carswell’s Canadian Statute Citations (or equivalent) to see if the English statute you are interested in has been considered in Canada.

Susannah Tredwell

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