Better know a Canadian institution: the Federal Court(s)

In 1875, Canada established its federal courts system by passing the Court Act, creating the Supreme Court of Canada. But it was also decided that, to avoid clogging up the Supreme Court with every matter of federal law, they would create a lower court to act like America’s US Circuit Courts. It was named the Exchequer Court of Canada, since its founders figured it would deal mostly with matters of exchequer, a British word for the sections of the government concerned with raising and allotting funds.

When the Exchequer Court was founded in 1875, it was staffed solely by Supreme Court justices. It did not have a full-time Judge until 1887. It got one additional full-time Assistant Judge, Louis-Arthur Audette, in 1912. Then, in 1920, the Judge was retitled the President of the Exchequer Court and Mr. Justice Audette became the Puisne Judge until 1932, when he was replaced by Eugene-Réal Angers. There was not more than one puisne judge of the Exchequer Court until 1945, slowly increasing to five in 1953. In 1971 the court was renamed the Federal Court of Canada and sorted its work into a Trial Division and an Appeals Division.

The Federal Court of Canada was split in 2003 into two courts, corresponding to the two divisions; The Trials Division is now the Federal Court, which hears cases of federal jurisdiction, and the Appeals Division is the Federal Court of Appeals, which hears appeals from the Federal Court, the Tax Court of Canada and some federal tribunals.

Judge of the Exchequer Court of Canada:

George Wheelock Burbridge 1887-1908
Walter Gibson Pringle Cassels 1908-20

President of the Exchequer Court of Canada:

Walter Gibson Pringle Cassels 1920–23
Alexander Kenneth Maclean 1923–42
Joseph Thorarinn Thorson 1942–64
Wilbur Roy Jackett 1964–71

Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Canada:

Wilbur Roy Jackett 1971-79
Arthur L. Thurlow 1980-88
Frank Iacobucci 1988-91
Julius A. Isaac 1991-99
John D. Richard 1999-2003

Chief Justice of the Federal Court:

Allan Lutfy 2003-11
Paul S. Crampton 2011-present

Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Appeals:

John D. Richard 2003-09
Pierre Blais 2009-present

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