The Supreme Court of Canada is currently the highest appeal court in Canada. Although it was created in 1875, until 1949, the decisions of the Supreme Court could still be appealed to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom.
Unlike the Supreme Court of the United States, the Supreme Court of Canada has universal jurisdiction over all cases in Canada, civil, criminal and constitutional and is the final court of appeal for matters that start in provincial courts as well as the Federal Court of Canada. However, it has a very limited original jurisdiction, essentially reserved to references on constitutional matters. It has jurisdiction over both common law cases and civil code cases.
The court is made up of a Chief Justice and eight puisne ("puny") judges. By tradition, three judges come from Quebec, three from Ontario, two from the western provinces, and one from the maritime provinces. However, the judges do not always sit in a full panel. Depending on the importance of the case before them, they may sit in panels of five or seven on occasion.