Equivalency to a Canadian Common Law Degree Program
The NCA assessment process is designed to determine if an applicant has a thorough understanding and knowledge of Canadian law, equivalent to that of a graduate of a Canadian common law degree program. Those who are determined to have such understanding and knowledge are issued a Certificate of Qualification from the NCA.
Each application is assessed on an individual basis, taking into account each applicant’s educational and professional background. The NCA considers a number of factors, including the following:
- the type of legal system where the legal education was acquired (common law, civil law, hybrid, etc.);
the length and nature of the legal education program;
- the subject areas studied;
- academic performance in respect of the core subject areas required by the NCA, as well as overall academic performance;
- whether the legal education program is recognized and approved by the local regulatory authority which governs admission to the practice of law in that jurisdiction;
- whether the mode of study was full-time, part-time, in-person or by distance;
- Age of degree and/or currency of practice;
- professional legal experience and qualifications; and
- the nature and length of professional legal experience.
The assessment criteria are described in more detail in the current Policies and Guidelines.
The NCA processes applications in the order they are received by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. An applicant will normally receive an assessment report within 8 weeks from the time that all required formalities have been completed and documentation has been received.
After the application has been considered, the NCA issues an assessment to the applicant indicating the requirements, if any, that must be met in order for a Certificate of Qualification to be issued. There are three possible types of requirements:
- passing examinations set and administered by the NCA in prescribed subject areas of law;
- taking courses in prescribed subject areas of law at a Canadian law school; or
- completion of a Canadian common law degree program.
After a file is assessed, the NCA issues an assessment report that outlines requirements applicants must meet to demonstrate competence in specific subject areas, as described in the current NCA Policies and Guidelines.
The requirements that are assigned focus on the competence of applicants in core common law subjects, including five Canadian subjects which are mandatory for all applicants. Clicking on each subject area will explain why each requirement is mandatory:
- Canadian Administrative Law
- Canadian Constitutional Law
- Canadian Criminal Law
- Foundations of Canadian Law
- Canadian Professional Responsibility
The other core common law subjects are:
- Business Organizations (formerly Corporate Law)
In some cases, particularly when an applicant’s law degree is less than three years, other subject areas may be assigned, including: Civil Procedure, Commercial Law, Evidence, Family Law, Remedies, Tax Law, and Trusts.
Appealing an Assessment
An applicant may appeal the assessment issued by the NCA by submitting, through the NCA portal, a letter to the NCA together with payment of the prescribed appeal fee, indicating the reasons for the appeal. An Appeal Panel established by the NCA considers the appeal and issues its decision on the basis of the applicant’s submission and the written documentation contained in the file. The Appeal Panel may reduce or supplement the requirements set out in the decision being appealed.
The fee for an appeal of an assessment is $280 CDN, plus applicable taxes. Please note the NCA accepts credit card payments only. Please review the NCA Appeal Policy that begins with Section 4 (Page 12) of the current NCA Policies and Guidelines prior to submitting an appeal.
NCA Appeal Panels are constituted to consider any appeals received on or before the following dates during each year: January 30; April 30; July 30; October 30.