Effective Oct. 19, 2018, British Columbia's new chief judge will be Melissa Gillespie. She has been serving as the acting chief judge since May 2018 following former chief judge Thomas Crabtree’s appointment to the B.C. Supreme Court.
Gillespie has served the province as an associate chief judge since 2016. She was born and grew up in Calgary. She received her law degree from the University of Toronto and was called to the B.C. bar in 1991.
From 2000 until 2003, she served as administrative Crown counsel in Surrey and then served as regional Crown counsel for the Fraser Region. Appointed a Queen’s Counsel (QC) in 2009, Gillespie was sworn in as a provincial court judge in February 2012. Since then, she has presided in the Fraser region.
In addition to sitting assignments, Gillespie has been active in delivering education programs to judges and judicial justices, as well as to the larger legal community and beyond, including her participation in a Justice Education Society project to strengthen the criminal justice system in Guyana. She was also active as a member of the executive of the BC Provincial Court Judges Association for several years.
Government and the public rely on judges for their integrity and impartiality, and trust they will deliver fair, learned decisions. These qualities are essential for maintaining the public’s confidence in the courts and are a vital component of any democratic justice system. The leadership provided by the chief judge is essential for an effective justice system for British Columbia.
- The provincial court is a statutory court created by the Provincial Court Act.
- Appointed by the lieutenant governor in council, the chief judge is the head of the provincial court and is its official spokesperson.
- Judges of the court are appointed by the provincial government and exercise powers given to them by laws enacted by the federal and provincial governments.
- Provincial court cases include criminal, family, youth, small claims, traffic and bylaw matters.
- 117 full-time provincial court judges and 24 senior judges work in more than 80 locations throughout the province to hear approximately 225,000 cases each year.
Read about Judge Melissa Gillespie here:
Read about the court’s history and innovations here: