New Brunswick Courts
New Brunswick Courts
New Brunswick Courts

Languages in New Brunswick 

New Brunswick’s Unique Legal Feature: Language Rights

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

16. (1) English and French are the official languages of Canada and have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the Parliament and government of Canada.

16. (2) English and French are the official languages of New Brunswick and have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the legislature and government of New Brunswick.

16.1. (1) The English linguistic community and the French linguistic community in New Brunswick have equality of status and equal rights and privileges, including the right to distinct educational institutions and such distinct cultural institutions as are necessary for the preservation and promotion of those communities.

19. (2) Either English or French may be used by any person in, or in any pleading in or process issuing from, any court of New Brunswick.

20. (2) Any member of the public in New Brunswick has the right to communicate with, and to receive available services from, any office of an institution of the legislature or government of New Brunswick in English or French.

A feature unique to New Brunswick ’s Legal System:
Two Official Languages and Two Official Linguistic Communities

An Act Recognizing the Equality of the Two Official Linguistic Communities in New Brunswick

1 Acknowledging the unique character of New Brunswick, the English linguistic community and the French linguistic community are officially recognized within the context of one province for all purposes to which the authority of the Legislature of New Brunswick extends, and the equality of status and the equal rights and privileges of these two communities are affirmed.

2 The Government of New Brunswick shall ensure protection of the equality of status and the equal rights and privileges of the official linguistic communities and in particular their right to distinct institutions within which cultural, educational and social activities may be carried on.

3 The Government of New Brunswick shall, in its proposed laws, in the allocation of public resources and in its policies and programs, take positive actions to promote the cultural, economic, educational and social development of the official linguistic communities.

The Official Languages Act

The sections of the Official Languages Act of New Brunswick that pertain to the “Administration of Justice” provides as follows:

16 English and French are the official languages of the courts.

17 Every person has the right to use the official language of his or her choice in any matter before the courts, including all proceedings, or in any pleading or process issuing from a court.

18 No person shall be placed at a disadvantage by reason of the choice made under section 17.

19 (1) A court before which a matter is pending must understand, without the assistance of an interpreter or any process of simultaneous translation or consecutive interpretation, the official language chosen under section 17 by a party to the matter.

19 (2) A court before which a matter is pending must understand both official languages, without the assistance of an interpreter or any process of simultaneous translation or consecutive interpretation, if both English and French are the languages chosen by the parties to the proceedings.

20 (1) A person who is alleged to have committed an offence under an Act or a regulation of the Province or under a municipal by-law has the right to have the proceedings conducted in the language of his or her choice and shall be informed of that right by the presiding judge before entering a plea.

20 (2) A person who is alleged to have committed an offence within the meaning of subsection (1), has the right to be understood by the court, without the assistance of an interpreter or any process of simultaneous translation or consecutive interpretation, in the official language chosen by the person.

21 Every court has the duty to ensure that any witness appearing before it can be heard in the official language of his or her choice and upon the request of one of the parties or the witness, the court has the duty to ensure that services of simultaneous translation or consecutive interpretation are available to the person who made the request.

22 Where Her Majesty in right of the Province or an institution is a party to civil proceedings before a court, Her Majesty or the institution concerned shall use, in any oral or written pleadings or any process issuing from a court, the official language chosen by the other party.

23 Where the parties to civil proceedings, other than Her Majesty in right of the Province or an institution, do not choose or fail to agree on the official language to be used in the proceedings, Her Majesty or the institution concerned shall use such official language as is reasonable, having regard to the circumstances.

24 (1) Any final decision, order or judgment of any court, including any reasons given therefore and summaries, shall be published in both official languages where

(a) it determines a question of law of interest or importance to the general public, or

(b) the proceedings leading to its issuance were conducted in whole or in part in both official languages.

24 (2) Where a final decision, order or judgment is required to be published under subsection (1), but it is determined that to do so would result in a delay or injustice or hardship to a party to the proceedings, the decision, order or judgment, including any reasons given, shall be published in the first instance in one official language and, thereafter, at the earliest possible time, in the other official language.

25 All decisions of the Court of Appeal are deemed to fall within the scope of section 24.

26 Sections 24 and 25 shall not be construed so as to prevent the pronouncement of a judgment, including the reasons in support of the judgment, in either official language and in such a case, the judgment is not invalid by reason only that it was pronounced in one official language.

Legislation

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Official Languages Act (Canada)

Official Languages Regulations (Canada)

An Act Recognizing the Equality of the Two Official Linguistic Communities in New Brunswick

Official Languages Act (New Brunswick)

Services and Communications Regulation - Official Languages Act (New Brunswick)

LINKS

Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, Government of Canada

Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick