Jurisdiction & Governance
Court of Queen's Bench Vision and Mission
A leader in innovative, responsive and accessible justice.
To provide an impartial forum for the just and proportional resolution of legal disputes, to preserve the Rule of Law and to protect the rights and dignity of all.
Key Publications and Documents
Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta Annual Reports
2016-2017 Court of Queen's Bench Annual Report
2016-2021 Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta Strategic Plan
The Court's Strategic Plan sets out the strategic issues and goals, as identified by the judges, masters and judicial staff. The goals outlined in this plan will guide the organizational efforts of the Court for the next five (5) years.
Memorandum of Understanding
The Memorandum of Understanding, signed in January of 2017, sets out the respective roles of the Chief Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench and the Attorney General of the province, and the terms under which they have agreed to work together for the administration of justice in Alberta.
Jurisdiction of the Court
The Court of Queen’s Bench is constituted by the Court of Queen’s Bench Act, which provides for a Chief Justice and 2 Associate Chief Justices of the Court of Queen’s Bench and 65 other justices, as well as for supernumerary justices. The Act also provides for the appointment of Masters in Chambers, who are judicial officers with the authority to hear and determine certain applications to the Court, as set out in the Act and a Notice to Profession issued by the Court (Notice to the Profession & Public - Court Applications and Masters Jurisdiction - 2015-07). Sections 16.1 to 18 of the Act provide for the appointment of case management officers, and all other officers and employees that the business of the Court requires.
It is the responsibility, purpose and constitutional obligation of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta to administer justice and the rule of law in the Province of Alberta in criminal matters, civil proceedings (including family and surrogate proceedings) and in the judicial review of government action in Alberta.
The Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta is a superior court of criminal jurisdiction, with the power to try any indictable offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. The Court of Queen’s Bench generally only tries the most serious criminal offences, including murder, manslaughter, and drug trafficking, or conspiracy to commit one of these offences.
The Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta also hears civil proceedings, including commercial matters, personal injury, bankruptcy and insolvency cases, and litigation involving wills and estates and dependent adults. The Court also hears appeals from the Provincial Court of Alberta in respect of civil cases under $50,000.
The Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta has sole jurisdiction over divorce and the division of property in the Province of Alberta, and presides over matters involving child and spousal support and child custody and access.
As a court of inherent jurisdiction, the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta also functions as the primary forum for judicial review of government action in Alberta and hears statutory appeals from the decisions of certain provincial administrative tribunals.
The legislation enforced by the Court includes all Federal and Provincial legislation which does not limit jurisdiction to another court or tribunal.
The Court of Queen’s Bench is constituted by the Court of Queen’s Bench Act, which provides for a Chief Justice and 2 Associate Chief Justices of the Court of Queen’s Bench and 65 other justices, as well as for supernumerary justices. The Act also provides for the appointment of Masters in Chambers, who are judicial officers with the authority to hear and determine certain applications to the Court, as set out in the Act and a Notice to Profession issued by the Court (NP 2015-07). Sections 16.1 to 18 of the Act provide for the appointment of case management officers, and all other officers and employees that the business of the Court requires.
The Court’s internal governance structure includes an Executive Board, nine steering committees and ad hoc committees as required.
The internal governance structure is intended to:
- lead to consensus;
- collegial and decentralized decision making;
- foster leadership and project management skills;
- align the Court’s strategic planning and policy work;
- delegate authority; and
- optimize efficiencies by ensuring work is being done at the appropriate levels.
The function and interrelationship of the Executive Board and the committees are outlined below.
The Executive Board
The Executive Board consists of:
- The Chief Justice and the Associate Chief Justices;
- One elected member representing each of Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer and Lethbridge; and
- One elected member representing Supernumerary Justices.
The elected representatives on the Executive Board are elected every three years.
The Executive Board operates on a consensual model to provide advice to the Chief and Associate Chief Justices in relation to Court policy and operations that do not conflict with the authority of the Council of judges (the Council of judges is a body that exists in accordance with s.24 of the Court of Queen’s Bench Act and includes all Justices of the Court).
The Executive Board is responsible for developing and monitoring Court policy and may refer issues to the appropriate Steering Committee. Where the issue is outside of the mandate of a steering committee, the Executive Board may strike an ad hoc committee. The Executive Board may create or disband steering committees as required.
Steering committees are standing committees of the Court. Currently there are nine Steering Committees. The Steering Committees are standing committees that include in their membership Justices, Masters and members of the Judicial Staff. There is a maximum of six judges on each of the steering committees.
The members of the steering committees are selected by the Chief Justice and Associate Chief Justice in accordance with identified skills required for membership.
The term of appointment for steering committee members is three years, subject to renewal for one term and judges may only sit on one Steering Committee.
The primary purpose of the steering committees is to identify issues or initiatives within their mandate that require consideration. The Steering Committees may strike ad hoc committees to consider specific issues and provide recommendations.
The Court of Queen's Bench Steering Committees and their mandates are as follows:
Criminal Law Steering Committee
The role of the Criminal Law Steering Committee is to advise the Executive Board on aspects of criminal law governance in the Court. The CLSC also promotes the Court’s relationship with Court Services, the Justice Ministry and members of the Bar with respect to criminal law administration and practice.
Family Law Steering Committee
The Family Law Steering Committee has primary responsibility for policy development in the area of family law. The mandate of the Committee is to provide support and assistance to Judges so that they may fairly adjudicate the legal issues in family law cases in a just, efficient and appropriate manner.
Civil Law Steering Committee
The Civil Law Steering Committee considers policy and operational issues associated with the litigation of civil (non-family) matter at the Court, makes decisions and provides advice in a manner that is consistent with the Court Mission and Vision and brings Province-wide perspective to the determination of issues and/or advice provided to the Executive Board.
Commercial Law Steering Committee
The Commercial Law Steering Committee considers policy and operational issues associated with Insolvency and Commercial law matters consistent with the Court’s mission and vision.
Strategic Planning Committee
The Strategic Planning Committee is responsible for:
- Annually reviewing the Strategic Plan, Vision and Mission Statements
- Recommending strategic priorities for the Court to the Executive Board
- Recommending goals or initiatives to advance the selected strategic priorities to the Executive Board
- Considering the allocation of available resources in making recommendations regarding goals and initiatives, as well as the need for an availability of any additional resources required
- Developing a Communication Plan to ensure that recommendations and supporting information (including committee meeting minutes) are appropriately and accurately conveyed to the Justices, Masters and Judicial Staff
- Providing oversight to the Court's organizational planning which ensures agility and encourages innovation
Information Management and Technology (IMT) Steering Committee
The role of the IMT Committee is to advise the Executive Board on all matters relating to information management and technology management that affect the Court, including making recommendation on matters concerning court information and judicial information, information technology, the Court's website, information security, and related topics which impact the Court.
Access to Justice Steering Committee
The Access to Justice Steering Committee (“the Committee”) has primary responsibility for policy development for the Court of Queen’s Bench in the area of access to justice, in keeping with the Court’s Vision and Mission. Access to justice is defined broadly, as including both the variety of out-of-court services through which the public seeks assistance with their legal problems, as well as access to formal dispute resolution processes through tribunals, the Courts and effective enforcement mechanisms. Programs and processes must balance the legitimate interests of all parties.
Education Steering Committee
The mandate of the Education Steering Committee is to design and deliver programs of study, education seminars and courses for the judiciary in collaboration with the National Judicial Institute. Judicial Education has four dimensions: substantive law, skills, social context and judicial well-being. The subjects taught alone or integrated together are intended to ensure that judges have the ability to judge fairly and impartially thereby serving all Albertans.
Communications Steering Committee
The role of the Communications Steering Committee is to advise the Executive Board on governance matters relating to communications that enable the management and operation of the Court’s business.