Dalhousie Law Journal


Common Law, Teaching, French Language, difficulties, new law school, considerations, language of instruction, particularities


There are many difficulties associated with the setting up of a new law school; these difficulties were compounded at the Universit6 de Moncton with considerations relative to the language of instruction, the particularities of the clientele, it being relatively small and unconcentrated geographically, the lack of a legal tradition in French language communities outside of Quebec. My purpose here is not to analyse in a general way the experience of the last four years at the Universit6 de Moncton, but to consider only one aspect of this experience, the one which is the most often put to me in the form of a question: what are the difficulties of teaching the Common Law in the French language? Before the experience actually began at Moncton, many opinions had been expressed on the difficulties involved. These opinions were summed up in a report prepared by Dean Daniel Soberman for the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission in 1976. Mr. Soberman was of the opinion that our legal system is founded on linguistic and cultural characteristics that are fundamentally English and that it would be impossible to communicate full knowledge of the Common Law without resorting to the English Language.' Convinced that a new faculty could not recruit sufficient numbers of qualified students or qualified teachers to form a unit of 20 full-time teachers and 250 students, which he considered a minimum, Mr. Soberman recommended that the faculty of law at the University of New Brunswick be expanded and become bilingual.