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Law Courts

The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, 1754-2004

From Imperial Bastion to Provincial Oracle

edited by Barry Cahill, Philip Girard & Jim Phillips

University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Initial publish date
Oct 2004
Courts, Social History, Legal History, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2004
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Dec 2004
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Dec 2004
    List Price

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Prepared to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the establishment of Nova Scotia's Supreme Court, this important new volume provides a comprehensive history of the institution, Canada's oldest common law court. The thirteen essays include an account of the first meeting in 1754 of the court in Michaelmas Term, surveys of jurisprudence (the court's early federalism cases; its use of American law; attitudes to the administrative state), and chapters on the courts of Westminster Hall, on which the Supreme Court was modelled, and the various courthouses it has occupied. Anchoring the volume are two longer chapters, one on the pre-confederation period and one on the modern period.

Editors Philip Girard, Jim Phillips, and Barry Cahill have put together the first complete history of any Canadian provincial superior court. All of the essays are original, and many offer new interpretations of familiar themes in Canadian legal history. They take the reader through the establishment of the one-judge court to the present day – a unique contribution to our understanding of superior courts.

About the authors

BARRY CAHILL is an independent historian whose work focuses on Atlantic Canada. He has written numerous historical pieces on the region's legal history and has also written extensively on religious history, with a focus on Canadian Presbyterianism. He is also a former editor of the Nova Scotia Historical Review. Cahill is also a Certified Information Access and Privacy Officer in the Economic and Rural Development and Tourism Department of the Government of Nova Scotia. He was formerly a Corporate Projects Analyst and Senior Archivist in the Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management Department of the Government of Nova Scotia. Cahill lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Barry Cahill's profile page

Philip Girard is University Research Professor and Professor of Law, History and Canadian Studies at Dalhousie University, where he is based at the Schulich School of Law. He has published widely on Canadian and comparative legal history. His biography Bora Laskin: Bringing Law to Life (Osgoode Society, 2005) received the Chalmers Award for the best book published in Ontario history in that year, while his Lawyers and Legal Culture in British North America: Beamish Murdoch of Halifax (Osgoode Society, 2011) received the Clio Atlantic award from the Canadian Historical Association in 2012. He is the associate editor of the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History.


Philip Girard's profile page

Jim Phillips is Professor of Law, History and Criminology at the University of Toronto, and editor-in-chief of the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History. He has co-edited four volumes of the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History’s Essays in the History of Canadian Law and, with Philip Girard, a volume on the history of Canada’s oldest surviving superior common law court, The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia 1754-2004: From Imperial Bastion to Provincial Oracle (Osgoode Society, 2004). He has published over fifty articles and book chapters on British imperial history and 18th-century India, on property and charities law, US legal history, and, principally, Canadian legal history. He is also the author, with Rosemary Gartner, of Murdering Holiness: The Trials of Franz Creffield and George Mitchell (University of British Columbia Press, 2003).


Jim Phillips' profile page

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