Alternative Models of Court Administration

ALTERNATIVE MODELS OF COURT ADMINISTRATION, Ottawa, Canadian Judicial Council: September 2005

122 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2009

See all articles by Carl Baar

Carl Baar

Brock University

Karim Benyekhlef

University of Montreal - Faculty of Law

Fabien Gelinas

McGill University

Robert Hann

Robert Hann & Associates Limited

Lorne Sossin

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School

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Date Written: March 3, 2009


This Report issued by the Canadian Judicial Council examines and evaluates different "Models of Court Administration," i.e.: organizational frameworks which prescribe the way in which decisions would be made that determine court administration policies and operational practices. More specifically, the Report analyses the role of the judiciary in decision-making within such models.

The Report is the work of a project begun in 2003 by the Canadian Judicial Council and overseen by a subcommittee of its Administration of Justice Committee. That subcommittee recognized the emergence of a number of critical issues affecting judicial-executive relations: How to avoid inappropriate negotiations between the executive and judicial branches of government? How to ensure the provision of appropriate support services and facilities for the third branch of government? How to enhance accountability for the use of public monies while safeguarding judicial independence? This Report identifies the standards of administrative control that Courts should exercise in order to ensure the required standard of judicial independence and explores, develops and identifies models of court administration that are alternatives to the existing "executive" model.

The overarching objectives were the preservation of judicial independence and the status of the judiciary as a separate branch of government; the enhancement of public confidence in the judicial system; and the improvement of the quality and delivery of judicial services. In order to determine and elaborate a preferred model for court administration in Canada, this project has collected information from five sources: 1) a detailed review of constitutional considerations; 2) two rounds of over 60 interviews and consultations (each) with Chief Justices and Deputy Ministers and other key participants in court administration from most jurisdictions in Canada, with the first round focusing on the models currently existing in Canada, and the second round of interviews focusing on a range of alternative models; 3) two full day seminars held with the Canadian Judicial Council following each round of interviews at which the issues raised during the consultations were discussed; 4) a review of the range of models used in Courts in other jurisdictions internationally, and; 5) a review of the more general body of knowledge on models of administrative decision making in Courts and in other organizations.

Based on the evidence collected and analysis undertaken, this Report finds that there is a compelling constitutional rationale for changing the executive model of court administration in Canada to a model or models which feature a greater degree of judicial autonomy, and concludes that such change would not only enhance judicial independence and the accountability of the judiciary in court administration, but would also achieve improved effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of services. The Report, finally, analyses available models and recommends one which provides the judiciary with autonomy to manage the core areas of court administration within a set envelope while ensuring (by the carefully considered use of an independent commission) that the authority of the political branches over resource allocation is not used arbitrarily.

Keywords: Court Administration, Court Services, Judicial Administration, Judicial Independence, Independence of the Judiciary, Canadian Constitution, Canadian Institutions, Comparative Law, Comparative Politics, Separation of Powers, Rule of Law, Best Practices, Judicial Accountability, Judicial Branch

Suggested Citation

Baar, Carl and Benyekhlef, Karim and Gelinas, Fabien and Hann, Robert and Sossin, Lorne, Alternative Models of Court Administration (March 3, 2009). ALTERNATIVE MODELS OF COURT ADMINISTRATION, Ottawa, Canadian Judicial Council: September 2005, Available at SSRN:

Carl Baar

Brock University ( email )

500 Glenridge Avenue
St. Catherines, Ontario L2S 3A1

Karim Benyekhlef

University of Montreal - Faculty of Law ( email )

Montreal, Quebec H3T 1B9

Fabien Gelinas (Contact Author)

McGill University ( email )

3644 Peel Street
Montreal, Quebec H3A1W9

Robert Hann

Robert Hann & Associates Limited ( email )

Box 62
Heathcote, Ontario N0H1N0
5195996470 (Phone)

Lorne Sossin

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3

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