Provincial Court

Judges of the Provincial Court

Presently there are 22 Provincial Court judges (10 female and 12 male), one of whom is designated as the Chief Judge. There are also judges designated for Associate Chief Judge and Senior Coordinating Judge positions.

Unlike the judges of the Supreme Court who are appointed and compensated by the federal government, the judges of the Provincial Court are appointed and paid by the province. The qualifications are identical, that is, one must be both:

  • A member in good standing of the bar of one or more of the provinces of Canada for a total of at least 10 years.
  • At the time of the appointment a practising member in good standing of the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The judges of both courts are said to hold office "during good behaviour".

This method of selection and appointment of judges is one of the two primary distinguishing features of the Provincial Court, legal jurisdiction being the other.

To some, this distinction is often confusing as the Supreme Court is also a provincial court, but it is not THE Provincial Court and their respective jurisdictions are quite different.

Accountability of judges takes a different route in that courts of appeal exist for the purpose of reviewing decisions of trial courts, and there is a Judicial Council with authority under sections 16 to 25 of the Provincial Court Act, 1991 to oversee the ethical conduct of individual judges.

Under the Provincial Court Act, 1991, administratively, judges are directed by the Chief Judge who, in conjunction with the judges as a body, is also responsible for the overall policy of the Provincial Court.

The office of the Chief Judge is presently located at St. John's from where the incumbent directs the activities of judges.

Judges of the Provincial Court are titled "The Honourable" and are included in the Table of Precedence of Canada so that when acknowledging a judge at a public function he or she should be introduced in proper formal order.

When speaking directly to a judge in court, it is proper to address him or her as "Your Honour", and when referring to the judge indirectly it is appropriate to speak of "Her Honour" or "His Honour" as the case may be.

In less formal situations, unless the judge is a very close friend or a family member, it is appropriate to use the term "Judge".