Richard Wagner becomes the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

Posted on Tuesday, December 12, 2017

L'honorable Richard Wagner

Crédit photo : Cour suprême du Canada


The Civil Law Section of the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Law is very proud to have among its graduates the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Richard Wagner (LL.L. 1979 Cum Laude).

"Richard Wagner was born in Montreal on April 2, 1957. He studied at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf in Montreal and obtained his Diploma of College Studies (DEC) in 1975. He earned a Bachelor of Social Sciences (B.Soc.Sc.) with a major in Political Science from the University of Ottawa in 1978, graduating cum laude. He received a Licentiate in Laws (LL.L.) from the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law in 1979, also graduating cum laude.

Richard Wagner was called to the Quebec Bar in 1980 and practised law until being appointed to the Quebec Superior Court on September 24, 2004.  He was a partner in the law firm of Lavery, de Billy (formerly Lavery, O’Brien and Lavery, Johnston, Clark, Carrière, Mason & Associés) from 1980 to 2004.  His practice there focused mainly on professional liability of lawyers, accountants, architects and engineers, and on commercial litigation related in particular to real estate law, oppression remedies and class action suits.  He argued cases before all the Quebec courts and quasi-judicial tribunals, as well as before the Federal Court and the Supreme Court of Canada. 

A member of the Canadian Bar Association from 1980 until he was appointed to the bench in 2004, he sat on the board of the Association’s Quebec Branch and was president of, among others, the Construction Law Section.  He also chaired the liaison committee of the Bar of Montréal and the Superior Court.  He sat on a number of committees of the Bar of Montréal and the Barreau du Québec, was elected to the Council of the Bar of Montréal in 1998 and chaired the Bar of Montréal’s ad hoc committee on Quebec law libraries.  In 1998, he was a founding Fellow of the Canadian College of Construction Lawyers (CCCL).  In 1989-90 and in 2001, he taught trial advocacy courses at the École du Barreau du Québec.  He was elected First Councillor of the Bar of Montréal for 2000-2001 before being elected Bâtonnier of the Bar of Montréal for 2001-2.  At the time, he also chaired the Barreau du Québec’s applications committee and sat on the General Council of the Barreau du Québec as well as on its administrative committee and finance committee.  In 2003, he taught a course on civil procedure under both the former and the new Code of Civil Procedure at the École du Barreau du Québec. 

In June 2005, he received the Barreau du Québec’s Award of Merit in recognition of his contribution to the legal profession and, in particular, to the creation of the Centre d’accès à l’information juridique (CAIJ) which has provided access to legal information for members of the profession throughout Quebec since 2002.  He was a member of the CAIJ’s board of directors and its vice-president until being appointed to the Quebec Superior Court. 

On September 24, 2004, Richard Wagner was appointed to the Quebec Superior Court for the District of Montréal, where he sat in the Civil Division, the Commercial Division and the Criminal Division.  He was appointed to the Quebec Court of Appeal on February 3, 2011. 

As a Superior Court judge, he sat on several of the court’s committees, including the judicial practice committee, which oversaw training for newly appointed judges.  He became a member of the board of directors of the Conférence des juges des cours supérieures du Québec in 2006, and its president in 2009.  He has been a member of the Judicial Conduct Review Committee and the Remuneration Committee of the Canadian Superior Courts Judges Association and has sat on its board of directors since 2011.  He was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada on October 5, 2012."

Judge Wagner is a great friend of the Civil Law Section. Our students are lucky to be able to meet with him a few times during the academic year, especially during the traditional Rentrée solennelle des classe. "The appointment of Judge Wagner is a great pride for the Section, its professors, staff and students. Since the beginning of my term in 2014, Judge Wagner has always been open to our invitations and has been very generous with his time. Despite his great career, he remains humble and accessible. He enjoys interacting with students. We can not hope for a better model for our students! I am convinced that, as Chief Justice, he will be able to show leadership while keeping his humility" said Céline Lévesque, dean of the Civil Law Section, at the announcement of the appointment of Richard Wagner.

He received the Ordre du mérite from the Civil Law Section in 2013. In 2015, the University of Ottawa Alumni Association awarded him the Meritas-Tabaret Award for Alumni Achievement, presented to an exemplary graduate.

Congratulations to the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court!

Richard Wagner in 1979

(Bio of judge Wagner comes from the Supreme Court website.)


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