Dalhousie Law Journal


Critical study, Supreme Court of Canada, approach to legal analysis, legal policy, doctrinal analysis


Paul Weiler has given us a book which can help end the sterile debate between the analytical school and those who advocate a policy-oriented approach to legal analysis. Weiler demonstrates that each of these groups is making a valid claim on our legal system in terms of the common law tradition, and that an appropriate style of legal reasoning in the Supreme Court of Canada requires a blending of legal policy and doctrinal analysis. The interesting thing to discover is that the style of reasoning urged by Weiler looks like the tradition of the common law at its best, as seen in the "grand tradition" of the nineteenth century in England, and now revived in the landmark public law decisions of the House of Lords and Privy Council of the past decade: Ridge v. Baldwin, 1 Conway v. Rimmer, 2 Padfield v. Minister of Agriculture, 3 Anisminic, 4 Liyanage v. The Queen, 5 and, to the delight of this reviewer, in the majority judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada in Thorson v. A-G Canada,6 now the leading case on standing to challenge the validy of legislation in Canada.

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Common Law Commons