Structure of Canadian Law

The resources on this page can help you to learn about how laws are made and how the legal system functions. Some provide a historical context for the governance of Canada.

CPLEA Suggested Resources

Not sure where to begin finding answers to your questions. Get started with our suggested resources. See additional resources below for more information.

Alberta Resources

The Legislative Assembly website provides links to information about the Members of Legislative Assembly, Bills and Amendments, Assembly Documents and Records, Public Information, and Assembly Support Services as well as other information.
Related legal topic(s): Legislative materials, Provincial and territorial government departments

This guide was devloped for frontline service providers in Alberta who work with vulneable individuals. It provides general legal information on Alberta law only. The booklet covers the laws of Canada (legislation, jurisdiction, and common law) as well as the court system in Alberta (Provincial, Court of Queen's Benchl, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of Canada, Federal Courts and Tribunals, and Provincial Administrative Tribunals).

Related legal topic(s): Courts and court judgments, Legal process, Legislative materials

This online tutorial created by the Centre for Public Legal Education explains on what it's like in a criminal courtroom. There are often many people in a courtroom. Knowing who is who, what each person's role is, and what is expected of you as a witness should help you understand what is going on around you.

Related legal topic(s): Legal process, Self-representation


This short online resource from Courthouse Libraries BC explains how a Bill becomes an Act, or Statute, in Canada.

Related legal topic(s): Legislative materials

Site developed by Canada Justice explaining the levels and types of courts in Canada: provincial/territorial courts (which handle the great majority of cases that come into the system), provincial/territorial superior courts (which deal with more serious crimes and also take appeals from provincial/territorial court judgments, the Federal Court, the provincial/territorial courts of appeal and the Federal Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court of Canada (at the highest level).

Related legal topic(s): Legal process

This resource is made available throught LawCentral Schools. Part 1 of this power point with audio gives an overview  of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms since its beginning.  It discusses what the Charter is and is not and explains in detail the meaning using examples in the specific sections of the Charter.  Part 2 talks about Section 8, search and seizure.  It delves more deeply into all the tests the courts do to determine if there really is a Charter infringement. There are some review questions at the end of the presentation.

Related legal topic(s): Administration of justice, Charter of Rights, Classroom materials, Legal process

This page from Justice Canada provides links to reference sources on the Canadian justice system, legislation, the courts, and other public justice institutions.
Related legal topic(s): Civil law

This section describes in general terms the court system in Canada, that is to say, the different types and levels of courts, as well as their responsibilities. This is not a guide for people who come before the courts. For information on the justice system as a whole, we recommend consulting the section  The justice system of Canada .

Related legal topic(s): Legal process

Created by the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta and made available on LawCentral Schools, the first part of this narrated powerpoint focused on Canadian law presents information on how the legal structure of Canada is organized, the history of our laws and an explanation of the Rule of Law.   The second part discusses legislation including who makes it, how it is made and how it is enforced.  It discusses the 3 levels of government that make laws, with the laws being made according to each government's responsibilities. The last part of the presentation focuses on Common Law and what it is, how it is made and how it is enforced.

Related legal topic(s): Administration of justice, Classroom materials, Legal history, Legal process