Supreme Court of British Columbia

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Supreme Court of British Columbia
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom.svg
Coat of Arms
Country British Columbia, Canada Flag of British Columbia.svg
Location Cariboo; Kootenay; Nanaimo; Prince Rupert; Vancouver; Victoria; Westminster; and Yale
Authorized by Supreme Court Act
Number of positions 102
Website Supreme Court
Chief Justice
Currently Christopher E. Hinkson
Since November, 2013

The Supreme Court of British Columbia (BCSC) is the superior trial court for the province of British Columbia. The BCSC hears civil and criminal law cases as well as appeals from the Provincial Court of British Columbia. Including supernumerary judges, there are presently 108 judges. There are also 13 Supreme Court masters who hear and dispose of a wide variety of applications in chambers.[1]

Jurisdiction[edit]

The BCSC is a court of record, having original jurisdiction in all cases, civil and criminal, arising in British Columbia. The BCSC has inherent jurisdiction under the Constitution of Canada in addition to any jurisdiction granted to it by federal or provincial statute.

The BCSC has jurisdiction in any civil dispute, including those matters where the dollar amount involved is within the jurisdiction of the Small Claims division of the Provincial Court. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, the BCSC is included as a "superior court of criminal jurisdiction", meaning that it has exclusive jurisdiction for the trial of serious crimes within British Columbia.

The BCSC also hears appeals from the Provincial Court and some administrative tribunals. Appeals to its own judgments are heard by the Court of Appeal of British Columbia.

The BCSC is also responsible for call ceremonies for admitting lawyers and notaries public where the respective oath of office is administered by a justice.[2][3]

Justices and masters[edit]

All justices of the BCSC (including the position of Chief Justice and Associate Chief Justice) are appointed by the federal cabinet, on recommendation of the Minister of Justice. All BCSC justices have full jurisdiction over any matter before the BCSC.

It is court protocol to refer to BCSC judges as "justices", and in court to address to justices as “My Lord” or “My Lady," unlike in the Provincial Court (and the now-abolished County Court) where the term “judge” is used and the mode of address is (and was) "Your Honour."

Masters are appointed by the provincial cabinet, on recommendation of the Attorney General in consultation with the Chief Justice. As provincial appointees, masters do not have inherent jurisdiction. Their jurisdiction is limited to those matters granted to them by statute and the Rules of Court. Masters preside in chambers, where they usually hear interlocutory applications and other pre-trial matters. Masters cannot hear civil trials and do not preside in criminal matters. In court, Masters were formerly addressed as "Master," but in a practice direction issued on September 6, 1991, then Chief Justice Esson advised the most appropriate form of address would be "Your Honour". Masters also sit and hear matters as registrars, hearing such matters as assessments of solicitors fees and accounts.

Judicial districts[edit]

The BCSC sits in eight judicial districts called "counties". This is the only usage of "county" in British Columbia, which is a reference only to such court districts and has no similarity to the meaning in other provinces or in the United States or the United Kingdom. Prior to 1990, there existed in British Columbia a County Court, an intermediate court between the Provincial Court and the BCSC. In 1990, the County Court of B.C. merged with the BCSC and its judges became justices of the BCSC. The judicial districts of the Supreme Court have the same boundaries of the counties of the former County Court.

The judicial districts are: Cariboo; Kootenay; Nanaimo; Prince Rupert; Vancouver; Victoria; Westminster; and Yale. The Counties of Vancouver and Westminster are collectively one judicial district under the name of the "Vancouver Westminster Judicial District".[4] Within each county, or judicial district, justices are resident in the following locations: Chilliwack; Cranbrook; Kamloops; Kelowna; Nanaimo; Nelson; New Westminster; Prince George; Prince Rupert; Victoria; and Vancouver. The BCSC also holds sittings in the following court locations for which there is not a resident justice: Campbell River; Courtenay; Dawson Creek; Duncan; Fort Nelson; Fort St. John; Golden; Penticton; Port Alberni; Powell River; Quesnel; Revelstoke, Rossland; Salmon Arm; Smithers; Terrace; Vernon; and Williams Lake.

References[edit]

External links[edit]