Queen Elizabeth II, the UK and Canada’s longest-serving monarch, died on September 8, 2022, after reigning for 70 years. As a Canadian, her death has prompted a surge of official protocols and procedures as our constitutional monarchy shifts to a new sovereign: King Charles III. Some changes include taking down Queen Elizabeth’s portrait in government buildings, adding King Charles’s image to Canadian money and documents, and changing Canada’s royal anthem to “God Save the King” (not to be confused with “O Canada,” the national anthem of Canada).
Legally, “The Queen” and “The King” are interchangeable terms
By constitutional convention, the accession of King Charles was instantaneous and automatic. Canada’s Interpretation Act (1985) provides that "the demise [of a sovereign] does not affect the holding of any office under the Crown in right of Canada" and that all legal proceedings involving the Crown continue "as though there had been no such demise.” Since the Crown acts as a corporate sole, it ensures that all references to the Queen, the King, Her/His Majesty, and the Crown are synonymous, referring to exactly the same legal personality over time.
“Queen’s Counsel” becomes “King’s Counsel”
Those in Canada’s legal community honoured with the designation of Queen’s Counsel (QC) will automatically be titled King’s Counsel (KC) but must update their credentials accordingly. There are several common places QC can be found and will need to be changed, including:
- Lawyer biographies on law firm websites
- Business cards
- Email signatures
- Notary public seals
- Door name plates
For litigators and their legal staff, a bit more has changed:
- The Court is now addressed as “Court’s King’s Bench and His Majesty the King”
- Pleadings and legal documents filed with the court now use the term “King’s Bench”
- Case names in criminal law now change from Regina to Rex
Past Decisions and Precedents
While this latest Elizabethan age can be sentimental for many, the Queen’s judicial memory will live on in all past decisions and precedents. Any legal documents filed with the court under “Queen’s Bench” prior to September 8, 2022, remain valid and do not need to be changed.
If you’re looking for assistance making any of these changes, contact us to speak with our strategists and legal marketers.
Alnaji, Yassir. “Bill 203: The Legal Profession Amendment Act (Queen’s Counsel Appointments).” Manitoba Law Journal 41, no. 1 (2018): 461-477.
Connolly, Amanda. “Queen Elizabeth death: What will her passing mean for the future of Canada’s monarchy?” Global News. September 11, 2022.
Gollom, Mark. “With Queen Elizabeth's death, Canada prepares for an official mourning period.” CBC News. September 8, 2022.
Olijnyk, Zena. “Death of Queen Elizabeth means legal terminology changes.” Canadian Lawyer. September 13, 2022.
Smith, Dale. “A seamless transition.” The Canadian Bar Association. September 9, 2022.