Basic principles supporting the training of judges

For training initiatives to remain cutting-edge, certain principles must guide those building and disseminating these tools. For the Council, this principle is to uphold the highest quality standards of judicial services rendered in Canadian superior courts.

Exceptional quality training

Through the ongoing training of judges, the Council aims to maintain the confidence Canadians have in the justice system’s key players and ensure judges maintain this trust.

Council has developed professional development policies and guidelines which set out what is expected of judges.

What is the relationship between judicial independence and professional development?

Judicial independence is a fundamental principle of our justice system. It stipulates that judges must make decisions with integrity and impartiality, free from the pressure of external influences.

Training sessions provided to judges must therefore serve the interests of justice alone and not that of external forces, governmental or otherwise.

The Council's continuing-education approach to training is designed to assure the public that those making judicial decisions are educated, knowledgeable, and adhere to the highest standards of conduct.

Who determines which training courses judges take?

The Canadian Judicial Council issues professional development and mentoring requirements, but each judge is responsible for their own training.

For newly appointed judges, several local courts offer their own continuing education programs. These courts can work with the National Judicial Institute, the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice and other providers to develop training tools.

For the first five years following their appointment to the bench, newly appointed judges are required to follow educational and training programs set out in their professional development plan, which includes the “Judges in their first five years” program. Chief Justices organize the participation of newly appointed judges in programs subject to the needs of the court.

Moreover, newly appointed judges are required to take national training modules designed for new judges along with any other professional development training programs consigned by their Chief Justice or designate.

What factors determine the launch of a new training program?

Each year, the National Judicial Institute evaluates all training programs. If a learning gap is identified, the Canadian Judicial Council, through its Judicial Education Committee, collects proposals from organizations and assesses their relevance.

With respect to programs offered by local courts, the chief justice of each court is responsible for identifying the need for new training courses. He or she can count on the support of the Institute for the development and planning of new programs.