The Canadian Legal System

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Division Of Powers, Charter, Legal System, Health Care, Canada


This paper is the introductory chapter to the book Dental Law in Canada. It gives an overview of the Canadian legal system, aimed specifically at dentists in its use of examples, but more generally useful to anyone in the health care system looking to obtain a general knowledge of the structural aspects of the legal system. The chapter discusses the sources of law in Canada, the forms that law can take, and the parties who are primarily responsible for creating and shaping the law. In particular it is structured around the discussion of four things: constitutional law (both the division of powers between provinces and the federal government, and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms), non-constitutional law (statutes, regulations, common law and civil law), decision-makers in the legal system (courts and administrative bodies) and, finally, a case study illustrating those features in action.