August 02, 2013 - 2:48 PM
VICTORIA - The number of court regions in the province is being consolidated to five from 12, a move that geographically aligns the regions with those used by other government agencies and that will improve court management.
Government confirmed the change proposed by the Office of the Chief Judge by order-in-council.
Chief Judge Thomas Crabtree is proposing the five regions be administered by a regional administrative judge, and until this new position is legislatively created, an associate chief judge has been designated for each region.
The new regions are:
* Interior Region - Judge Robin Smith
* Vancouver Island Region - Judge Adrian Brooks
* Fraser Region - Judge Peder Gulbransen
* Vancouver Region - Judge Raymond Low
In addition, Judge Michael Brecknell, who was appointed associate chief judge in 2010, was already in place. He continues to administer the Northern Region.
Administrative judges who were not designated for one of the new regions have returned to regular sitting duties.
An independent review, done by Geoffrey Cowper Q.C., recommended a clearer and modern governance structure for the justice system. As part of its response to the review government committed in a white paper to making legislative changes leading to greater transparency, managerial authority and overall accountability with the justice system. That included support for realignment of the regional organization of the provincial court regions.
As well, under the Justice Reform and Transparency Act, the Provincial Court Act was amended on April 11, 2013, in consultation with the Office of the Chief Judge to acknowledge aspects of the chief judge's authority over judicial administration.
The amendments provide the chief judge greater specific authority to manage the administration of the court, improving administrative efficiency.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013