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Judicial Education

from The Chair

When I became a judge, I knew that the public would turn to me for leadership and stability. Litigants expect judges to be fair and to embody the highest standards of personal and professional conduct and I expected that of myself. As Chief Justice of Canada, I am honoured to chair the Canadian Judicial Council and to have the opportunity to enhance public confidence in the judicial system.

All judges are here to serve the cause of justice in Canada. Canadians want to be reassured that their judges know the law and can do their job with empathy and fairness.

Through a rigorous program of ongoing professional development, judges of Canada’s Superior Courts have access to the best education available. Programs offered through the National Judicial Institute and other partners allow judges to know about the latest developments in the law. Courses are developed and delivered in a way that reflects Canada’s diversity. The Canadian Judicial Council has taken leadership since the early 1990’s to require social context education in its programs. This ensures that judges – and in particular newly appointed judges – are aware of the challenges faced by vulnerable groups in society. Social context education provides judges with the necessary skills to ensure that myths and stereotypes do not influence judicial decision-making.

The Canadian Judicial Council wants to ensure Canadians have up-to-date knowledge about all aspects of judicial education. Public confidence in the judiciary demands no less. I hope you will find useful the information presented here.

The Right Honourable Richard Wagner, P.C.


Canadians expect their judiciary to know the law but also to possess empathy and to recognize and question any personal attitudes and sympathies that might prevent them from acting fairly.

Professional development programs for judges are comprehensive and encompass aspects such as the law, practical skills, and education on social issues reflecting Canadians’ reality. These programs further enhance the skills of the judiciary, thereby improving the fair and equal delivery of justice.

The Council is committed to transparency with respect to the activities designed to improve the administration of justice.
In fulfilling its leadership role in the professional development of judges, the Council sets relevant policies and guidelines to assist judges with their commitment to lifelong learning.

The Council has developed this site to provide information to Canadians on the professional development programs delivered within the previous fiscal year to federally-appointed judges. It includes the top fundamental questions and answers on professional development along with the program descriptions for each course.
Meaningful and quality judicial education is a critical part of the judicial role. Through its commitment to judicial education, the CJC strives to maintain an informed, open-minded judiciary to better provide access to justice. Through transparency and raising awareness about judicial education programming, the CJC seeks to inform Canadians about the importance of judicial education to the judicial role today and to assure them that this is, and will remain, a priority for the CJC and the judiciary.

For more information on the Council’s work...

Visit CJC Website


Top Questions and Answers

What is professional development for judges (and how much is expected from judges)?
Various training sessions are offered to judges throughout their career to ensure that they are continuously learning and enhancing their skills.
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What is the role of the Canadian Judicial Council?
The Council is responsible for establishing policies and guidelines regarding the professional development of judges.
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How are judicial independence and professional development intertwined?
For a judge to be, and equally important to be perceived as, independent and objective, he or she must possess wisdom, sound judgment and experience, qualities that are shaped through professional development.
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Who decides which courses judges should attend?
All judges are responsible for their own ongoing professional development to ensure they provide the highest quality judicial services to the public.
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What is the process for proposing new programs?
The National Judicial Institute (NJI) regularly reviews the scope and extent of programming to identify gaps or needs and other organizations may also identify the need for a new program.
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Are there policies that govern the professional development of judges?
The Canadian Judicial Council has had policies on professional development in place for several years.
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What types of courses are offered?
The Canadian Judicial Council ensures that a wide variety of programs are made available to federally-appointed judges.
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Who develops the content of professional development courses/programs?
Content of the programs offered to federally-appointed judges is developed by various organizations depending on the topic.
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Who is responsible for the professional development of judges?
The judiciary institutionally is responsible for the professional development of judges and each judge is accountable for his or her own ongoing professional development.
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Program Descriptions

Program Descriptions

The Council has compiled a listing of the various professional development programs which were delivered to federally-appointed judges within the previous fiscal year. Each description encompasses an overview, the main objectives and a summary of the program.

Program Descriptions Program Descriptions