Justices of the Peace play an important role in our judicial system. In many cases they are a person’s first – and sometimes only – contact with the courts. They preside over a wide range of matters, dealing with more than 200 different pieces of legislation, criminal code matters and municipal by-laws.

Justice of the Peace make important decisions about individual rights and freedoms and are key to an effective, timely judicial system.

Responsibilities include:

  • Hearing applications during trials made pursuant to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. For example, whether a case should be stayed due to delay under s. 11(b); whether there was a violation of a defendant’s rights pursuant to s. 8 (freedom against unreasonable search and seizure), s. 9 (arbitrary detention), s.10 (right to counsel).
  • Presiding over trials regarding allegations of violations of federal law, such as regulations around fisheries, shipping and transportation.
  • Presiding over trials regarding allegations of violations of provincial law, such as regulations around environmental protection, workplace safety (such as fatalities) and unlawful hunting.
  • Determining whether a publication ban on court proceedings is appropriate.
  • Presiding over bail hearings to determine whether an accused person should be released from custody pending their trial.
  • Presiding over peace bond hearings and deciding on weapons prohibitions.
  • Deciding whether information supports laying criminal charges, issuing a summons, or a warrant in the first instance.
  • Reviewing and granting or denying search warrants, production orders and management orders.
  • Issuing arrest warrants related to the sex offender registry.
  • Presiding over the case management of criminal matters to ensure time to trial or resolution is in accordance with v. Jordan .
  • Issuing warrants to protect children under the Child, Youth and Family Services Act.
  • Making orders under the Mental Health Act for a person to be examined by a physician.
  • Presiding over municipal by-law infractions and traffic offences.

Justices of the Peace serve in one of seven regions covering all of Ontario and on any given week may travel to several court houses within those regions. You can learn more about the role at the Ontario Court of Justices website.

There are designated French language and Indigenous Justices of the Peace who serve these communities across Ontario.

Civil Marriage

Justices of the peace can  officiate at a civil marriage ceremony. They are not allowed to charge a fee for the service and it is provided strictly on a volunteer basis at the discretion of an individual justice of the peace.

The Association does not coordinate access to this service. If you are interested in obtaining the services of a person to conduct a civil marriage ceremony, consider contacting the Clerk of your local municipality.

Decisions

Justices of the Peace are called upon to make decisions on a variety of matters every day. Some of those decisions are reported and available online through a number of different reporting services. CanLII is a publicly accessible, free of charge, website to search for reported decisions, including those rendered by justices of the peace.