The law is a messy and complicated thing that takes years upon years of training to fully understand, and even then, most students specialize their training to a particular field at the first available opportunity. If any form of comprehensive knowledge is your goal, I strongly recommend at least taking a course. However, if you are just looking to grasp the bare minimum, or simply define Jones Act the first thing you need is a basic understanding of the different types of Canadian Law.
Adjective, or Procedural, Law deals with the procedural rules of evidence, pleading, and practise. Administrative Law deals with the government and governmental agencies, holding them accountable for their decisions. In Canada, we also have an area of law dedicated entirely to the Government’s relationship with Indigenous peoples. Constitutional law deals with all matters relating to the interpretation and application of the Canadian Constitution in legal matters. Human rights law revolves around the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act, and the Canadian Human Rights Commission, as well as any provincial human rights legislation. Immigration/refugee law focuses on the admission of foreign nationals into Canada, their rights, responsibilities, and conditions for removal.
Civil law is your everyday stuff; it’s generic, non-criminal, and attempts to settle disputes between private citizens. Family law focuses on marriage, divorce, marital property, spousal support, and other family dynamics issues. The substance of both divorce and marriage lies solely with the federal judicial system while the provincial judicial system deals with the procedures surrounding marriage. Inheritance law is, obviously, all about the distribution of inheritance and is regulated exclusively in each individual province. Canadian labour and employment law is almost always dealt with on a provincial level, except in very specific cases where the federal court applies. Labour law is specifically about union workers and employers whereas employment law is wholly non-union workers and employers. Property law is related to multiple facets of the judicial system and concerns the rights of the individual over land, objects, and expression. Tort law deal with a civil wrong that causes someone else to suffer loss or harm, that results in a legal liability and is brought up in civil law cases.
Copyright law relates to the enforceable rights to intellectual property, information, and creative and artistic content. Patent law is similar to Copyright law in that it also deals with intellectual property, except instead of focusing on creative content, patent law regulates the granting of patents for inventions. Trademark law is also fairly similar, dealing more with corporations over individual contractors.
Criminal law is the stuff you see on television –it focuses on the administration of justice and criminal trials, however it lacks the power to enact criminal laws. Criminal lawyers are the ones who make the big bucks, although it’s the criminal defense lawyers who receive the most hate for their job. Evidence law regulates the use of evidence in court. Each province has its own statue that governs the use of evidence in civil proceedings.
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