About the Nunavut Court of Justice
Ingirranivut Our Journey: A statistical and comparative review of crime and court operations in Nunavut 2000-2012. Note: Older Nunavut Court of Justice annual reports (2001-2008) are available through the NUCJ Law Library
We are located in the Nunavut Justice Centre (Building #510) in Iqaluit. The Centre is open Monday through Friday, from 8:30 am - 5:00 pm. The Court Registry is open for filing Monday through Friday, from 9:00 am - 12:00 pm and from 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm.
With the exception of Nunavut, all Canadian jurisdictions have three levels of court. The first level consists of provincial or territorial courts. These courts are created by provincial or territorial laws, which define the scope of the courts' authority. The next level consists of superior or supreme courts. These courts are created by the Constitution and have what is known as "inherent jurisdiction." This means they have authority to hear any type of matter that is not specifically assigned to another level of court. The third level of court consists of the courts of appeal, which hear appeals from the lower courts' decisions
Prior to 1999, the Northwest Territory (NWT) had a Territorial and Supreme Court, similar to the system in place in the rest of Canada. However, after significant consultation with community groups, lawyers, Judges, Justices of the Peace, and community members, it was decided that in a territory the size of Nunavut, it makes sense for all Judges to have the ability to hear any type of case. Therefore, the Nunavut Court of Justice was created as a single-level trial court on April 1st, 1999 as a result of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. It is Canada's first, and only, single-level court.
The legal authority for the Nunavut Court of Justice is as follows:
An Act to amend the Nunavut Act with respect to the Nunavut Court of Justice and to amend other Acts in consequence, S.C. 1999, c. 3.
This Act conveys to the Nunavut Court of Justice all of the powers, duties and functions formerly exercised by the NWT Supreme and Territorial Courts. The Act also addresses appeals, bail, elections, preliminary inquiries, statutory review, and young offenders' proceedings in the Nunavut Court of Justice.
The Nunavut Judicial System Implementation Act, S.N.W.T. 1998, c. 34.
This enacts a new Judicature Act and a new Justices of the Peace Act for Nunavut and repeals the Territorial Court Act effective April 1, 1999. It establishes the composition, powers and officers of the Nunavut Court of Justice and Court of Appeal and designates the Youth Justice Court of Nunavut. This Act also states certain rules of law and procedure for Nunavut cases.
The Nunavut Court of Justice covers the entire territory of Nunavut with respect to the provision of court services. As such, the Court travels to approximately 85% of the communities (25 communities) across the territory. The Court does not travel to the smaller communities, (those which do not have RCMP detachments) where very little crime is reported.
The Court travels to communities depending on need, and can visit as frequently as every 6 weeks, or as infrequently as every 2 years. The circuit court can travel to multiple communities in a week depending on the number of cases and charges in each community. In an average week, court will sit both in Iqaluit and at least one other community.
Members of the circuit court include a Judge, clerk of the court, court reporter, prosecutor and at least one defence attorney. Court workers and victim witness assistants might also travel with the circuit court depending on the cases to be heard. Interpreters are hired in the communities when possible but travel with the circuit court when necessary.
Court is held in community halls, school gyms, and in other conference facilities as available. All court proceedings in the communities are interpreted for the public. Elders sit with the Judge in the courtroom and are given the opportunity to speak with the accused following sentencing submissions and prior to the passing of sentence. The volume of cases handled in both criminal and civil jurisdiction requires the assistance not only of the resident Judiciary, but also of a wide network of deputy judges and community Justices of the Peace
Justices of the Peace (JPs) are lay people, working and living in the community where they sit, performing a variety of judicial and quasi-judicial functions. Justices of the Peace often carry out these duties on a part-time basis. They generally preside over summary conviction matters arising out of territorial statutes, municipal by-laws, and selected criminal matters. They regularly conduct first appearance and bail hearings. They issue warrants and summonses. They also carry out various public functions such as conducting marriage ceremonies.
Nunavut has two full-time Justices of the Peace. The Senior JP manages the JP program as well as hearing matters before the Justice of the Peace court. The Family Abuse Intervention Act or FAIA JP who is responsible for the administration of this Act and hearing matters under the Act.
The legal authority for the Justices of the Peace are as follows:
Consolidation Of Justices Of The Peace Act, S.N.W.T. 1998, c.34, s.2; S.Nu. 2008, c.19, s.6
Consolidation Of Judicature Act, S.N.W.T. 1998, c.34, s.1
Consolidation Of Family Abuse Intervention Act , S.Nu. 2006, c.18
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Page was last updated March 19, 2013 .
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