Swearing in Ceremony, (Ottawa) January 20, 2012
Credit: Philippe Landreville
The Federal Court is Canada's national trial court which hears and decides legal disputes arising in the federal domain, including claims against the Government of Canada, civil suits in federally-regulated areas and challenges to the decisions of federal tribunals. Its authority derives primarily from the Federal Courts Act.
The Federal Court was created in 1971 under the authority of s. 101 of the Constitution Act, 1867 for the "better administration of the laws of Canada". It is a successor to the Exchequer Court of Canada, established in 1875.
According to the Federal Courts Act, the Court consists of a Chief Justice and 36 other judges. At present, there are 31 full-time judges, along with four supernumerary judges and six prothonotaries.
Until 2003, the Federal Court of Canada consisted of two divisions: an Appeal and a Trial Division. With amendments to the Federal Courts Act coming into force on July 2, 2003, these divisions became two separate courts: the Federal Court of Appeal and the Federal Court.