Exchequer Court of Canada fonds [multiple media]
Record Information – Brief
Exchequer Court of Canada fonds [multiple media]
- Hierarchical level:
- Type of material:
- Architectural and technical drawings, Art, Photographs, Maps and cartographic material, Textual material
- Found in:
- Archives / Collections and Fonds
- Item ID number:
- Context of this record:
Record Information – Details
- Fonds includes:
15 lower level description(s)View lower level description(s)
- Bilingual equivalent:
- Place of creation:
411.41 m of textual records.
6706 photographs : 5951 b&w and 712 col.; 16 col. slides; 27 x-rays.
4248 technical drawings.
161 technical drawings : sketches.
41 prints : posters.
53 architectural drawings.
- Language of material:
- Scope and content:
Fonds consists of records created and/or maintained by the Exchequer Court of Canada. Researchers are cautioned that unprocessed textual records and records in other media are not reflected in this description.
- Biography/Administrative history:
Canada. Exchequer Court : In 1875, Parliament passed the Canada Supreme and Exchequer Court Act, which created the Supreme Court of Canada and the Exchequer Court of Canada. The name Exchequer Court was chosen in reference to the British Court of Exchequer. The Exchequer Court of Canada originally had three kinds of legal authority: original jurisdiction in suits relating to dominion revenues and in those which involved contravention of dominion statutes where the public interest was concerned, concurrent original jurisdiction with provincial tribunals in suits where the Crown in right of the Dominion was a litigant, and appellate jurisdiction in contested governmental arbitrations. In the beginning, the Exchequer Court was a trial court connected to the Supreme Court of Canada. Thus the cases were heard by the justices of the Supreme Court, who served on the Exchequer Court in rotation and were expected to travel and conduct trials sitting as individual judges of the Exchequer Court. In 1887, the Exchequer Court Act was adopted. The Exchequer Court was then separated from the Supreme Court and became a court of claims involving the government, both from claims brought against it and those brought by the government against individuals. The Court also acquired exclusive jurisdiction over all litigation brought against the federal government. On October 1, 1887, George Wheelock Burbidge (1847-1908) was appointed the first justice of the Exchequer Court. As a result of the separation from the Supreme Court, Burbidge organized the Exchequer Court and wrote its rules of procedure, which were maintained and used throughout the life of the court. As the sole judge of the Exchequer Court, Burbidge traveled across the Dominion to ensure that cases were heard in the location where they took place; his itinerary took him from Ottawa to Dawson City and Charlottetown, with hearings en route. Two of Burbidge's most important rulings were Samson v. the Queen (1888), concerning the value of land taken over by the Crown, and the Queen v. St. John Gas Light Company (1895), which is regarded as one of the first judicial decisions on environmental pollution. Walter Gibson Pringle Cassels (1845-1923) was appointed judge of the Exchequer Court in 1908. In 1912 a second judge, Louis Arthur Audette, was named to the Court. In 1923, Alexander Kenneth Maclean replaced Cassels and became head of the Court. He was replaced in 1942 by Joseph Thorarinn Thorson, who led the Court for 22 years. Wilbur Jackett became president of the Court in 1964. The Exchequer Court had two judges until 1945. After that, the number of judges was increased periodically, reaching a total of eight in 1970. With the Exchequer Court Act in 1887, the Court also acquired jurisdiction over cases in which the government sought to have a patent set aside. Patents were the responsibility of the Patent Office, which was attached to the Department of Agriculture, with the minister of agriculture designated as the commissioner of patents. If a dispute arose over the validity of a patent based on the alleged breach of a condition, it was settled by the minister or deputy minister of agriculture, and their decisions were appealable only to the Governor in Council until 1913. The minister and the Governor in Council had the power to refer a case to the Exchequer Court. In 1890, the Exchequer Court received jurisdiction concurrent with that of provincial courts in all cases involving the impeachment of patents, and exclusive jurisdiction over the forfeiture of patents for breach of conditions. The jurisdiction also covered questions about the existence of a patent. As in the case of patents, trademarks were the responsibility of the minister of agriculture who maintained a register of them. The minister had complete jurisdiction over the registration and appeals were only possible before the cabinet. In 1890 the minister was given the power to defer a decision until the matter had been heard by the Exchequer Court, which was to hear disputed cases. In 1891, the court was given jurisdiction to settle questions of registration brought by any affected person, or by the attorney general. The court also acquired jurisdiction over actions concerning infringements of trade marks. Another significant shift in the Exchequer Court's jurisdiction came in 1891 when Parliament passed the Admiralty Act, which established the Exchequer Court as the Colonial Court of Admiralty with the jurisdiction, powers and authority conferred by the British Colonial Courts Admiralty Act of 1890. The jurisdiction of the Exchequer Court in admiralty law matters was articulated in section 4 of the Admiralty Act; which permitted the court to hear cases arising out of, or connected with, navigation, shipping, trade, or commerce in Canadian waters, whether tidal or non-tidal, whether or not they were naturally or artificially navigable. As a consequence of this legislation, the Vice Admiralty Courts that had been operating across the Dominion of Canada adopted the title of the Exchequer Court of the particular Admiralty District where the court had been established geographically. In 1926, a case in British Columbia (SS Woron v. Canadian American Shipping co. ltd. (1926), , Ex. C.R. 1 at 12) brought to the fore the question of the Canadian Parliament's ability to legislate regarding jurisdiction over admiralty matters. The case led to significant debate over the jurisdiction of the Exchequer Court as defined by the Admiralty Act of 1891. After a number of appeals it was ultimately decided that the jurisdiction of the Exchequer Court was limited by the jurisdictions held by the British Courts, and that Canada's Parliament had limited legislative power in respect to Admiralty jurisdiction. The lack of dominion self-government in Admiralty matters disappeared with the passage of the Statute of Westminster in 1931, which gave significant autonomy to Canada and the British Empire's other Dominions. Canada enacted the Admiralty Act in 1934. However, the Act only gave to the Exchequer Court the Admiralty jurisdiction which had been conferred on the High Court of England and Wales in 1925. The Exchequer Court gained responsibility regarding taxation after the First World War. For the first thirty years following the introduction of the Income War Tax Act in 1917, tax assessments could in fact be informally appealed to the Minister of Finance and formally appealed to the Exchequer Court. The creation of a judicial system concerned with taxation was formalized in 1946, with the establishment of the Income Tax Appeal Board. Although formed as a court of record, the Board was essentially an administrative tribunal whose members were typically lawyers. Its decisions could be appealed to the Exchequer Court de novo, which permitted appellants to present a nominal case before the Board in the knowledge that they could present a complete case to the Court. The Crown Liability Act of 1952 put the government in the same position as a private citizen in virtually all matters of tort. With the enactment of this legislation, some of the Exchequer Court's exclusive jurisdiction was lost since it became possible to bring actions against the government in provincial courts in matters where the claim involved less than one thousand dollars. In 1960, the Exchequer Court was given non-exclusive jurisdiction as a Superior Court over criminal offences under the Combines Investigation Act. Finally, in 1971, with the introduction of the Federal Court Act, the Exchequer Court of Canada became the Federal Court of Canada, which inherited and widened the jurisdiction of its predecessor. The Federal Court was given the power to review decisions of all federal boards, commissions or other administrative tribunals, and its jurisdiction was extended to include claims relating to aviation, interprovincial undertakings, bills of exchange, and promissory notes. The Federal Court Act also led to the creation of the Federal Court of Appeal.
- Finding aid:
(Other) Finding aids are available. See lower level descriptions and accession records in ArchiviaNet (the LAC website). (90: Open)
- Additional information:
- General Note:
- This is a preliminary description only. The records are not available for research.
- Custodial history:
- The records of the Exchequer Court were maintained by the Federal Court (created in 1971) and then the Courts Administration Service (created in 2003). The records were transferred to Library and Archives Canada in 2003, 2005 and 2012.
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