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Impartiality, Reconciliation, Indigenous Peoples, Judicial Ethics, Judiciary, Community Involvement, Technology, Return to Practice


In 2021 the Canadian Judicial Council completed a multi-year review and update of Ethical Principles for Judges (EPJ), the ethical and professional guidance for all federally-appointed judges in Canada. The revisions address issues such as case management and settlement conferences, technological competence and the use of social media, interactions with self-represented litigants, professional development for judges, confidentiality, and the return of former judges to the practice of law. In this article, five directors of the Canadian Association for Legal Ethics/Association canadienne pour l’éthique juridique analyze the revised EPJ and offer their observations.

The article covers five important topics. On impartiality, it explains the ways in which the revised EPJ represents a significant evolution in the understanding of this important concept. The article then critically examines the absence of any reference to Reconciliation. On judicial involvement with the community, it argues that the revised EPJ may lead judges to disengage from community activities to an unwarranted degree and critiques the scope of new provisions requiring judges to avoid visible signals of support for causes or views. On judicial technological competence, the article endorses new obligations but cautions that these developments will have to be supported by significant resources to provide appropriate training and guidance on best practices. On confidentiality and return to practice, the article welcomes the new provisions while highlighting some additional issues including avenues for enforcement.