Justice Richard Wagner – From the Cour D’appel to the Cour Suprême du Canada

Supreme Court of Canada Nominee

The Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced today the name of the government’s nominee for the Supreme Court of Canada, the Honourable Richard Wagner of the Cour d’appel du Québec.

He’s a 55 year old construction law litigator from Montréal who has been on the Cour supérieure du Québec since 2004, and on the cour d’appel since Febuary 2011.

The nominee has agreed to answer questions from an ad hoc parliamentary committee on Thursday.

For Slaw readers two items on his résumé stand out: he was one of the founders of Le Centre d’accès à l’information juridique (CAIJ) and was honoured with the Barreau’s Merit Award for that – and he chaired the comité ad hoc sur les bibliothèques de droit au Québec du Barreau de Montréal. No stranger to legal information.


Long memoried readers may recall that Claude Wagner (Justice Wagner’s father) ran to succeed Bob Stanfield in 1976 in a race that also involved Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney.

The Honourable Richard Wagner

Personal Information and Education

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

Richard Wagner was admitted to the Barreau du Québec in 1980 and practiced law until his appointment to the Superior Court of Québec on September 24, 2004. He was 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 focused mainly on professional liability of lawyers, accountants, architects and engineers, and on commercial litigation related to, namely, real estate law, oppression remedies and class action suits. He pleaded before all courts and quasi-judicial tribunals in Quebec, as well as before the Federal Court and the Supreme Court of Canada.

Member of the Canadian Bar Association from 1980 until his appointment as judge in 2004, he was President of their Construction Law Section (Quebec Division). He was also President of the Bar of Montreal Liaison with the Superior Court Committee. He sat on a number of committees for the Bar of Montreal and the Barreau du Québec, was elected Councillor to the Bar of Montreal in 1998 and became President of the Bar of Montreal Ad Hoc Committee on Quebec Law Libraries. In 1998, he was a Founding Fellow of the Canadian College of Construction Lawyers (CCCL). In 1989-1990 and in 2001, he taught the Trial Advocacy courses at the École du Barreau du Québec. He was elected First Councillor of the Bar of Montreal for 2000-2001 before being elected Bâtonnier of the Bar of Montreal for 2001-2002. At the time he was also President of the Barreau du Québec’s Motions Committee and was a sitting member of both the Administrative Committee and the Finance Committee of the Barreau du Québec. 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 Merit Award for contribution to the law profession and for, namely, 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 served as CAIJ’s Vice-president and was a member of its Board of Directors until his appointment to the Superior Court of Québec.
Judicial Career

On September 24, 2004, Richard Wagner was appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Québec for the District of Montreal and served in the Civil Division, Commercial Division and Criminal Division. He was appointed as a judge of the Court of Appeal of Québec on February 3, 2011.

As a Superior Court of Québec judge, he served as a member on several of the Court’s committees, including its Judicial Practice Committee which oversees training for newly appointed judges. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Quebec Superior Court Judges Conference since 2006 and President since 2009. He has been a member of the Judicial Conduct Review Committee and the Remuneration Committee of the Canadian Superior Courts Judges Association and member of the Board of Directors since 2011. In addition, he has been a member of the Court of Appeal New Judges Welcoming Committee and the Court Web Site Modification Committee since 2011.


  1. Nice to see a news release about this from the Government of Canada.
    The October 5 release is at http://news.gc.ca/web/article-eng.do?nid=699139

  2. If a hunch can be right, the next Chief Justice. How does the appointment look now ?