Civil Section Commercial Law Strategy
Purpose and scope of the project
Following consultations with representatives of governments (provincial, federal and territorial), business groups, law reform organizations, academics and others, the Commercial Law Strategy was adopted by Deputy Ministers of Justice and approved by all Ministers of Justice in December 1999 with a commitment to provide funding to permit it to move forward. The aim of the Commercial Law Strategy was to modernize and harmonize commercial law in Canada, with a view to creating a comprehensive framework of commercial statute law which will make it easier to do business in Canada, resulting in direct benefits to Canadians and the economy as a whole.
The Strategy enjoyed the enthusiastic support of all Canadian sectors sharing an interest in the modernization and harmonization of commercial law. A number of business, professional and other organizations endorsed the Strategy over the ensuing years.
All of the Projects undertaken by the Strategy extensively used stakeholder involvement in the development of policy and Uniform legislation. These stakeholders were leaders in their fields in Canada on the specific topics undertaken. All of the Projects also involved participation by representatives of our two legal traditions in Canada: the Common Law and the Civil Law.
The Strategy was also involved in a process of formal co-operation with the Uniform Law Commission (formerly the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws) in the United States and the Mexican Center of Uniform Law in Mexico with a view to harmonizing the legal framework across North America. Much of this work centered on initiatives involving the commercial legal infrastructure.
Commercial Law Projects
The key elements of the Strategy were divided into two broad categories. The first category was commercial law which orders affairs between private parties, and enforcement law. The second category of the Commercial Law Strategy was enforcement law. Without effective enforcement of the substantive rights, the rights themselves are less helpful to commerce. Phase I of the Strategy was devoted to building alliances and garnering stakeholder support. Phase II, completed in March 2005, saw the preparation of modernized draft Uniform Acts and other policy guidelines that form the essential building blocks of the infrastructure Canadian businesses need to keep competitive. Phase III of the Strategy was devoted to completing the work of Phase II and working with constituent jurisdictions to implement the draft legislation and policies.
Merging the Commercial Law Strategy into the Civil Section
In 2007, it was decided that the Commercial Law Strategy would be rolled in as part of the Civil Section. In November 2007, the Advisory Committee on Program Development and Management reviewed the progress of the Strategy since 1999, and the members felt that the key elements at that time were product development, evergreening existing Uniform Acts and responding to issues as they arose, recognizing, though, that Commercial Law Projects would continue to be a major focus of the Conference. Phase III of the Strategy would then become part of this process. Also with the Strategy now part of the Civil Section, it was recognized that some reorganization of responsibilities was needed. The members agreed that the Chair of the Civil Section should focus on the current research projects and the annual Conference and that the Advisory Committee should focus on funding and medium and long term planning in both commercial and non-commercial projects.
What has the Strategy achieved?
Since the inception of the Strategy, over 28 Uniform Acts or amendments to Uniform Acts have been adopted by the Conference. Two recommendations were made to the Government of Canada and a number of projects are under consideration as part of the work of the Civil Section. Seven Projects were completed without the need for Uniform legislation. Although it is recognized that there is limited space on the legislative agendas of the provinces, territories and the federal government, there has been a general acceptance of the CLS initiatives with many Uniform Acts or amendments being adopted or under consideration.