Skip to main content Skip to local navigation

Book talk and discussion: “Courts Without Cases: The Law and Politics of Advisory Opinions”

York community members are invited to participate in a Book Talk and Discussion: Courts Without Cases: The Law and Politics of Advisory Opinions
If you are interested in attending, organizers ask that you RSVP for this event by visiting
A small lunch will be served
Carissima Mathen is a law professor at the University of Ottawa. She is an expert in the Constitution of Canada, criminal law and U.S. Constitutional Law. She has a special interest in the Supreme Court of Canada, judicial review, the separation of powers, criminal justice, and the relationship between law and social media. She publishes and lectures frequently in these areas.
When one thinks of courts, it most often is in the context of deciding cases: live disputes involving spirited, adversarial debate between opposing parties. Sometimes, though, a court is granted the power to answer questions in the absence of cases. In Canada since 1875, courts have been permitted to act as advisers alongside their ordinary, adjudicative role. These proceedings, known as references or advisory opinions, are the subject of Mathen’s book. She argues that references raise numerous important questions: about the judicial role, about the relationship between courts and those who seek their “advice”, and about the nature of law.
Courts Without Cases offers the first detailed examination of that role from a legal perspective. Tracking their use in Canada since the country’s Confederation, and looking to the experience in other legal systems, Mathen discusses how advisory opinions draw courts into the complex relationship between law and politics. The book has been described as “lucid, original, insightful and highly readable” (Justice Lorne Sossin) and “a brilliant contribution to the literature on Canadian constitutional law and politics” (Professor Mark Walters).


Feb 05 2020


12:30 pm - 8:00 pm


Osgoode Hall Law School @ Room 2027
QR Code