The role of judges

Judges must render a decision when there is a conflict between two parties. Their decisions are made on the basis of the facts and evidence presented to them, and according to the law applicable to the situation. The judges' decision is final, unless one of the two parties refers the case to a court of appeal.

Who appoints judges, and for what term?

The federal government appoints federal and provincial superior court judges, while the provincial and territorial governments appoint provincial and territorial court judges.

Except in special circumstances such as removal from office on grounds on misconduct that could lead to their dismissal, a federally appointed judge may remain in office until the age of 75. In some provinces and territories, the retirement age is 70.

The Canadian Judicial Council is responsible for federally appointed judges. It is the CJC's role to receive complaints, review them and to recommend, if necessary, the dismissal of the offending judge.

Judicial independence

In order for our judicial system to inspire confidence, it must be totally immune to external influences, whether governmental or other. Judges are only required to render decisions based on existing facts and laws. Three principles support this independence:

  • Security of tenure – Once appointed, a judge is entitled to serve on the Bench until the age of retirement, unless there is good reason for them to be removed from office.
  • Financial security – Judges are paid sufficiently so they are not dependent on or subject to pressure from other institutions.
  • Administrative independence – The chief justice in each province and territory decides how that court manages the litigation process and which cases the judges will hear.