A Progression of Judges: A History of the Supreme Court of British Columbia

By David R. Verchere | Go to book overview

TWO
The Supreme Court of Civil Justice of the Colony of Vancouver Island

On 23 September 1853, the Legislative Council of the colony of Vancouver Island acted on the governor's request that it establish a high court of justice for the colony. It resolved that a Court of Common Pleas be established with the jurisdiction and authority Douglas had asked for, and it agreed without hesitation with his suggestion that Cameron be named the new court's judge. On 2 December, the council passed an act to implement its resolution. It also gave the new court a more illustrious sounding name than Common Pleas; it became the Supreme Court of Civil Justice of the Colony of Vancouver Island, the name it would be known by during the Island's existence as a separate colony.

On 7 January 1854, Douglas reported at length on what had been done and, perhaps realizing a problem had been created by his choice of his brother-in-law as the colony's high court judge, set out at length his reasons for appointing Cameron, and Cameron's reasons for accepting. The governor referred, with the Muir case in mind, to "certain irregularities in the practice of the Justices' court arising from the inexperience of the magistrates" and went on to say that he had decided, and his council had resolved, to limit the jurisdiction of the justices' court to "simple matters as our justices are competent to deal with" and to establish the Supreme Court of Civil Justice with jurisdiction throughout the colony in all matters where the amount in dispute was £50 or more. And then he added:

An Act to that effect, containing the rules and Forms of pleading to be used in said court, was passed in Council on 2nd day of December

-12-

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