Dalhousie Law Journal


Robert W. Kerr


Constitutionality, admiralty, jurisdiction, Federal Court of Canada, Supreme Court of Canada, federal law, federal legislative authority, British North America Act


The constitutionality of the admiralty jurisdiction of the Federal Court of Canada has been in dispute in six recent Federal Court cases' on the basis of Supreme Court of Canada rulings that actual federal law, and not merely federal legislative authority, is necessary to constitutionally support the creation of a federal court under s. 101 of the British North America Act. 3 Although it does not yet appear to have been argued before the courts in a reported case, an even more serious potential challenge to this admiralty jurisdiction lies in another Supreme Court decision4 implying that federal power to regulate the property and civil rights of shipping does not extend to intraprovincial shipping. It seems appropriate, therefore, to review the constitutional status of the Federal Court's admiralty jurisdiction.

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