Troy Lifford welcomes suggestion of court merger

The New Brunswick government will look at a senior judge's idea to merge two court systems into one.

Justice Minister says any move to combine Queen's Bench, provincial court would be complicated

The New Brunswick government will look at a senior judge's idea to merge two court systems into one.

Chief Justice David Smith of the Court of Queen's Bench has suggested merging that court with the provincial court.

Justice Minister Troy Lifford says he'll look at a suggestion by the Chief Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench to merge that level of court with the provincial court system. (CBC)
Smith says a merger would save the province money and move cases more quickly through the system

Justice Minister Troy Lifford says he's interested in anything that will make the system more efficient, but the merger would be complicated.

"It's one that involves multiple levels of government, if it was to move ahead, so it's something that wouldn't move ahead tomorrow," said Lifford. "Much consideration would have to be made, but I'm certainly open to looking at it."

The idea of merging the two courts has been studied before. No province has ever merged the two levels of court.

Lifford thinks its worth looking at the idea again.

"He believes there are some efficiencies to be made and you know very well that our government is looking for all kinds of ways to be efficient in any department that we run," said Lifford. "So I welcome the suggestions and it's certainly something we'll put on the list for consideration."

The Court of Queen's Bench 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. Its judges are federally appointed.

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. Its judges are appointed provincially.