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Practice Area Definition

Natural Resources Law Definition

Natural resources law is a broad category that encompasses all aspects of federal, provincial, and territorial law related to the ownership, development, management, and use of natural resources. In this context, natural resources include conventional resource extraction as well as the use of land, water, or air, or the plant or animal life residing in them.

Some lawyers who practice natural resources law focus on the laws governing who may develop natural resources and how, which requires knowledge of the applicable federal, provincial, territorial, and sometimes municipal laws governing use of a particular resource, from exploration, to development, production, sale, and ultimately to closure. Related practice areas include property law, environmental law, aboriginal law, public law, and administrative law.

Other lawyers in the field focus on the acquisition and maintenance of resource development rights in a private sector context. This may involve asset or share purchase transactions, financing, project structuring, and related areas. Such projects may change hands a number of times, and there are lawyers who can provide specific guidance based in part on the nature of the resource and the applicable regulatory and commercial context for that industry sector. Due diligence on such transactions usually requires subject-matter expertise from lawyers familiar with industry specific commercial norms and regulatory requirements. Other related practice areas include corporate law, commercial law, real property law, finance, taxation, contracts, and negotiation, to name a few.

The development of major natural resource projects has become increasingly controversial in Canada and accordingly some lawyers specialize in the regulatory or judicial processes involved in the development and review of the terms and conditions under which development will be permitted, if at all. Additionally, the interface between specific projects and the interests of First Nations has become increasingly prominent and some natural resource lawyers have become knowledgeable in that area as well.

Chris W. Sanderson, QC
Jennifer Nyland
Lawson Lundell LLP

Lawson Lundell LLP logo

Natural resources law is a broad category that encompasses all aspects of federal, provincial, and territorial law related to the ownership, development, management, and use of natural resources. In this context, natural resources include conventional resource extraction as well as the use of land, water, or air, or the plant or animal life residing in them.

Some lawyers who practice natural resources law focus on the laws governing who may develop natural resources and how, which requires knowledge of the applicable federal, provincial, territorial, and sometimes municipal laws governing use of a particular resource, from exploration, to development, production, sale, and ultimately to closure. Related practice areas include property law, environmental law, aboriginal law, public law, and administrative law.

Other lawyers in the field focus on the acquisition and maintenance of resource development rights in a private sector context. This may involve asset or share purchase transactions, financing, project structuring, and related areas. Such projects may change hands a number of times, and there are lawyers who can provide specific guidance based in part on the nature of the resource and the applicable regulatory and commercial context for that industry sector. Due diligence on such transactions usually requires subject-matter expertise from lawyers familiar with industry specific commercial norms and regulatory requirements. Other related practice areas include corporate law, commercial law, real property law, finance, taxation, contracts, and negotiation, to name a few.

The development of major natural resource projects has become increasingly controversial in Canada and accordingly some lawyers specialize in the regulatory or judicial processes involved in the development and review of the terms and conditions under which development will be permitted, if at all. Additionally, the interface between specific projects and the interests of First Nations has become increasingly prominent and some natural resource lawyers have become knowledgeable in that area as well.