Historical note

Introduction

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of Québec’s justice system is its dual structure. Like many other areas of government administration, justice in Québec has been split between federal and provincial jurisdiction since the 1867 proclamation of the British North America (BNA) Act, also known as the Constitution Act. In addition, the common law system, adopted in its entirety by all the other Canadian provinces, applies only to criminal proceedings in Québec, whereas civil matters are governed by the Civil Code, derived from France’s legal system.

The Ministère de la Justice (department of justice) has been known, over the years, by a variety of names, reflecting changes in its mandate. Although Québec’s government administration is generally considered to have begun in 1867 with the advent of Confederation, its justice system can be traced back to the founding of Québec in 1608.

This document1 outlines the development of the justice system in Québec.


1. The information covering the period from the beginning of the colony to the creation of the Ministère de la Justice was taken from the book by Pierre-E. Audet: Les officiers de justice, des origines de la colonie jusqu'à nos jours (Wilson & Lafleur Ltd., 1986).

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