But What is Judicial Guidance? Debating Canadian Judgments on Children

11 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2010 Last revised: 18 Jun 2012

See all articles by Robert Leckey

Robert Leckey

McGill University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: July 1, 2010


The paper contributes to debates on the role of appellate judges in the uncertain field of family law. It takes as point of departure recent judgments by the Supreme Court of Canada regarding children. Repeated scholarly criticisms that the judgments provide inadequate guidance for trial judges and lawyers call for scrutiny: the criticisms overlook live debates on the appropriateness of judicial deference to legislative instrument choice as well as the difficulty of judicial rule-making in a fractious field where little social consensus obtains on key distributive questions. Family scholars might fruitfully explore constitutional theorists’ work on human rights, institutional expertise, and deference. It is also worth reading the judgments’ moral signals against the backdrop of research on regulation and social norms. Perhaps the judgments provide guidance, but not of the expected kind.

Keywords: Family Law, Deference, Discretion, Instrument Choice, Children’s Law, Comparative Family Law

JEL Classification: K10, K19, K39, K40

Suggested Citation

Leckey, Robert, But What is Judicial Guidance? Debating Canadian Judgments on Children (July 1, 2010). Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, Vol. 4, No. 32, pp., 381-90, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1633507

Robert Leckey (Contact Author)

McGill University - Faculty of Law ( email )

3644 Peel Street
Montreal H3A 1W9, Quebec
514-398-4148 (Phone)
514-398-4659 (Fax)

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