844 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 79 PART 6 NOVEMBER 2021
(There are too few decisions in any given subject area per year, and most
interlocutory decisions are not published, so there is no data or analysis of
these other aspects of the Supreme Court of Canada’s practice.)
To compare the three courts together, it is necessary to restate the four
metrics in the same table:
Comparison 1970 to 2015
Court Average % Average % Average % Number %
length of change time change length of change of change
hearing between judgment decisions
(days) hearing (paragraphs)
BCSC 2.4g3.6 +50% 31.7g +86% 15.4g76.1 +394% 1,650g +135%
BCCA 1.0g1.2 +20% 20.1g +93% 28.0g39.0 +39% 699g553 -21%
SCC 1.9g1.0 -47% 111.9g +57% 30.6g96.6 +222% 86g65 -24%
Of the three courts considered, only the Supreme Court of Canada
showed a measurable decrease in length of hearing over the study period.
For that court, the already prolonged time to judgment increased by a lesser
margin. The average length of decisions increased for all courts but was
most modest for the Court of Appeal. Only the trial court showed a significant
increase in the number of decisions.
COMPARISON TO OBJECTIVE BENCHMARKS
In considering these statistics, it is helpful to review them against objective
benchmarks for performance. Here, in the absence of existing studies on
these aspects of the administration of justice, it is worthwhile to consider
the results of the study against targets identified for best practices.
The Canadian Judicial Council’s Ethical Principles for Judges provides
the most well-established target for the timing of delivery of reasons for
The proper preparation of judgments is frequently difficult and time consuming.
However, the decision and reasons should be produced by the
judge as soon as reasonably possible, having due regard to the urgency of
the matter and other special circumstances. Special circumstances may
include illness, the length or complexity of the case, an unusually heavy
workload or other factors making it impossible to give judgment sooner.
In 1985, the Canadian Judicial Council resolved that, in its view, reserved
judgments should be delivered within six months after hearings, except in special