Masters are judicial officers within the Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba. Like judges, they make decisions based on the law and evidence presented to them. Under the rules of the court, they handle matters such as enforcement of support orders, bankruptcy, assessing value of marital property, assessing the records of committees and executors and the removal of certain evidence improperly before the court.
On occasion, you may have a problem with the conduct of a master. If you are unhappy with a master's conduct, you can launch a formal complaint under The Court of Queen's Bench Act. If you are unhappy with a master's decision in court, you should consult with your lawyer to see what other legal options should be explored.
Misconduct by a master would be conduct unbecoming a master and/or neglect of duty.
Incapacity would be the inability of a master to perform his or her duties as a result of a physical or mental condition or disorder.
Please note that this information applies to masters only. If you have a complaint involving judges of the Court of Queen's Bench or Court of Appeal, please contact the Canadian Judicial Council in Ottawa.
You must make your complaint of misconduct by a master or the incapacity of a master in writing. Include the date, time and place of the court hearing and as much detail as possible. If your complaint involves an incident outside the courtroom, please provide as much information as possible about the situation.
Your complaint will be reviewed by the Chief Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench, or his or her designate, who will notify the master affected. The Chief Justice may follow one of these options:
The Judicial Inquiry Board is made up of a lawyer, a judge from the Court of Queen's Bench and a person who is not a lawyer or a judge.
You have 30 days to take your complaint to the Judicial Inquiry Board if you disagree with the Chief Justice's decision that there is no basis for a complaint or that the complaint should be dealt with in another way. You also have 30 days to go to the Board if you have no response within 60 days of the Chief Justice receiving your complaint.
The Board will consider the complaint and may do its own investigation. The Board may decide to:
Any Board decision is final and cannot be appealed.
If the Board lays a charge against a master, it is brought before the Masters Judicial Council. The six-member Council is made up of three judges from the Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba, but not the Chief Justice or his or her designate, the president of the Law Society of Manitoba, or his or her designate, and two people who are not lawyers or judges. Usually the Council will hold a public hearing to hear the complaint.
If the Council finds there has been misconduct or incapacity on the part of a master, it may:
Even if the master retires or resigns while the complaint is being handled, the Council may decide the proceedings can continue if it is in the public interest.
The master or the Judicial Inquiry Board can appeal the Council's decision to the Manitoba Court of Appeal, but only on a point of law.
If you need further information or assistance, please contact any court office in Manitoba or call (204)945-8043, or toll free 1-800-282-8069 (ext. 8043).
Written complaints should be sent to:
Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba
408 York Avenue
Winnipeg, MB R3C OP9