Legal Word of the Day: “Jurisdiction”


“Jurisdiction” – Specific right, power or authority given to an adjudicator, to decide a legal matter.


Jurisdiction is an integral part of the justice system. If an adjudicator makes a decision outside the jurisdiction for the matter, that “jurisdictional deficit” means the decision is subject to appeal or review.

There are limits to adjudicative powers that are conferred by legislation. Subject matter and geographic area are among the factors that affect an adjudicator’s jurisdiction over a legal matter. For example, in a recent criminal appeal, the sentence was quashed and the case sent back to Ontario Court of Justice for plea and sentencing, over lack of jurisdiction.

In R. v. D.M.E., 2014 ONCA 496, the Ontario Court of Appeal notes the distinction between the Superior Court of Justice jurisdiction and the Ontario Court of Justice jurisdiction. The Crown had re-elected to proceed by way of summary conviction, rather than by indictment, on the trial date in Superior Court of Justice. On appeal, the court found that the Superior Court of Justice does not have jurisdiction over summary conviction proceedings, even with approval from the judge and consent from the defence.

Justice David Watt found that the Superior Court judge had “no authority to arraign the appellant, to take his plea of guilty, or to impose what he considered to be a fit sentence.”


Recent paralegal graduate Karen Fair wrote this Legal Word of the Day. Read her case summary, which is also listed at CanLII Connects: ‘Public Interest’ Ground in Recent POA Appeals

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