2 definitions found for this term.
Definitions are presented in the order source books were published (most recent first).
The government may refer directly to the court questions of law or fact concerning the interpretation of the constitution, or the constitutionality of any legislation. A reference is an exception to the usual two-party, adversarial system.
A process in which a court is asked by a government to give its legal opinion on a point of law, often involving constitutional law, where there is no concrete case to be decided. The opinion is merely "advisory," although in practice governments almost always follow the court's opinion. In Canada, a reference can be initiated only by the government, not private persons.