- Judicial Executive of the Superior Court of Justice
- Judges of the Superior Court of Justice
- Case Management Masters
- Provincial Judges of the Small Claims Court
- Deputy Judges of the Small Claims Court
Judicial Executive of the Superior Court of Justice
The Executive of the Court is comprised of the Chief Justice, the Associate Chief Justice, eight Regional Senior Judges, and the Senior Judge of the Family Court. In addition to their individual roles and responsibilities, the Executive of the Court advises the Chief Justice on policy and governance issues affecting the administration of the Court.
The Chief Justice has numerous statutory responsibilities under various federal and provincial laws. For example, under the Courts of Justice Act, the Chief Justice has the authority to direct and supervise the sittings of the Superior Court and the assignment of judicial duties.
Some of the statutory powers and duties of the Chief Justice, as set out in the Courts of Justice Act, include:
- determining the sittings of the court;
- assigning judges to the sittings;
- assigning cases and other judicial duties to individual judges;
- determining the sitting schedules and places of sittings for individual judges;
- determining the total annual, monthly and weekly workload of individual judges; and
- preparing trial lists and assigning courtrooms, to the extent necessary to control the determination of who is assigned to hear particular cases.
The Act permits the Chief Justice to delegate this authority to eight Regional Senior Judges so they may exercise this power in their respective regions. The Chief Justice must also assign every Superior Court judge to a region and may reassign a judge from one region to another.
Some of the Chief Justice’s other statutory powers include appointing various officials and representatives such as: registrars in bankruptcy, members of committees including the Rules Committees and the Family Court community liaison and community resources committees, ad hoc appointments to the Court of Appeal and per diem provincial court judges. The Chief Justice is also responsible for reporting and approving judicial leaves of absence and responding to complaints and disciplinary issues for case management masters.
In addition to specific statutory obligations, the Chief Justice has significant duties under the common law, including an overarching responsibility to protect the Court’s institutional independence. This responsibility requires the Chief Justice to communicate and liase with the federal and provincial governments and many other stakeholders in the justice system, including other courts and the Bar.
Associate Chief Justice
As well as these statutory responsibilities, the Associate Chief Justice performs specific duties assigned by the Chief Justice, including working with the Administrative Judge of the Divisional Court to ensure the effective administration of this branch of the Court. The Associate Chief Justice is also Chair of the Deputy Judges Council and plays a leadership role with respect to Small Claims Court matters on behalf of the Court.
Regional Senior Judges
For administrative purposes, the Court is broken down into eight judicial regions across the province. Subject to the authority of the Chief Justice, each Regional Senior Judge exercises the powers and performs the duties of the Chief Justice in his or her region. In particular, the Regional Senior Judge exercises the powers of the Chief Justice to direct and supervise sittings and assign judicial duties in the region. A Regional Senior Judge, in turn, may delegate specified functions to another Superior Court judge in the region. For example, Regional Senior Judges may designate Local Administrative Judges to assign and schedule cases at certain court sites or for particular jurisdictions. In addition, Regional Senior Judges appoint deputy judges of the Small Claims Court in their regions (with the approval of the Attorney General), and also address complaints and disciplinary matters concerning deputy judges.
Senior Family Judge
The Courts of Justice Act sets out the duties of the Senior Judge of the Family Court. The Senior Family Judge provides advice to the Chief Justice on specific matters concerning the Family Court, including judicial education, practice and procedure, Family Court expansion, and expenditure of budgeted funds. The Senior Family Judge also performs other duties relating to the Family Court, as assigned by the Chief Justice, and also advises the Chief Justice on family law matters at all Superior Court sites.
Judges of the Superior Court of Justice
Judges of the Superior Court of Justice preside over a variety of matters including criminal prosecutions of indictable offences, summary conviction appeals from the Ontario Court of Justice, bail reviews, civil lawsuits, and family law disputes.
The federal government appoints judges to the Superior Court of Justice.
To be considered a candidate for a judicial appointment, an individual must be a lawyer who has practised law for at least 10 years, is proficient in the law, and has the personal qualities, professional skills, abilities, and life experiences that are appropriate to undertake the role of a judge.
The federal Minister of Justice recommends judicial candidates to the federal Cabinet for appointment to the Superior Court of Justice. The Minister makes recommendations after receiving the advice of a Judicial Advisory Committee that has vetted all the candidates. Once appointed to the Superior Court, a judge can remain in office until the mandatory retirement age of 75.
Judges of the Superior Court of Justice wear black gowns, white tabs, and a red sash. Judicial gowns are adorned with a badge created by Canada’s Chief Herald, which consists of the sun in splendour, representing the majesty of the law, as well as a red maple leaf, the scales of justice, and a Royal Crown that rests on the sun’s upper rim.
The Canadian Judicial Council’s Ethical Principles for Judges establishes the standard of conduct for judges of the Superior Court of Justice.
The Canadian Judicial Council also investigates complaints about the conduct of federally appointed judges across Canada. The Council has the authority to recommend to Parliament, through the Minister of Justice, that a judge be removed from office.
Case Management Masters
Case management masters are provincially appointed judicial officers who have the authority to hear and determine certain matters in civil cases, including motions, pre-trials and case conferences. Masters and case management masters may also adjudicate construction lien trials, as well as mortgage and general references, provide dispute resolution services, and serve as registrars in Bankruptcy under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.
Under the Courts of Justice Act, complaints about the conduct of case management masters are addressed by the Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Justice.
Provincial Judges of the Small Claims Court
The Courts of Justice Act provides that a Small Claims Court proceeding may be determined by the Small Claims Court Administrative Judge appointed under section 87.2 of the Act, a provincial judge assigned to the Provincial Court (Civil Division) before September 1, 1990, or a deputy judge.
Under the Courts of Justice Act, any complaint about the conduct of a provincial judge of the Small Claims Court is investigated by the Ontario Judicial Council.
Deputy Judges of the Small Claims Court
Deputy judges are senior lawyers appointed by the Regional Senior Judge, with the approval of the Attorney General, to preside over proceedings in the Small Claims Court. Interested lawyers with a minimum of 10 years’ experience may write to the Regional Senior Judge of the region in which they wish to preside. To prevent court scheduling conflicts, applicants may apply to one region only. Please provide a letter of interest, curriculum vitae and references. Applicants must be members in good standing of the Law Society of Ontario, have no outstanding liability claims relating to the practice of law and no criminal record.
In 2010, the Chief Justice of the Superior Court, with the approval of the Deputy Judges Council, established standards of conduct for Deputy Judges of the Small Claims Court, entitled “Ethical Principles for Deputy Judges.” Any complaint about the conduct of a deputy judge of the Small Claims Court should be addressed, in writing, to the Regional Senior Judge in the region where the deputy judge sits.