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I am currently reading through various tax judgments when a specific case caught my attention.

Racine; Demers et Nolin v. Ministre du Revenu National, 1965 CanLII 1108 (CA CÉC), 2 RC de l'É 338

Unfortunately, the entire document is in French, and I cannot read French, at least not at a professional legal level. I was wondering if anyone knows where to find an English version, and whether or not the Canadian government translates laws and judgments to provide for both of the country's primary languages.

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The language of the judgment and existence of an official translation depends on the court and sometimes even the particular judgment. Unofficial proprietary reporters may produce unofficial translations, as one has done for the judgment in question: 1965 D.T.C. 5098 — volume 19 of the Dominion Tax Cases - year 1965, on page 5098 (now scanned and shared by AlanSTACK).

Provincial courts

Most provincial superior courts, courts of appeal, and tribunals typically publish only in English. However, in certain provinces (Quebec, Manitoba, and New Brunswick), there are translations for some but not all of their judgments.

E.g. the New Brunswick Official Languages Act, s. 24 requires that "[a]ny final decision, order or judgment of any court, including any reasons given therefor 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."

Quebec courts do not systematically provide English translations of French-language decisions. However, the Minister of Justice of Quebec has partnered with the Société québécoise d’information juridique (SOQUIJ) to offer "unofficial English translations of selected court judgments and administrative tribunal decisions." And some Quebec judgments are written and delivered originally in English.

Federal courts

For the Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal "[e]ach decision reported in the official reports shall be published therein in both official languages." The Federal Court occasionally also publishes summaries of its judgments in the Indigenous language of the litigant, for example Dene, Innu, or Plains Cree.

The Supreme Court of Canada describes its practice:

From 1970 all Supreme Court judgments published in the Canada Supreme Court Reports (S.C.R.) are in both official languages. In 1983, the Court began its current practice of releasing all judgments simultaneously in both official languages and publishing them in the S.C.R. in a bilingual, side-by-side format. Please note that prior to 1977 not all judgments were published in the S.C.R. Many of those judgments, which are available by accessing the Court case file, are in one language only.

Racine; Demers et Nolin c. Ministre du Revenu National

The requirement to publish in both French and English did not exist in 1965. At that time, the Exchequer Court of Canada (the predecessor to the Federal Court and the court that issued the judgment you ask about) only published its decisions in one of the two official languages, based on the language used by the parties. You can see the case in the official reporter: [1965] 2 Ex. C.R. 338. It was published in French, and there is no official English translation that I can find.

However, there appears to be one unofficial proprietary reporter that has provided a translation: the Dominon Tax Cases (1965 D.T.C. 5098 — volume 19 of the Dominion Tax Cases - year 1965, on page 5098, now scanned and shared by AlanSTACK). I discovered this by noting the "other citations" listed in CanLii for [1965] 2 Ex. C.R. 338. I also looked for how other cases have used Racine and saw that some subsequent English-language judgments were quoting from Racine but in English (see e.g. Happy Valley Farms Ltd. v. The Queen, [1986] 2 C.T.C. 259 (F.C.), p. 264, listing the Dominon Tax Cases reporter as the source for the English text). This should be available in print at most law libraries associated with universities or major courthouses and in some online databases.

Resources

This blog post provides some resources for tracking down English translations of French judgments.

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Here is the scanned English translation:

Racine, Demers and Nolin v. M.N.R. 1965

(You can right click to open the images in a new tab and magnify them to see the hard-to-read text. They are high-resolution photos.)

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