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Family Law Appeals, MacLean Family Law

很多人都认为,在BC省,法官就是法官,并没有等级之分。这样的观念是错误的。其实,法官不仅有等级之分,不同等级法官开出的法庭令的上诉要求也是不一样的,这一点对家庭法的客户来说极其重要。以下由康健律师为您详解。

在BC省最高法院中,有两种法官,一种是Judge,也就是传统意义上的法官,而另一种是Master,中文翻译应该为“事务官”。事务官虽然也有权利庭审并且开出有法律效力的法庭令,其实严格来说并不是法官,而是政府为了缓解法官的办案压力,特别指派的人员。

法官的权利是非常大的,只要是有相关的法律依据,他们可以办理大大小小的任何开庭,包括最终庭审(trial)。对比之下,事务官的权利要小很多,基本上只能开出临时的、过渡性的法庭令(interim orders),而一般情况下不能开出最终法庭令(final order)。另外,只有法官能够听审最终庭审,事务官是没有这个权利的。

之所以会安排事务官,是因为他们可以帮助法官处理大量的临时庭审(比如冻结财产、替代传达令、文件披露、临时抚养费、赡养费和孩子安排等等),从而可以让法官可以更专注在最终庭审和其它最终判决上面。

特别注意的是,事务官的判决可以向同级法院(也就是最高法院)的法官来上诉,而法官可以将其推翻;但是如果是法官的判决的话,就只能到上诉法院来上诉(Court of Appeal),从程序上和法律上来讲都要比前者要严格很多。

这两者的区别,BC省最高法院在Sidhu v. Hothi, 2014 BCCA 510这个判决中有具体描述:

[22]        Like Low J.A. in Ralph’s Auto Supply, I am not minded to meddle with a practice that has worked well and, to all appearances, is still working well. Although some may object to a differentiation between masters and judges as representing a hierarchical system, the fact is that the judicial system is hierarchical by its nature and that masters, who are appointed by the Province under the Supreme Court Act, are not superior court judges. There will always be a distinction in terms of the authority that may under our Constitution be given to masters. As stated by Judson J. in Attorney-General for Ontario v. Victoria Medical Building 1959 CanLII 20 (SCC), [1960] S.C.R. 32:

At first glance, it might be thought that the Legislature, which can authorize a judge to direct a reference in the circumstances mentioned in ss. 67 and 68 of The Judicature Act, could decide that in a particular case there should be no need of delegation but a direct assignment of function with a consequent simplification of civil procedure. But I am satisfied, as was the Court of Appeal, that the assignment of the power of final adjudication to the Master goes beyond procedure and amounts to an appointment of a judge under s. 96 of the British North America Act. The position of the Master as a referee acting under a judge’s order and reporting back to the Court is fundamentally different from his position under the impugned legislation as an independent trier of fact and I think that the Court of Appeal was right in rejecting any analogy between the two positions.

For the same reason, I agree with the Court of Appeal in its decision that s. 31(2) does not save this legislation. …

While the jurisdiction of the judge is not completely ousted by the Act, it can be sought only if one or other of the litigants chooses to apply for it and it is assumed only in the judge’s discretion. This section leaves untouched the fundamental objection to the legislation that a grant of original jurisdiction to the Master in a case of this kind cannot stand in view of s. 96. [At 44-5.]

(See also Bahcheli v. Yorkton Securites Inc. 2012 ABCA 166 at paras. 12-3.)

[23]        Since 1989, the masters’ program has helped to ease the load on Supreme Court judges with respect to procedural matters. Such matters do not generally require the making of substantive findings of fact. Masters are able to make their decisions quickly and efficiently and in the knowledge that if they are wrong, their decisions can be easily corrected, especially where the decision is “vital to the final issue in the case.” Further, as Mr. Godwin submitted, it remains true that various Canadian provinces have adopted different standards of review for masters’ decisions. The fact that the Ontario Court of Appeal has chosen one that is different from ours is not in itself a reason for this province to follow suit. (A division of five judges might well be necessary for a change to be made, since this court has approved the Abermin standard of review in the past: see Fat Mel’s Restaurant Ltd. v. Cdn. Northern Shield Insur. Co. (1993) 1993 CanLII 1669 (BC CA), 76 B.C.L.R. (2d) 231 (C.A.) at para. 13Chand v. ICBC2009 BCCA 559 at para. 34.)

法院系统是非常复杂的,而稍有不慎就有可能造成无法弥补的损失。如果您有任何家庭法方面的疑问,欢迎您致电我们的中文专线 604 682 6466,我们的专业中文律师团队会为您竭诚服务。
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