Stikeman Elliott
Government & Constitutional
Public Law & Constitutional Law
Stikeman Elliott's Public Law & Constitutional Law Group offers expert advice to clients when the constitutionality of legislation or validity of a government action is at issue. We pride ourselves on providing both public and private-sector clients with the highest quality of service and performance.

Members of the group represent private businesses with respect to constitutional challenges of legislation or regulations and challenges under administrative law of the application of legislation or regulations and other actions of governments and public authorities. In addition, we advise on the negotiation and enforcement of public contracts, the issuance of permits and related matters. Our efforts on behalf of public and quasi-public bodies - including federal and provincial governments, government departments, administrative tribunals, professional regulatory bodies and political parties - generally focus on jurisdictional conflicts and on the scope of the body's authority, jurisdiction or potential liabilities.

We offer advice where constitutional and public law issues may affect commercial contract negotiation and drafting, as well as expert litigation counsel in contentious constitutional and public law matters. The Group's expertise is particularly strong in the following areas, among others:

  • Federal and provincial Charters of Rights (the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Quebec's Charter of Rights and the Canadian Bill of Rights), particularly with respect to freedom of expression, privacy rights and discrimination;

  • Federal Official Languages Act and the Québec Chartre de la langue française;

  • Constitutional challenges alleging contravention of the constitutional division of powers between the federal and provincial governments;

  • Judicial independence issues;

  • Procedural fairness and natural justice issues arising from administrative decisions;

  • Public commissions of inquiry;

  • Mandamus and other recourses that are intended to compel governments to follow applicable regulations and statutes;

  • The negotiation and enforcement of public contracts, including public calls for tender, and challenges against decisions relating to the awarding of public contracts;

  • Aboriginal rights and titles; and

  • Resolution of jurisdictional conflicts between different laws and/or governmental departments or boards.

Significant Mandates

Stikeman Elliott's Constitutional & Public Law litigators have represented clients in many significant and precedent-setting matters. Some of our recent matters include:

  • ICBC v. Unifund- Constitutional case involving the application of the inter-provincial rules under the respective Insurance Acts (S.C.C.);

  • Air Canada v. Competition Bureau - Successfully challenged the validity of a section of the Competition Act giving extraordinary power to the Commissioner of Competition on the basis of violation of the due process guarantee of the Canadian Bill of Rights (Q.C.A.);

  • Barreau de Montréal v. Procureur Général du Québec - We acted for the association of the judges of the Administrative Tribunal of Québec (T.A.Q.), successfully challenging provincial laws giving the government control over administrative judges' salaries and the renewal of their terms of office on the basis that this represented an infringement of judicial independence (Q.C.A.);

  • Jean Pelletier v. Attorney General of Canada - Successfully overturned the removal of Mr. Pelletier as chairman of the board of Via Rail on the basis of infringement of the rules of natural justice. (F.C.);

  • CRTC v. Genex - Successfully represented intervener Cogeco in support of the position that the CRTC's power to revoke a radio license for repeated libelous and heinous remarks did not infringe the freedom of expression guarantee of the Québec and Canadian Charters of Rights. (F.C.A.);

  • Re Andrée Ruffo - Stikeman Elliott acted as independent counsel for the Quebec Court of Appeal in an extraordinary procedure to remove Madam Justice André Ruffo from the bench following a recommendation of the Québec Judicial Council (Q.C.A.); 

  • IBC v. Government of New Brunswick - proposed Charter challenge.

Related Practices
Related Publications