Changes to Court Services

People who use our courts, whether they are attending a hearing, paying a fine or accessing Legal Aid, want to know they have access to a safe and secure justice system.

We want to be sure that we are using our resources to operate the most efficient court system possible. To help keep Nova Scotia’s justice system sustainable, we’re making changes focused on improving safety while ensuring timely access to court services and lowering costs. The department has identified several areas where we can preserve, and in some cases, improve the effectiveness of our court system.

Operational changes include:

  • Consolidation of the operations of 7 satellite courts into operations at nearby Justice Centres.
  • Reduction in operating hours at the Dartmouth Justice of the Peace with daytime services transferred to the Provincial Court.
  • Consolidation of the Night Court operations in HRM.

7 of the province’s 12 satellite courts will be consolidated at local Justice Centres:

Many of our satellite courts are underutilized and have declining caseloads, and they are costly to operate. They are located in rented spaces that do not have the security features that a modern justice system requires.

  • This is expected to create efficiencies in the court system as it will eliminate travel for judges and court staff and sittings will be more frequent at the nearby Justice Centre.
  • This has the potential to move cases through the justice system quicker.
  • This transition is expected to take up to six months.
  • There will be no jobs lost as a result of the consolidation.
Court to be closedSittings/monthCost savings total
Barrington (move case load to Shelburne or Yarmouth)7128,225
Comeauville (move case load to Digby or Yarmouth)459,379
Guysborough (move case load to Antigonish or Port Hawkesbury)471,858
Port Hood (move case load to Port Hawkesbury)368,205
Lunenburg (move case load to Bridgewater)00
Baddeck (move case load to Sydney)3.562,232
Liverpool (move case load to Bridgewater)492,680

The Justice of the Peace Centre in Dartmouth will operate under reduced hours during the day:

The Justice of the Peace Centre in Dartmouth currently provides services 24/7. Work includes issuing various warrants, emergency protection orders under the Domestic Violence Intervention and Cyber Bullying Act.

  • Changes include a reduction in daytime operating hours.
  • Round-the-clock service will be preserved transferring matters arising between 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday back to the jurisdiction of the Provincial Court. Judges and staff justices of the peace, instead of PJPs, will now deal with matters, including Emergency Protection Orders and warrants during business hours.
  • After-hours coverage will not change. A Presiding Justice of the Peace (PJP) will continue to be on call from home overnight and on weekends.
  • The transition is expected to occur over a period of several months.
  • There will be a reduction of two full-time positions, but affected employees will be offered equivalent positions within court services.

Consolidation of Night Court operations to Halifax Provincial Court on Spring Garden Road:

Night Court currently operates in Dartmouth and Halifax 4 nights a week. Matters handled include Summary Offense Tickets and contested peace bonds.

  • To accommodate the consolidation of the Dartmouth Night Court, the dockets in Halifax will be increased. All metro night court matters can be docketed at the Halifax Provincial Court on Spring Garden Road.
  • This transition is anticipated to take several months.
  • There will be no jobs lost as a result of the closure.