2013

The Supreme Court of Canada is called upon to determine whether British Columbia Supreme Court judges have the discretion to allow documents written solely in French to be admitted into evidence in civil court proceedings

The Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique, the Fédération des parents francophones de la Colombie-Britannique and a group of parents initiated proceedings pursuant to section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for permission to introduce into evidence documents written solely in French.

In response to a request from the provincial government during proceedings in the British Columbia Supreme Court, the Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique and the Fédération des parents francophones de la Colombie-Britannique had filed affidavits accompanied by documents written in French, without English translations. These documents had been produced in the course of the Conseil scolaire francophone’s daily functions, which, according to its constitutional mandate, must be carried out in French.

The Supreme Court of Canada held that a 1731 law entitled An Act that all Proceedings in Courts of Justice within that Part of Great Britain called England, and in the Court of Exchequer in Scotland, shall be in the English Language and Rule 22‑3 of the British Columbia Supreme Court Civil Rules rendered French-language documents inadmissible as evidence. For documents to be admissible in British Columbia courts, they must be prepared in English or accompanied by an English translation.