Fonds RG6.5 - Magistrates' Courts fonds

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Magistrates' Courts fonds

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  • Textual record

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on contents of the fonds

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  • 1925-1959 (Creation)
    Prince Edward Island. Magistrates' Court

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2 m. of textual records

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Prince Edward Island. Magistrates' Court

Biographical history

During the early years of British rule on Prince Edward Island, the Lieutenant Governor-in-Council of Prince Edward Island was authorized to appoint as many Justices of the Peace or Magistrates (the Legislation often appears to use the terms interchangeably) for the counties as deemed necessary. In the tradition of British Common Law, magistrates were individuals appointed by the Crown to be justices within a certain area. Their responsibilities included conserving the peace, executing other special duties prescribed to them by statute, and hearing cases involving small debts. They also had preliminary jurisdiction over all criminal cases, except those initiated in a higher court upon indictment by a grand jury. Magistrates were not judges but were originally required to have been practicing barristers for 5 years before their appointment. One or more Magistrate could preside over court proceedings depending on the nature of the case and the authority provided for by the relating statutes. All appeals were heard by the Supreme Court. Magistrates were not paid salaries but instead were remunerated for their services by collecting fees for specific duties they performed. They held office during good behavior or pleasure.

Stipendiary Magistrates, who were paid salaries by the government, were appointed for the City of Charlottetown and the Town of Summerside. In 1895, stipendiary magistrates were appointed for each county. These stipendiary magistrates originally did not have jurisdiction in any city or town, i.e. Charlottetown and Summerside, that had a stipendiary magistrate. The Lieutenant Governor-in-Council was also authorized to appoint one stipendiary magistrate whose jurisdiction could extend over one or more counties. In 1898 a second stipendiary magistrate was appointed for Prince County and was responsible for districts 1-11 which were known as West Prince. Like justices of the peace or magistrates, stipendiary magistrates had to have been practicing barristers for five years prior to their appointment. In 1901, the required number of years was reduced to three and then to two years in 1912. In 1939, the qualifications were further amended requiring stipendiary magistrates to have been practicing barristers in the province for two years or Justices of the Peace for 6 years.

All stipendiary magistrates had the powers of one, two, or more justices of the peace sitting together. In 1927 they were given jurisdiction to hear preliminary inquiries into indictable offences and to hear and determine summary offenses under part XV of the criminal code in any incorporated town or village within their respective counties except Charlottetown and Summerside. In 1928, the Prohibition Act allowed for the appointment of three magistrates, know as Magistrates for Prince Edward Island, each having power of two justices of the peace with concurrent jurisdiction to try any offense under this act. These magistrates were not permitted to hear cases in Summerside and Charlottetown. In 1938, "the stipendiary magistrates for the counties were permitted to act in cases arising in incorporated cities and towns within their respective counties, including Charlottetown and Summerside, not withstanding anything contained in any statute of this Province relating to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Stipendiary Magistrate of such city or town." If a stipendiary magistrate was prevented from acting for any reason, a county court judge could fill the role.

In addition to duties in respect to returns and other matters imposed on justices of the peace, stipendiary magistrates were also required, every June and December, to make up a return of the number and nature of cases and offences before them , manner of disposition, statement of penalty whether fine or imprisonment with the costs in each case and the disposition of all moneys received for fees or costs and were required to transmit such statement to the Deputy Provincial Treasurer. A stipendiary magistrate could appoint one or more justices of the peace to act as a clerk or clerks.

In 1974 the Magistrates' Act was repealed by the passing of the Provincial Court Act. Stipendiary Magistrates were, hereafter, known as Judges and had the same powers as judges under this act. They had jurisdiction throughout the province including in the City of Charlottetown, the Town of Summerside, and all other towns and villages in the province. They also had jurisdiction conferred on Magistrates by Part XVI of the Criminal Code of Canada as well as all powers and and the right to perform all duties conferred or imposed upon a magistrate, provincial magistrate, or one or more Justices of the Peace under any Act of Parliament of Canada or Act of Provincial Legislature. This act continued the practice of appointing as many Justices of the Peace as deemed advisable for the better administration of justice in the province. They were appointed for a renewable five-year term by the Lieutenant Governor-in-Council upon the recommendation of the minister.

Custodial history

Scope and content

This fonds consists of legal forms produced by the Magistrates' Courts in Prince Edward Island and span the years 1925 to 1959. Legal documents include Forms of Judgment for Poll Tax, "Schedule "T": Judgment against land forms, Informations, Warrants to Apprehend, Warrants Remanding Prisoner, Case papers, Executions, Warrants of Deliverance, and Warrants of Commitment. The documents included in this fonds were created by Justices of the Peace, Magistrates, or Stipendiary Magistrates serving in Prince Edward Island or their clerks. This fonds is divided into two series: Kings County and Prince County.

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  • English

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Associated materials

See also: RG6.3, County Courts fonds; RG6.12, Courts of Commissioners for the Recovery of Small Debt fonds; RG20, City of Charlottetown fonds; Acc4304, C. R. McQuaid fonds; The Government of Prince Edward Island by Frank MacKinnon (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1951); and "Bench and Bar" by John A. Mathieson, p. 121-142, in Past and present of Prince Edward Island by D. A. MacKinnon and A. B. Warburton (Charlottetown: B. F. Bowen & Co., ca. 1906)

Related materials


General note

A list of relevant legislation of Prince Edward Island follows this inventory

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  • English

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