The Honourable Nicholas Kasirer's questionnaire [ARCHIVED CONTENT]

Under the new Supreme Court of Canada Judicial Appointments Process and the announcement made by the Prime Minister on April 18, 2019, qualified applicants from among the judges of the Court of Appeal or of the Superior Court of the Province of Quebec or from among the advocates of that Province could apply for appointment to the Supreme Court by completing a Questionnaire. The Questionnaires were used by the Independent Advisory Board for Supreme Court of Canada Judicial Appointments to review candidates and submit a list of 3 to 5 individuals for consideration by the Prime Minister. Candidates were advised that parts of their Questionnaire could be made available to the public should they be chosen as the Prime Minister’s nominee to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Below are Parts 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 10 of the Questionnaire completed by the Honourable Nicholas Kasirer (view Biography).


Questionnaire for the Supreme Court of Canada Judicial Appointment Process



Bar Membership(s):

Bars, Call dates, Reason for cessation of bar membership (i.e. resigned, appointed to the bench, other) and date of reinstatement (if applicable).


1987 to 2009: Barreau du Québec (Montréal section of Bar). Reason for cessation of membership: appointment to the Quebec Court of Appeal on July 29, 2009

Judicial Experience (if applicable):

(Include all dates of appointment)  


July 29, 2009 to present: puisne judge of the Quebec Court of Appeal, with residence in the region of Montréal


(Please confirm the following mandatory requirement statement)

T The Supreme Court Act requires that all justices shall reside in the National Capital Region or within 40 kilometers thereof. I confirm that I either currently meet this requirement or that if appointed, I will move my residence to the National Capital Region or within 40 kilometers thereof.


Please note that in addition to the answers to the questions set out below you may be assessed as to whether you are functionally bilingual.

Without further training, are you able to read and understand court materials in:

·          French: Yes

·          English: Yes

Without further training, are you able to discuss legal matters with your colleagues in:

·          French: Yes

·          English: Yes

Without further training, are you able to converse with counsel in court in:

·          French: Yes

·          English: Yes

Without further training, are you able to understand oral submission in court in:

·          French: Yes

·          English: Yes


Name of Institutions, years attended, degree/diploma and year obtained:


École du Barreau du Québec, professional training diploma from the Barreau, 1987.

University of Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne), Diplôme d'études approfondies (postgraduate level) en droit international public, 1986

McGill University, Faculty of law, Bachelor of Civil Law (B.C.L., Civil Law) and Bachelor of Laws (LL.B., common law), 1985

University of Toronto (University College), Bachelor of Arts (B.A., Hons.), joint major in economics and political science, 1981

Marianopolis College, Diploma of college studies (Social Sciences), 1978

Continuing Education:


Since my appointment to the bench, I have attended continuous training courses offered to judges by the National Judicial Institute, Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice, the Court of Appeal and, on occasion, the Superior Court (Family Division). I very regularly attend scientific activities organized by Quebec law universities, in particular, conferences organized by the Chair Jean-Louis Baudouin (Université de Montréal) and McGill University’s Faculty of Law, and the Barreau du Québec and Montréal, the Lord Reading Law Society, l’Association québécoise de droit comparé, and the Canadian Bar Association (Quebec Division). I myself have given a number of continuous training lectures to judges, lawyers and notaries, legal academics and students during the same period (see Part 7 of the questionnaire).

Academic Awards:


Sir William Macdonald Travelling Fellowship (for graduate studies in law, co-recipient), McGill University (1985)


Chief Justice Greenshields Prize (criminal law, co-recipient), McGill University (1985)


Faculty of law, University of Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne): lauréat de la promotion du D.E.A. (graduate studies) en droit international public (1986)


Please include a chronology of work experience, starting with the most recent and showing employers' names and dates of employment. For legal work, indicate areas of work or specialization with years and, if applicable, indicate if they have changed .

Legal Work Experience:


2009 to present: puisne judge of the Quebec Court of Appeal

2003 to 2009: Dean, Faculty of Law, McGill University

1989 to 2009: regular professor, Faculty of Law, McGill University (1989 to 2009): James McGill Chairholder (2002 to 2009); tenured professor (2002 to 2009);  associate professor (1994 to 2002); adjunct professor (1989 to 1994)

1996 to 2003: Director, Quebec Research Centre for Private and Comparative Law (Centre Paul-André-Crépeau), McGill University

2001-2, 2003-4, 2005-6 (part-time): Guest professor (graduate studies, Comparative Law), University of Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne)

1993, 1991 (summers): Professor, common law/droit civil exchange program, Dalhousie University and the Université de Sherbrooke, Comparative Law; Property Rights.

1990 to 2003 (part-time): École de formation professionnelle, Barreau du Québec: translator and linguistic reviser of Barreau du Québec exams

1987 to 1988: Law Clerk, Supreme Court of Canada (the Honourable Jean Beetz)

1983 to 1987: Intern, articling student, Stikeman Elliott (Montreal, Quebec)

1986 to 1987: Teaching assistant (International Law), Faculty of Law, Université de Montréal

1985: Research assistant (Tax Law), Faculty of Law, McGill University

Non-Legal Work Experience:


2002-2003 Guest researcher, Department of Linguistics and Translation, Université de Montréal (on sabbatical)

Other Professional Experience:

(List all bar associations, legal or judicial-related committees of which you are or have been a member, and give the titles and dates of any offices which you have held in such groups.)


1 ) Federal Advisory Committee on Judicial Appointments (Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs): Chair, Quebec-West Committee (December 2016 to December 2018)

(2) Committee for Access to Justice in English, Barreau de Montréal (2014 to present)

(3) Electronic Registry Committee of the Court of Appeal, Chair (2018 to present)

(4) Member of the Board of Directors, Canadian Institute for Advanced Legal Studies (2017 to present)

(5) Conférence des juges des cours supérieures du Québec, administrator (2013 to 2016), Vice-Chair (2017)

(6) Comité des œuvres d’art of the Court of Appeal (2009 to present)

(7) Chair, Conseil des doyens des facultés de droit du Québec / Council of Quebec Law Deans (2005 to 2008)

(8) Steering Committee, Department of Justice (Canada), Access to Justice in Both Official Languages Program / Programme d’accès to la justice dans les deux langues officielles (PAJLO/POLAJ) (1996 to 2003)

(9) Joint Committee, Barreau du Québec and Chambre des Notaires, Groupe consultatif pour l'amélioration de l'adéquation des textes français et anglais du Code civil du Québec (1996 to 2009)

(10) Barreau de Montréal, Comité de la bibliothèque, Montréal, Qué. (1990 to 2001,  Chair 1998-1999)

(11) Barreau du Québec, Comité des équivalences du Barreau du Québec (1994 to 1997)

(12) Association des professeurs de droit du Québec: Chair (2003-2004), secretary-treasurer (1991-1992)

Member of the Canadian Bar Association (Quebec Division), Lord Reading Law Society, Association québécoise de droit comparé, Canadian Chapter of the International Association of Women Judges, Association Henri-Capitant (Québec), Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice

Pro Bono Activities:

[Original text]

(1) Canadian Foundation of Legal Research / Fondation canadienne de la recherche juridique, affiliée à l'Association du Barreau canadien: membre et fiduciaire (2000 à aujourd’hui; président du conseil 2012-2014)

(2) Secrétaire, Comité de rédaction, Private Law Dictionary et Dictionnaire de droit privé, Faculté de droit, Université McGill (1990 à aujourd'hui)

(3) Membre, Conseil d’administration, Centre Paul-André Crépeau, Université McGill (2012 à aujourd’hui)

(4) Membre, comité scientifique, Revue du Notariat (2011 à aujourd’hui)

(5) Membre, Comité scientifique, Revue de droit de l’Université de Sherbrooke (2007 à aujourd’hui)

(6) Membre, Comité scientifique, Journal of Civil Law Studies (Louisiana State University, 2008 à aujourd’hui)

(7) Membre, Comité de rédaction, Revue internationale de droit comparé, Paris, France (2009 à aujourd’hui)

(8) Recueil jurisprudentiel sur le droit des successions [Estates and Trusts Reports, (Carswell : Scarborough, Ont.)], Rédacteur adjoint (juin 1991 à 2004)

(9) Correspondant, Institut international pour l'unification du droit privé (UNIDROIT), Rome, Italie : (1998 à 2009)

(10) Membre, comité de rédaction, Canadian Journal of Law and Society / Revue canadienne droit et société (2005 à 2009)

(11) Membre, comité de rédaction, Canadian Journal of Legal Education (2005 à 2009)

(12) Comité de rédaction, The Philanthropist (rédacteur pour le Québec) (2000 à 2008)

Teaching and Continuing Education:

[Original text]

(List all legal or judicial educational organizations and activities you have been involved with (e.g. teaching course at a Law Faculty, National Judicial Institute, Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice, etc)

(1) Comité organisateur, Colloque des Journées strasbourgeoises (2012), (2016), (2020), Institut canadien des études juridiques supérieures (2009 à aujourd’hui)

(2) Comité organisateur, Colloque des juges d’appel du Canada, Institut national de la magistrature (2018 à aujourd’hui)

(3) Comité organisateur, Colloque « Génétique, Droit, Éthique », Institut canadien d’administration de la justice, Vancouver (2013), Toronto (2015)

(4) Comité organisateur, assemblées de formation de la Cour d’appel du Québec (2012), (2013)


See below, under “Part 7 – Presentations”, for a list of presentations, conferences and teaching provided.

Community and Civic Activities:

[Original text]

(List all organizations of which you are a member and any offices held (with dates).

(1) Musée des beaux-arts du Québec, membre du comité d’acquisition d’art ancien (2013 à 2018)

(2) Conseil d'administration, Jewish Public Library, Montréal, Québec (1998 à 2005), (membre du Comité exécutif, 1999 à 2002, Ombudsman, 2002 à 2009)

(3) Société royale du Canada (Académie des sciences sociales), comité de nominations des officiers (2009 à 2013)

(4) Co-président, Campagne de levée de fonds Centraide de McGill (2004 à 2006)

Honours and Awards:

[Original text]

2013 Médaille du jubilé de diamant de la Reine Élizabeth II (Canada) (pour souligner des contributions importantes au pays)

2012 Docteur d’honneur en droit, Université de Sherbrooke

2008 Membre/Fellow de la Société royale du Canada (Adadémie des sciences sociales)

2006 Membre titulaire, Académie internationale de droit comparé (Paris); membre associé, 2002 à 2006

2006 Médaille David Johnson pour l’excellence dans la mobilisation de fonds et des rapports avec les anciens, Université McGill

2002 Prix John W. Durnford pour l’excellence dans l’enseignement en droit, Université McGill

1994 Prix de la Fondation du Barreau du Québec (pour « Dire ou définir le droit? » (1994) 28 Revue juridique Thémis 141-175)

1993 Prix Hessel Yntema, décerné par l'American Society of Comparative (pour “The infans as bon père de famille: ‘Objectively Wrongful Conduct’ in the Civil Law Tradition” (1992) 40 American Journal of Comparative Law, 343)


List and explain your areas of legal expertise:


1. Fundamental private law in the civil law tradition

Since my arrival at the Court of Appeal in 2009, fundamental private law had been at the core of my work. This experience is based on more than 20 years of teaching and research in civil law. Working as a judge has allowed me to deepen my knowledge of Quebec civil law – as well as federal private law –, to develop a practical sense of law in the field, and to acquire a certain level of versatility as a civil law practitioner, in the course of delivering judgments in various fields, including in Property Law, Contract and Civil Liability Law, Human Rights Law, Succession Law, Patrimonial Family law, Fiduciary Law, International Private Law, Land Registry, and Commercial Law. A few examples: Watters c. White, 2012 QCCA 257 (civil liability and genetic liability); Larocque c. Gagnon, 2016 QCCA 1237 (testamentary capacity); Yazedjian c. Hassan, 2010 QCCA 2205 (servitude and abuse of right); Threlfall v. Carleton University, 2017 QCCA 1632 (absence and payment not due).

2. Family law

Family litigation on appeal, which falls principally under the Civil Code and the Divorce Act, has provided me with an opportunity to continue intensive work in Family and Child Law, work that I have been carrying on for more than 30 years. An interest in researching the social and historical context of the economic situation of married women constitutes a key foundation of my work as a judge, whether it involves child support/alimony, custody-sharing or division of property/assets (see, for example, Family Law – 132380, 2013 QCCA 1504; Family Law – 10829, 2010 QCCA 713). I have delivered many judgments and orders in this field, covering a wide range of subjects, from unusual topics (e.g., nutritional obligations: Family Law – 093071, 2009 QCCA 2460) to more traditional matters such as those relating to family property and compensatory allowance (e.g., Family Law – 1275, 2012 QCCA 87).

3. Administration of civil justice

The fields of procedural law and class actions have been a central focus of my life as a judge over the past ten years. They are without a doubt the fields to which I have devoted the most time and effort, which has allowed me to make up for my relatively limited practicing experience (after ten years of intensive work in procedural law, I like to think that I have acquired a certain amount of experience). Working as a single judge, in particular centered on issues involving the right of appeal, has been a source of singular satisfaction for me. The advent of the new Code of Civil Procedure has provided judges of the Court with an exceptional opportunity to contribute to the evolution of this field, in particular by allowing us to establish a framework for concepts such as case management and abuse of process.

List and explain other legal areas that you have experience in:


1. Fundamental rights

The criminal context provides opportunities to delve deeper into issues relating to fundamental and Charter rights (see, for example, the right to retain counsel in application of s. 10(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Stevens c. R., 2016 QCCA 1707; on the right under s. 8 to be protected from unreasonable searches, Simard v. R., 2015 QCCA 1266). To be sure, private law litigation with regard to the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms also provides such opportunities with respect to infringements that give rise to punitive damages, but also, in particular, with respect to the right to be protected against discrimination (see, for example, For-Net Montréal inc. c. Chergui, 2014 QCCA 1508; Coopérative d’habitation L’Escale de Montréal c. CDPDJ, 2010 QCCA 1791). As a professor, I also published writings on various aspects in relation to fundamental rights in private law (see, for example, on the duty to come to the aid and assistance under the Quebec Charter, “Agapè” (2001) Revue internationale de droit comparé 575; on the right of same-sex persons to civil unions, “Convoler en juste noces” in P.-C. Lafond & B. Lefebvre, dir., L’union civile, nouveaux modèles de conjugalité et de parentalité au 21e siècle (Cowansville : Éd. Yvon Blais, 2003)).

2. Fundamental public and criminal law

The considerable litigation in matters of judicial review has given rise to a significant amount of work for single judges of the Court, of which I am one. It also brings with it opportunities to help the law evolve, in particular with regard to recent reforms of civil procedure (see, for example, on the distinction in judicial review between an “administrative act” and a “normative act”, Fraternité des policiers de Châteauguay inc. c. Ville de Mercier, 2017 QCCA 1251). I have delivered several other judgments in public law (see, on the jurisdiction of the Superior Court, Immeubles Carosielli inc. c. Club Optimiste Montréal Colombo inc., 2015 QCCA 1807; on municipal law, Entreprise P.S. Roy inc. c. Magog (Ville de), 2013 QCCA 617; on sharing of jurisdiction under the Constitution Act, 1867, Quebec (Attorney General) c. Algonquin Développements Côte-Ste-Catherine inc. (Développements Hydroméga inc.), 2011 QCCA 1942). I note that, in 2016, at the invitation of the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice, I gave a seminar for newly-appointed judges on the general principles of administrative law.

Penal and criminal law make up a significant part of a single judge’s work (see, for example, on releases pending an appeal, Matteo c. R., 2016 QCCA 2046 (cited with approval in R. v. Oland, 2017 CSC 17); on out of time applications for leave, Hudon c. R., 2016 QCCA 2085). Sentencing appeals, despite the strict standard of intervention, confer upon the Court a critical role in ensuring consistency in the field (see, for example, R. c. Cardinal, 2012 QCCA 1838). Having taught general criminal law at the beginning of my career, the intensive work in this area is also a source of satisfaction for me in my legal work (see, for example, on the impact of insufficient grounds in a guilty verdict, Aksoy c. R., 2012 QCCA 610; on double jeopardy, LSJPA – 151, 2015 QCCA 35).

3. Statutory interpretation from a bilingual and bijural perspective

My work as a researcher was marked by a longstanding interest, first, in the relationship between languages and law, and second, in the relationship between civil law and common law (see, for example, “What is vie commune? Qu’est-ce que living together” (1997); “Le real estate existe-t-il en droit civil?” (1998)). This interest gave rise to several jurilinguistic works, which deal with judicial bilingualism – supported by constitutional standards that place value, inter alia, on civil law in English and common law in French – and its relevance to the exercise that is statutory interpretation. In addition, I worked on the first model for the harmonization of civil law with federal law in the 1990s. The idea that federal statutes are addressed to four audiences – civil law in English and French, as well as common law in the two languages – seems fundamental to me, both on a substantive and symbolic level, for an institution like the Supreme Court of Canada.

List all publications, including online and opinion editorials, with dates and citations or links, if available:

Books and works:

[Original text]

(1) Brisson, J.-M. & Kasirer, N., dir. Code civil du Québec : Édition critique/Civil Code of Québec : A Critical Edition, 26e édition, 2018-9 (Cowansville : Éd. Yvon Blais 2018), (en version reliée et à feuilles mobiles avec mises à jour semi-annuelles pour 1997 à 1999) nouvelle version reliée annuelle (2000 à 2018)

(2) Allard, F., Brisson, J.-M., Kasirer, N., Leckey, R., Tremblay, R., Private Law Dictionary and Bilingual Lexicons: Family, 2e éd. (Cowansville : Éd. Yvon Blais, 2016) 162 pp.;

(3) Allard, F., Brisson, J.-M., Kasirer, N., Leckey, R., Tremblay, R., Dictionnaire de droit privé et Lexiques bilingues : Les familles, 2e éd., (Cowansville : Éd. Yvon Blais, 2016), 159 pp.;

(4) Allard, F., Brochu, F., Charpentier, E., Crépeau, P.-A., Devinat, M., Emerich, Y., Kasirer, N., Naccarato, M., Dictionnaire de droit privé et Lexiques bilingues : Les biens, (Cowansville : Éd. Yvon Blais, 2012), 302 pp.;

(5) Allard, F., Brochu, F., Charpentier, E., Crépeau, P.-A., Devinat, M., Emerich, Y., Kasirer, N., Naccarato, M., Private Law Dictionary and Bilingual Lexicons : Property, (Cowansville : Éd. Yvon Blais, 2012), 267 pp.;

(6) Crépeau, P.-A., Brierley, J.E.C., Kasirer, N., Code civil-Civil Code, Édition historique et critique 1866-1993, supplément (Cowansville : Éd. Yvon Blais / Chambre des Notaires, 2012);

(7) Allard, F., Bich, M.-F., Brisson, J.-M., Charpentier, E., Crépeau, P.-A., Devinat, M., Emerich, Y., Forget, P., Kasirer, N., Private Law Dictionary of Obligations (Cowansville :  Éd. Yvon Blais, 2003), 414 pp.;

(8) Allard, F., Bich, M.-F., Brisson, J.-M., Charpentier, E., Crépeau, P.-A., Devinat, M., Emerich, Y., Forget, P., Kasirer, N., Dictionnaire de droit privé des obligations (Cowansville :  Éd. Yvon Blais, 2003), 466 pp.;

(9) Crépeau, P.-A., Allard, F., Brisson, J.-M.,  Cantin Cumyn, M., Deschênes, M., Kasirer, N., Private Law Dictionary of the Family / Dictionnaire de droit privé de la famille (Cowansville : Éd. Yvon Blais, 1999), 378 pp.;

(10) Brierley, J.E.C. & Kasirer, N. dir., Archives of the President of Civil Code Revision Office / Archives du Président de l'Office de révision du Code civil (Montréal : C.R.P.C.Q., 1995), 651 pp. (aussi disponible en version informatisée sous;

(11) Kouri, R., Brierley, J.E.C., Crépeau, P.-A., Haanappel, P.P.C., Kasirer, N. (comité éditorial conjoint Laguë, L., Martineau, P., Mayrand, A.), Private Law Dictionary and Bilingual Lexicons, 2e édition, (Cowansville, Éd. Yvon Blais, 1991), 611 pp.;

Collective works (as director or co-director):

(12) Fortin, Véronique, Jézéquel, Myriam & Kasirer, N., dir., Les sept péchés capitaux et le droit privé (Montréal: Éd. Thémis, 2007), 291 pp.;

(13) Castonguay, Lynne & Kasirer, N., dir., Étudier et enseigner le droit – hier, aujourd’hui et demain : études offertes à Jacques Vanderlinden (Montréal : Éd. Yvon Blais, 2006), 503 pp.;

(14) Gémar, Jean-Claude & Kasirer, N., dir., Jurilinguistique : entre langues et droits/Jurilinguistique Between Law and Language (Bruxelles/Montréal : Bruylant/Thémis, 2005), 596 pp.;

(15) Lortie, Serge, Kasirer, N. & Belley, Jean-Guy, dir., Du Code civil du Québec : Contribution à l’histoire immédiate d’une codification réussie (Montréal : Thémis, 2005), 682 pp.;

(16) Kasirer, N., dir., Le droit civil, avant tout un style? (Montréal : Éd. Thémis, 2003),  228 pp.;

(17) Kasirer, N. & Noreau, Pierre, dir., Sources et instruments de justice en droit privé (Montréal : Éd.Thémis, 2002), 627pp.;

(18) Kasirer, N., dir., La solitude en droit privé (Montréal: Thémis, 2002), 302 pp.;

(19) Kasirer, N., Des Rosiers, N. et al., dir., Law and Legislation : (Numéro spécial, 2001) 47 Revue de droit de McGill 1;

(20) Kasirer, N., dir., Le faux en droit privé (Montréal:  Éd. Thémis, 2000), 211 pp.;

(21) Kasirer, N. & Snow, G., dirs., Harmonisation et dissonance : Langues et droit au Canada et en Europe (Numéro spécial, (2000) 3 (nos 1 & 2) Revue de la common law en français, 278 pp;

(22) Brierley, J.E.C., Kasirer, N., Jutras, D., Macdonald, R.A., Morissette, Y.-M., dir., Mélanges Paul-André Crépeau (Montréal :  Éd. Yvon Blais, 1997), 730 pp.;

(23) Baudouin, J.-L., Brisson, J.-M., Chevrette, F., Côté, P.-A., Kasirer, N., Lefebvre, G., dir., Mélanges Jean Beetz (Montréal : Éd. Thémis, 1995) 871 pp.;

Articles :

(1) “François Chevrette : Legal Translator,” Daniel Chénard, dir., Le monde de François Chevrette 1941 à 2012 (2018);

(2) “La ‘métrification’ du Code civil”, Marie-France Bureau et Mathieu Devinat, dir., Les livres du Code civil du Québec (Sherbrooke : Éd. R.D.U.S., 2014) 378;

(3) “Keep Calm and Teach Gaius”, (2016) 76 Louisiana Law Review 1109;

(4) “What is the Place of Les Obligations in Quebec Civil Law?” dans Benoit Moore, dir., Mélanges Jean-Louis Baudouin (Cowansville : Éd. Yvon Blais, 2012) 455;

(5) “Translating Part of France’s Legal Heritage: Aubry and Rau on the patrimoine” (2008) 38 Revue générale de droit 453;

(6) “Délit interdit!” in J. -G. Belley, dir., Regards croisés sur le droit privé/Cross-Examining Private Law : Centre de recherche en droit privé et comparé du Québec, Colloque du trentenaire (Cowansville : Éd. Yvon Blais, 2008), 203;

(7) “Sept péchés juridiques et confessions doctrinales” dans Les sept péchés capitaux et le droit privé (Montréal : Ed. Thémis, 2007) 3;

(8) “L’outre-loi” in Castonguay, L. & Kasirer, Nicholas, eds., Étudier et enseigner le droit : hier, aujourd’hui, et demain – études offertes à Jacques Vanderlinden (Brussels/ Montreal : Bruylant/Ed. Yvon Blais, 2006) 329;

(9) “The Dance is One” (2008) 20 Law & Literature 69-88, réimpression dans Sylvio Normand dir., Mélanges François Frenette (Québec , PUL, 2006) 1;

(10) “Si la Joconde se trouve au Louvre, où trouve-t-on le Code civil du Bas Canada?" (2005) 46 Cahiers de droit 486-518;

(11) “A Civil Law Dictionary for the droit commun” et “Is the Canadian Jurilinguist – Living entre langues et droits – a Middle Power?” et in Gémar, J.-C. and Kasirer, N., dir., Jurilinguistique: entre langues et droits/Jurilinguistics: Between Law and Language (Bruxelles/Montréal:; Bruylant/Thémis, 2005) 43, 579;

(12) “Of combats livrés and combats livresques” (2004) 19 Canadian Journal of Law and Society 153;

(13) “Legal Education as Métissage” (2003) 78 Tulane Law Review 481;

(14) “Pothier from A to Z” in Benoît Moore, dir., Mélanges Jean Pineau (Montréal :  Éd. Thémis, 2003) 387;

(15) “Portalis Now” in Le droit civil avant tout un style? (Montréal : Éd. Thémis, 2003) 1;

(16) “English Private Law, Outside-in” (2003) Oxford U. Commonwealth Law Journal 249;

(17) “Convoler en justes noces” in P.-C. Lafond & B. Lefebvre, dir., L’union civile, nouveaux modèles de conjugalité et de parentalité au 21e siècle (Cowansville : Éd. Yvon Blais, 2003) 29;

(18) “Le droit robinsonien” in La solitude en droit privé (Montréal, Éd. Thémis, 2002), 1-45, réimpression dans Jacques Vanderlinden, dir,, La structure des systèmes juridiques (Bruxelles: Bruylant, 2003) 195-231;

(19) “Bijuralism in Law’s Empire and Law’s Cosmos” (2002) 52 Journal of Legal Education 29;

(20) “European Private Law in Boxes and Bundles”, (2002) 3 European Review of Private Law 417;

(21) “Honour Bound” (2001) 47 Revue de droit de McGill 237;

(22) “François Gény’s libre recherche scientifique as a Guide to Legal Translation” (2001) 61 Louisiana Law Review 331;

(23) “Agapè” (2001) Revue internationale de droit comparé 575, réimpression dans Actes des Journées strasbourgeoises 2000 — Droits de la personne : Solidarité et bonne foi (Cowansville : Éd. Yvon Blais, 2000) 215;

(24) “Lear et le droit civil” (2000) 46 Revue de droit de McGill 293;

(25) “Lex-icographie mercatoria”, (1999) 47 American Journal of Comparative Law, 653;

(26) “Le real estate existe-t-il en droit civil?” (1998) 29 Revue générale de droit 465, réimpression dans Rodolfo Sacco & Luca Castellani, ed., Les multiples langues du droit européen uniforme (Turin (It.) : L’Harmattan Italia, 1999) 89;

(27) “From Written Record to Memory in the Law of Wills” (1997-8) 29 University of Ottawa Law Review 39;

(28) “La mort du positivisme?  L'exemple du cimetière” dans Bjarne Melkevik, dir. Transformation de la culture juridique québécoise: est-ce la fin de l'hégémonie positiviste? (Québec, Presses de l’Université Laval, 1998) 199;

(29) “'K' as a Structure of Anglo-American Legal Knowledge” (1997) 22 Canadian Law Libraries / Bibliothèques de droit canadiennes 159 et reproduit dans Lenore Rapkin, A Civil Law Lexicon for Library Classification (Buffalo: William Hein, 1998);

(30) “The ‘Judicial Will’ Architecturally Considered” (1996) 99 Revue du Notariat 3;

(31) “What is vie commune?  Qu'est-ce que Living Together?” dans Mélanges Paul-André Crépeau (Montréal :  Éd. Yvon Blais, 1997) 487;

(32) “Larger than Life” (1995) 10 Canadian Journal of Law and Society 185;

(33) “Testing the Origins of the Family Patrimony in Everyday Law” (1995) Cahiers de Droit 795;

(34) “The Married Woman in Ascendance, the Mother Country in Retreat:  From Legal Colonialism to Legal Nationalism in Quebec Matrimonial Law Reform (1866-1991)” (avec J.-M. Brisson) (1995) 23 Manitoba Law Journal 406, réimpression dans W. Pue & D. Guth, eds, Canada's Legal Inheritances (Winnipeg: Univ. of Manitoba Press, 2001);

(35) “Couvrez cette communauté que je ne saurais voir : Equity and Fault in the Division of Quebec's Family Patrimony” (1994) 25 Revue générale de droit 569, réimpression dans H.P. Glenn, éd., Contemporary Law / Droit Contemporain 1994 (Cowansville : Éd. Yvon Blais, 1994);

(36) “Dire ou définir le droit?” (1994) 28 Revue juridique Thémis 141, réimpression dans G. Snow & J. Vanderlinden, éds., Français juridique et science du droit (Bruxelles:  Bruylant, 1995) 165;

(37) “Le Code civil et la femme mariée : une commune émancipation?” (avec J.-M. Brisson) dans H.P. Glenn, dir., Droit québécois et droit français : communauté, autonomie, concordance (Montréal : Éd. Yvon Blais, 1993) 221;

(38) “'Apostolat juridique': Law Teaching in the Career of Marie Gérin-Lajoie (1867-1945)”, (1992) 30 Osgoode Hall Law Journal 427;

(39) “The infans as bon père de famille:  'Objectively Wrongful Conduct' in the Civil Law Tradition”, (1992) 40 American Journal of Comparative Law 343;

(40) “Matrimonial Property Law” dans R.A. Macdonald & J.E.C. Brierley dir., Quebec Civil Law (Toronto, Emond Montgomery, 1993) 304;

(41) “Annotated Criminal Codes en version québécoise: Signs of Territoriality in Canadian Criminal Law”, (1990) 13 Dalhousie Law Journal 520;

(42) “Canada's Criminal Law Codification Viewed and Reviewed”, (1990) 35 Revue de droit de McGill 841;

(43) “A Reading of Georges Scelle’s Précis de droit des gens”, (1986) 24 Canadian Yearbook of International Law 372;

(44) “Equine Business Organizations”, (1985) 31 Revue de droit de McGill 159.

Commentaries, forewords, notes

(45) “Préface” Développements récents en déontologie, Droit professionnel et Disciplinaire, Barreau du Québec, Volume 444, (Montréal, Éditions Yvon Blais, 2018) IX-XI;

(46) “Preface” in Sébastien Grammond et al., Quebec Contract Law, (Montreal: Wilson & Lafleur, 2016) vii-x;

(47) “Préface” in Jean-Claude Gémar & Vo Ho-Thuy, Nouvelles difficultés du langage du droit au Canada - Dits et maux de Thémis (Montréal, Les Éditions Thémis inc., 2016) XI-XIV;

(48) “Rod Macdonald : Point de bascule” in Richard Janda, Rosalie Jukier and Daniel Jutras, dir., The Unbounded Level of the Mind: Rod Macdonald’s Legal Imagination (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015) 252-255;

(49) “Foreword”, Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation / Manuel canadien de référence juridique , 8e éd., (Toronto: Carswell, 2014) E-xi─E-xiii;

(50) “In memorium H. Patrick Glenn (1940-2014)”, (2014) 66 Revue internationale de droit comparé 1117;

(51) “Préface” in Heikki E.S. Mattila, Jurilinguistique comparée – langage du droit, latin et langues modernes (Cowansville, Éd. Yvon Blais, 2012) VII-X;

(52) “Préface” in Jacques Vanderlinden et al, La common law de A à Z (Cowansville : Ed. Yvon Blais 2010) XI-XVI;

(53) “Preface” in Michel Bastarache et al., The Law of Bilingual Interpretation (Markham: LexisNexis, 2008), v-ix;

(54) “Préface” in Marie-France Bureau, Le droit de filiation entre ciel et terre : étude du discours juridique québécois (Cowansville: Ed. Yvon Blais, 2009);

(55) “Préface” in Louis Fortier, Methodological Table of Contents of the Civil Code of Québec (Montréal: Wilson & Lafleur, 2009);

(56) “Préface” in Salah Basalamah, Le droit de traduire : une politique culturelle pour la mondialisation (Ottawa: Presses d’Univ. d’Ottawa/Univ. d’Artois, 2009);

(57) “Trente fois merci” in J.-G. Belley, ed., Regards croisés sur le droit privé/Cross-Examining Private Law: Centre de recherche en droit privé et comparé du Québec, Colloque du trentenaire (Cowansville: Ed. Yvon Blais, 2008) XIII-XV;

(58) “Préface”, (2007) 1 McGill Health Law Publication 1;

(59) "Présentation de la Conférence Wainwright 2006" (2007) 52 McGill L.J. 209-213;

(60) “Le droit en-chanté” in Castonguay L. & Kasirer, N., dir., Étudier et enseigner le droit : hier, aujourd’hui et demain, (Brussels/Montreal, Bruylant/Éd. Yvon Blais, 2006) 1-12;

(61) “Préface” in Julie Desrosiers, Isolement et mesures disciplinaires dans les centres de réadaption pour jeunes (Montréal : Wilson & Lafleur, 2005) V-VII;

(62) “Foreword” in B. St-Laurent, dir., You’re Not Alone! A Law Student’s Guide to Careers in the Public Interest (Montréal: McGill/Ed. Yvon Blais, 2005) 5-6;

(63) “Introduction: John Tait Memorial Lecture”, (2005) 50 R.D. McGill 155-7;

(64) “Préface” in Denis Mouralis, Le sort du conjoint survivant, un exercice de droit comparé (Aix-en-Provence, Presse universitaires d’Aix-Marseille, 2003);

(65) “Qu’est-ce que le droit civil canadien?” dans P.-A. Crépeau, La renaissance du droit civil canadien : une certaine idée de la recodification (Montréal: Éd. Thémis, 2003) 15-24;

(66) “L’ambivalence lexicographique en droit d’auteur canadien” dans I. de Lamberterie, et al., Dictionnaire comparé du droit d’auteur et du copyright (Paris, Éd. C.N.R.S., 2003), 313-318;

(67) “Préface” [au numéro spécial  “Droit et législation”] (avec N. Des Rosiers et al.,) (2001) 47 Revue de droit de McGill 1;

(68) “Le faux témoignage du Droit” dans Le faux en droit privé (Montréal:  Éd. Thémis, 2000) ix-xx;

(69) “Lexicographical Note: Damage / Dommage and Injury / Préjudice”  (avec F. Allard et al.) (2000) 68 Circuit 9;

(70) “Chants législatifs en terre canadienne” dans Isabelle de Lamberterie & Dominique Breillat, dir., Le français langue du Droit (Paris: P.U.F., 2000) 45-54;

(71) “Avant-propos : Harmonisation et dissonance ─ langues et droit au Canada et en Europe” (avec G. Snow), (2000) 3 (Nos 1 & 2)  Revue de la common law en français 1;

(72) “Familiarité et formalité dans le lexique du droit de la famille” dans Dictionnaire de droit privé de la famille (Cowansville: Éd. Yvon Blais, 1999) xv-xii;

(73) “Le parfait notaire”, (1999) 101 Revue du Notariat 403, reproduit dans “Note préliminaire” in P.-Y. Marquis, Traité de droit: La responsabilité civile du notaire (Cowansville : Éd. Yvon Blais, 1999) xiii-xix;

(74) “Notes lexicographiques / Lexicographical Notes: Succession – Succession” (avec France Allard et al.) (1999) 101 Revue du Notariat 130;

(75) “Note préliminaire” dans G. Goldstein & E. Groffier, Traité de droit civil: Le droit international privé, t. 1 (Cowansville : Éd. Yvon Blais, 1998), ix-xix;

(76) “Good Faith from a Canadian Perspective - La bonne foi de la perspective du Canada” (avec F. Allard et al.) (1999) Uniform Law Review 87;

(77) “'Values’ in Law Reform and Law’s Conscience” dans P.-A. Crépeau, The UNIDROIT Principles and the Civil Code of Québec:  Shared Values? (Scarborough: Carswell, 1998);

(78) “Notes lexicographiques / Lexicographical Notes: Droit réel - Real Right” (avec F. Allard et al.) (1998) 100 Revue du Notar iat 275;

(79) “Note préliminaire” dans P.-G. Jobin, Traité de droit civil : Le louage, 2e éd. (Cowansville : Éd. Yvon Blais, 1996) ix-xiii;

(80) “Note introductive & Introductory Note” dans Mélanges Paul-André Crépeau (Cowansville : Éd. Yvon Blais, 1997) xx-xxv (co-signées avec le Comité de rédaction);

(81) “Compte rendu : Nicolle Forget, De la curatelle au curateur public”, (1996) 50 Revue d'histoire de l'Amérique française 321-2;

(82) “Marie Gérin-Lajoie”, (1996) 9(2) Entreprendre 33-III;

(83) “Préface” dans Mélanges Jean Beetz (Montréal : Éd. Thémis, 1995) 11-14 (co-signées avec le Comité de rédaction);

(84) “Defences and Exceptions to Extradition”, (1991) Revue internationale de droit pénal 91-103;

(85) “Distinction juridique employé-travailleur autonome et le problème des sources du droit” (avec P. Archambault), (1987) 9 Revue de planification fiscale et successorale 287-302;

(86) “The Surrogate Motherhood Agreement: A Proposed Standard Form Contract for Quebec”, (1985) 16 Revue de droit de l’Université de Sherbrooke 351-387

List all presentations that you have given over the past 10 years (that are not included under Teaching and Continuing Education; e.g presentations to members of the public, etc.):

[Original text]

(1) 22e Conférence Albert-Mayrand – Université de Montréal, “Memento mori : souvenirs de famille, dévolution successorale et l’article 643 C.c.Q.”, 14 mars 2019;

(2) Concordia University, Montreal, “New Family Realities and An Aging Family Law: Can Quebec Law Keep Up?”, January 29, 2019;

(3) Réunion conjointe des juges de la Cour d’appel du Québec et de la Cour d’appel de l’Ontario, "Arrêts prononcés séance tenante", 11 octobre 2018;

(4) 12e Institut d’été de jurilinguistique, Université McGill, "Coder / Décoder : linguistique et concepts juridiques", 15 juin 2018;

(5) Advanced Property and Trusts Seminar, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford, "Patrimonial Rights in the Civil Law and the Common Law Trust" (avec le prof. Lionel Smith), 1 juin 2018;

(6) Colloque du Barreau du Québec, Développements récents en déontologie, droit professionnel et disciplinaire, Montréal, Présidence du Colloque et allocution, 11 mai 2018;

(7) American College for Trial Lawyers – Annual Meeting, Montreal, "That Montreal Sound", 16 septembre 2017;

(8) Faculty of Law, University of Oxford, "Patrimony and Assets" (avec le prof. Lionel Smith), April 24, 2017;

(9) Séminaire journées en droit civil, Cour du Québec, Bécancour, Québec, “Lac d’Amiante, le droit commun judiciaire et le nouveau code de procédure civile”, 13 octobre 2016;

(10) Lord Reading Law Society, Montréal, “Human Rights in the Life and Work of Professor Irwin Cotler”, May 25, 2016;

(11) Colloque du 40e anniversaire du Centre Paul-André Crépeau, Université McGill, “Discours de clôture : ʻLa responsabilité de la doctrineʼ”, 12 février 2016;

(12) William Tetley Memorial Symposium, McGill University, “Law and Art in the Life of William Tetley”, June 19, 2015;

(13) Colloque Hommage à l’Honorable Louis LeBel, Université Laval, “Un droit écrit et codifié, régi par une traduction d’interprétation civiliste : Lac d’Amiante et le nouveau code de procédure”, 28-29 mai 2015;

(14) Formation aux juges nouvellement nommés à la magistrature fédérale, Institut canadien d’administration de la justice, Gatineau, Québec, “Droit administratif : théorie générale”, 9 avril 2015;

(15) Cour supérieure du Québec, Chambre de la famille 2014-2015, Palais de justice de Montréal, “Que reste-t-il de Moge?”, 28 janvier 2015;

(16) 37th Tucker Lecture in Civil Law, Louisiana State University Law School, Baton Rouge, LA., “The influence of French Ideas on the Civil Law Expressed in English”, 10 April 2014;

(17) Colloque national sur les recours collectifs, Association du Barreau canadien / Barreau du Québec, Montréal, “Appeals in Class Actions: A View from the Bench”, 21 mars 2014;

(18) Symposium en hommage à Rod Macdonald, Université McGill, “Rod Macdonald: Point de bascule”, 6 février 2014;

(19) Collation des grades, Université de Sherbrooke, Allocution lors de l’attribution du doctorat honoris causa, 22 septembre 2012;

(20) La Conférence Beetz-Laskin en droit constitutionnel, Faculté de droit, Université de Montréal, “Jean Beetz : juge et professeur”, 14 septembre 2012;

(21) 6e Institut d’été de jurilinguistique, Université McGill, “Language and Courtesy in Law”, 27 août 2012;

(22) Chaire Jean-Louis Baudouin, Faculté de droit Université de Montréal, “Jean-Louis Baudouin, l’auteur : la place du Droit des obligations dans l’histoire de la doctrine québécoise”, 22 mars 2012;

(23) World City Bar Leaders Conference, Barreau de Montréal, “Trans-systemic International Commercial Transactions”, September 5, 2011;

(24) Symposium à la mémoire du juge Charles D. Gonthier, Université McGill, “Pour une pensée juridique nomade à la Cour suprême”, 21 mai 2011;

(25) Colloque de formation des avocats en matière civile, Conférence Barreau de Montréal, “Actualités en appel, Droit de la famille”, 1er décembre 2010;

(26) Congress of Brazilian Magistrates Association, “Civilian Ownership and Common Law Trusts”, Faculté de droit, Université de Montréal, 11 septembre 2010;

(27) Jeune Barreau de Montréal, “Droit patrimonial de la famille : À qui les alliances?”, 14 mai 2010;

(28) Eason-Weinmann Lecture on Comparative Law, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA., “The Aspern Papers”, November 11, 2009.


1-List and forward, in separate e-mails for each document, five decisions, legal documents (factums, etc.) or publications that you have written that demonstrate your analytical skills, your ability to resolve complex legal problems and your excellence in legal writing. Provide, below, a synopsis of no more than 300 words for each decision/document/publication and explain your reason for selecting it.

Synopsis 1:


Stations de la vallée de St-Sauveur inc. c. M.A., 2010 QCCA 1509

Civil liability action commenced by a seven year-old boy following a serious skiing accident. The elements of liability were all challenged on appeal by the ski resort: the existence of blame and causal link, as well as the extent of the damage suffered, essentially neurological. Appeal dismissed.

The writing of this decision required an in-depth analysis of civil liability law, in particular with regard to the implicit obligations in a contract. The trial judge, and the parties, had deemed the incident a breach of contract, reflexively following the strong trend in sporting accidents. However, the accident occurred during a ski lesson. Thus, even though there was no written contract with the ski resort, the breach was contractual in origin and based on a violation of an implicit safety obligation inherent to any agreement of this type.

In my view the judgment attests to an exercise founded on knowledge of the sources and methods of fundamental civil law. In it one can hopefully see the reflection of a career of teaching civil law and numerous writings in contract law, including the Dictionnaire de droit privé des obligations (2004). The analytical framework falls squarely within the civil law tradition. However, the analysis of damages, and in particular of non-pecuniary damages, required the consideration of the influence that the doctrine and jurisprudence from the common law tradition may have over civil liability law in Quebec, though without distorting it.

Among my first decisions written for the Court, St-Sauveur is cited by Quebec doctrine and case law, including that of the Supreme Court of Canada. Taught in several law schools, I would like to think that it is considered, in the civil law tradition from here, as a decision of interest in contract law.

Synopsis 2:


Option Consommateurs c. Infineon Technologies, a.g., 2011 QCCA 2116

Appeal from a judgment dismissing an application for authorization to institute a class action. Appeal allowed. Judgment affirmed by the Supreme Court: [2013] 3 S.C.R. 600 (reasons by Justices LeBel and Wagner (prior to his appointment as Chief Justice)).

This decision evokes the complex legal issues that arise in class actions. It also shows an analysis, in fundamental civil law, relative to a question on the territorial jurisdiction of Quebec courts in international private law.

The decision also provides an example of a bilingual statutory interpretation and shows how, in class actions, Quebec law may benefit from pan-Canadian and even U.S. case law, without compromising its specificity.

Justices LeBel and Wagner wrote a leading case in Infineon. In it, the Supreme Court set out the law in relation to the relevant criteria for authorizing class actions in Quebec and in other Canadian jurisdictions. The Court’s teachings are particularly fine and certainly go beyond the scope of the Court of Appeal decision. One might believe, however, that our decision contributed to the Supreme Court’s reflection, given that it generously cites parts of the decision, inter alia, at paragraphs 46, 91, 96, 129, 138 and 153 of its analysis.

This judgment is one of a collection of class action cases that includes a frequently cited decision on the test to be applied in considering whether to grant leave to bring a consumer class action (Sibiga c. Fido Solutions inc., 2016 QCCA 1299) and a case on the harmonization of the national rules governing secondary market liability class actions (Amaya inc. c. Derome, 2018 QCCA 120).

Synopsis 3:


Droit de la famille – 14175, 2014 QCCA 216

Appeal from a judgment that dismissed an application for spousal support after a marriage referred to as “traditional”.  Appeal allowed.

A couple of modest means obtained a divorce after a long marriage. No spousal support was awarded to the ex-wife. The children reached the age of majority, but their mother did not achieve financial self-sufficiency right away and turned to her ex-spouse for spousal support. The judge dismissed her motion, treating it as an application for a variation order and criticizing her lack of effort to find employment after the breakdown of the marriage. The issue is a familiar one: at what point does the inadequacy of the efforts made by an ex-spouse to become financially self-sufficient effectively eliminate the “compensatory” basis of spousal support sought under the Divorce Act? Despite the importance of the Supreme Court’s decision in Moge v. Moge, Quebec case law often gives predominance to the objective of promoting economic self-sufficiency and denies so-called compensatory support to ex-wives, trivializing the economic value of domestic work. On appeal, deference to the trial judge’s discretionary power can represent a major obstacle to intervention.

In this case, American sources on the theory of alimony inspired an intervention based on the concept of loss of earning power: paras. [67] to [70]. The approach adopted is also consistent with the goal of harmonizing civil law and federal law. For another case in which the social context outside Quebec was used to shed light on the difficulties faced by economically vulnerable women going through a divorce, see: Droit de la famille – 132380, 2013 QCCA 1504.

Synopsis 4:


R. c. Rayo, 2018 QCCA 824

Appeal by the prosecution from a global sentence imposed for multiple sexual offences committed against a child. Appeal allowed.

An important aspect of the work of Canadian appellate courts, appeals on sentencing do not often give rise to interventions given the deference owed to trial judges: R. v. Lacasse, [2015] 3 S.C.R. 1089.

In Rayo, the Court intervened, having identified a reviewable error in the choice to impose a concurrent sentence for the offence of luring a child. The analysis addressed the method to be followed in determining a global sentence for multiple offences. This required a review of the distinct nature of the offence of luring and sensitivity to the social context in which children are victimized by this crime in the Internet age.

One novel aspect of Rayo is that it highlights – through its interpretation of the French and English text of s. 718.01 Cr.C. on child victims – the dual functions, “prescriptive” and “pedagogical”, of the Criminal Code in this respect, with its requirement that the judge give “une attention particulière / primary consideration” to the objectives of denunciation and deterrence in sentences involving the mistreatment of a child (see paras. [103] et seq.).

A considerable amount of research was required to draft this judgment. In addition to providing an in-depth review of the pan-Canadian case law, the reasons rely on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, socio-economic studies and American and French doctrinal sources. The case has been cited by courts at various levels across the country (Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador), including in Quebec.

Synopsis 5:


Nicholas Kasirer, “Honour Bound”, (2001) 47 McGill Law Journal 237 to 259

This article was prepared for a seminar on legislation organized by the Law Commission of Canada. Using as a springboard article 597 of the Civil Code of Québec, which provides that every child, regardless of age, owes respect to his father and mother, the paper highlights the paradox that, in certain exceptional cases, a legislative rule may not in fact be “legally binding”. Through an analysis of Quebec and French civil law sources, as well as texts drawn from non-legal disciplines, the article seeks to elucidate why the legislator has imposed a “legal duty” that is not backed up by judicial sanction. It is therefore a paper on legal theory whose purpose is to question the foundations of private law in the civil law tradition and draw out some of the ideas behind the provisions of the Civil Code governing parent-child relations.

2-Describe the five (5) most significant cases or matters that you dealt with while in legal practice or as a judge and how you dealt with them:

[Original Text]

What follows is a list of five cases in which I wrote reasons for judgment of the Court of Appeal and which might be considered “significant” as designated by the question.

I hasten to say that the most far-reaching case in which I shared in the preparation of unanimous reasons is arguably Imperial Tobacco Canada ltée c. Conseil québécois sur le tabac et la santé, 2019 QCCA 358 (Morissette, Hilton, Bich, Kasirer and Parent, JJ.A.), rendered on March 1, 2019. It is 417 pages in length and numbers 1285 paragraphs. The Court dismissed an appeal against a judgment maintaining two class actions against three tobacco companies brought by smokers who developed lung cancer and smokers who developed an addiction to tobacco. The appeal concerns the liability of manufacturers and the private law duty to inform; fault, causation and the apportionment of liability; wrongful conduct including misrepresentation under the Consumer Protection Act; violation of fundamental rights under the Quebec Charter; prescription; punitive damages; and various other issues including some related to class action procedure and practice.

The reasons for judgment in Imperial Tobacco are signed by the five-member panel and authorship is not otherwise identified. In the circumstances, I thought it more useful for the Committee’s task of undertaking a skills assessment to identify five cases in which I am designated as the sole author of reasons for judgment of the Court.


1. Dunkin’ Brands Canada Ltd. v. Bertico inc., 2015 QCCA 624

Appeal by a franchisor from a judgment that held it to be in breach of franchise agreements following the collapse of a major fast-food chain in Quebec, awarding the respondent franchisees $16.4M. Appeal allowed for the sole purpose of reducing the amount of the damage award.

This outsized appeal involved hundreds of volumes of evidence and many hours of pleading, giving rise to the 53-page judgment on appeal. The law relating to the innominate contract of franchise is underexplored in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada. This case takes on some importance for that reason, and in particular for the treatment of the implied obligational content of the franchise agreements pursuant to article 1434 C.C.Q., including the obligation of good faith. The judgment characterized the nature of franchise agreements as what American scholars, and at least one Quebec professor, have called “relational contracts”. These arrangements establish long-term cooperation and collaboration between contracting parties who have some shared and some adverse business goals. French and American law was cited in this judgment to supplement Quebec sources in order to analyze the franchise business model. An analytically similar exercise was undertaken for a franchise arrangement in my majority reasons in Comité paritaire de l'entretien d'édifices publics de la région de Québec c. Modern Concept d'entretien inc., 2017 QCCA 1237 (recently confirmed by the Supreme Court in majority reasons: 2019 SCC 28).

In Dunkin’ Brands, the Court of Appeal confirmed the finding that the franchisor had an implied contractual obligation to act in good faith, setting out a dual normative justification based on the nature of the contract and in equity (see paras [71] et seq.). Civil law sources of the obligation of good faith were viewed as consonant with notions of corrective justice, and comparison was drawn to the common law analogue recognized of late by the Supreme Court.

2. R. v. Diabo, 2018 QCCA 1631

Crown appeal of a sentence for two Indigenous offenders who pleaded guilty to offences under the Excise Act, 2001 for tobacco smuggling on a Mohawk reserve. The sentencing judge declined to impose prison terms. On appeal, the Crown argued that the judge failed to follow the method of analysis proposed by the Supreme Court in R. v. Gladue. Given the dimension of the smuggling involved and what it perceived to be the offenders’ relatively fortunate social and economic circumstances, the Crown argued that the judge erred in not imposing prison terms, suggesting she did so merely because the offenders were Indigenous. Moreover, the Crown argued on appeal that the “scourge” of tobacco smuggling in the area required, for reasons of deterrence and denunciation, a 90-day prison term to be imposed.

Our Court dismissed the appeal. I wrote that the Crown fell prey to the misperception, described by LeBel J. in Ipeelee, [2012] 1 S.C.R. 433, that s. 718.2(e) Cr.C. and the Gladue principles offer a “race-based discount” to Indigenous offenders. In Diabo, the Crown was not only mistaken in law, its appeal was predicated on a fundamental misunderstanding of the social context in which Indigenous peoples live, in particular the Mohawk community near Montreal. Despite its compelling clarity, Ipeelee and the cases following it are not sufficiently well known in Quebec. The judgment in Diabo draws liberally from the cases decided elsewhere in Canada and seeks to highlight how a misapprehension of social and historical circumstances, in particular in the case of Indigenous peoples, can lead to fundamentally inappropriate application of the law, and of sentencing principles in particular.

3. Turmel v. Turmel, 2010 QCCA 653

Appeal from a judgment dismissing a motion to quash a subpoena seeking to force the appellant, a 91-year old man, to undergo a medical examination. Appeal dismissed.

A son sought to have his elderly father examined medically to determine whether the father had the requisite cognitive faculties to act as president of a family charity. The older man asked that the subpoena be quashed, arguing, among other things, that a forced medical exam would violate his right to privacy and to integrity of the person.

The Court confirmed the trial judge’s conclusion that the forced exam did not constitute a wrongful violation of the appellant’s fundamental rights guaranteed by the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms or of his personality rights under the Civil Code of Québec. The judgment of the Court reviews the manner in which the law of procedure and the fundamental rights in the Charter interact and evaluates the limits on the right to inviolability of the person (see paras. [47] et seq.).  It also considers the proper ways and means of protection afforded to elders against exploitation under the Quebec Charter and the civil law of persons.

4. Centre commercial Les Rivières ltée v. Jean bleu inc., 2012 QCCA 1663

Appeal from a judgment that declared the appellant guilty of contempt of court. Appeal allowed.

This judgment highlights the renewal of Quebec civil procedure, and the advent of broad powers for front-line judges, and specifically the circumstances in which the transgression of a case management order can give rise to a finding of contempt of court. Much of the work of the Court of Appeal in the recent past, including my own, pertains to this “nouvelle culture judiciaire”. This case recalls, however, the solemnity of contempt proceedings and how they should be used sparingly even within the context of expanded powers of case management judges in first instance. Methodologically, the judgment in appeal illustrates an effort to place changes to Quebec law bearing on the administration of civil justice in a broader setting, extending here to an examination of relevant commonwealth scholarship and decided cases on contempt, alongside of the classical jurisprudence in Quebec law.

The Supreme Court cited this judgment with approval, in particular its para. [7], in Carey v. Laiken, [2015] 2 S.C.R. 79 (on appeal from Ontario). No doubt on the strength of that approval, Jean bleu has been cited by courts in B.C., Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, New Brunswick, and is regularly referred to in matters of contempt of court and of civil procedure before the Quebec courts.

5. Acadia Subaru v. Michaud, 2011 QCCA 1037

Appeal from a judgment declaring an action in damages to be, in part, an abusive proceeding within the meaning of new provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure. Appeal allowed in part but confirming that the lawsuit was an improper use of procedure.

93 car dealers had brought an action in defamation against a journalist who had criticized their business practices on the radio. The journalist sought to have the action summarily dismissed as a “strategic lawsuit against public participation” (a “SLAPP” or, as also known in Quebec, a “poursuite-bâillon”) designed only to silence him as a journalist. He also argued that the action was procedurally improper in that it was “clearly unfounded in law / manifestement non fondée” within the meaning of former 54.1 C.C.P.

The appeal was one of the first sustained examinations of new rules on the abuse of procedure that were enacted as an access to justice measure. As an account of the workings of the rules for such abuse, and for a SLAPP in particular, Acadia Subaru has been one of the most widely-cited judgments of this Court rendered in the last ten years. Leave to appeal to the Supreme Court was denied. It precipitated a change in the law when the new Code of Civil Procedure was enacted in 2016, it inspired useful debates in scholarship and, of late, contributed to the refining of the notion of abuse of procedure in the jurisprudence, in particular where it gives rise to liability for fault. See, recently, the judgment of the Court in 2741-8854 Québec inc. v. Restaurant King Ouest inc., 2018 QCCA 1807 (per Kasirer, Bélanger, Savard, JJ.A.).


List all cases in which you participated as counsel which were heard by the SCC (appeals as of right, references and appeals by leave) and the result (include any pending cases). You may include significant participation in a case other than as named counsel (e.g. factum review committee). If so, describe precisely the nature of your participation:


1. Doré v. Verdun (City), [1997] 2 S.C.R. 862. Along with two other law professors, two lawyers and a notary, I was an intervener in this appeal involving the interpretation of a provision of the Civil Code applicable to municipalities. The intervention was pro bono, and we did not take a position in the dispute between the parties. As volunteer members of a joint committee of the Barreau and the Chambre des notaires established for the purpose of proposing potential improvements to the French and English versions of the Civil Code of Québec, we intervened in this case to ask the Supreme Court to recognize that both language versions of the Code have the same legal status for interpretation purposes, contrary to what had been implied by the lower courts. The Court, in reasons penned by Justice Gonthier, agreed with us, stating that the French and English versions of Quebec legislation, including the Code, have the same status and are equally authoritative, in accordance with section 133 of the Constitution Act, 1867.

2. Auxiliaire juridique / law clerk to the Honourable Jean Beetz at the Supreme Court from 1987 to 1988.

List all SCC leave applications in which you participated as counsel and their outcome (include any pending cases):

List all cases in which you participated as a judge which were heard by the SCC (appeals as of right, references and appeals by leave) and the result (include any pending cases):


A search of the SOQUIJ and La référence databases indicates that I have signed, alone or as part of a panel, approximately 2,000 judgments and decisions (including judgments of a judge sitting alone, decisions on motions and decisions on the merits) since arriving at the Court in 2009.

Applications for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court (132)

Applications for leave granted (12)

1. 2017 QCCA 1632 (reserved)

2. 2017 QCCA 1470 (reserved)

3. 2017 QCCA 1237 (appeal dismissed)

4. 2017 QCCA 273 (appeal dismissed )

5. 2014 QCCA 2207 (appeal allowed)

6. 2013 QCCA 1138 (appeal dismissed)

7. 2012 QCCA 13 (appeal dismissed)

8. 2011 QCCA 2116 (appeal dismissed)

9. 2011 QCCA 954 (appeal dismissed)

10. 2011 QCCA 394 (appeal dismissed)

11. 2011 QCCA 1598 (appeal allowed)

12. 2011 QCCA 1518 (appeal allowed)

Applications for leave dismissed (117)

1. 2018 QCCA 1102 (per curiam)

2. 2018 QCCA 948 (per Vauclair J.A.)

3. 2018 QCCA 158 (per curiam)

4. 2018 QCCA 120 (per Kasirer J.A.)

5. 2017 QCCA 1482 (per curiam)

6. 2017 QCCA 1330 (per curiam)

7. 2017 QCCA 1315 (per Émond J.A.)

8. 2017 QCCA 1288 (per Lacoursière J.A.)

9. 2017 QCCA 1041 (per Vauclair J.A.)

10. 2017 QCCA 951 (per curiam)

11.  2016 QCCA 1950 (Kasirer J.A., sitting alone)

12.  2016 QCCA 1496 (per Kasirer and Bélanger JJ.A.)

13.  2016 QCCA 1497 (per Bélanger J.A.)

14.  2016 QCCA 1367 (per Doyon J.A.)

15.  2016 QCCA 1303 (Kasirer J.A., sitting alone)

16.  2016 QCCA 708 (per curiam)

17.  2016 QCCA 509 (per Hilton J.A.)

18.  2016 QCCA 344 (per curiam)

19.  2016 QCCA 211 (per curiam)

20.  2016 QCCA 48 (Kasirer J.A., sitting alone)

21.  2016 QCCA 1 (per curiam)

22.  2015 QCCA 1763 (per curiam)

23.  2015 QCCA 1346 (per curiam)

24.  2015 QCCA 1347 (per curiam)

25.  2015 QCCA 1109 (per Schrager J.A.)

26.  2015 QCCA 1069 (per Kasirer J.A.)

27.  2015 QCCA 914 (per curiam)

28.  2015 QCCA 915 (per curiam)

29.  2015 QCCA 624 (per Kasirer J.A.) (leave dismissed, Côté J.A. dissenting)

30.  2015 QCCA 385 (per curiam)

31.  2015 QCCA 333 (per Schrager J.A.)

32.  2015 QCCA 228 (per curiam)

33.  2015 QCCA 105 (per Pelletier J.A.)

34.  2015 QCCA 52 (per curiam)

35.  2014 QCCA 2368 (per curiam)

36.  2014 QCCA 2221 (per curiam)

37.  2014 QCCA 2102 (per curiam)

38.  2014 QCCA 1766 (per Levesque J.A.)

39.  2014 QCCA 1340 (per curiam)

40.  2014 QCCA 1184 (Kasirer, sitting alone)

41.  2014 QCCA 1144 (per Kasirer J.A.)

42.  2014 QCCA 865 (per curiam)

43.  2014 QCCA 786 (per Doyon J.A.)

44.  2014 QCCA 281 (per curiam)

45.  2014 QCCA 136 (per Bich J.A.)

46.  2014 QCCA 104 (per curiam)

47.  2013 QCCA 2088 (per curiam)

48.  2013 QCCA 1225 (per curiam)

49.  2013 QCCA 1238 (per curiam)

50.  2013 QCCA 952 (per curiam)

51.  2013 QCCA 775 (per curiam)

52.  2013 QCCA 783 (per curiam)

53.  2013 QCCA 562 (per curiam)

54.  2013 QCCA 554 (per Jacques J.A.)

55.  2013 QCCA 411 (per Kasirer J.A.)

56.  2013 QCCA 404 (per Rochette J.A.)

57.  2013 QCCA 269 (per Vézina J.A.)

58.  2013 QCCA 271 (per Duval Hesler C.J.)

59.  2013 QCCA 187 (per curiam)

60.  2013 QCCA 202 (per curiam)

61.  2013 QCCA 15 (per curiam)

62.  2013 QCCA 201 (Kasirer, sitting alone)

63.  2012 QCCA 2192 (per curiam)

64.  2012 QCCA 2039 (per curiam)

65.  2012 QCCA 1881 (per Dalphond J.A.)

66.  2012 QCCA 1876 (per Dalphond J.A.)

67.  2012 QCCA 1877 (per Dalphond J.A.)

68.  2012 QCCA 1878 (per Dalphond J.A.)

69.  2012 QCCA 1879 (per Dalphond J.A.)

70.  2012 QCCA 1872 (Kasirer, sitting alone)

71.  2012 QCCA 1867 (per Rochette J.A.)

72.  2012 QCCA 1348 (per Rochon and Kasirer JJ.A.)

73.  2012 QCCA 1282 (per curiam)

74.  2012 QCCA 1266 (per curiam)

75.  2012 QCCA 1277 (per curiam)

76.  2012 QCCA 1278 (per curiam)

77.  2012 QCCA 1157 (per curiam)

78.  2012 QCCA 836 (per Rochon J.A.)

79.  2012 QCCA 424 (per curiam)

80.  2012 QCCA 451 (per curiam)

81.  2012 QCCA 257 (per Kasirer J.A.)

82.  2012 QCCA 238 (per curiam)

83.  2011 QCCA 2012 (per Duval Hesler C.J. and Kasirer J.A.)

84.  2011 QCCA 2383 (per Bich J.A.)

85.  2011 QCCA 2083 (per curiam)

86.  2011 QCCA 2047 (per Doyon J.A.)

87.  2011 QCCA 1327 (per curiam)

88.  2011 QCCA 1328 (per curiam)

89.  2011 QCCA 1329 (per curiam)

90.  2011 QCCA 2453 (per curiam)

91.  2011 QCCA  1194 (per curiam)

92.  2011 QCCA 1114 (per Forget J.A.)

93.  2011 QCCA 1108 (per Forget J.A.)

94.  2011 QCCA 1037 (per Kasirer J.A.)

95.  2011 QCCA 1020 (per curiam)

96.  2011 QCCA 1021 (per curiam)

97.  2011 QCCA 826 (per curiam)

98.  2011 QCCA 745 (per curiam)

99.  2011 QCCA 313 (per curiam)

100. 2011 QCCA 47 (per curiam)

101. 2010 QCCA 2137 (per Robert J.A.)

102. 2010 QCCA 2059 (Kasirer, sitting alone)

103. 2010 QCCA 2063 (Kasirer, sitting alone)

104. 2010 QCCA 1965 (per curiam)

105. 2010 QCCA 1769 (per Pelletier J.A.)

106. 2010 QCCA 1735 (per curiam)

107. 2010 QCCA 1496 (per curiam)

108. 2010 QCCA 1368 (per Bouchard J.A..)

109. 2010 QCCA 1062 (per curiam)

110. 2010 QCCA 941 (per Côté J.A.)

111. 2010 QCCA 937 (per curiam)

112. 2010 QCCA 482 (per curiam)

113. 2010 QCCA 373 (Kasirer, sitting alone)

114. 2010 QCCA 291 (per Chamberland J.A.)

115. 2009 QCCA 2303 (per Chamberland J.A.)

116. 2009 QCCA 1912 (per curiam)

117. 2009 QCCA 1792 (per curiam)

Applications for leave suspended and motion for reconsideration dismissed (1)

1. 2013 QCCA 2162 (per curiam)

Motions for an extension of time to serve and file application for leave dismissed (2)

1. 2017 QCCA 1747 (per Rochette J.A.)

2. 2010 QCCA 1974 (per curiam)

List all cases in which you participated as a judge where leave to appeal to the SCC was requested or granted and their outcome (include any pending cases):

Cases heard by the Supreme Court since 2009 (15)

Cases upheld

1. Comité paritaire de l'entretien d'édifices publics de la région de Québec c. Modern Concept d'entretien inc., 2017 QCCA 1237 (majority reasons per Kasirer J.A.) (2019 CSC 28, with dissent)

2. Matte-Thompson c. Salomon, 2017 QCCA 273 (per Parent J.A.) (2019 CSC 14, with dissent)

3. R. c. Bédard, 2016 QCCA 807 (per curiam) (2017 CSC 4)

4. Gagnon c. R., 2015 QCCA 1138 (per Doyon J.A.) (2016 CSC 6)

5. Canada (Procureur général) c. Québec (Procureur général), 2013 QCCA 1138 (per Duval Hesler C.J.) (2015 CSC 14, with dissent)

6. Autorité des marchés financiers c. Souveraine (La), compagnie d'assurances générales, 2012 QCCA 13 (separate majority reasons per Kasirer and Cournoyer JJ.A., ad hoc) (2013 CSC 63, with dissent)

7. Option Consommateurs c. Infineon Technologies, a.g., 2011 QCCA 2116 (per Kasirer J.A.) (2013 CSC 59)

8. Rochon c. R., 2011 QCCA 2012 (per Duval Hesler C.J. and Kasirer J.A.) (2012 CSC 50, with dissent)

9. Riopel c. Agence du revenu du Canada, 2011 QCCA 954 (per curiam) (2013 CSC 65)

10. Québec (Sous-ministre du Revenu) c. Services environnementaux AES inc., 2011 QCCA 394 (per curiam) (2013 CSC 65)

Cases reversed

1. St-Germain c. Benhaim, 2014 QCCA 2207 (joint reasons per Kasirer and Bélanger JJ.A.) (2016 CSC 48, avec dissidence)

2. Bélanger c. R., 2011 QCCA 1598 (per curiam) (2013 CSC 7)

3. Régie des rentes du Québec c. Canada Bread Company Ltd., 2011 QCCA 1518 (per Thibault J.A.) (2013 CSC 46, with dissent)


1. Threlfall c. Carleton University, 2017 QCCA 1632 (per Kasirer J.A.)

2. Droit de la famille — 172244, 201 7 QCCA 1470 (per Dufresne J.A.)


The Government of Canada needs to appoint judges with a deep understanding of the judicial role in Canada. In order to provide a more complete basis for evaluation, candidates are asked to offer their insight into broader issues concerning the judiciary and Canada's legal system. For each of the following questions, please provide answers of between 750 and 1000 words.

1. What would you regard as your most significant contribution to the law and the pursuit of justice in Canada?

[Original Text]

Having recently served two years on a judicial appointments committee, I sense that Canadians want judges who are modest of temperament and who, in proposing themselves for public service, see their “most significant contribution to the law” lying ahead of them rather more than as a trophy on an office shelf. I ask therefore to answer with reference to an aspiration pursued during my twenty years as a law professor and the decade thereafter as a judge but one that remains very much “sur le métier”. I hasten to say that this work has been undertaken alongside others in the highly collegial settings of the university and the Quebec Court of Appeal.

I have sought to direct the greatest part of my energies as a jurist to the study of Quebec civil law as a vibrant legal tradition in Canada, relevant not just to this province, but potentially to the legal identity of the whole country.

My work as a professor and a judge has been anchored in a profoundly-felt passion for Quebec private law, for the sheer beauty of its exposition in the Civil Code, the richness and diversity of its scholarly and judicial sources, as well as its links to Quebec history and to contemporary social fact.


Trained in civil law and common law, I spent many years teaching the classic areas of civil law (Obligations, Property, Family Law, Successions), but also common law and “transsystemic” law at McGill University. Appointed Director of the Quebec Research Centre of Private and Comparative Law in 1996, I undertook much of my work, particularly my work on economically vulnerable persons in Quebec family property law, to bring to light the social and historical factors serving as a backdrop to the development of the civil law. Of particular relevance is my participation – since 1990 and ongoing today – as co-author and secretary of the Editorial Committee of the Dictionnaire de droit privé / Private Law Dictionary, which has been published in several volumes. Undertaken early in my career with such eminent civil law jurists as the late Paul-André Crépeau, John E.C. Brierley, Albert Mayrand and Rod Macdonald, this work on the fundamental vocabulary of the civil law touches on various areas of law (Family Law, Property, Obligations, general theory, etc.).

For 22 years, I have co-directed an annual edition of the Civil Code of Québec used throughout the province, which, according to the then Minister of Justice, has inspired certain amendments to the Code. Several of my works on Obligations and Family Law are used in classrooms and, occasionally, before the courts, including the Supreme Court. My civil law and comparative law research has been recognized by the Hessel Yntema Prize from the American Society of Comparative Law, the Prix de la Fondation du Barreau du Québec, and by my election as a Titular Member of the International Academy of Comparative Law (Paris, 2006) and as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (2008).

I bring this same passion to my judicial work. The Court of Appeal has a solemn mandate of supporting the development of the civil law. The same is true for codified procedural law, as the Supreme Court points out in Lac d’Amiante (2001). Naturally, I have signed hundreds of judgments since being appointed to the Court. As a judge, I have remained involved in the academic civil law community. I am a member of the editorial committees of the University of Sherbrooke’s Revue de droit, of the Revue du Notariat, of the Journal of Civil Law Studies (Louisiana) and of the Revue internationale de droit comparé (Paris), and I am also a researcher and member of the board of the Paul-André Crépeau Centre at McGill University. I continue to give talks on civil law and comparative law in Canadian universities (e.g. the Conférence Albert Mayrand, University of Montréal (2019)), abroad (e.g., in 2018, at the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford) and in the context of professional training for lawyers and judges.

[Original Text]

Central to my way of working is a sense that Quebec civil law evolves in an enriching relationship with other legal traditions in Canada, in particular that of the common law. My teaching and scholarship as a civilian was undertaken with a comparative and international orientation; my work as a judge has been embraced with a confident sense that the civil law should be championed, not just defended. My first passion rests with the classical sources of Quebec law, rooted in the ancien droit, and with a sustained personal interest in modern French law. But I have always worked in the spirit of “bijuralism”, seeing the civil law and the common law in a uniquely Canadian dialogue, potentially with other legal traditions, including Indigenous law (see, e.g., Kasirer, “Bijuralism in Law’s Empire and in Law’s Cosmos” (2002); reasons for judgment in Groupe Sutton-Royal inc. (Syndic de), 2015 QCCA 1069).  I share the view that the Supreme Court has a key role in sustaining this dialogue while steadfastly cultivating that which gives Quebec civil law its distinctive character.

While I am a civilian at heart, I am a generalist as a judge. Over a decade on the bench, I have written extensively in criminal law, constitutional and administrative law, commercial law, and in cases involving fundamental rights, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I am mindful that the Supreme Court hears only a handful of appeals in Quebec civil law each year and that, statistically, private law generally is far from dominating the Court’s docket. The importance of an engaged civilian presence on the Court transcends, however, these narrow instrumental needs. The civil law is not simply a discrete body of rules with a narrow jurisdictional application. When considered as a distinctive legal tradition in the work of the Court – as a unique ‘way of knowing’ the law – the civil law reminds us that legal ideas cannot b e imagined through a single prism and that Canada’s highest Court has inscribed difference – legal pluralism – in its self-understanding.

2. How has your experience provided you with insight into the variety and diversity of Canadians and their unique perspectives?


The life experience that has helped me grasp this country’s diversity is, without a doubt, my experience as an academic from 1989 to 2009. I believe I can identify two elements that have contributed to my understanding of the benefits brought by pluralism to the administration of justice: a professional commitment to bilingualism and a personal and family life steeped in Montréal’s cultural hybridity.

I had the great fortune of teaching law during a period marked by a demographic transformation in Canada’s law faculties. Take, for example, the situation of women, who were in the minority in classrooms at McGill in the 1980s, but who made up a majority of the student population by the end of my deanship in 2009. Students from immigrant communities, traditionally less represented in the faculties, gradually took their places in the classroom as well. This welcome diversity began to establish itself just as the Charters and issues of identity were being added to the programs of study. McGill’s national and international ambitions have fostered geographic diversity among the students: a strong Quebec component mixed with students from all over Canada and, at the graduate level, students from Europe, Africa, Asia and the United States. My faculty made a commitment to diversity by adopting a “holistic” approach to admissions, taking into account applicants’ life experiences rather than looking solely at their grades. I was a member of the admissions committee for several years and served as its chair for three years. 

Around the year 2000, I was also closely involved in the development of McGill’s “transsystemic” teaching program. By breaking down the barriers between the civil law and the common law and opening the door to other legal traditions, the Faculty made an intellectual commitment to legal diversity: see Kasirer, “Legal Education as métissage” (2003). Later, as Dean, I travelled throughout the country and internationally to stimulate interest in this pluralistic approach to teaching, having observed the urgent need to make room for social diversity within the Faculty and legal diversity in the teaching of law. I raised funds for scholarships to improve access to legal education. Various initiatives undertaken with colleagues, including the creation of the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism in 2005, also supported this objective.

This experience of diversity is grounded, I believe, in a professional commitment to bilingualism, a commitment that is central to how I have chosen to engage with the law since the very beginning of my career.

Law courses in both languages; graduate studies in French at the Université de Paris, from which I graduated with an award in international law; work experience in a law firm and with Justice Jean Beetz: from my earliest years in law, I understood the importance of the dual presence of French and English in the development of the law, as well as the satisfaction that comes from the opportunity to do legal work in two languages simultaneously.

As a law professor, I taught more than half of my law courses in French at McGill, in civil law, naturally, but also in criminal law and in areas where common law in French was establishing itself. It was for my French-language teaching that I received the John Durnford Award, granted for excellence in the teaching of law. A key part of my academic activities has involved the importance of the relationship between French and English in the interpretation and development of the law: see Kasirer, “Dire ou définir le droit ?” (Prix de la Fondation du Barreau, 1994). A long-standing collaboration with Francophone jurists in the other provinces has provided me with an awareness of the situation of linguistic minority communities, an important aspect of Canadian legal diversity.

3. Describe the appropriate role of a judge in a constitutional democracy.

[Original Text]

Canadians often disagree about the proper role of a judge in a constitutional democracy. Some are troubled by the idea that judges “make law”, thereby straying from their duty to “apply the rules” set out by the legislature. That judges can declare legislation to be of no force and effect where it is inconsistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has exacerbated the impression, in some quarters, that “unelected, activist judges” are somehow usurping the role of the legislative branch of government in making law.

While judges do not enact law in a constitutional democracy, it is best to recognize that they have long had a role in what the English jurist C.K. Allen famously called “law in the making”. Justice Robert Sharpe has written compellingly that the notion that judges should only “apply the law” fails to take into account the open-textured character of legal rules, judges’ role in fixing and adjusting precedent, and their mandate to ensure that legislation respects the Constitution: Sharpe, Good Judgment: Making Judicial Decisions (2018), ch. 4 and 11.

In observing the day-to-day judicial work of statutory interpretation, it seems clear that the distinction between “applying the rules” and “making law” in a constitutional democracy is one of crude legal geography at best. Outside of Quebec, the development of the common law is left to judges. Few place stock in the old idea that judges merely “declare” rules that are latent in the cases when examining the law from a new perspective to address a distinctive factual problem. While the civil law traditionally consigns “la jurisprudence” to a second-order source of law, the judicial task of interpreting broadly-cast principles in the Civil Code has a plain normative dimension. My experience suggests strongly that the theory of precedent – sometimes said to be foreign to the civil law – is closely adhered to in Quebec, ensuring coherence, certainty and stability of law in the same way, at least in its effects, as stare decisis in the common law. Quebec judges have a hand in bringing to light general principles of the civil law, not all of which are to be found in enactment, as Justice Jean Beetz wrote in Cie Immobil[i]ère Viger (1977): “Le Code civil ne contient pas tout le droit civil. II est fondé sur des principes qui n’y sont pas tous exprimés et dont il appartient à la jurisprudence et à la doctrine d’assurer la fécondité”.

None of this “law-making” is incompatible with a judge’s role in a constitutional democracy; indeed the proper balance of power between and among the three branches of government turns, in part, on the notion that judges, as guardians of the rule of law, have a role in checking the authority of the legislative branch in a manner that fully respects the primary vocation of Parliament and the legislatures. Moreover, Canada is generally understood to be not just a constitutional democracy, but also a liberal democracy, in the philosophical sense, in which judges have been entrusted with the power to protect fundamental rights and freedoms, within limits imposed by the Constitution, against wrongful infringement by the state. As Lamer J. famously recalled in Re B.C. Motor Vehicle Act (1985), elected representatives entrusted the courts with the duty of reviewing the constitutionality of legislation in a new way when the Charter was entrenched.

Connected to ancient ideas such as the rule of law and what scholar John Borrows has called “Indigenous constitutionalism”, judging in a constitutional democracy is perhaps best imagined as a special brand of public service – the French expression “charge publique” is helpful – that is both tempered and secured by the judge’s oath of office. Informed by judicial independence itself designed to serve the public good, this service carries with it a duty to heed a "call to caution" in the exercise of judicial power. But acquitting the judge’s public duty of shaping the law also comes with a competing "call to confidence", with something akin to imagination and boldness.

A call to caution. The institutional and practical constraints of deciding cases invite caution, if not to say humility, for the judge contemplating a change of the law. The facts of the case and the arguments raised by the parties limit the compass of law-making. Moreover, litigation before the courts, as was recalled in Re B.C. Motor Vehicle Act, is not a forum for sorting out the “appropriateness of policy” or the “wisdom of legislation”. Appellate work is further constrained by standards of deference to trial courts and administrative tribunals on matters that, institutionally, they know best. Mindful that overbroad statements of new law can later inhibit courts faced with an unwieldy precedent, incremental change through appellate “law-making”, in the grand common law tradition, is generally the preferred, cautious path. 

A call to confidence. At the same time, the call to caution is complemented by an unspoken injunction for judges to take up their public duty by showing imagination, and indeed some courage, in the pursuit of justice. Judges enjoy independence, and the presumption of impartiality, so they can resist the sway of public opinion in setting out their sense of what the law should be. It is in this spirit, I think, that judges have been right to embrace the duty thrust upon them to give full voice to Charter values, either when called on to consider striking down legislation as unconstitutional or in interpreting the law so its meaning conforms to entrenched fundamental freedoms. It resonates too when judges seek out “the existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada” that are recognized and affirmed in s. 35(1), Constitution Act, 1982.

Striking the right balance between these competing calls to caution and to courage is a central challenge in the exercise of judicial responsibility in a constitutional democracy. In my experience, they are not incompatible – there is an immense satisfaction in moving law resolutely forward, but only so far forward as is necessary to solve the problem at hand, leaving the rest for another day.

4. Who is the audience for Supreme Court of Canada decisions?


Generally written and accompanied by reasons, a judicial decision is first and foremost what linguists would call a communicative act. From this perspective, every decision of the Supreme Court is invested with a variety of specific legal functions, each of which is relevant to determining its audience.

(i) A decision-making function. A decision is meant to resolve a genuine dispute. The audience is composed primarily of the parties, and also, to a different degree, of any interveners affected by the issues raised by the dispute. The parties bear both the financial and the emotional burden of the litigation and, except in the case of certain references, it is the facts of the case that provide the Court with the opportunity to speak the law. The adequacy of the reasons must be measured, to a great extent, from the perspective of the parties. I support any measure intended to increase the parties’ understanding of the reasons, and I note recent initiatives taken by the Supreme Court to limit the risks that its decisions will be misunderstood, especially given the increase in the number of self-represented litigants. That said, it is important not to simplify reasons in a manner that could lessen the legal force of the decision or render the Court’s thinking less precise. Again with a view to recognizing the central place occupied by the parties, reasons must be drafted with sensitivity: behind every seminal case in criminal law, for example, there is a victim, and people who identify with the victim, or perhaps a person who has been wrongly accused. There are also a trial judge and appeal judges who are entitled to reasons characterized by clarity and civility.

(ii) A normative function. The Supreme Court is not, generally speaking, a “court of errors”; its primary mission is to settle disputes that raise issues of “national” importance, thereby clarifying the state of the law. This normative function obviously extends beyond the interests of the parties to the case—the Court’s statements setting out the law concern all of Canadian society. Judges also direct their comments to other jurisdictions, of course, which must be able to fully understand the Court’s thinking in order to properly follow its guidance. Because of the nature of the disputes, the Court often “speaks” to the other branches of government, particularly to establish a “dialogue” between the judiciary and the legislature. In my personal experience, appeals require an adjustment in drafting style, precisely in light of the highly normative nature of these opinions. The audience can also be ministers, public servants and police forces, who are asked to change their practices from one day to the next to comply with the standards laid down by the Court. When it decides a dispute in private or commercial law by stating new principles, entire sectors of the economy can be affected, thereby multiplying the size of the audience for the Court’s judgment.

(iii) A teaching function. In their reasons, judges will often propose new analytical methods and novel concepts, refine legal terminology, and add nuance to or set aside its former dicta. In short, the Court “teaches”, as the saying goes, and this function speaks to a specific audience: legal professionals and judges in all jurisdictions, law professors and researchers in related fields, students from high school to the doctorate level, etc. This teaching function is not confined to Canada’s borders; educationally speaking, our highest court is “followed” internationally, owing to the exemplary quality and relevance of its work.

(iv) A legitimizing function. The Court has a specific duty to build public confidence in the administration of justice, thereby strengthening the rule of law in Canada. In R v Sheppard (2002), it directly referred to this function: “the giving of reasoned judgments is central to the legitimacy of judicial institutions in the eyes of the public”. A minimally reasoned judgment is one whose true attractiveness relies solely on the status of the decision maker. In contrast, a proper explanation of a rule not only allows the outcome of the case to be properly grasped, but also gives the public and the media an understanding of the legitimacy of the exercise of public power that every judgment of the Court represents.

(v) A collegial function. The Supreme Court also speaks to itself. A judgment of the Court is a collegial act of communication issued by the entire Bench, even the dissenting judges, as a distinct entity from its individual members. In this respect, the audience for its reasons also include the colleagues of the Court. This demands the highest degree of respect in the language used. This same civility must prevail with regard to previous decisions of the Court, even if, with the passage of time, a precedent may seem out of step with the realities of society today. A more complicated issue is whether this collegial function should entail coordinating the drafting of reasons, which in principle should be desirable for promoting consistency within the Court and could even encourage, with the utmost respect for judicial independence, the reconciliation of diverging opinions before the judgment is rendered.

Finally, it should be noted that a judgment is a text whose form is, in a way, the hallmark of its substance: see generally Kasirer, Le droit civil, avant tout un style ? (2003). The substance of the law is often elevated by how it is expressed: consider for example the elegance of the reasons penned by Justice Jean Betz, or the refined, unadorned style of Justice Bertha Wilson. The aesthetic quality of judgments plays without doubt an important role in bolstering their persuasiveness. These acts of communication will be read and re-read under a microscope, and the Court must devote the necessary resources to ensuring that the English and French versions of these judgments are extraordinarily well crafted. textes anglais et français de ses arrêts soient de facture exemplaire.

5. To what extent does the role of a Supreme Court of Canada Justice allow for the reconciliation of the need to provide guidance on legal questions of importance to the legal system as a whole with the specific facts of a case which might appear to lead to an unjust result for a party?

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The judge’s task of reconciling the “law” and a “just result” when they appear at odds finds compelling illustration in an old case relating to Indigenous customary adoption. In Re Katie’s Adoption Petition (1961), Sissons J. decided that an adoption in accordance with Inuit custom in Frobisher Bay was valid under the laws of the Northwest Territories. Insufficiently-heralded as Canada’s “Judge of the Far North”, Jack Sissons devoted his career to two ambitions: bringing “just results” to Indigenous peoples entangled in a foreign system of justice, and calling Indigenous custom to the attention of authorities occasionally deaf to its status as “law”. The case signals how a rapprochement might be achieved, even at the Supreme Court, when the paths of law and justice seem to diverge.

An Inuit couple had adopted “Katie E7-1807” – the name assigned to the child by social services – according to a centuries-old practice whereby the extended family took charge of uncared-for offspring. In order to satisfy the Child Welfare Ordinance, an adoption petition required a certificate attesting to the prospective parents’ marriage. The adoptive couple “Noah E7-877” and “Keeatchuk E7-878” were married under Inuit custom but had no such certificate. Sissons J. observed that the rules were out of step with Indigenous life in the North, where people did not record their relationships in keeping with government formalities.  He declined to apply the certificate requirement, writing that “[i]t is a shocking provision which makes it a crime for an Eskimo to follow his ancient custom in the traditional way”.

Yet the judge did not simply validate the Inuit parentage on the basis of his personal sense of what was right. Instead, he interpreted a reference in the Ordinance to adoptions “made in accordance with the laws of the Territories” to include arrangements made in keeping with Inuit customary law. Sisson J. decided the adoption was valid based on an understanding of the law that was responsive to social fact and drew on his life experience in the North. His decision was not just the stuff of moral indignation: it remains relevant today for judges who seek to understand Indigenous legal traditions as a part of the standard account of Canadian law. Importantly, his review of adoption law meant that he was able to avoid, in a reasoned manner, a patently unjust result for Katie and her parents.


What lessons could a Supreme Court judge take away from Re Katie’s if he or she perceives a dissonance between the need to guide the course of the law and his or her desire to come to a just result based on the specific facts of the case?

I would say that there are two. First, judges cannot simply give free rein to their moral indignation. Before rendering judgment, they must assess their personal conceptions of fairness against the rigour of the law as part of the “test of deliberation”. Second, the opportunity to sit on the Supreme Court imposes on judges a discipline that Justice Sissons, sitting alone, could not know: that of putting his own ideas to the “test of collegiality”.

The test of deliberation. Justice is not rendered capriciously or on the basis of one’s personal convictions, but in accordance with the law. In cases where the application of a constitutionally valid law leads to an apparently unjust result, deliberation provides an opportunity to reflect and to test the limits of positive law in the face of one’s own instincts. Preparing reasons for decision requires what Justice Sharpe calls “the discipline” of judicial reasoning, by which judges put their own thinking to the test, in accordance with the law. While it is conducted with imagination and an open mind, deliberation is not, however, akin to the free-ranging scientific research of a professor or the pleadings of a lawyer who is already convinced of their merit. It must be done serenely, by practising what one French judge and expert on judicial ethics calls “distancing”, by which judges take a step back from their inner thoughts: Antoine Garapon et al., Les vertus du juge (2008), c. 2. 

The test of collegiality. Whether signing unanimous reasons or a strong dissent, a Supreme Court judge cannot, despite the independence attached to this function, decide a case on his or her own. The judge’s convictions are necessarily subject to scrutiny by his or her peers, to whom the judge must explain him- or herself to turn those convictions into judgment. Taking into account the points of view of one’s colleagues—and adjusting, if necessary, one’s conception of what constitutes “good” law or a “just” result—requires as much if not more moral courage than signing a dissenting opinion. In any event, the judge’s sense of what is the “right” result must pass through the filter of collegiality.

In this regard, my experience as an appellate judge has made it clear to me that when the judge drafting the decision strives for compromise and is able to listen, this brings out the creative strength of the group, which is the product of cooperation and open-mindedness. It is true that judicial independence guarantees each judge the right to make a decision in accordance with his or her vision of things. But as the American appellate court judge Harry Edwards demonstrated in “The Effects of Collegiality on Judicial Decision-Making”, (2003) 151 U. Penn. L. Rev. 1639, it is also true that efficiency, consistency and predictability are improved when an appellate court is as open as possible to intra-institutional dialogue. Collegial decision making is a demanding exercise, but in my opinion, it is the most exhilarating task of an appellate judge.

After being subjected to these two tests, the judge’s individual sentiment may indeed emerge victorious, allowing the judge to leave his or her personal “mark” on the evolution of the law. The discipline of deliberation and collegiality could, however, be viewed as encouraging a “reconciliation” between established law and the subjective idea of justice. In closing, I would like to quote from a text written by Bora Laskin long before his appointment to the Bench: “Empiricism, not dogmatism, imagination rather than literalness, are the qualities through which judges can give their Court the stamp of personality”.