Encyclopedia

A Brief History of the Court of King’s Bench for Upper Canada, 1791-1841.

Contributor: Jim Phillips

The Court of King’s Bench was founded in 1794, by the Judicature Act (34 Geo III, c. 2) of that year. The Act abolished the existing district Courts of Common Pleas and established King’s Bench as the sole superior court for the colony. The new court had ‘all such powers and authorities as by the law of England are incident to a superior court of civil and criminal jurisdiction,’ and referenced the English courts of King’s Bench, Common Pleas, and Exchequer. The court did not have Chancery jurisdiction. King’s Bench became the Court of Queen’s Bench in 1837 with the accession of Queen Victoria.

The 1794 Judicature Act specified that the Court was to consist of three judges, the Chief Justice of Upper Canada and two puisne judges. In 1837 the number of judges was increased to 5.