What is a court remedy?
A court remedy allows you to initiate legal proceedings against the federal institution that was the subject of your complaint.
If the Federal Court concludes that the federal institution failed to comply with the Official Languages Act, it can order that corrective measures be taken.
Why apply for a court remedy?
The Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada ensures that federal institutions respect your language rights. However, if the Commissioner’s investigation does not produce the desired results, or if the institution that is the subject of your complaint does not follow up on the Commissioner’s recommendations, the Official Languages Act gives you the option to take your case to court.
To apply for a court remedy, your complaint must relate to a language right in one of the following areas:
- Parliamentary debates and proceedings
- Federal legislative documents
- Communications with and services to the public from federal institutions
- Language of work in federal institutions
- Advancement of English and French in Canadian society
- Language requirements for positions in the federal public service
Note: Applying for a court remedy does not prevent you from pursuing other legal remedies.
Who can apply for a court remedy?
All members of the public, including federal public servants, may apply for a court remedy after filing a complaint with the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada.
As stipulated in the Official Languages Act, the Commissioner may intervene in the proceedings (with the Court’s permission), apply to the Court himself (with your consent) or appear before the court on your behalf.
When can you apply for a court remedy?
Under the Official Languages Act, you must apply for a court remedy either
- within 60 days of your being informed of one of the following:
- The Commissioner’s decision to refuse or cease to investigate your complaint
- The results of the Commissioner’s investigation of your complaint
- The results of a follow-up to the Commissioner’s investigation of your complaint
- at least six months after your complaint was filed if you have not been informed of the results of the investigation or of the Commissioner’s decision to refuse or cease to investigate your complaint.
For more information on how to proceed, please contact the Federal Court Registry Office.
What costs are involved in a court remedy?
It is difficult to predict the exact costs involved in a court remedy, but generally speaking, you will have to consider the following:
- The filing fee payable to the Federal Court
- Lawyer’s fees (if you retain legal representation)
- The costs related to the production of documents
- The legal costs and expenses of the other party if you lose your case
Note: Even if you lose your case, the Federal Court may decide to award you expenses and costs if it is of the opinion that your case has raised an important new principle in relation to the interpretation of the Official Languages Act.