Bijural Terminology Records

Rationale for records

Given the innovative nature of bijural legislative drafting and the commitment made in 2001 by the Minister of Justice before the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, the Department of Justice has published bijural terminology records on its Internet website in order to explain the harmonization provisions brought about by the Federal Law-Civil Law Harmonization Act, No. 1, S.C. 2001, c. 4. Other records have been added to explain harmonization changes brought about by the Federal Law-Civil Law Harmonization Act, No. 2, S.C. 2004, c. 25, the Federal Law-Civil Law Harmonization Act, No. 3, S.C. 2011, c. 21 and other acts amending tax legislation. Additional terminology records will be published as further harmonization acts are adopted.

One record for all occurrences of the same solution

Even if a term that was subject to harmonization occurs more than once in the harmonization acts, it is entered as a simple record if the bijuralism issue was resolved in the same way.

N.B. Words from the original provision that have been harmonized and the solution adopted appear in bold in the records.

Appropriate terms for each legal system

In some cases, the same terminology is used in both common law and civil law (example: acquisition/ acquisition). In other cases, different terms must be used to reflect the concepts of each legal system. For example, the terms "pre-trial pecuniary loss/perte pécuniaire antérieure au procès" have been used for the civil law, whereas the terms "special damages/dommages-intérêts spéciaux" have been used in common law.

Order of precedence of common law terms in English and civil law terms in French

Generally, in provisions where a legal concept is expressed using distinct common law and civil law terminology, the common law term appears first in the English version and the civil law term appears first in the French version. For example, the terms "real property" will be followed by "immovable" in the English version, and the term "immeuble" will be followed by "bien réel" in the French version.

Concepts with no equivalent in the other system

In certain cases, a concept in one legal tradition has no corresponding concept in the other. When this occurs, the note "n/a" (not applicable)/"s.o." (sans objet) will appear next to the legal system that does not have the corresponding concept (for an example, access record on equity).

Rules of interpretation: The bijural tradition in Canada

The Federal Law-Civil Law Harmonization Act, No. 1 added two new rules of interpretation to the Interpretation Act. Sections 8.1 and 8.2 read as follows:


Property and Civil Rights

Duality of legal traditions and application of provincial law

8.1 Both the common law and the civil law are equally authoritative and recognized sources of the law of property and civil rights in Canada and, unless otherwise provided by law, if in interpreting an enactment it is necessary to refer to a province's rules, principles or concepts forming part of the law of property and civil rights, reference must be made to the rules, principles and concepts in force in the province at the time the enactment is being applied.

2001, c. 4, s. 8.


8.2 Unless otherwise provided by law, when an enactment contains both civil law and common law terminology, or terminology that has a different meaning in the civil law and the common law, the civil law terminology or meaning is to be adopted in the Province of Quebec and the common law terminology or meaning is to be adopted in the other provinces.

2001, c. 4, s. 8.


Propriété et droits civils

Tradition bijuridique et application du droit provincial

8.1 Le droit civil et la common law font pareillement autorité et sont tous deux sources de droit en matière de propriété et de droits civils au Canada et, s'il est nécessaire de recourir à des règles, principes ou notions appartenant au domaine de la propriété et des droits civils en vue d'assurer l'application d'un texte dans une province, il faut, sauf règle de droit s'y opposant, avoir recours aux règles, principes et notions en vigueur dans cette province au moment de l'application du texte.

2001, ch. 4, art. 8.


8.2 Sauf règle de droit s'y opposant, est entendu dans un sens compatible avec le système juridique de la province d'application le texte qui emploie à la fois des termes propres au droit civil de la province de Québec et des termes propres à la common law des autres provinces, ou qui emploie des termes qui ont un sens différent dans l'un et l'autre de ces systèmes.

2001, ch. 4, art. 8.

More information on Canadian legislative bijuralism

For more information on Canadian legislative bijuralism, please visit the Canadian Legislative Bijuralism Site.