The Rules of The Supreme Court of Canada require each party to an appeal to "only conduct business with the Registrar through an agent" with "agent" meaning a lawyer practicing in the National Capital Region. While this rule may seem a little antiquated, it does permit counsel who don't regularly deal with Supreme Court of Canada on leave applications or appeals to gain the expertise of counsel like our firm in the course of the agent process.

We also act as lead or co-counsel on Supreme Court of Canada applications for leave to appeal, motions, interventions and substantive appeals. 

The low leave to appeal grant rate (only about 10%), number of judges you'll be dealing with on an appeal (between 5 and 9), amount of paper you'll be filing if others are granted intervenor status (potentially a roomful stacked to the ceiling) and ways you need to craft your issues to get the Court's attention means that having the help of counsel experienced with Supreme Court of Canada matters will maximize your prospects of success in seeking or opposing leave, bringing an intervention application, and acting on appeals as appellant, respondent or intervenor.

How to Get (or Oppose) Your Case in Front of the Supreme Court of Canada

Even if you haven't succeeded at trial or on appeal, you might still have hope at a second or third level of appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada. Or maybe you did succeed at trial or appeal, and the opposing party refuses to give up, fighting you as high as the SCC.

Getting a case before the SCC almost always requires advance "leave to appeal" (permission) being granted (though there are a few appeals "as of right"). Only about one in ten cases which ask for leave get it. The key is to sell the SCC on the "public importance" of a case, including that it involves a novel legal issue, issues of conflicting appellate jurisprudence, and legal issues of national scope, not just an issue personally important to the parties. Opposing leave requires the opposite, where even if there are doubts about the correctness of the decision below, it still doesn't warrant national high court resources being devoted to it. Occasionally there are creative ways using the Supreme Court Act to bring cases directly before the Court without having a judgment from the highest court in a province. 

Our significant experience with the Supreme Court of Canada means we understand how to sell the Court on your position, be it to get a hearing, deny a hearing, or intervene in a hearing (such as to make public policy submissions as a non-party advocating a particular view point). 

Helping You Understand the Supreme Court of Canada Process

You must realize in order for a leave to appeal application to the SCC being worthwhile:

  1. you must not miss the time limitation for serving, fling and perfecting the entire leave to appeal application (meaning all required materials, not just the notice seeking leave), which is usually 60 days from the date of lower court (usually appellate) judgment;

  2. you need to identify at least one (and preferably more than one) error of law from the judgment below;

  3. you need to demonstrate an issue of public importance that extends beyond your personal or organizational situation and which is sufficiently weighty to justify leave being granted;

  4. if granted leave to appeal, you must then "perfect" your appeal according to the Rules of Court;

  5. be prepared for "intervenors" in your case before the SCC - perhaps provincial Attorneys General or advocacy groups - who may take a position for or against your case, depending on their interests;

  6. be prepared for an over two year process from the time of filing a leave application to the time of the Court's judgment should you get leave and your appeal proceed.

SCC Questions We Can Help You Answer

  • Should you seek leave to appeal and how to most powerfully convince the court that your case is worth hearing?

  • How best to respond respond to a leave to appeal application brought by an opposing party?

  • Is is worth seeking intervenor status and how to convince the Court your organization is the appropriate intervenor on an issue?

  • How to draft the most compelling factum of legal argument?

  • How to put together the case record and authorities (the Court has highly unusual rules like printing on the back side of pages, but leaving the front side blank, so that when opened side by side the left side has the text and right side is blank for making notes)?

SCC Services We Provide

  • We act as counsel or co-counsel on applications for or opposing leave, on motions, on appeals or just for oral argument.

  • We draft materials to be filed with the Court or review materials already drafted, including comprehensive factum drafting.

  • We render legal opinions on prospect of success or aspects of SCC legal arguments.

  • We conduct SCC motions, including motions for extensions of time, for stays of execution, to admit fresh evidence, to state constitutional questions and for intervention.

  • We draft and test SCC oral arguments.

  • We assemble rule-compliant SCC filing packages where others have done the drafting.

  • We arrange for serving, filing and accepting service of SCC materials including act as SCC Agents for lawyers throughout Canada.

The Supreme Court of Canada Lawyers

The firm's Managing Lawyer and Senior Barrister Gordon S. Campbell has appeared multiple times at the Supreme Court of Canada for both appellants and respondents, as well as worked on numerous interventions. He articled at the Constitutional Law Division of the Attorney General of Ontario and served as Constitutional Issues Coordinator for the Ontario Regional Office of the Department of Justice Canada. He has published in the National Journal of Constitutional Law and the Canadian Criminal Law Review in addition to authoring three law books for Carswell and Les Éditions Yvon Blais. 

William Stephenson practices as an appellate Barrister, having served as Editor-in-Chief of the McGill Law Journal, articled at the National Judicial Institute which trains Superior Court judges throughout Canada, and as Legislative Clerk at the House of Commons where he advised Members of Parliament on the legislative process.

The firm also employs experienced law clerks who perfect rule compliance, document production, service and filing of documents that is in compliance with SCC Rules.