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Areas of law

Legal glossary

You are facing a legal issue and you need a lawyer? Very well, but what type of lawyer is right for you? How can you determine the specific field of practice relevant to your problem? Like other professionals, lawyers often specialize in specific areas of law. To assist you in identifying the relevant legal domain for your situation, we encourage you to refer to the following glossary of terms, which provides clear definitions of the main areas of law.


Civil Law

This legal domain governs your relationships with others as well as your relation with property. In Quebec, most of these regulations are consolidated within the Civil Code of Québec. In addition to these general principles, civil law also encompasses a broad spectrum of other types of law, including family law, law of security, law of civil liability, and more. 

Criminal Law

Branch of the legal system designed to deter behaviours deemed contrary to the core values of a society. In Canada, these behaviours are set out in the Criminal Code. Engaging in any of the acts outlined in the Criminal Code constitutes a criminal offence, such as assaults, homicides, sexual assaults, armed robberies, etc.  

Youth Law

Legal provisions designed to protect minors, particularly in the context of their relationship with their parents. In Québec, the Youth Protection Act stands as the central piece of legislation within the youth legal framework. Youth law also includes juvenile criminal justice and adoption.

Landlord/Tenant Law

Rules governing and arising from residential lease agreements. A lease is a contract between a tenant and a landlord (typically the property owner). This contract delineates the rights and obligations of each party. Landlord/tenant law does not extend to commercial leases, short-term rentals or hotel room rentals.  

Family Law

Area of law that addresses the procedures for marriage, separation or divorce, as well as rules concerning children. Family law determines principles related to parental authority, responsibilities regarding parenting time (custody schedules), and financial obligations toward a child (support allowance, expense-sharing between parents, etc.). Rules pertaining to spousal or partner obligations, marital regimes, and family patrimony also fall under family law. It is important to differentiate family law from youth law (see “Youth Law” section).

Administrative Law

In this context, the adjective “administrative” exclusively refers to public administration, as opposed to the administration of a private company or organization. Therefore, it encompasses the set of rules governing relationships between individuals and components of public administration or among these components. For instance, administrative law governs your rights and remedies regarding workers’ compensation, employment insurance benefits, family allowances, or services and medications covered by the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec. This field is also referred to as “social law”. 

Labour Law

Branch of administrative law governing interactions between an employer and its employees. Matters such as negotiating employment contracts, providing termination notices, addressing workplace accidents, and handling occupational injuries are examples of topics falling under labour law. Generally, distinctions are made between collective labour relations (involving unionized employees) and individual employment relations. Workers' compensation falls under the scope of administrative law.

Constitutional Law

Comprehensive set of rules overseeing the organization and operation of the government and governing relationships between individuals and the government. In Canada, constitutional law also encompasses matters related to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is entrenched in the Constitution.

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