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 of the Small Claims Court” (see below). The Principles refer to the Canadian Judicial Council’s Ethical Principles for Judges.
Ethical Principles for Deputy Judges of the Small Claims Court
The Ethical Principles for Judges were established by the Canadian Judicial Council to provide ethical guidance for federally appointed judges. These Principles are: Judicial Independence, Integrity, Diligence, Equality, and Impartiality. The Principles as published have Commentaries on each of the Principles.
Section 55 of the Judges Act, R.S.C. 1985, c.J-1, requires that federally appointed judges shall not engage in any occupation or business other than their judicial duties, but shall devote themselves exclusively to their judicial duties.
In Ontario, the Small Claims Court is a branch of the Superior Court of Justice. It is presided over by Deputy Judges who are appointed by a regional senior judge with the approval of the Attorney General for a term, subject to renewal.
The Deputy Judges of the Small Claims Court are lawyers who are actively engaged in the practice of law, or retired lawyers or judges. They are members of the Law Society of Ontario and are subject to the Law Society Rules of Professional Conduct. They preside in court on a part-time basis. They are remunerated on the basis of sitting days.
The purpose of this statement is to affirm that the Ethical Principles for Judges apply to Deputy Judges of the Small Claims Court in all respects, subject to the fact that certain of the Commentaries which form part of the Principles should be interpreted to reflect that the Deputy Judges do not preside full-time and do not have tenure.