Regulatory and Public Law Litigation lawyers deal with all forms of litigation involving the actions of government and public regulatory authorities, and their impact on individuals and businesses. This includes many aspects of administrative law but also includes challenges under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and proceedings before federal and provincial agencies and tribunals.
Public law generally governs the relationship between the state and its citizens. The law is largely based on the rights granted by the Constitution, specifically under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, along with the statutes and legislations, and the regulations promulgated by the administrative agencies.
It is contrasted with private law, which deals with the relationships of a private person to another. Under private law is civil law which may also divided into the law on contracts, property law, family law, and torts and damages.
Public law, on the other hand, may be divided into the following:
Criminal law legally defines crimes a person may commit through his acts or omissions, including the penalties for each crime, the action that may be instituted against an accused, and the procedure in instituting these criminal actions.
A country or a state’s Constitution is its highest law. Thus, constitutional law is the branch of law that deals with the interpretation (also called “construction” in legal terms) of the Constitution. In effect, it determines the roles of each public officer or position, the powers granted to them by the Constitution, and the rights and basic freedoms of the state’s citizens. It also construes the constitutionality of a law, determining whether a law passed by the legislature violates the Constitution.
Taxation or tax law provides for the procedures and the regulations on the manner of collection of taxes by the government. It also defines the sanctions that a private person or corporation may be imposed with for the violations of non-remittance of tax, and the procedures on appealing or resolving any tax disputes.
Administrative law, which may also be referred to as regulatory law, refers to the branch of law that regulates the bureaucratic system under which a government runs to implement its mandate and to enforce the laws passed by the legislature, including the Constitutional provisions that needed execution.
Thus, litigations or court actions on these major areas of public law are handled by a public law litigation lawyer, sometimes referred to as regulatory law litigation lawyer, with a specific focus on administrative law or regulatory law.
Although, an area of public law may be practiced by a lawyer specialised in the said area (e.g., criminal law by a criminal law; taxation law by a taxation, corporate, or finance lawyer), the legal practice of a public law litigation lawyer may overarch with the other areas depending on the specific circumstance of a case (e.g., administrative law and criminal law relates with each other, for example, when a public officer is charged with a private offense or crime).
Regulatory law or administrative law, as mentioned above, is the branch of law that deals with the system of the executive branch of the government in the implementation and execution (hence, it is called “executive” branch) of the substantive laws and procedural laws mandated by the Constitution and the laws itself.
In the exercise of its mandate on implementing the laws and the Constitution, under the regulatory or administrative law, a public office, government agency, or regulatory body, or a public officer must (or may) promulgate administrative rules and regulations.
A public law litigation lawyer or a regulatory law litigation lawyer centers around this system of the executive branch, familiarising themself on the bureaucratic processes, the public officers (who may either be elected, appointed, or contracted), and the powers of the said public officers, in order to determine the legality of any act (such as passing a regulation), omission (in case of an inaction when the law mandates otherwise) of a public office, government agency, or regulatory body.
A particular office, agency, or regulatory body may also exercise quasi-judicial authority (which may be referred to as a “tribunal”), while exercising administrative functions. A quasi-judicial authority means that the said office, agency, or regulatory body may also adjudicate matters submitted to it, according to the rules on procedures that it will promulgate, and the jurisdiction on subject matters or issues that it may cover.
Here, a public law litigation lawyer or a regulatory law litigation lawyer represents clients before these tribunals – which may include providing advisory opinions and preparation of pleadings or other court submissions.
When an unfavourable decision is rendered by the concerned tribunal, a public law litigation lawyer presents to the client their other remedies, such as a reconsideration or an appeal. They may also look at whether the tribunal has not exceeded its authority or violated its jurisdictional mandate in promulgating its decision or during the conduct of the administrative proceedings. Notably, the rules in a court litigation will greatly differ from the rules of these tribunals, hence, a public law litigation lawyer, who has mastered these administrative rules, may be consulted with before proceeding with such case.
The Canadian laws and its Constitution are primarily carried by the Governor in Council – the Prime Minister and the cabinet – including all federal and provincial governments, departments, and other agencies, thus forming the Canadian executive branch. Executive authority is vested in the Crown but is executed by the Governor in Council under the Crown’s and the people’s authority.
At the helm of all laws is The Constitution Act, 1987 – the Canadian Constitution, which is the highest law of the land, where all powers of all branches of the government (executive, legislative, judiciary) is distinctively defined, and where the rights of all citizens are embodied.
In the Guarantee of Rights and Freedoms of the Constitution, the democratic rights of the citizens are outlined, with a specific provision on the rights of the Indigenous peoples. These rights generally ensure the citizens of a democratic government, and provides for the protection of these rights.
However, as not all rights are absolute, the rights granted under the democratic principles of the Constitution are subject to the reasonable limitations under the law and when such limitations are justified in a free and democratic society.
The principle of rule of law, emanating from the Constitution itself, mandates the equal treatment of all persons – private and public persons alike – in the implementation of the law. In relation to administrative or regulatory law, the rule of law provides that public institutions and officers must conduct themselves according to the law, and that they are equally held accountable for their acts and omissions. In effect, it protects citizens from any hasty, arbitrary or capricious act of the government.
A common issue in this field is whether an administrative regulation has exceeded the authority granted to it by the Constitution, or whether the rights of a private person has been violated by a governmental entity or any of its officer. Thus, a public law litigation lawyer assists the offended party in pursuing court actions to enforce their right, and/or to ask for damages suffered by them as a result of the said violation.
In need of assistance in pursuing a case against a government agency or officer? Below are a list of Lexpert Ranked public law litigation lawyers or regulatory law litigation lawyers to assist you in this endeavour.