THE ADVOCATE 31
VOL. 76 PART 1 JANUARY 2018
ceedings in the Court of Appeal) or the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
(in relation to rules governing proceedings in the Supreme Court).
Another notable administrative duty carried out by chiefs is the approval
of justices’ participation at conferences, seminars and similar gatherings.
There is, of course, a very practical aspect to this responsibility: in setting
the rota, chiefs and their delegates must remain apprised of the whereabouts
and availability of the justices of the court.
The division of labour between the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
and the Associate Chief Justice in carrying out these various tasks is
defined largely by the two individuals occupying those posts. Associate
Chief Justice Cullen, due to the depth of his experience in the area, manages
most of the administrative tasks on the criminal law side, while Chief
Justice Hinkson deals with most administrative matters arising within the
civil sphere. A similar division of labour prevailed as between Chief Justice
Brenner and Associate Chief Justice Dohm when those two served as chiefs
together, with Dohm taking on much of the criminal-related administrative
tasks. This split is not always maintained, however. For example, Chief Justice
McEachern did not generally divide responsibilities on the basis of subject
area; work was allocated on other bases. Thus, it appears the division
of administrative labour is yet another aspect of the chief’s role that is characterized
by flexibility. The method of dividing administrative work in the
Court of Appeal is, of course, a non-issue, as there is but a single chief serving
on that court.
While at first blush some of the chief’s administrative tasks may appear
mundane or of seemingly little import, the fact that they are entrusted to
the court—and, more specifically, the chief—is in fact essential for the
preservation of judicial independence. As Le Dain J. described in Valente v.
The Queen,38 one of the essential conditions of judicial independence for
purposes of s. 11(d) of the Charter is “the institutional independence of the
tribunal with respect to matters of administration bearing directly on the
exercise of its judicial function”.39 The Court in Valente affirmed that the
assignment of judges, scheduling of sittings of the court and setting of court
lists, as well as the allocation of courtrooms and the direction of administrative
staff, all form part of what can be considered the “essential” or “minimum”
content of the court’s collective independence.40 Similarly, Chief
Justice Nathan T. Nemetz of the B.C. Supreme Court once indicated that the
sine qua non of judicial independence requires that chiefs have the following
1. the setting down of cases;
2. the assignment of cases to judges;