New process for appointment of SC judges introduced in Canada: Read how it's different from India's NJAC

New process for appointment of SC judges introduced in Canada: Read how it


For the first time, any qualified Canadian lawyer or judge may apply for appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada.


Now any qualified Canadian lawyer or judge may apply for appointment as Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, thanks to landmark reform introduced by the Canadian Government. The Prime Minister of Canada last week, has announced a new process for appointing Supreme Court of Canada Justices that “is open, transparent, and sets a higher standard for accountability.”

An Advisory Board has been given the task of identifying suitable candidates who are jurists of the highest calibre, functionally bilingual, and representative of the diversity of Canada. Former Prime Minister of Canada, Kim Campbell has been appointed as the chairperson for Canada's Supreme Court Advisory Board.

In his letter to the Chairperson, the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “In making your selection, I would ask that you consider the custom of regional representation on the Court as being one of the factors to be taken into consideration.  In compiling this list, I ask that you observe the highest standards of impartiality, integrity and objectivity in your consideration of all candidates.”

Following is the brief account of the procedure under the new process. (Read about it in detail here.)



  • The Advisory Board will both receive and proactively seek out applications from interested candidates.

  • Once the application period is over, it will consider applicants and develop a shortlist of three to five names.

  • Once the shortlist is finalized, the Minister of Justice will consult with the Chief Justice of Canada, relevant provincial and territorial attorneys general, relevant Cabinet ministers, opposition Justice Critics, as well as members of both the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

  • Based on these consultations and the Minister of Justice’s recommendation, the Prime Minister will choose the nominee and publicly announce his or her name.

  • The Minister of Justice and the Chairperson of the Advisory Board will then appear before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to explain why the nominee was selected.

  • Representative from all parties with seats in the House, will be invited to take part in a question which will be moderated by a law professor and answer period with the eventual nominee.


Advisory Council vis-à-vis NJAC

No SC judge or minister part of Advisory Board

The National Judicial Appointments Commission, which has been struck down by the Supreme Court of India, had proposed a Commission, which consisted of six members, (Three Supreme Court Judges, Law Minister and Two eminent members). But, the Advisory Board for Supreme Court of Canada Judicial Appointments does not contain a sitting Judge or a minister. Following are the members of Advisory board.



  • A retired judge nominated by the Canadian Judicial Council;

  • Two lawyers, one nominated by the Canadian Bar Association and one by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada;

  • A legal scholar nominated by the Council of Canadian Law Deans; and

  • Three members nominated by the Minister of Justice, at least two of whom are from outside the legal community.


Application to the post of SC Judgeship

Concept of Applying for the post of Supreme Court Judges was alien to NJAC. According to the newly introduced process of Appointment in Canada, any candidate, who is a Lawyer or Judge, can apply to the post through the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs. Those who wish to be considered for appointment as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada must complete a Questionnaire prepared by three legal academic experts of the University of Ottawa's Public Law Group. Further, if a candidate is chosen as the nominee of the Prime Minister, the information, including personal information, contained in answers to this Questionnaire is to be disclosed to the public.