The Conference Allowance

s. 41 of the Judges Act

Preamble

The relevant provisions provide as follows:

41(1) A judge of a superior court who attends a meeting, conference or seminar that is held for a purpose relating to the administration of justice and that the judge in the capacity of a judge is required by law to attend, or who, with the approval of the chief justice of that court, attends any such meeting, conference or seminar that the judge in that capacity is expressly authorized by law to attend, is entitled to be paid, as a conference allowance, reasonable travel and other expenses actually incurred by the judge in so attending.

41(2) Subject to subsection (3), a judge of a superior court who, with the approval of the chief justice of that court,

(a) attends a meeting, conference or seminar that the judge in the capacity of a judge is not expressly authorized by law or is not required by law to attend but that is certified by the chief justice to be a meeting, conference or seminar having as its object or as one of its objects the promotion of efficiency or uniformity in the superior courts, or the improvement of the quality of judicial service in those courts, or

(b) in lieu of attending a meeting, conference or seminar referred to in paragraph (a) that is certified as provided in that paragraph, acquires written or recorded materials distributed for the purpose of, or written or recorded proceedings of, any such meeting, conference or seminar,

is entitled to be paid, as a conference allowance, reasonable travel and other expenses actually incurred by the judge in so attending or the cost of acquiring the materials or proceedings, as the case may be.

In essence, the conference allowance is meant to reimburse judges for travel and other expenses which they incur when they attend judicial education conferences and seminars, or other meetings related to the administration of justice, or to the promotion of efficiency or the improvement of judicial services. These conferences or meetings may include national judicial education programs approved by the Canadian Judicial Council (CJC), court annual meetings as required or authorized by the various judicature acts, and approved by the chief justices throughout the provinces and territories as well as other meetings of judges, other judicial associations, boards and committees, language training programs and others.

By law, expenses reimbursed under this section must be (i) reasonable, (ii) incurred by the judge only, for a conference or a meeting for which the judge's attendance is required or authorized by law and (iii) approved by the chief justice and the conference is related to the administration of justice; or (iv) approved by the chief justice and (v) the conference or meeting includes the promotion of efficiency or the improvement of judicial services in the superior courts. The Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada issues Guidelines on the Conference Allowance.

Classes of Expenses Reimbursed - ss. 90.09(c)

Registration fees

Registration paid by judges to attend judicial or legal themed conferences or seminars

Transportation

Costs related to necessary travel by air, rail, taxi, or automobile, subject to limits and conditions identified in the Guidelines

Accommodation

Includes hotels, subject to maximums prescribed in the Guidelines, and private accommodation

Meals

Actual and reasonable meal expenses with receipts, or per diems prescribed in the Guidelines

Other reasonable expenses

May include hotel or in-flight Internet and other travel related expenses not reimbursed elsewhere

Guidelines on the Conference Allowance - ss. 90.09(e)

(section 41 of the Judges Act)

Introduction

The purpose of these Guidelines is to provide guidance and clarification to judges who attend conferences, meetings or seminars in their capacity as a judge and claim expenses under section 41 of the Judges Act. These Guidelines cannot provide for every circumstance and judges should contact the Registrar in advance if they are uncertain as to whether an expense may be claimed.

Section 41 of the Act

This section provides as follows:

Meeting, conference and seminar expenses

41(1) A judge of a superior court who attends a meeting, conference or seminar that is held for a purpose relating to the administration of justice and that the judge in the capacity of a judge is required by law to attend, or who, with the approval of the chief justice of that court, attends any such meeting, conference or seminar that the judge in that capacity is expressly authorized by law to attend, is entitled to be paid, as a conference allowance, reasonable travel and other expenses actually incurred by the judge in so attending.

Expenses for other meetings, conferences or seminars

(2) Subject to subsection (3), a judge of a superior court who, with the approval of the chief justice of that court,

  1. attends a meeting, conference or seminar that the judge in the capacity of a judge is not expressly authorized by law or is not required by law to attend but that is certified by the chief justice to be a meeting, conference or seminar having as its object or as one of its objects the promotion of efficiency or uniformity in the superior courts, or the improvement of the quality of judicial service in those courts, or
  2. in lieu of attending a meeting, conference or seminar referred to in paragraph (a) that is certified as provided in that paragraph, acquires written or recorded materials distributed for the purpose of, or written or recorded proceedings of, any such meeting, conference or seminar,

is entitled to be paid, as a conference allowance, reasonable travel and other expenses actually incurred by the judge in so attending or the cost of acquiring the materials or proceedings, as the case may be.

(3) Where the aggregate amount of conference allowances that have been paid under subsection (2) in any year

  1. to the judges of the Supreme Court of Canada exceeds the product obtained by multiplying the number of judges of that Court by one thousand dollars, or
  2. to the judges of any other particular superior court exceeds the greater of $5,000 and the product obtained by multiplying the number of judges of that court by $500,

no additional amount may be paid under that subsection in that year as a conference allowance to any judge of that court except with the approval of the Minister of Justice of Canada.

(4) For the purposes of this section,

chief justice of any court of which a particular judge is a member means the chief justice or other person recognized by law as having rank or status senior to all other members of, or having the supervision of, that court, but if that court is constituted with divisions, then it means the person having rank or status in relation to all other members of the division of which the particular judge is a member; (juge en chef)

superior court, in the case of a superior court constituted with divisions, means a division thereof. (juridiction supérieure)

In essence, the conference allowance is meant to reimburse judges for travel and other expenses which they incur when they attend judicial education conferences and seminars, or other meetings related to the administration of justice, or to the promotion of efficiency or the improvement of judicial services. These conferences or meetings may include:

  • national judicial education programs, in various areas of the law, approved by the Canadian Judicial Council (CJC);
  • court annual meetings as required or authorized by the various judicature acts, and approved by the chief justices throughout the provinces and territories;
  • other meetings of judges, such as those of the CJC, the Canadian Superior Courts Judges Association, other judicial associations, boards and committees, language training programs, and others.

By law, expenses reimbursed under this section must be:

  • reasonable;
  • incurred by the judge only (expenses paid on behalf of others may not be claimed);
  • for a conference or meeting for which the judge’s attendance is, under the following subsections:
    1. required or authorized by law and approved by the chief justice, and the conference or meeting is related to the administration of justice, or
    2. approved by the chief justice, subject to the limitations in subsection (3), and the conference or meeting includes the promotion of efficiency or the improvement of judicial services in the superior courts.

General principles

The Registrar administers allowances provided to the judges under the Judges Act, and audits every claim. Reimbursements made under the conference allowance must adhere to the following principles:

  • value for money;
  • accountability;,
  • transparency; and
  • respect for judicial independence.

Classes or categories of reimbursable expenses

Registration fees

Judges may claim registration fees paid for participating in judicial or legal themed conferences or seminars.

Transportation

Air and rail travel

Judges who must travel in order to attend a conference or meeting may choose the class of air or rail travel they use. In doing so, judges should have regard for the duration of travel and for the prudent and economic use of public funds. In the case of certain conferences, limitations on travel may also be imposed. Full fare tickets for any class should not be purchased if a lower fare ticket in the class flown is available.

Taxis

The cost of taxis may be claimed where their use is reasonable and economical.

Vehicles

The cost of a rental car, up to a full-size vehicle, and fuel costs may be claimed where use of a rental car is reasonable and economical. The decision to rent a car at a conference or meeting destination should be made with regard to the prudent and economic use of public funds. “Collision damage waiver” coverage may be claimed in the event it is not provided through the credit card used for the rental. Judges should ensure that a rented vehicle is covered for such losses since no reimbursement may be made for theft or damage to a rented vehicle.

The use of privately owned vehicles may be claimed when it is reasonable and economical to do so. In such cases, a kilometric rate (published quarterly) is payable based on the distance between the home or the SCC building, and the place where the conference or meeting is held. It covers all vehicle costs, including fuel, maintenance, repairs, loss or damage, insurance, and roadside assistance services. If travel to attend a conference or seminar occurs in more than one province or territory, the kilometric rate paid is the one in effect in the province or territory where the vehicle is registered. If a privately owned vehicle is used for travel that would normally be by air, the judge may claim the lesser of the lowest cost economy airfare, or the kilometric rate allowance plus reasonable meal and accommodation expenses incurred.

Parking costs and road tolls incurred in the use of a vehicle may be claimed.

Accommodation

Where conference organizers have negotiated a preferred accommodation rate with a hotel, judges shall be reimbursed according to that rate.

Otherwise, judges attending a conference or meeting may claim the cost of a standard room at the hotel of their choice, commencing the day before the conference, up to and including its last day.

The maximum rate that may be reimbursed for a hotel room is $225.00 per night (excluding taxes). In large cities, where rates are higher, the maximum is $329.00 per night. Judges should request the special government or lowest rate offered by the hotel.

Because of special events in some cities at certain times of the year, the above rates may not always be available. In such circumstances, judges should inform the Registrar in advance of booking to obtain authorization for hotel costs greater than $329.00 per night. In such cases, judges will be asked to provide quotes from three other hotel establishments in order to explain the higher rate.

Judges who must travel to attend a conference or meeting and who stay in private accommodations belonging to a third party instead of a hotel may be reimbursed in the amount of $50.00 per day.

Meals

Where some meals are not already provided at a conference or meeting, judges may claim their actual and reasonable meal expenses, excluding alcoholic beverages, based on the provision of receipts. Alternatively, they may claim a per diem for meals broken down as follows: $20.00 for breakfast, $25.00 for lunch, and $50.00 for dinner. If meals are provided as part of a conference or meeting, the amount of the per diem is reduced accordingly. In addition to the per diem for meals, a $20.00 per diem for incidentals may be claimed for each day of travel to attend a conference or meeting.

Other expenses

The following may not be completely exhaustive but are the most common types of other expenses that may be reimbursed. Judges should contact the Registrar if they wish to claim expenses not mentioned below.

Child Care Assistance

A judge who is required to be absent from home overnight to attend a conference or meeting, and who has sole responsibility for dependants under 18 years of age who reside with the judge, may claim necessary child care expenses incurred for each night of absence.

Internet

Judges travelling to attend conferences or meetings may claim hotel or in-flight Internet connection charges.

Miscellaneous

Combining personal travel with travel to attend a conference

No personal travel expense shall be reimbursed. A judge who combines personal travel with travel for judicial business, or who in other words does not travel directly to or from where he or she is not required by law to reside, and where he or she must travel to attend a conference or meeting, may claim the reasonable travel costs that would have ordinarily been incurred if travel had been direct. If the claim includes air travel, the comparison cost shall be based on the same class and type of ticket actually flown, purchased at the same time.

Claims made on this basis must be accompanied by documentation that clearly sets out the cost of reimbursable travel and the comparison cost if applicable. Judges are advised to discuss with the Registrar if they are unclear as to whether an expense in these situations may be claimed or if the documentation provided is sufficient.

Receipts

All expenses claimed must be supported by an original, detailed receipt for each transaction (a credit card slip is not sufficient if it does not set out the details of the purchase/ payment). In exceptional cases where a detailed receipt is lost or otherwise unavailable, a credit card payment slip or the monthly credit card statement (or a copy of a cheque, if paid by cheque) is acceptable.

July 1 to September 30, 2020 Expenses

Total amount of expenditures reimbursed
ss. 90.09 (a)
Number of judges reimbursed
ss. 90.09 (b)
Description of meetings, conferences or seminars
ss. 90.09 (d)
Description Date(s) Location Number of judges in attendance
$0.00 0        

Expenses published for one quarter are those reimbursed in that quarter. Some of the published expenses may have been incurred in a previous quarter.