Glossary

C

Canada Revenue Agency

A federal government agency that collects taxes and manages some government programs. One branch of the agency – the Charities Directorate - reviews applications from organizations that want to become registered charities. The Directorate also monitors the operations of registered charities across Canada to ensure they respect the Income Tax Act.

Case law

All of the decisions made courts. Case law is also called jurisprudence. Jurisprudence clarifies the meaning of the law and guides judges who must decide similar cases in the future.

Charge

A charge refers to each of the crimes a person is accused of. All of the charges put together form something called an indictment.

Charitable organization

When it registers a charity, the Canada Revenue Agency assigns the charity to 1 of 3 categories: charitable organization, public foundation or private foundation.

The choice of category depends on whether the charity focuses on carrying out its own activities or giving money to other organizations, the structure of its board of directors and its sources of funding.

Charitable organizations focus on carrying out their own activities.

Registered charities must follow slightly different rules depending on which category they fall into.

Charities Directorate

The branch of the Canada Revenue Agency that reviews applications from organizations that want to become registered charities and monitors the operations of registered charities across Canada to ensure they respect their obligations under the Income Tax Act.

Civil Code of Quebec

A Quebec law that has all of the rules covering interactions between people.

Civil law

A branch of the law that sets out the rules that apply to interactions between people. The civil law covers everything that is not criminal.

Class action

A kind of court case that allows one person to bring a case on behalf of a group of people faced with the same problem.

Clerk

A public servant of the Department of Justice who works in a courthouse. The clerk calls witnesses and asks them to promise to tell the truth. The clerk also writes down in the court record all the main steps that take place in a court case, and makes a list of documents filed as evidence.

Closing address

A presentation made by a lawyer at the end of a trial to persuade the judge that either a claim or defence of a client should be accepted. The closing address is usually done orally, but sometimes it is in writing. It is also called a closing “argument”.

Closing argument

A presentation made by a lawyer at the end of a trial to persuade the judge that either a claim or defence of a client should be accepted. The closing address is usually done orally, but sometimes it is in writing. It is also called a closing "address”.

Code of Civil Procedure

The law that sets out the powers of Quebec courts and establishes rules on court procedures.

Commissioner for oaths

A person who has the authority to give an oath. Giving an oath means asking someone to state the contents of a document or what she will say in court are true.

Company

See "business corporation".

Conditional release

Releasing someone from prison before she has served her whole prison sentence. The person released is placed under supervision. Also, to continue serving her sentence outside prison, she must respect certain rules.

Constitution

A document created by an organization that lists its name, the purpose for which it was created, the structure of its governing body (a board of directors, for example), who can become a member, how the affairs of the organization will be managed, when meetings will be held and other important information about the organization.

Some organizations have both a constitution and by-laws, but many combine these into one document.

Consumer

Under Quebec's Consumer Protection Act, a consumer is an individual who buys a product or service for personal use or benefit, and not for use in a business.

 

Contractual obligations

An obligation to do or not to do something, which flows from an agreement between people. This agreement can in writing or verbal. Promising to mow a neighbour’s lawn is an example of a verbal contract.

Court clerk

A public servant of the Department of Justice who works in a courthouse. The clerk calls witnesses and asks them to promise to tell the truth. The clerk also writes down in the court record all the main steps that take place in a court case, and makes a list of documents filed as evidence.

Court registry

An office in a courthouse where all the documents relating to a court case are filed, including the original versions of court decisions.

Court usher

A public servant employed by the Department of Justice. During trials, the usher announces the arrival of the judge, assists the judge, and maintains order in the courtroom.

Creditor

A person owed something by another person, called a debtor. For example, let’s say that Peter lends Paul $5.00. Peter becomes Paul’s creditor because Paul owes Peter $5.00.

Crime

A crime occurs when someone breaks the law in a serious way. Murder, assault and hostage-taking are some examples. Most crimes are listed in a law called the Criminal Code.

There are special procedures for bringing criminal cases to court.

Also, for certain types of crimes, the lawyer bringing the case against the accused has the choice of handling the case either as a crime or as a less serious “summary offence”. This is the case with drunk driving, for example.

Criminal Code

A law that lists actions that are illegal in Canada. These actions are called criminal “offences”.

The Criminal Code also describes the penalties that judges must impose on people found guilty of offences and the procedures for arrests, searches and seizures, trials, etc.

Criminal law

This refers to the set of rules for dealing with serious violations of the law. These violations are called “criminal offences” or “crimes.” The criminal law also covers certain police and court procedures.

In Canada, the federal government has exclusive power over the criminal law.

A law called the Criminal Code describes the most important offences, the procedures for bringing an accused person to court, and the penalties for people found guilty.

Crown

The Crown refers to both the federal and provincial governments of Canada. This term is used because Canada’s system of government is a constitutional monarchy and governments are representatives of the Queen.

Crown prosecutor / Crown attorney

A lawyer who takes a criminal case to court on behalf of the federal or provincial government. Her role is to present evidence to show that the accused is guilty of the crime he was charged with.

In Québec, the official name for Crown prosecutors is "criminal and penal prosecuting attorneys".

Custody

See "Detention in custody".

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