Complaints

Under the Provincial Court Act, the Chief Judge has the power and the duty to supervise judges, judicial justices and justices of the peace of the Court, and is required under section 22.1(1) to examine all complaints respecting judicial officers. The Chief Judge must report, in writing, to the complainant and the judicial officer following an examination.

The authority of the Chief Judge regarding complaints is supervisory and disciplinary in nature. It does not include the power to interfere in individual cases, to inquire into individual decisions of judicial officers (except where misconduct may occur during the proceedings), or to review legal errors or erroneous decisions (except where they may amount to incompetence affecting capacity to perform judicial duties).

Many of the letters received by the Chief Judge raise matters that fall outside of the Chief Judge's mandate. These are normally answered by a letter from the Legal Officer to the complainant, and may suggest appropriate avenues of inquiry.

If a matter appears to raise a conduct issue about a Provincial Court judicial officer or other appropriate issue for examination by the Chief Judge, a file is opened and a response to the allegation is requested from the judicial officer. The complainant is advised that the matter will be considered.

After examination, the Chief Judge (or an Associate Chief Judge acting as Chief Judge for these purposes) decides upon the appropriate course of action. If the judicial officer's behaviour was deemed appropriate, an explanation will be given. If conduct was determined to be inappropriate, an acknowledgement of the complaint with an expression of apology will be extended to the complainant. A large majority of matters conclude at this stage.

However, if the misconduct gives rise to issues considered by the Chief Judge to warrant further action, section 22.1(2) the Provincial Court Act requires the Chief Judge to conduct an investigation with respect to the fitness of the judicial officer to perform his or her duties. The Attorney General may also direct the Chief Judge to conduct an investigation.

On completing the investigation, a written report is submitted to the Attorney General setting out the nature of the investigation, the relevant facts, the findings, and any corrective action taken or recommended. The Chief Judge may take any corrective action considered necessary using the powers given under section 22.1(3) the Provincial Court Act, including holding an inquiry before the Judicial Council. A copy of the investigation report also goes to the judicial officer under investigation, who may elect to have the inquiry heard either by the Judicial Council or by a Supreme Court judge.

In the history of the Court, very few investigations have reached the inquiry stage.

More information on the complaints process may be found in the annual reports of the Provincial Court of B.C.

Complaints must be submitted in writing by mail, addressed to:

The Chief Judge of the Provincial Court of British Columbia
Suite 337 - 800 Hornby Street
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
V6Z 2C5

or by fax, to:
The Chief Judge of the Provincial Court of British Columbia
Fax: (604) 660-1108

or by email to info@provincialcourt.bc.ca

Your correspondence must include:

  • your name and mailing address
  • the name of the judicial officer complained of, the court location, the court file number (if known), and the date of the incident
  • a description of the alleged misconduct in as much detail as possible.

Anonymous complaints, or complaints without a return address, will not be accepted.