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WHICH ROUTE SHOULD I TAKE: Deciding between the Provincial Court or Court of Queen’s Bench ​[FAQ]

People have an important initial decision to make when proceeding with court – which court should they use, the Provincial Court of Alberta or the Court of Queen’s Bench? 

PROVINCIAL COURT

The Provincial Court is created by the Provincial Court Act RSA 2000 Chapter P-31. Part 1.2 of the Provincial Court Act outlines the matters that the Provincial Court has the jurisdiction to hear, such as:

  • Section 9.6(1)(a)(i): to hear and adjudicate on any claim or counterclaim, such as debt, unjust enrichment, damages, and specific performance of a contract if the contested value does not exceed the amount prescribed by the regulations

The Provincial Court has the ability to hear issues for up to $50,000.00, which is the amount prescribed by the regulations. If the claim is over $50,000.00, the claimant would have to waive the amount over $50,000 if he or she would want to proceed through Provincial Court. 

Section 9.6(2) of the Provincial Court Act, on the other hand, outlines the issues that the Provincial Court does NOT have jurisdiction over, which include:

  • Malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, defamation, criminal conversation or breach of promise of marriage 
  • Proceedings against a Judge or Peace Office for anything done by that person while executing the duties of that office
  • Actions by a local authority or school board for the recovery of taxes

While the Provincial Court has the power to deal with criminal, family and civil matters, not all family law matters can be dealt with in Provincial Court, such as divorce judgments. The decisions of a Judge of the Provincial Court may also be appealed to a Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench.

There are fewer procedural steps when proceeding under the Provincial Court and matters usually are resolved faster in Provincial Court than in Court of Queen’s Bench. Since issues are resolved faster in Provincial Court, it is usually also cheaper than the Court of Queen’s Bench. There are also more Provincial Court courthouses across Alberta compared to courthouses that could hear Court of Queen’s Bench matters. If a Court of Queen’s Bench courthouse is not easily accessible from your location, you should consider using the Provincial Court to avoid legal costs associated with getting your legal counsel to travel for your court appearances.

COURT OF QUEEN’S BENCH

The powers of the Court of Queen’s Bench are outlined in the Judicature Act RSA 2000 Chapter J-2. 

The Court of Queen’s Bench is a court of general jurisdiction and could hear criminal, civil and family law matters. The Court of Queen’s Bench has no financial limits and has the ability to hear issues beyond $50,000, and could also grant divorce judgments. In order to appeal a decision of the Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench, a party would have to go the Court of Appeal of Alberta. 

The issues that the Provincial Court could not handle under Section 9.6(2) of the Provincial Court Act also are dealt in the Court of Queen’s Bench. 

The Court of Queen’s Bench is more reliant on typewritten and filed affidavit evidence / documents. You should consider proceeding with the Court of Queen’s Bench if you are having a tough time locating the other party, or if you think that the other party will probably fail to follow court procedure as the Court of Queen’s Bench will more likely impose outcomes such as judgments made in default if the other party fails to properly participate during the proceedings. While the Provincial Court typically has less procedural aspects than the Court of Queen’s Bench and is generally faster, the Court of Queen’s Bench is more efficient in granting decisions when a party fails to strictly follow procedure and comply with its responsibilities under the Alberta Rules of Court AR 124/2010.

CONCLUSION

The Provincial Court provides more flexibility and availability than the Court of Queen’s Bench. On the other hand, the Court of Queen’s Bench is able to tackle more types of issues and is more procedural than the Provincial Court. Further considerations may also affect your decision – for example, while the Provincial Court could hear and make decisions regarding custody or parenting of the Child during a divorce, it would be more cost effective for persons going through a divorce to proceed through the Court of Queen’s Bench as the Court of Queen’s Bench could hear all issues regarding the divorce, including granting the divorce itself. Determining whether to proceed with the Provincial Court and the Court of Queen’s Bench depends on your specific situation. It is a good idea to speak with a lawyer to determine which of the two would be a better option in your specific situation.

About Rafael

Rafael completed his Juris Doctor from the University of Calgary, where he also graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. During law school, Rafael volunteered with Pro Bono Students Canada as a Project Coordinator for the Immigration Project, and with Student Legal Assistance as a student caseworker, providing legal services to diverse clients.


Rafael is an active member in the Filipino Calgarian community and can provide services in Tagalog (Filipino) and English.

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