Professor Carissima Mathen’s book on the law and policy of advisory opinions is honoured by the Canadian Foundation for Legal Research

Posted on Monday, October 4, 2021

The Canadian Foundation for Legal Research (CFLR) has announced that Professor Carissima Mathen’s 2019 book, Courts Without Cases: The Law and Politics of Advisory Opinions (Hart Publishing) has earned the second place prize in 2021 Walter Owen Book Prize competition.

Since 1875, Canadian courts have provided “advice” at the request of the executive branch of government.  The resulting opinions have addressed some of the most important issues in Canadian law and politics, from marriage equality to the nature of national institutions like the Senate and the Supreme Court itself.  In Courts Without Cases, Professor Mathen explains why political actors decide to pursue references, and what motivates them to treat the resulting opinions as authoritative.  In examining the asymmetry between their formal and practical status, the book demonstrates how advisory opinions have become part of Canadian law in the context of broader developments in constitutional law. Drawing on legal theory, constitutional history and political science, Professor Mathen shows how references can reverberate in ways as unexpected as they are powerful.

The winner of the 2021 Walter Owen Book Prize is Search and Seizure (Emond Montgomery Publications Limited), authored by Nader Hasan, Mabel Lai, David Schermbrucker, and Randy Schwartz. The prize for third place was awarded to Canadian Competition Law and Policy (Irwin Law Inc.) by John S. Tyhurst, an Adjunct Professor at the Common Law Section.

This is the second year in a row that a book by a Common Law faculty member has been honoured by the CFLR. Last year, Professor Yan Campagnolo’s book Le secret ministériel : théorie et pratique (Presses de l’Université Laval) received the second place prize. And in 2018, Professor Florian Martin-Bariteau earned the second place honour for Le droit de marque : une approche fonctionnelle dans l’économie globale et numérique (LexisNexis). Previous winners from the Common Law Section include Adam Dodek (2015), Nathalie Des Rosiers (with Louise Langevin and Marie-Pier Nadeau, 2014), Teresa Scassa (with Michale Deturbide, 2013), and Ed Ratushny (with Dennis Mahony, 2011)

The Walter Owen Book Prize recognizes excellence in legal writing and rewards outstanding new contributions to Canadian legal literature. The prize alternates annually between English and French-language books.

Congratulations to Professor Mathen on this exceptional achievement!

Click here to read more about Courts Without Cases: The Law and Politics of Advisory Opinions.

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