Lesson 3: Overview of Court System

Topic 2: Jurisdiction of the Courts

Jurisdiction means the range of powers and/or territory over which a body may act. In the case of a court, jurisdiction concerns the type of case and the physical area over which the court has legal authority.

Each level of court has a specific area of authority, called its jurisdiction. The procedures for deciding which court has jurisdiction in a civil case have been set down by the provincial legislature. The federal Parliament has decided which courts will try the various kinds of criminal cases, and it has established other courts to deal with matters within federal jurisdiction, such as taxation and immigration. Each level of court has its own rules for procedure. These rules specify, for example, the kinds of documents that must be used to start an action and certain time limits that apply. These rules are set out in legislation.