The role of judges

Judges must render a fair decision when there is a conflict between two parties. Their decisions are made on the basis of the facts and evidence presented to them, decisions previously rendered by other Canadian courts, 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.

Judicial independence

In order for our judicial system to appear trustworthy, it must be completely impervious to external influences, whether governmental or otherwise. Judges are required to render decisions based solely on existing facts and laws.

Three principles facilitate 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 outside pressure.
  • 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.

Who appoints judges, and for what term?

The federal government appoints the judges of the Supreme Court of Canada, federal courts, and provincial and territorial superior courts, while the provincial and territorial governments appoint provincial and territorial court judges.

Federally appointed judges 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 Council's role to receive complaints relating to the conduct of judges, to review them and to recommend corrective measures, such as, the dismissal of the offending judge.