Chief Justice Glenn D. Joyal
We are pleased to welcome you to the website of the Court of Queen’s Bench.
This website is meant to provide information about, and be a practical guide to, Manitoba’s highest ranking trial court. It is our hope that this website will become a conduit through which public information can be shared and announcements made in relation to the Court of Queen’s Bench and the services it provides.
The Court of Queen’s Bench deals with the most serious criminal trials and civil claims that are adjudicated in Manitoba. It also has a specialized Family Division whose judges hear cases exclusively in the area of family law and child protection.
My role as Chief Justice requires, amongst other things, administering the Court of Queen’s Bench in a way so as to enhance the reputation of, and public confidence in, not only our Court, but the judiciary as a whole. To meet that objective, I, along with all of our talented judges, must work to ensure that we are providing a judicial service that is correct, prompt, transparent and now more than ever, accessible.
In aspiring to provide a quality judicial service, all of the dedicated judges of the Court of Queen’s Bench are committed to serving their fellow citizens with the expertise and independence that our free and democratic society deserves. It is for that reason that the Court itself remains open to necessary systemic improvements, just as the judges themselves continue to invest time in ongoing training and development in order to keep abreast of complex and always-evolving areas of the law.
The sheer variety of Court of Queen’s Bench criminal, civil and family proceedings, is representative of the important and diverse challenges facing a busy trial court seeking to deliver a more innovative, efficient and accessible judicial service.
Criminal, Civil and Family Proceedings: Now and Moving Forward
In the area of criminal proceedings, where cases routinely involve the high stakes associated with individual liberty and public safety, current and future scheduling practices and rule changes must always ensure speedier final adjudications. From the time criminal charges first enter the Court of Queen’s Bench to the ultimate moment where a decision and/or sentence is rendered, unnecessary delays have been and must be further reduced. The now longer, more complex criminal trials – many by judge and jury – require innovative, but rigorous approaches to case management that ensure that we not forget the old but still very true maxim that: “Justice delayed is justice denied.”
The civil proceedings we hear in the Court of Queen’s Bench encompass disputes that can range from matters involving millions of dollars to those that are well under $100,000. Recognizing that every claim (whatever its value) is of significance to all parties involved, the Court understands that the parties must be able to legitimately believe that they have access to a system that is not unduly complex, slow or expensive. In an effort to maximize every litigant’s access to justice, the Court of Queen’s Bench’s current and future civil rules, practices and proceedings will be increasingly subject to the principle of proportionality. The principle of proportionality strives to produce a process and just outcomes “that are proportional to the problems brought to it, and which are reflective of the needs of the people it is meant to serve”. (Access to Civil and Family Justice – a Roadmap for Change, October 2013.)
In the area of family law, while the Court strives to implement ongoing improvements that make any disputed family proceedings quicker, less expensive and more just, the Court is now also exploring new avenues of non-adjudicative and mediative resolution for family breakdown. Few would deny that proceedings commenced in the Family Division involve a unique dynamic of family conflict which makes the traditional adversarial court hearing less than ideal. Going forward, an important aspect of improving access to justice in family law matters will involve, in part, developing ways that better manage family law disputes with earlier intervention, diversion and even more effective case management.
In all of the above endeavours, the Court attempts to be ever mindful of the “open court principle” which recognizes and to the extent required and qualified by law, gives effect to the idea that public access to the courts is a fundamental aspect of our democratic society. The open court principle is inextricably tied to the freedom to express ideas and opinions about the operation of the courts and the rights of members of the public to obtain information about them. Properly understood and applied by judges, the media and the citizenry, the open court principle leads to the fostering of public confidence in the integrity of the court system and a better understanding of the administration of justice. Canadian Broadcasting Corp. v. New Brunswick (Attorney General),  3 S.C.R. 480.
I know I speak for all judges of the Court when I say that the Court of Queen’s Bench aims to be a leader in searching for and finding better ways of providing a judicial service that is, to the greatest extent possible, efficient, innovative and accessible to all citizens of Manitoba.
We hope this website and the information it provides, will play a part in realizing that objective.
Glenn D. Joyal
Chief Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench