Chief Justice of Queen's Bench pitches court merger

The Chief Justice New Brunswick's Court of Queen's Bench is calling for a merger of the provincial court and Court of Queen's Bench.

Justice David Smith says merger with provincial court would save money and improve efficiency

The Chief Justice New Brunswick's Court of Queen's Bench is calling for a merger of the provincial court and Court of Queen's Bench.

Court of Queen's Bench Chief Justice David Smith thinks the province should merge his level of court and the provincial court. (CBC)
Justice David Smith says there is no need to have separate court systems and it would save the province money to merge the two levels of court.

"Streamline the system," said Smith, who spoke about the idea to the Moncton Rotary Club on Monday. "It'll create some efficiencies, like scheduling. Right now, it's done by two sets of judges - the Queen's Bench and the provincial court. Everybody will be in the Queen's Bench."

The Queen's Bench level of court in New Brunswick deals with major civil and criminal matters and is divided into two divisions — the trial division and the family division, which deals with marriages, divorces, adoption and related matters. The provincial court is the entry point to the court system for anyone charged with a Criminal Code offence or with violating provincial or federal legislation. Provincial courts hold bail hearings and also deal with matters such as search warrrants, arrest warrants and subpoenas.

Smith says there is a precedent for merging the two levels of court. He said family law used to be split between the two courts and the delays were horrendous, but now that family law is handled in the Queen's Bench court, the system is more efficient.

Smith said no other province has merged the two levels of court, but New Brunswick did study the idea.

"At one time the provincial government looked at it, in I think it was 1990," said Smith. "There was a study done. It went to the federal minister of justice and I don't know what happened at that time."

Smith expects lawyers and the province will want to study the idea of a merger of the courts.

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