Complaints

IMPORTANT:

Due to the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the Provincial Court’s ongoing efforts to put procedures in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19, please be advised that complaint response times will vary depending upon the method of submission as set out below:

Complaints sent via the online web form remain largely unaffected and are being reviewed and responded to as usual.

Complaints sent via mail or fax will still be reviewed; however, these complaints may experience a delayed response time.


You can make a formal complaint about a Provincial Court judge or justice (including a judicial justice, judicial case manager and justice of the peace) if you believe their conduct is improper. The Provincial Court Act sets out the process to be followed – both by a person making a complaint and by the Court’s Chief Judge who receives the complaint.

On this page we describe the complaint process and provide an online form you can use to submit a complaint.


What can you complain about?
You can complain about the conduct of a BC Provincial Court judge or justice but NOT about a decision they have made in a case.

You cannot complain about a decision
The Chief Judge has no power to change the decision of another judge or a justice, so you cannot use this process to complain about a decision in a particular case.

You cannot use this process to:

• change a ruling or decision
• obtain a new trial
• overturn a decision
• obtain an order that a particular judge or judicial justice not hear a case


If you want to do any of these things, it’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer about the procedure that must be followed. It may be an appeal or an application for judicial review to a higher court and there are deadlines for these procedures.

For more information about the Provincial Court and the BC justice system visit our Answers to Common Questions page.

You can complain about conduct
If you believe a judge or justice has conducted themselves in a way that concerns you, you may wish to make a complaint.

Conduct could be defined like this: the manner in which a person behaves, especially in a particular place or situation or towards others.

What conduct do we expect from judges in Canada? We expect them to display a high standard of personal conduct both in court and in public. Ethical Principles for Judges sets out guidelines for the conduct expected of British Columbia Provincial Court judges and justices. The guidelines are based on five expectations for judicial conduct: integrity, independence, equality, diligence and impartiality.

Find guidelines for the conduct of justices of the peace in the Justice of the Peace Code of Ethics and for judicial case managers in the Standards of Conduct.

Summaries of complaints examined by the Chief Judge each year and the results can be found in the Provincial Court’s Annual Reports in a Complaints section near the end of the report.

Who can make a complaint?
Anyone can make a complaint to the Chief Judge of the Provincial Court of British Columbia about the conduct of a Provincial Court judge or justice.

Who can you complain about?
You can use this process to complain about the conduct of judges, judicial justices, judicial case managers, and justices of the peace of the Provincial Court of British Columbia.

The names of the Court’s judges and judicial justices and justice of the peace adjudicators are listed at Judges and Justices. For judicial case managers’ names see the Court’s Locations and Contacts page and click the relevant court location.

You cannot use this process to complain about:

• judges of the BC Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal
• tribunals like the Civil Resolution Tribunal or Residential Tenancy Branch
• court and other staff employed by the provincial government
• lawyers
• police, probation officers or correctional officers


See Complaints about Someone Other than a Provincial Court Judge or Justice for links to information on other complaint processes

How do you make a complaint?

You do not need a lawyer to make a complaint and there is no fee. There is no deadline, but if a complaint is received a long time after the conduct occurred the Chief Judge may decide that too much time has passed to examine the complaint fairly.

Anonymous complaints, complaints without a return address, complaints that contain rude, abusive or threatening language, and complaints that appear to be merely academic or mischievous inquiries will not be examined.

You may submit a complaint in one of three ways:

1. Using our secure online complaint form. Using the form can help speed up the response time for your complaint.

Complaints sent via the online web form remain largely unaffected by the Provincial State of Emergency and are being reviewed and responded to as usual.

Complaint  Form

2. By letter addressed to The Chief Judge of the Provincial Court of British Columbia and faxed to (604) 660-1108.

Complaints sent via fax will still be reviewed during the Provincial State of Emergency; however, these complaints may experience a delayed response time.

3. By letter addressed and mailed to:

The Chief Judge of the Provincial Court of British Columbia
Suite 337 - 800 Hornby Street
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
V6Z 2C5

Complaints sent via mail will still be reviewed during the Provincial State of Emergency; however, these complaints may experience a delayed response time

If you write a letter or fax, it must include:

• your name and mailing address
• the name of the judge or justice you are complaining about (if you know it)
• the date when the conduct you are complaining about happened
• if the conduct involves a court case, the city where the courthouse is located and the court file number (if you know it)
• if the conduct happened outside a courthouse, the place where it happened
• a description of the conduct that concerns you in as much detail as possible.

The responses provided to complaints are for information only and cannot be used as authority in court proceedings or for other purposes.

What happens after you make a complaint?
The Provincial Court Act sets out the process the Chief Judge must follow when a complaint about judicial conduct is received. There are three possible stages: examination, investigation, and inquiry.

What happens when the Chief Judge receives a complaint?