WHAT TO CALL THE JUDGE
(bold blue words are links to more information)
Collectively, the Judges of the Nova Scotia Courts are known as The Nova Scotia Judiciary.
The Judiciary consists of the Judges of the Family Court and the Provincial Court as well as Justices of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal.
There are several other Courts in Nova Scotia as well:
Small Claims Court - law suits involving claims of up to $25,000
Cases are heard by an Adjudicator, not a Judge. The Adjudicator is a lawyer and is referred to as “Adjudicator” and addressed as “Sir” or “Madam”.
Bankruptcy Court - personal and corporate bankruptcies
Normally administered by Trustees. A person's second bankruptcy, a creditor's challenge of the Trustee's decision, and other contested matters go before the Registrar in this Court. The Registrar is a lawyer and is referred to as “Registrar” and addressed as “Madam Registrar” or "Mister Registrar".
Probate Court - wills, estates, and inheritance
Such matters, when contested, may come before a Probate Judge, who is also a Supreme Court Justice, or a Registrar. The Judge is referred to and addressed in the same manner as a Judge sitting in the Supreme Court (see below). The Registrar, when conducting a hearing, is referrred to as "Madam Registrar" or "Mister Registrar".
What To Call A Judge
When Talking About Him/Her
When referring to members of the Nova Scotia Judiciary in a general way, the term "Judges" is acceptable - as in: "Canadian Judges don't use gavels".
However, the Judges of specific Courts are called "Justices" or "Judges" depending on which Court they sit on.
Judges who sit on the Court of Appeal and those who sit on the Supreme Court are formally referred to as “Justices”.
Judges who sit on the Provincial Court and those who sit on the Family Court are formally referred to as “Judges”.
When talking about Justices and Judges
a member of the Judiciary sitting on the Court of Appeal is referred to as “Justice John/Jane Doe”
one sitting on the Supreme Court (including the Family Division) is also referred to as “Justice John/Jane Doe”
a Judge sitting on the Provincial Court is referred to as “Judge John/Jane Doe”
and one sitting on the Family Court is also referred to as “Judge John/Jane Doe”
Chief And Associate Chief Justices And Judges
Each of these four Courts has a Chief Justice or Chief Judge. Some also have an Associate Chief Justices and one has an Associate Chief Judge.
The Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal is also the Chief Justice of Nova Scotia. He/she is referred to as "Chief Justice John/Jane Doe, Chief Justice of Nova Scotia"
As Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal, he/she is referred to as "Chief Justice John/Jane Doe, Chief Justice of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal"
The Court of Appeal does not have an Associate Chief Justice.
The proper titles of the Chief and Associate Chief Justices of the Supreme Court are:
"Chief Justice John/Jane Doe, Chief Justice of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court"
- or -
"Associate Chief Justice John/Jane Doe, Associate Chief Justice of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court"
The proper titles of the Chiefs and Associate Chief Judge of the Provincial and Family Courts are:
"Chief Judge John/Jane Doe, Chief Judge of the Nova Scotia (Provincial or Family) Court"
- or -
"Associate Chief Judge John/Jane Doe, Associate Chief Judge of the Nova Scotia (Provincial or Family) Court"
After the first reference (the initial identification), a Chief Justice or Judge may be referred to as "the Chief Justice" or "the Chief Judge" (similarly for the Associate Chiefs).
Puisne Justices and Judges
The remaining individual Judges are known as "Puisne Judges" (from the French "puis" or "afterward" and meaning of lower rank or junior).
Puisne Judges of the Court of Appeal are referred to as:
"Justice John/Jane Doe"
- or -
as are Puisne Judges of the Supreme Court
Puisne Judges of the Provincial Court are referred to as:
"Judge John/Jane Doe"
- or -
as are Puisne Judges of the Family Court
After the first reference (the initial identification), a Puisne Judge may be referred to as:
“Justice Doe” (Appeal and Supreme Courts)
- or -
“Judge Doe” (Provincial and Family Courts)
- or -
"the Judge" (without mention of the name)
The Gender Issue
Justices and Judges of all Courts in Nova Scotia prefer gender neutral terms. A female Justice or Judge should not be referred to or addressed as “Madam Justice/Judge Jane Doe" but only as "Justice/Judge Jane Doe".
When A Judge Retires
Often, after Justices and Judges retire, they continue their public service. For example, they may be appointed by the Federal or Provincial Governments to conduct a public inquiry. As such, the retired Judge is not working as a member of the Judiciary. So, he/she should not be referred to as “Justice” or “Judge John/Jane Doe”.
In the case of the public inquiry, the proper term is:
“Commissioner John/Jane Doe”
- or -
“Retired Justice/Judge John/Jane Doe”
- or -
Former Justice/Judge John/Jane Doe”
Outside of his/her public service work, a retired Judge who is not sitting on a government-appointed body, is referred to as:
“Justice/Judge John/Jane Doe”
- or -
“Retired/Former “Justice/Judge John/Jane Doe”
How To Address A Judge
When Talking To Him/Her In Court
The courtroom can be an intimidating place especially for the uninitiated. Add to that the stress of being involved in trial proceedings, the rules of which are unfamiliar to many, and tongues can get tied.
Judges tell stories of being referred to, usually by non-professionals, as "Your Majesty", "Dear", "Excellency", even "Your Holiness".
When speaking to a male Justice in Court, you address him as "My Lord" - as in: "My Lord, I would......"
- or -
"Your Lordship" - as in: "If it pleases Your Lordship, I would..... "
When speaking to a female Justice in Court, you address her as "My Lady - as in: "Yes, My Lady, I agree....."
- or -
"Your Ladyship" - as in "If it pleases Your Ladyship..... "
The Gender Neutral term "Court" is also acceptable - as in:
"If it pleases the Court, I would like to....." This reference is often useful in the Court of Appeal where a panel of three or five Justices of both genders may be presiding.
In the Provincial and Family Courts, the Judge is addressed as "Your Honour", regardless of gender - as in:
"Yes, Your Honour, I will do that ".
Outside the Court, this formality is not necessary. "Judge" will do for a member of the Judiciary in any Court - as in:
"Good day, Judge".
"Sir" or "Madam" is also acceptable - as in: "Yes Sir (Madam), it does....." While in the courtroom, however, a Judge should never be addressed as "Sir" or "Madam".
Back to top of page