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In this page: Business Contract | Intellectual Property | Legal Framework of Business | International Dispute Resolution


Business Contract

General Observation
In Canada, the power to regulate commercial operations is shared between federal and provincial governments.
Law Applicable to the Contract
It is preferable to have a contract drawn up by a lawyer or a specialist in business law or commercial law.
Certain international laws are accepted, and Canada has signed agreements with certain countries.
Consult the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website.
Advisable Incoterms
The incoterm most often used for transactions in American countries is FOB. CIF is used above all for products coming from abroad. EXW is used to calculate cost price before departure if the buyer wants to check his transport costs.
Language of Domestic Contract
Contracts must be drawn up in one or other of the official languages.

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Intellectual Property

National Organisations
The organisation responsible for intellectual property in Canada is the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO).
The Copyright Policy Branch for copyright
The Intellectual Property Institute of Canada (IPIC)
Regional Organisations
Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA)
International Membership
Member of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)
Signatory to the Paris Convention For the Protection of Intellectual Property
Membership to the TRIPS agreement - Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

National Regulation and International Agreements

Type of property and law Validity International Agreements Signed
Laws on Patents
20 years
Laws on Trademarks
15 years renewable
Laws on Designs
5 years renewable  
Laws on copyright
50 years after the death of the author. Berne convention For the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of Their Phonograms
Rome ConventionFor the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations
WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty
Industrial Models
Protection of industrial models
5 years  

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Legal Framework of Business

Equity of Judgments

Equal Treatment of Nationals and Foreigners
Canada is a constitutional State. Foreign nationals benefit from the same treatment as citizens of the country, including regarding commercial disputes. Canada is considered to be one of the least corrupt countries in the world.
The Language of Justice
English and French are the two judicial languages of the country.
Recourse to an Interpreter
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees every person has the right to an interpreter for any court appearance in Canada. However, minority groups that have a marginal demographic weight with their jurisdiction have a more more difficult time exercising their linguistic rights before the judicial bodies.
Legal Similarities
The main source of the law is the Canadian Constitution, which is made up of different written and non-written acts, customs, judicial decisions and traditions. The judicial system is based on English Common Law, except in Quebec where it is modeled on French civil law. The judicial power plays an important role in the interpretation of the law; it can repeal laws which violate the Constitution. The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest judicial body in the country.
In Quebec commercial law is modeled on the French Civil Code; whereas commercial law in the English-speaking provinces is mostly inspired by English law.

The Different Legal Codes

Accounting Regulations Acceptable Accounting Principles and Auditing Standards
Contract and Property Law Civil law in Québec, Common law in the rest of the country
Customs Law Customs Act (1985, c.1 (2nd Supp.)
Consumer Law Administered by the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs.

Among the federal laws, there are the Federal Food and Drugs Act, the Hazardous Products Act, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the Motor Vehicle Tire Safety Regulations.
Company Law Canada Business Corporations Act
Investment Law Investment Canada Act
Labour Law Canada Labour Code (L.R.1985, ch.L 2)
Checking National Laws Online
Justice Laws Website
Other Useful Resources
The Supreme Court of Canada
Country Guides
Country Guide Lexmundi

The Jurisdictions

Disputes with the State, the Administration, local authorities concerning their decisions. According to the dispute, the jurisdiction may be federal, provincial or municipal.
Disputes concerning work contracts or between employers and employees null
Trade disputes Provincial jurisdiction or shared between federal and provincial competence.
Civil liability and insurance (third party), public records of individuals, real estate. Provincial jurisdiction.
Criminal responsibility (bankruptcy, misappropriation of funds, being an accessory, etc.) Provincial jurisdiction or shared between federal and provincial competence.

Court Officials

Attorneys plead clients' cases before courts of law.
Defense Counsel
He represents a person accused of an offence. His role consists of ensuring that the defendant's rights are protected from the beginning to the end of the procedures.
The coroner is a public officer with judicial authority who has jurisdiction with regard to all deaths which occur in Quebec. His duty is to investigate any suspicious death and, if necessary, hold an inquest.
The Clerk is an officer of the Court who is in charge of keeping the registers, compiling and keeping the minutes of proceedings and court actions. The Clerk also has certain judicial powers.
In the province of Quebec, the bailiff is a ministerial officer in charge of carrying out the verdicts of the courts. He also makes known the different civil procedures.
Magistrate or Judge
His role is to give a verdict between the litigating parties.
Attorney General
In Canada there is an Attorney General for the Federal Court and the Supreme Court and for each of the provinces. He is in charge of legal proceedings for breaches of the Criminal Code, of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, of other federal laws and all provincial laws of a repressive nature.
Justice of the Peace
Justices of the Peace are ordinary citizens (most of them are not lawyers) who have a good reputation in their community, and who are appointed by the provincial government to hear "information" and "complaints" (relative to crimes) and to set in motion the necessary judicial process.
Registrar of the Supreme Court
The registrar is responsible for the whole of the administration of the Supreme Court and exercises quasi judicial powers conferred on him by the Rules of the Court. His functions include the appointment and management of personnel, the administration of the library and of the Registry, and the publication of the Canada Supreme Court Reports.

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International Dispute Resolution

Arbitration is the procedure for settling legal disputes by resorting to a neutral tribunal chosen by the parties involved. The arbitration tribunal consists either of one arbitrator alone, or an arbitration board which includes an arbitrator chosen by each party and a neutral arbitrator or referee chosen by agreement between the two arbitrators.
Arbitration Law
Two federal laws govern conventional arbitration: the Commercial Arbitration Act, which applies when it is a maritime issue or when the dispute involves the Federal State or one of its agencies, and the Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards Act, which applies when the arbitration affects an issue which comes under the legislative competence of the federal Parliament.
Conformity to International Commercial Arbitration Rules
Party to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Party to the Geneva Protocol on Arbitration Clauses.
Party to the Geneva Convention of the Execution of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Appointment of Arbitrators
The arbitrators are appointed by the Court or by the judges representing the parties. The arbitrators must be independent as regards the case.
Arbitration Procedure
The plaintiffs must present their complaint to a competent tribunal according to the type of complaint. The judge appoints a competent arbitrator or arbitrators who have received adequate training corresponding to the type of dispute.
Once appointed, the arbitrator calls a preparatory meeting, if possible with the consent of each party and within a reasonable time limit. He writes up the minutes of the meeting and notes any agreements or decisions made; he sends a copy to the parties as soon as possible. The final decision of the arbitrator specifies the final offer selected. This decision is binding on the parties. Commercial arbitration decisions are definitive, they are imposed on the parties and are not open to appeal.
Permanent Arbitration Bodies
National Arbitral Bodies (Sectors Covered: all)
Canadian Arbitration Centers (Sectors Covered: commercial)
Board of Referees

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Latest Update: July 2024