The Chief Judge handles all complaints regarding the conduct or behaviour of judges, judicial justices and justices of the peace of the Provincial Court, but does not deal with:
The Provincial Court Act (“the Act”) provides that all complaints about the conduct or behaviour of Provincial Court judges, judicial justices and justices of the peace be made in writing to the Chief Judge who, after examining the complaint, must report in writing to the complainant and to the judge, judicial justice or justice of the peace.
Limits on the Chief Judge’s authority
Under the Act, the Chief Judge has the power and the duty to supervise the Court’s judges, judicial justices and justices of the peace. However, the Chief Judge’s authority regarding complaints is supervisory and disciplinary in nature.
It does not include the power to
Many of the letters sent to the Chief Judge raise matters that fall outside the Chief Judge's mandate. These are normally answered by a letter from one of the Court's Legal Officers, possibly suggesting appropriate avenues of inquiry.
Judicial Discipline Process
The Provincial Court Act establishes a judicial discipline process for complaints about the Court’s judges, judicial justices and justices of the peace. It has three possible stages: examination, investigation, and inquiry.
The Act requires the Chief Judge to examine all complaints about the Court’s judges, judicial justices and justices of the peace, and report in writing to the complainant and the judge, judicial justice or justice of the peace following the examination (see Section 22.1(1)).
If a matter appears to raise a conduct or behavioural issue about a Provincial Court judge, judicial justice or justice of the peace, a file is opened, the complainant is told the matter will be considered, and a response to the allegation is requested from the judge, judicial justice or justice of the peace.
After examining the complaint and response, the Chief Judge (or an Associate Chief Judge designated for these purposes) decides upon the appropriate course of action. If the behaviour that is the subject of the complaint is considered appropriate, the complainant will be given an explanation. If conduct is found to be inappropriate, the complainant may be provided with an expression of apology or other remedial action may occur. A large majority of matters conclude at this stage.
However, if the Chief Judge considers that an investigation is advisable, he or she will conduct an investigation of the fitness of the judge, judicial justice or justice of the peace to perform their duties (see section 22.1(2) of the Act).
The Act also permits the provincial Attorney General to direct the Chief Judge to conduct an investigation.
Under the Act, when an investigation is completed, the Chief Judge must send a written report to the Attorney General and the judge, judicial justice or justice of the peace concerned, setting out the nature of the investigation, the relevant facts, the findings, and any corrective action taken or recommended.
Section 22.1(3) of the Act gives the Chief Judge the power to take any corrective action considered necessary, including holding an inquiry. When an inquiry is held, the judge, judicial justice or justice of the peace may choose whether to have it conducted by either the Judicial Council or a Supreme Court judge. In the Court’s history, very few investigations have required inquiries.
How to complain
Guidelines for the conduct of judges and judicial justices are found in the Ethical Principles for Judges, for justices of the peace in the Justice of the Peace Code of Ethics and for judicial case managers in the Standards of Conduct.
You may wish to review the summaries of completed complaint examinations found at the end of each Provincial Court’s annual report for examples of the conduct complained of and the results.
Complaints must be submitted in writing by mail, addressed to:
Your correspondence must include:
Please note that:
This website site and email address do not provide legal advice, comment on specific cases before the courts or advise on individual situations.