Judicial Education in Canada

The National Judicial Institute is responsible for the overall coordination of judicial education in Canada, in addition to being a primary education provider.

This website, along with the Judicial Education Course Calendar and Education Resources, assists the NJI in meeting one of its major objectives: to inform judges across Canada about the variety of educational opportunities available to them.

The NJI works closely with the judiciary, the courts and other judicial education organizations to ensure that high-quality education is available to every judge in Canada.

To meet the fullest possible range of judges’ needs in a country as large and complex as Canada, courses and resources — the judicial education “portfolio” — are available in a variety of formats, such as in-person and online courses, and Electronic Bench Books in the NJI Judicial Library.

The Courts
A significant portion of the education available to judges in Canada takes the form of court-based seminars. These include full court meetings and smaller regional or specialized jurisdictional meetings. The NJI is a key partner in the development and delivery of much of this education. The NJI offers support in planning the content, pedagogy and logistics of court-based education, working in a flexible manner with courts upon request. The NJI also makes available education resources such as the Court Education Plan, the Modules of Education and the course inventory. In many cases, a court and the NJI collaborate; a court may deliver an NJI module as part of its seminar, or the court may develop educational programming on a topic that then becomes a permanent part of the NJI curriculum.

Each of the courts in Canada offers education to its judges, generally at meetings of the court. Many also hold short education sessions over the lunch period or at the end of the day. All courts have a judge or judges who serve as education chairs or liaisons. Some larger courts have dedicated education secretariats.

The NJI’s Judicial Education Leaders’ Seminars for those who lead education in their courts — alternating years between provincial courts and superior courts — foster exchange between and among the NJI and court education chairs.

Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice (CIAJ)

Since its inception in 1974, the Canadian Institute for the Adminstration of Justice (CIAJ) has explored leading-edge issues likely to improve the administration of justice and preserve a strong and independent judiciary. The CIAJ takes a multidisciplinary approach to identify emerging needs, and to promote research and educational endeavours towards these ends.

The CIAJ delivers a number of important judicial education programs, including a basic and advanced judicial writing program. With the NJI, it is also responsible for the two-part seminar for newly appointed federal judges and a seminar for longer-serving judges.

This non-profit organization’s mandate extends beyond the judiciary and encourages discussion and the exchange of views and perspectives from all spheres of the justice system. It sponsors an annual multidisciplinary conference and a fellowship program to promote research on the administration of justice in Canada, and publishes research papers, conference proceedings and books. It also organizes regular seminars for the legislative drafting community and administrative tribunals.

Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges (CAPCJ)

The Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges (CAPCJ) is a federation of provincial and territorial judges‘ associations. Founded in 1973, its membership now includes most of the thousand-plus provincial and territorial judges in Canada. In most jurisdictions, CAPCJ membership is automatic with membership in a provincial judicial association.

A core part of CAPCJ’s mandate is to develop and offer judicial education to newly appointed provincial, territorial and military court judges and to its membership generally, and to assist in planning and coordinating judicial education with other education providers. CAPCJ holds a national annual conference each year that includes a substantial judicial education program. It also supports a number of regional judicial education programs for its members, including the Atlantic Education Conference, the Prairie Education Conference and periodic programs on selected topics offered in French.  

Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs (FJA)
The Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs (FJA) was created in 1978 to safeguard the independence of the judiciary and to put federally appointed judges at arm’s length from the Department of Justice. The FJA exists to promote the better administration of justice and focuses its efforts on providing sound administrative support to the federal judiciary. The FJA also provides language training for federally appointed judges (in both official languages).

The Commissioner is responsible for the administration of salaries, allowances and annuities, and surviving beneficiaries’ benefits for the judges of the Federal Court of Appeal of Canada, the Federal Court of Canada, the Tax Court of Canada and federally appointed judges of superior courts. In its role of supporting federal judicial activities, the FJA strives to meet four priorities: the protection of the administrative independence of the judiciary; the achievement of greater efficiencies in the conduct of judicial business through the use of up-to-date technology; the Commissioner’s statutory obligation to properly support judicial activities, and the provision of central administrative services to judges.

Language Training

This program strives to increase judges’ level of comprehension and expression of their second language, thereby enabling them to communicate more effectively in that language. French legal terminology courses are also offered to francophone judges from common law provinces at the proficiency level.

The FJA strongly encourages judges to attend the various levels of language training offered. While not all participants will eventually be able to preside in court in their second language, all will be able to increase their knowledge and thus contribute to the advancement of bilingualism at the very heart of the Canadian judicial system.

Please visit the Partners page for links to the NJI’s judicial education partners.