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Supreme Court Act

[RSBC 1996] CHAPTER 443

Contents
1Definitions
2Supreme Court of British Columbia
3Powers and privileges
4Precedence
4.1Conferences
5Vacancies
6Powers after leaving office
7Seal
8Judicial districts
9Jurisdiction and sittings
10Administration
11Masters
12Pensions for masters
13Registrars
14Trial and subsequent proceedings
15Transfer to Provincial Court
16Power to reserve decision
17Issues may be submitted to jury
18Vexatious proceedings

Definitions

1  In this Act:

"court" means the Supreme Court of British Columbia;

"judge" means a judge of the court;

"judicial district" means a judicial district defined by this Act;

"master" means a master of the court;

"order" includes a judgment and a decree;

"proceeding" includes an action, suit, cause, matter, appeal, petition proceeding or requisition proceeding;

"registry" means an office of the Supreme Court in a judicial district.

Supreme Court of British Columbia

2  (1) The Supreme Court of British Columbia is continued under the name and style of the "Supreme Court of British Columbia".

(2) The court consists of

(a) a Chief Justice, who is called "Chief Justice of the Supreme Court",

(b) an Associate Chief Justice, and

(c) 90 other judges.

(3) The Chief Justice has responsibility for the administration of the judges of court.

(4) Powers of the Chief Justice may be delegated to the Associate Chief Justice.

(5) If the Chief Justice and the Associate Chief Justice are absent or unable to act, the powers of the Chief Justice may be exercised by the next senior non-supernumerary judge who resides in the judicial districts of Vancouver or Westminster.

(6) The court has for each office established under subsection (2) an additional office of supernumerary judge.

(7) The judges appointed to the offices established under subsections (2) and (6) are and are to be called "judges of the Supreme Court".

(8) Each judge must, as soon as practicable after being appointed, reside at the place or within the area approved in writing by the Chief Justice.

(9) Before giving approval under subsection (8), the Chief Justice must consult with the Attorney General.

(10) A judge must not move his or her residence from the place or area referred to in subsection (8) unless

(a) the judge consents to the move, and

(b) the Chief Justice approves of the move.

(11) Before giving approval under subsection (10), the Chief Justice must consult with the Attorney General.

(12) For the office of Chief Justice, there is, subject to subsection (2), an additional office of judge that the Chief Justice may elect, under the Judges Act (Canada), to hold.

(13) Subsection (8) does not apply to a judge of a County Court who was appointed to the court to take office as a judge on the occasion of the merger of the Supreme Court and the County Courts as a result of the enactment of this Act.

Powers and privileges

3  (1) The Chief Justice, Associate Chief Justice and judges have all the powers, rights, incidents, privileges and immunities of a judge of a superior court of record, and all other powers, rights, incidents, privileges and immunities that on March 29, 1870, were vested in the Chief Justice and the other justices of the court.

(2) The court may be held before the Chief Justice or before any one of the judges.

Precedence

4  (1) The Chief Justice and the Associate Chief Justice have the rank and precedence set out in section 4 of the Court of Appeal Act.

(2) The judges have rank and precedence immediately after the most junior justice of the Court of Appeal, and among themselves, according to the seniority of their appointment to the court.

(3) Those judges of the County Courts who were appointed on the occasion of the merger of the County Courts and Supreme Court as a result of the enactment of this Act, have rank and precedence after all judges then holding office, and among themselves, after the Chief Judge of the County Courts, according to the seniority of their first appointment to a County Court.

Conferences

4.1  The Chief Justice may require a judge to attend a meeting, conference or seminar for a purpose relating to the administration of justice.

Vacancies

5  The court is properly constituted despite a vacancy in the office of Chief Justice, Associate Chief Justice or of a judge.

Powers after leaving office

6  (1) A judge who resigns his or her office, is appointed to another court or ceases to hold office under section 99 (2) of the Constitution Act, 1867, may, after the resignation, appointment or ceasing to hold office, give judgment in a proceeding he or she heard while holding office, and the judgment is effective as though he or she still held office.

(2) A judge who is appointed to another court may continue with the hearing of any proceeding of which he or she was seized, and the jurisdiction to hear the proceeding and give judgment is effective as though he or she still held office.

Seal

7  (1) The court must have a seal bearing Her Majesty's Royal Arms and the name "Supreme Court of British Columbia" and other words the Attorney General considers necessary.

(2) The seal is to be used by the court as the occasion requires.

(3) A print of the seal stamped on a document requiring a seal of the court is, for all purposes, deemed to be an impression of the seal of the court.

Judicial districts

8  (1) Judicial districts are constituted by counties, as defined by the County Boundary Act, such that:

(a) the County of Victoria is a judicial district under the name of the "Victoria Judicial District";

(b) the County of Nanaimo is a judicial district under the name of the "Nanaimo Judicial District";

(c) and (d) [Repealed 1997-28-17.]

(d.1) the County of Vancouver and the County of Westminster are collectively a judicial district under the name of the "Vancouver Westminster Judicial District";

(e) the County of Yale is a judicial district under the name of the "Yale Judicial District";

(f) the County of Cariboo is a judicial district under the name of the "Cariboo Judicial District";

(g) the County of Kootenay is a judicial district under the name of the "Kootenay Judicial District";

(h) the County of Prince Rupert is a judicial district under the name of the "Prince Rupert Judicial District".

(2) [Repealed 2013-7-30.]

(3) [Repealed 2013-7-30.]

(4) [Repealed 2002-37-21.]

(5) The Chief Justice may direct that a judge sit at a location other than the one in which he or she resides.

Jurisdiction and sittings

9  (1) The court continues to be a court of original jurisdiction and has jurisdiction in all cases, civil and criminal, arising in British Columbia.

(2) The court may sit and act, at any time and at any place, for the transaction of any part of its business, civil or criminal, or for the discharge of any duty.

(2.1) Without limiting subsection (2), and despite any rule of law or enactment to the contrary, any criminal or civil matter that under any rule of law or enactment is to be or must be heard, or that an accused or a party is entitled to have heard, by the court in one of the County of Vancouver or the County of Westminster may be heard at any place within the Vancouver Westminster Judicial District that the court appoints.

(3) Subject to the direction of the Chief Justice, the court must sit in each place where there is a registry of the court as often as is necessary for the reasonable dispatch of civil trials and other business.

(4) The registrar must prepare a calendar of the dates when the court proposes to sit in any place to be published in the registry located there.

Administration

10  (1) The Attorney General is responsible for the provision, operation and maintenance of court facilities, registries and administrative services.

(2) A chief administrator of court services, an administrator of court services for each registry and other persons necessary to carry out this Act and the duties assigned to a registry may be appointed under the Public Service Act.

(3) Subject to the direction of the Attorney General, and to the direction of the Chief Justice in matters of judicial administration and the use of court room facilities, the chief administrator of court services must direct and supervise registries and administrative services for the court.

(4) The chief administrator of court services, for the purposes of carrying out his or her duties under this Act, may disclose to the Chief Justice information regarding the conduct of persons appointed under subsection (2) in the performance of their duties under this Act.

Masters

11  (1) On the recommendation of the Attorney General after consultation with the Chief Justice, the Lieutenant Governor in Council may appoint one or more masters of the court.

(2) A person must not be appointed as a master unless that person is a member in good standing of the Law Society of British Columbia at the time of appointment.

(3) A master is entitled to the remuneration, allowances and benefits established under section 6 (2) to (6) of the Judicial Compensation Act, as that section applies to Provincial Court judges.

(4) [Repealed 2003-37-43.]

(5) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may set other terms of employment of a master.

(6) A master ceases to hold office at the end of the month in which the master reaches 75 years of age.

(7) A master has, subject to the limitations of section 96 of the Constitution Act, 1867, the same jurisdiction under any enactment or the Rules of Court as a judge in chambers unless, in respect of any matter, the Chief Justice has given a direction that a master is not to exercise that jurisdiction.

(8) Wherever a power is given to the registrar, a district registrar or a deputy district registrar under an enactment, that power may be exercised by a master.

(9) A master may administer an oath.

(10) An action must not be brought against a master for damages for anything done or omitted in good faith by the master

(a) in the performance or intended performance of any duty, or

(b) in the exercise or intended exercise of any power.

(11) Subsection (10) does not absolve the government from vicarious liability for an act or omission for which the government would be vicariously liable if subsection (10) were not in force.

(12) A master who resigns his or her appointment or who is appointed as a judge may, within 180 days after the resignation or appointment, give judgment in a proceeding the master heard while holding office, and the judgment is effective as though the master still held office.

Pensions for masters

12  (1) Subject to this section, a master is entitled to the pension benefits established under sections 16 to 24 of the Judicial Compensation Act.

(2) For purposes of giving effect to subsection (1),

(a) "December 1, 2002" is substituted for "January 1, 2001" wherever it appears in sections 16 to 24 of the Judicial Compensation Act, and

(b) sections 16 to 24 of the Judicial Compensation Act are to be read with necessary changes.

Registrars

13  (1) A registrar and one or more district registrars, deputy district registrars and persons necessary to assist them may be appointed under the Public Service Act.

(2) The registrar, district registrars and deputy district registrars may carry out the duties assigned to a registrar by the rules and under any other enactment.

(3) The registrar may appoint a person to act temporarily as a district registrar or a deputy district registrar.

Trial and subsequent proceedings

14  (1) All proceedings in the court and all business arising from those proceedings, if practicable and convenient, must be heard, determined and disposed of before a single judge.

(2) All proceedings subsequent to the hearing or trial including the final order, except as otherwise provided, and on a rehearing must, if practicable and convenient, be before the judge before whom the trial or hearing took place.

Transfer to Provincial Court

15  A judge or master may transfer proceedings to the Provincial Court of British Columbia if

(a) the proceedings are within the jurisdiction of the Provincial Court under the Small Claims Act,

(b) a party to the proceedings applies to the judge or master, or all parties to the proceedings agree to the transfer, and

(c) the judge or master considers it appropriate to do so.

Power to reserve decision

16  A judge, master or registrar may reserve his or her decision.

Issues may be submitted to jury

17  Nothing in an Act or the rules takes away or prejudices the right of a party to an action to have the issues for trial by jury submitted and left by the judge to the jury before whom the party comes for trial, with a proper and complete direction to the jury on the law and the evidence applicable to the issues.

Vexatious proceedings

18  If, on application by any person, the court is satisfied that a person has habitually, persistently and without reasonable grounds, instituted vexatious legal proceedings in the Supreme Court or in the Provincial Court against the same or different persons, the court may, after hearing that person or giving him or her an opportunity to be heard, order that a legal proceeding must not, without leave of the court, be instituted by that person in any court.