Fonds las-56 - James Herbert Laycraft fonds

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James Herbert Laycraft fonds

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CA LASA las-56

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  • 1975-1991 (Creation)
    Laycraft, James Herbert

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2.2 m of textual records

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Biographical history

The Honourable James Herbert Laycraft was born in Veteran, Alberta, on January 5, 1924, and was raised and educated in High River. He worked for the High River Times while in high school, and joined the Canadian Army in 1941 at the age of seventeen. Spending one year at Queen's University on a radar course, he served abroad with the Royal Canadian Artillery in Australia in World War II. Returning from the war, Laycraft attended the University of Alberta, where he received his B.A. in 1950 and his LL.B. in 1951. He articled with E.J. Chambers, and was admitted to the Alberta bar on June 4, 1952. Laycraft became a member of the Calgary firm of Nolan, Chambers, Might, Saucier and Peacock. A talented litigator, he was involved in the last Canadian appeal to the JCPC in Great Britain in 1959. He worked with Harry Nolan, QC on two landmark land registration and mineral rights cases: Borys v. Canadian Pacific Railway Company ([1951] 2 WWR 147) and Turta v. Canadian Pacific Railway Company ([1953] 5 WWR 529). Laycraft was appointed QC on December 30, 1963, and was practicing in Calgary with the firm of Jones, Black and Company when he was appointed to the bench in 1975. Laycraft was also appointed to the CANT, 1979-1991. He became Chief Justice of Alberta in 1985 and retired on December 31, 1991. Laycraft stands out as a formidable and prolific judicial mind, thorough and analytical in his judgments. His judgments cover the areas of real estate law, contracts, torts, criminal law, administrative law, and later, constitutional law. Many of his TD cases are reported, including Price v. Materials Testing Laboratories, Ltd. ([1976] 5 WWR 280), in which he upheld Jellett v. Wilkie as a valid rule in Alberta land registration, and Re: Civil Service Assn. and Alberta Human Rights Commission ([1975] 62 DLR (3d) 531), where he dismissed a mandamus application regarding investigative procedures of the Alberta Human Rights Commission. He chaired an Alberta Commission of Inquiry in Edmonton into activities of the midway and carnival operator Royal American Shows, Inc. in 1977, along the way ruling that wire tap evidence collected by the police was admissible. On the CA, Laycraft wrote for many of the court's decisions. In an early appeal decision in 1980, Laycraft delivered an important ruling on affirmative action, deciding in Athabasca Tribal Council v. Amoco Canadian Petroleum Ltd. ([1980] 5 WWR 165) that the province's Individual's Rights Protection Act did not bar such employment policies. In R. v. Guthrie ([1982] 21 ALR 2d 1), Laycraft contributed to refining the precedent set in the SCC on the right of the accused to remain silent. He helped the SCA to reverse a conviction for the obstruction of justice in exploring the grounds on which the accused may remain silent. In R. v. Big M Drug Mart ([1984] 1 WWR 625), Laycraft held ultra vires the Lord's Day Act prohibiting commerce on Sundays and the judgment was upheld by the SCC. In Smale v. Wintemute ([1986] 1 WWR 268), he upheld the constitutionality of the College of Physicians and Surgeons' power to assess and restrict extra billing by doctors.

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Scope and content

Fonds consists of judge's notebooks of Mr. Justice Laycraft made during his tenure in the Supreme Court of Alberta Trial Division and the Alberta Court of Appeal, and volumes of reasons for judgments given by him in these cases. Arranged in two series: Judge's notebooks 1975-1991 and Reasons for judgments, 1975-1989.

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Acquired from J.H. Laycraft


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  • The material is in English.

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Record No. 20-00-00<br><br>

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