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Court of Appeal of Alberta

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Established  1921
Location  Law Courts, Edmonton
Country  Alberta, Canada
Authorized by  Judicature Act Court of Appeal Act
No. of positions  12 (plus supernumeraries)

The Court of Appeal of Alberta (frequently referred to as Alberta Court of Appeal or ABCA) is a Canadian appellate court.


Jurisdiction and Hierarchy within Canadian Courts

The Court is the highest court in Alberta, Canada. It hears appeals from the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench, the Provincial Court of Alberta, and administrative boards and tribunals, as well as references from the Lieutenant Governor in Council (essentially the Alberta Cabinet). Some administrative appeals may bypass the Court of Queen's Bench, commonly orders made by professional discipline boards under the Medical Profession Act, the Legal Profession Act, but also under the Energy Resources Conservation Act.

Appeals from the Court of Appeal lie with the Supreme Court of Canada, Canada's court of last resort. Other than certain criminal matters, appeals to the Supreme Court of Canada are heard only by leave of that court. Since the Supreme Court denies leave in most cases, the Court of Appeal is the final court for most matters originating in Alberta.

Unlike the Court of Queen's Bench, the Court of Appeal has no inherent jurisdiction and therefore requires a statute to grant it the power to hear a matter before a panel is convened. As a court of a province, it is administered by the provincial government. Hearings are held exclusively in both the Edmonton and Calgary court buildings. Unlike other provinces (except Newfoundland and Labrador and Ontario), the Alberta Court of Appeal displays a different Coat of Arms than its lower courts: the Coat of Arms of Canada.


The Court originated from the old Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories which was replaced by the Supreme Court of Alberta in 1907 (shortly after Alberta became a province in 1905). The new Supreme Court of Alberta comprised a trial division and an appellate division (essentially, brother justices of the Supreme Court sitting en banc with a quorum of three).

The second Chief Justice of Alberta, Horace Harvey, supported an independent appellate court designed only to hear appeals. The Judicature Act enacted these changes in 1919, and it was proclaimed in 1921. It was not until 1979 that the Court changed its name to the "Court of Appeal of Alberta" through the Court of Appeal Act, at the same time that the Supreme Court Trial Division and the District Court were amalgamated and renamed the "Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta".


There are 15 justices on the bench including the chief justice, who is the highest judicial officer in the province and holds the position of Chief Justice of Alberta. As a section 96 court, the justices are appointed by the federal government and may hold office until the age of 75. Some of the justices have elected supernumerary (part-time or semi-retired) status. Occasionally, justices of the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta sit on appeals. This is done at the request of a justice of the Court of Appeal. When this happens, these justices are sitting "ex officio", but they have the same powers and duties as other justices of the Court of Appeal.

Most cases are heard by a panel of three justices although the Chief Justice may convene a larger panel in exceptional circumstances. A single justice will preside over matters heard in ”chambers”, usually interlocutory matters or applications for leave to appeal.

Association with the Northwest Territories

Justices of the Court of Appeal for the Northwest Territories are selected from the justices of the Court of Appeal of Alberta, Court of Appeal of Saskatchewan, and the judges and ex officio judges of the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories. The current Chief Justice of Alberta, Catherine A. Fraser, is also the Chief Justice of the Northwest Territories. Hearings are held in Yellowknife, but may be heard anywhere in the territories or in Alberta.

Former Chief Justices of Alberta

  • Arthus Lewis Sifton (1907-1910)
  • Horace Harvey (1910-1921, 1924-1949)
  • David Lynch Scott (1921-1924)
  • George Bligh O'Connor (1950-1957)
  • Clinton J. Ford (1957-1961)
  • Sidney Bruce Smith (1961-1974)
  • William A. McGillivray (1974-1984)
  • James Herbert Laycraft (1984-1991)
  • Previous judges

  • William Alexander Stevenson (1980-1990)
  • John Wesley McClung (1980-2004)
  • Russell Brown (2014-2015)
  • Jean E.L. Côté (1987-2015)
  • John "Jack" Major (1991-1992)
  • Anne Russell (1994-2006)
  • (Asa) Milton "Milt" Harradence (1979-1997)
  • Charles Allen Stuart (1907-1921 en banc appeals)(1921-1926)
  • Allen Borislaw Zenoviy Sulatycky (1997-2000)
  • William Robinson Howson (1942-1944)
  • Charles Richmond Mitchell (1926-1936)
  • Alexander Andrew MacGillivray (1931-1940)
  • William Legh Walsh (1931-1931)
  • Albert Freeman Ewing (1941-1946)
  • James Duncan Hyndman ((1914-1921 en banc appeals)((1921-1928)
  • Nicholas Dubois Dominic Beck (1907-1921 en banc appeals) (1921-1928)
  • Alfred Henry Clarke (1921-1942)
  • William Joseph Haddad (1974-1980)
  • Neil C. Wittmann (1999-2004)
  • Frank C. Ford (1936-1954)
  • Harold Hayward Parlee (1945-1954)
  • James Mitchell Cairns (1965-1977)
  • Carole M. Conrad (1992-2014)
  • John David Bracco (1987-19??)
  • Roger Philip Kerans (1980-1997)
  • Mary Margaret McCormick Hetherington (1985-2001)
  • Willis O'Leary (1994-2006)
  • Samuel Sereth Lieberman (1976-1997)
  • Neil Douglas McDermid (1963-1986)
  • James Boyd McBride (1957-1959)
  • Hugh John MacDonald (1957-1960)
  • Rene Paul Foisy (1987-1999)
  • William George Morrow (1976-1979)
  • Adelle Fruman (1998-2007)
  • Horace Gilchrist Johnson (1954-1973)
  • William Alexander MacDonald (1944-1957)
  • Gordon Hollis Allen (1966-1978)
  • Joseph John Walter Stratton (1987-1995)
  • Arnold Fraser Moir (1973-1979)
  • Carlton Ward Clement (1970-1982)
  • Marshall Menzies Porter (1954-1969)
  • Howard Lawrence Irving (1985-1999)
  • Henry William Lunney (1928-1944)
  • William Robert Sinclair (1973-1979)
  • David Clifton Prowse (1972-1979)
  • Roger Hector Belzil (1981-1996)
  • E.W.S Kane (1961-1974)
  • References

    Court of Appeal of Alberta Wikipedia

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