Prince Edward Island. County Court

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Authorized form of name

Prince Edward Island. County Court

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The County Courts were established by the 1873 Act of the Prince Edward Island Legislature entitled "An Act to establish County Courts of Judicature in the Island" in order to relieve the Supreme Court of minor cases and to replace the "Courts of Commissioners for the Recovery of Small Debts." These courts were essentially civil courts which tried cases where the sum did not exceed $150.00, later $500.00, and had the power to try certain criminal cases where the accused was given the power to elect trial by judge rather than trial by judge and jury. They also had powers specifically assigned to them by federal and provincial statutes, ie. Hearing appeals under the Election Act. They did not have jurisdiction over cases involving title of land questions; the validity of any devise, bequest, or limitation; criminal conversation or seduction; breach of promise of marriage; or actions against a Justice of the Peace. In 1922, the mandate of the County Court was amended to allow the judge of every County Court to hold a Court of Record for the trial of any persons arrested or committed to jail on a charge of being guilty when tried by a judge without a jury and when the individual had chosen to be tried without a jury. This was called the County Court Judge's Criminal Court. In 1970, the Family Courts Division of the County Courts was established to provide assistance and guidance for families and individual members of families in over-coming social and matrimonial problems and for the purpose of dealing with juvenile delinquents. It could deal with cases concerning the Children's Act (except part II); the Children's Protection Act; and Part 8 of the School Act. In 1972, the County Courts were given jurisdiction over "The Landlord and Tenant Act" and "The Adoption Act".

The Lieutenant Governor appointed one judge for each of the counties which were subsequently divided into circuits, six in Queen's County and five in each of Prince and Kings Counties. The Legislation regulated where and when the courts were held in each circuit. Each judge appointed one Chief Clerk for the county and an Assistant Clerk for each of the circuits. As the Court of Commissioners for Small Debts were abolished by this same Act, its records were transferred to the Clerk of the respective County Courts. Outstanding judgments were to be dealt with by the County Court. Appeals from the County Courts were made at the next sitting of the Supreme Court for the County where the appeal was taken. The Clerk was to transfer all papers relating to appeal cases to the County Clerk of the Supreme Court. The sheriffs of the counties were executive officers of the court. They were to aid and assist the judges; execute and obey all writs, processes, documents, and orders transmitted and directed to them by the judges or the clerks. They appointed two deputies for each circuit.

The tenure of the County Courts was brought to an end in 1975 by "An Act to Repeal The County Court Act, to Transfer the County Court Jurisdiction to the Supreme Court and to Reorganize the Supreme Court" which transferred the power of the County Court to the Small Claims Section of the General Division of the Supreme Court.


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