Supreme Court of Canada: Year in Review 2018

Cases at the Court

Cases can be brought to the Supreme Court of Canada three ways. In most cases, a party has asked for leave (permission) to appeal a decision of a Court of Appeal. A smaller number of cases are “as of right,” meaning parties have a right to appeal automatically, so they don’t need the Court’s permission. The Court must also hear “references,” which are questions that the federal government has asked the Court for an opinion on.

In 2018, 484 applications for leave to appeal were given to the judges to decide. The Court granted 39, or 8%, of them. It also received 26 notices of appeal as of right. The Court did not receive any references in 2018 (there was an appeal from a provincial reference, but it is counted as an appeal as of right).

Decorative image
Decorative image
Decorative image
Decorative image Decorative image Decorative image

Applications for Leave Referred for Decision

Number of Applications by Origin
Provincial, Territorial, or Federal Court of Appeal

Applications for Leave Referred for Decision: Number of Applications by Origin Provincial, Territorial, or Federal Court of Appeal
Description of image

This graphic shows applications for leave referred for decision by origin. 159 applications from Ontario were referred, 110 from Quebec, 71 from British Columbia, 48 from the Federal Court of Appeal, 39 from Alberta, 20 from Manitoba, 10 from Saskatchewan, 8 from New Brunswick, 8 from Prince Edward Island, 5 from Nova Scotia, 4 from Newfoundland and Labrador, 2 from Yukon, and none from the Northwest Territories or Nunavut. In total, there were 484 applications for leave referred for decision in 2018. Note that not all complete applications are referred to judges for decision in the same year.


Percentage of Applications by Principal Area of Law

Number of Applications by Principal Area of Law
Description of image

This pie chart shows the percentage of applications by principal area of law. In 2018, 23% of applications were criminal matters, including 7% Charter and 16% non-Charter matters. 16% were Charter matters, including 7% criminal and 9% non-criminal matters. 3% were non-Charter constitutional law matters. 17% were about civil procedure. Administrative law, torts, contracts, family law, and the courts each represented 4% of applications. 2% were about taxation. A further 2% were about appeals. 24% were about other matters.


Appeals As of Right

In 2018, 25 of 26 appeals as of right were criminal cases. Criminal appeals as of right can include court martial and youth criminal justice appeals. The Supreme Court must also automatically hear appeals about contested elections and certain competition issues and intergovernmental disputes, but didn’t have any of these in 2018.

Number of Appeals As of Right by Origin
Provincial, Territorial, or Federal

Number of Appeals As of Right by Origin Provincial, Territorial, or Federal
Description of image

This graphic shows the number of appeals as of right by origin. In 2018, 8 appeals as of right came from Alberta. 6 came from Ontario. 3 came from Quebec. 3 came from Newfoundland and Labrador. 2 came from Manitoba. 1 each came from the Federal Court of Appeal, the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada, Nova Scotia and Yukon. None came from New Brunswick, the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, or Nunavut. There were 26 appeals as of right in total in 2018.



Decorative image
Decorative image
Decorative image

Appeals Heard (By Leave and As of Right)

Number of Appeals Heard by Origin
Provincial, Territorial, or Federal

Number of Appeals Heard by Origin Provincial, Territorial, or Federal
Description of image

This graphic shows the number of appeals heard (by leave and as of right). In 2018, 17 appeals were heard from Ontario. 13 appeals were heard from each of Quebec and Alberta. 8 appeals were heard from each of the Federal Court of Appeal and British Columbia. 2 appeals were heard from each of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. 1 appeal was heard from each of the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. No appeals were heard from New Brunswick, the Northwest Territories, Prince Edward Island, Yukon, or Nunavut. In total, the Court heard 66 appeals in 2018.


Percentage of Appeals Heard by Principal Area of Law

area2
Description of image

This pie chart shows the percentage of appeals heard by principal area of law. In 2018, 50% of appeals heard were criminal law matters, including 14% involving the Charter and 36% not involving the Charter. 9% were non-Charter constitutional law matters. 9% were civil procedure matters. 6% were administrative law matters. Legislation, official languages, and insurance each made up 3% of appeals in 2018. 17% were other matters. Note that leave to appeal may have been granted (or an appeal as of right filed) the year before.



Note: Leave to appeal may have been granted (or an appeal as of right filed) the year before.