Supreme Court

Judges and courts

Justices, magistrates and provincial courts
Independent review of initial remuneration of judges appointed to new judicial office is necessary

In 2004, government of Quebec reformed its regime of justices of peace by creating two categories of justices of peace. Government set starting remuneration of new category well below the previous levels. In 2008, association of justices of peace and its individual members made application in Superior Court arguing that provisions relating to setting and review of remuneration violated financial security guarantee of judicial independence. Application judge dismissed application, holding that the government’s decision had been validated by a special committee and that candidates applied for the office with full knowledge of the situation. Court of Appeal dismissed appeal brought by association and its members . Court of Appeal considered level of remuneration that was fixed to be high enough to guarantee independence of new justices of the peace. Association and its members appealed. Appeal allowed in part. In order to adequately protect judicial independence, whenever new judicial office is created, independent review of initial remuneration of judges appointed to new office is always necessary. Review by remuneration committee should take place within reasonable time after appointment of the new judges. In present case, reform breached financial security guarantee of judicial independence because remuneration for 2004 to 2007 was not reviewed within reasonable time after new appointments. Indeed, the remuneration for that period has never been reviewed. Since Act created new judicial office, initial remuneration of all judges appointed to this office needed to be reviewed retroactively, within reasonable time after their appointment. As ss. 27, 30 and 32 of Act did not provide for retroactive committee review within reasonable time, these sections infringed institutional financial security guarantee of judicial independence, and were thus contrary to s. 11(d) of Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and preamble to Constitution Act, 1867.

Conférence des juges de paix magistrats du Québec v. Quebec (Attorney General) (2016), 2016 CarswellQue 9318, 2016 CarswellQue 9319, 2016 SCC 39, 2016 CSC 39, McLachlin C.J.C., Abella J., Cromwell J., Moldaver J., Karakatsanis J., Wagner J., Gascon J., Côté J., and Brown J. (S.C.C.); reversed (2014), 2014 CarswellQue 14611, 2014 CarswellQue 9133, 2014 QCCA 1654, Bouchard J.C.A., Vauclair J.C.A., and Dalphond J.C.A. (C.A. Que.).

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